While there certainly have been improvements in car technology over the past few years, the culture of "hacking" your car still hasn't become as popular as you might expect. We've been seeing a few recent attempts to let people get access to their own car's data, which hopefully will begin to open up this market, as new apps and services let you do a lot more with your car, in part just by accessing and understanding more information. A few months back we wrote about the Automatic Link
device to get useful information out of your car's dataport and into your smartphone -- and this week's awesome stuff
post is about two similar crowdfunding projects that focus on making the dataport useful to car owners.
- First up is the AutoAide from Park.IT. It does the basic stuff that you'd expect -- such as telling you what the various engine warning lights are referring to, and monitoring things like the car battery's health. It also claims to improve the GPS functionality of your phone, though it's not entirely clear how necessary that really is. The key focus, though, is for parking. As its name suggests, Park.IT already has an app that helps you find parking and also avoid parking tickets. And, not surprisingly, that's built into AutoAide. If a lot of people are using AutoAide and Park.IT (maybe a big stretch), it can even alert you when someone is leaving their parking spot.
They're aiming for $50,000, but so far still have less than 10% of that with less than three weeks to go. It seems unlikely that they'll hit their goal this time around. To be honest, the parking app is still the cool feature here, and you don't really need the dataport device to make that work. It almost feels like these guys might want to spend their time partnering up with other providers of dataport devices.
- Next up, we've got Fuse, which is somewhat more ambitious attempt to make use of the car's dataport. Again, it does a lot of the expected stuff, tracking your driving habits, keeping track of maintenance and expenses, but then it also tries to connect with other apps and services. One feature is the carpool feature, which automatically classifies regular trips and can associate your contacts with the people you pick up, doing things like automatically emailing them when you're getting nearby. The company also promotes that the data is stored in a personal cloud -- and, like Park.IT above, it seems like the dataport device is partly promoting the company's "main business." In this case, Fuse is a product of Kynetix, which has an open source cloudOS, which Fuse users can use to store their own data under their own control.
Fuse is looking for $60,000, and
Fuse and they're about 20% of the way there with still about four weeks to go. To be honest, this one struck me as way too expensive for what you get. Not only is the device itself more expensive ($139 -- or $119 if you get in on the early bird), there's also an ongoing service fee. Getting in on the Kickstarter deal only gives you a 90 day free pass on service. So it seems like this could get expensive quickly, and it doesn't even look like the app is that well developed, or has that many features. Considering many of the other devices in this market are both cheaper and have no service fees, it's a tougher sell here (for example, the Automatic Link, which is getting very good reviews is $100 with no service fees).
I see these kinds of projects as really just a sign of what's coming down the road. Both of these projects really demonstrate more the potential of what's coming, rather than a full vision of where things can be. But, it seems like it's only a matter of time until people are both more in control over their driving data, but also able to do more with it as well, and to build useful applications on top of that data.