Classic car enthusiasts have bemoaned the industry’s shift towards computerizing every aspect of automotive operations, especially things that in the past could be tuned and maintained with a set of tools and a little elbow grease. The rise of technologies like fuel-injection, ABS and automatic transmissions have made our cars some of the most sophisticated electronics we use on a regular basis, aside from our smart phones and computers, and like them, sometimes we know very little about how to keep them operating at top efficiency. A new company, Automatic, aims to change that with a small device called the “Automatic Link” which plugs into your car’s ODB-II port – the same one auto shops use to run diagnostics on any car made after 1996.
The device connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth, and using telemetric data gathered by your car’s own onboard computers, GPS data tracked on your phone, and (presumably) some powerful cloud-based data analysis, will analyze your driving habits and start to put together recommendations on how to drive more safely and efficiently, as well as providing historical analysis of all previous travels in your vehicle including time spent on the road, distance traveled, and average fuel-efficiency. If it spots trouble with one of your car’s systems, instead of flashing a cryptic message code that you have to dig out of your car’s instruction manual, it will again leverage the internet to provide more meaningful clues as to what might be wrong, and then show you nearby highly-rated auto mechanics that can help.
What this means for you:
The Automatic Link isn’t shipping until May of this year, so aside from media hype, all we have to go on are the promises of Automatic’s website. At the moment, it’s only being launched for iPhones, so if you aren’t among the Apple faithful, you are out of luck at the moment. This device is following a growing trend where we are tying larger portions of our lives to our smartphones, which, as I’m hoping you realize, is a double-edged sword. There are a great many benefits to be gained from devices such as this – but at what cost to your personal privacy. No doubt, Automatic has plans for the massive amount of data these devices can gather, and I imagine the demographic information contained within has any location-based business salivating at the prospects.