Awesome Stuff: Hacking Your Car

from the about-time dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    How long until Google comes in and takes over this market?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Timmy, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    too late

    Thats already onsale. Nothing new about wifi and bluetooth OBD2 port dongle

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 9:48am

    These aren't really 'hacks', just more shiny consumer gadgets you didn't think you needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Wolfy, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 10:23am

    I still don't and probably never will trust the "cloud" to be both secure, and available at all times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    way to catch with the last 20+ years !!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    McCrea (profile), Oct 19th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

    Too bad you can't use your phone while driving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    *|EFU|* 50kBTU (profile), Oct 19th, 2013 @ 8:19pm


    In OBD1 is very easy. I used to do this with a palm pilot or a laptop with a serial cable to tune my 3000GT VR4 Twin Turbo and my Honda Civic Turbo. WiFi/Bluetooth should be EXCELLENT, even though the cable doesn't bother me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Nick, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 11:55pm

    I'm using Automatic:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2013 @ 7:35am

    Just another way to to broadcast your every move to the NSA and company ..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:13am

    With all the new smartphone hype I'm intrigued why we still haven't a way to access the car data with ease. It would even help you adapting your drive style to spend less fuel. I do thin we'll see it in the near future though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 5:58am

    Re: OBD1

    Search Amazon for OBDII and bluetooth. The device you describe can be had for < $12. I've had one of these devices for almost 2 years. I've used free apps like Torque and Efficiency (Android).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    *|EFU|* 50kBTU (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 6:15am


    Oh please! Why even bother to even write that comment. If you live in this world, you know there is no way to be out of the grid. Except be LITERALLY out of the grid: live in a very far place, have no TV, no PC and no net, have a mechanical car (not computerized), plant your own crops... Get real coward!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 6:15am


    You simply aren't looking, and others simply aren't interested. My brother has used a ScanGauge for 5+ years. I got an OBDII to bluetooth adapter about 2 years ago. These devices are basically plug-and-play. They are really a niche market to people who care about their MPG. Unfortunately most people care more about what their care looks and sounds like than how efficiently it is working.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Re: too late

    Agreed, the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) has been required on vehicles since 1996. The interface is public knowledge and has been used in various code readers and other devices since then. The news here is that people think this is new.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    *|EFU|* 50kBTU (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re:

    ...and some just want to make their cars faster on the strip.

    Since I don't race anymore, now I am interested in MPG. I have a 2010 Ford Taurus and it gives me from 20-32 MPG depending on where I am driving. If I am on the highway, I can get 32 MPG with 91oct gas. I used to get 36 MPG but 93oct gas is not being produced for Puerto Rico anymore. On the other hand, now I am working 32 miles from my home driving through hills and curves, and my car guzzles gas like a Hummer. =/

    Maybe it's time for me to get another compact car and a scan device to use less gas. My darn Civic used to give me like 38 MPG but with a turbo those numbers are gone...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:11am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Phillip (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:22am


    I have one too, it's mostly out, cheaper and does pretty much the same thing as these kick-starters with no service fee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Phil Windley, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 5:28pm

    How is Fuse Different

    I'm the guy who launched the Fuse Kickstarter project. I attempt to answer some of these questions in a post on my blog.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    stewart, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    It never ceases to amaze me what the innovative mind can produce!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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