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Transportation Stats

From 'Quantified Self' To 'Quantified Car' 173

Posted by timothy
from the soon-the-game-will-be-mandatory dept.
waderoush writes "A San Francisco startup called Automatic Labs came out of stealth mode in March, offering a Bluetooth gadget that connects to your car's onboard data port and sends engine performance data to an app on your smartphone (iPhone only right now, Android coming this fall). Xconomy went on a test drive with Automatic's chief product officer and captured video of the system in action. The app chirps at you when it notices rough braking, aggressive acceleration, or speeding over 70 mph. It also keeps a record of your fuel economy and gives you a gamified 'driving score' to encourage more efficient driving habits and fuel savings. It's all a sign that that the ethic of ubiquitous mobile/cloud sensing and analytics that 'quantified selfers' are applying to their personal health and fitness is spilling over to neighboring areas of consumer technology, including transportation. The Automatic Link device costs $70 and will begin shipping in May." Along similar lines, the Kiwi Drive Green has been available for several years.
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From 'Quantified Self' To 'Quantified Car'

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  • I can't think of any way that an attacker would use this for nefarious purposes

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I can't think of any way that an attacker would use this for nefarious purposes

      obd dongles have been sold for a long time now.
      even bluetooth one's for about a decade now.

      reading the summary you would think that they invented the hw and not the beeping.

  • "The app chirps at you when it notices rough braking, aggressive acceleration, or speeding over 70 mph."

    I do that all the time. I like to do that. That's why I bought a sports car. Why would I want an app to chirp at me when I do that?

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      umm... don't get one?

      • by OhPlz (168413)

        I can easily imagine auto insurers requesting that their insured install one of these. It could report the driving offenses right to the insurer's smartphone app. Of course it'd be disguised as a "discount program for safe drivers". One of them already has something similar using a dash cam.

        Of course, that would foster the creation of an emulator that sends info to that app describing you as being a perfect driver. As an added bonus, it could fake out the emissions data for states that use the onboard d

        • Do you mean something like this [progressive.com]?
    • how about an app that says "oh yeah" in a breathless female voice with every extreme G maneuver ?
      • how about an app that says "oh yeah" in Kool-Aid Mans voice with every extreme G maneuver ?

        FTFY.

        OH YEA!

    • I concur. All the lame new cars with their nagging BS and recent trends like the "Let Your Insurance Company Monitor Your Driving Habits" modules..... People are too lame to see the potential for enjoying life.

      If I get any new cars that have nag features or spy features, I will be rearranging the circuitry to disable them.

      • If you're going to that level of effort, why not rewire them to defraud your insurance company?

    • So you can feel *extra* dirty?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arlo5724 (172574)
      Not to sound like a total douche but I try to drive as efficiently as possible. At first it was a personal finance issue since I noticed that driving efficiently saved me considerably over the course of a year. Now that I make decent money it's less about that and more that I don't have any particular reason to be wasteful. And since I'm not trying to impress anyone out there and not driving 500 miles a day, frankly I'd rather give as little money to oil companies and car makers as is humanly possible.
      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:02PM (#43560023)

        So buy an electric car and be done with it.

        Go get a cheap bluetooth OBD2 adaptor, if it costs more than $15 shipped, it it too much. Then buy Torque for Android for $5.

        • by Nikker (749551)
          That is pretty much what it is. They only went the exta mile and set up thresholds which beep.
        • by BitZtream (692029)

          And you've just illustrated the common problem ... you think that the TCO of an electric car is less from an environmental perspective than it is for a good old gas guzzler.

          If you do the same thing with gas guzzlers ... they produce 0 emissions too at runtime, and far far less during production!

          If you're going to ignore where the energy comes from in an electric car, why not ignore it in a hydrocarbon powered one? Why ignore production costs? Do you have any idea what is required to make the electronics a

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            I am not ignoring anything. Coal is cleaner than Gasoline. Coal power plants are far more efficient. They have the advantage of not having to be light. Also power in my area is Nuclear and Hydro.

            Production costs are comparable. A Tesla costs as much as an S series.

            You are highly misinformed.

      • by OhPlz (168413)

        Why would you buy this if you're trying to be green? If you're already driving efficiently, you don't need it. You'd be wasting the energy and raw materials required to construct and ship the device to you.

        The only use I can see for this is for the hyper-mile-tards to put their score in their forum sigs and for insurers to penalize folks for either not having one or for setting it off repeatedly.

        • Why would you buy this if you're trying to be green?

          Because it's hard to optimise without a profiling tool.

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:06PM (#43560063) Homepage Journal

        Not to sound like a total douche but I try to drive as efficiently as possible.

        That's not being a douche; hell, it's commendable.

        Being a douche would be more along the lines of "I try to drive as efficiently as possible, and there needs to be a law that forces everyone else to drive the way I do."

      • by geekd (14774) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:29PM (#43560401) Homepage

        I'm not "trying to impress anyone out there", I'm just trying not to die of boredom on my daily commute. A full-throttle acceleration from a stop light (when the way is clear and it's safe to do so) every now and then can really put a smile on my face.

        I hear people say things about people with sports cars - "he's got small penis" or "he's showing off", but I'm just having fun. I'm having fun *for myself*. I've got no one to show off for - I'm married 17 years now.

        This app is not for me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          I hear people say things about people with sports cars - "he's got small penis" or "he's showing off", but I'm just having fun.

          Well, if you've got a small penis, you've got to get your jollies where you can.

          • It's got nothing to do with penis size.

            This thing is like having your mother in the front seat again, years later.

            With all due respect to my mother, not gonna happen. This device is doomed like wet bacon.

    • Im going to guess you probably arent the target demographic of this device.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:11PM (#43560169)

      I think it'll be about 5yrs before every insurance company on the planet makes this mandatory. Which is this company true target market.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      I do that all the time. I like to do that. That's why I bought a sports car. Why would I want an app to chirp at me when I do that?

      you don't. The rest of us getting "buzzed" by you do.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The nerve of someone creating a product that doesn't apply to you!

    • The "chirping" sound will be programmable. I'll change mine to a cheering crowd.

  • From the headline, I thought we were going to get a story about a car that instantaneously tunneled through walls, or could park in more than one garage at the same time, depending on how many garage doors you had open.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:22PM (#43559553)

    This is what you can get VC money for?

    A $10 chinese ELM327 with bluetooth and some crappy software?

    Where do I find he suckers? I meant investors, where do I find investors?

  • R: Your route contained too many branches
    C: Your car needs to be 4 exactly spaces from the sidewalk

  • This sounds similar to something I am working on now. With an ODB2 to usb connector (these are like $5-$10 off of ebay) and Raspberry Pi. Toss in some software (there is open source OBD2 software) and a speaker and you basically have this system. As an added bonus you can attach other devices to the RPi and make it even more useful as an in car device. As for the price the whole setup I am working on comes in at less than the single connector they are selling. I do wonder what detailed data it is collecting as OBD2 can provide lots of realtime data on things like fuel air ratios, injector trims, engine speed, etc and it seems like this is only scratching the surface.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      If you have a smartphone you can skip the raspberry pi. Torque does 99% of this already.

      • Don't have a smartphone but have a couple Pis that I was looking for additional uses for instead of just an RTK GPS setup and ran across this [pistonheads.com] on how to really make use of OBDII and an RPi. As an added bonus I could also have it log location data as well since I have that equipment already. I haven't made it to that project yet other than initial research as I am working on the RTK GPS setup so this expansion will have to wait a bit.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          An old smartphone is what I was considering using. I have a couple D1s laying around collecting dust.

          Those have GPS onboard as well. Plus a display that can be used to get that data out in a nice way to the user.

          • The GPS I was going for was one that can give me carrier phase as well as raw pseudo range data for post processing and from what I can tell old cellphone gps receivers don't offer that, not to mention real PPS. As I have that equipment I figure why not use it for multiple things. If I had an old smart phone I would probably re-purpose it for this since I really hate to let something go to waste. I also have an electronic compass for the RPi and it is yet another thing I could wire up for an in car RPi. It'
      • by mspohr (589790)

        Torque for Android
        I've used this:
        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.prowl.torque&hl=en [google.com]
        $4.95 or Free for the "lite" version.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Save your money, and buy a commercial version from Garmin.

      http://www.gpscentral.ca/products/garmin/ecoroute-hd.html [gpscentral.ca]

      It already has a boatload of features, and has been field tested for several years. You can even read your car's diagnostic codes. You don't even
      need a gps to make this work, because there is a free android app for it. Its not the most advanced sensor out there, but it will help you catch those fleeting diagnostic codes your mechanic just can't seem to find.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        $90? What a ripoff.

        Seriously a $10 ELM327 can do this job just fine. Even if you get the pay for version of Torque you just saved yourself $75.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Sure, if all you want to do is read the codes.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            No, it does everything that unit does.
            It will give you all the data you car puts out over OBD2. This varies from model to model of car.

            Paired with the $5 torque I do not see anything this garmin offers that I am missing. I have position, all the fancy gauges, everything.

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Show me this $10 ELM327 that is more than just the chip.

          Show me the one thats connector, chip, some sort of transmission medium to actually be useful, has a reasonable chance of not browning out during start because has power supply capacitors and such.

          Stop pretending that your $10 COMPONENT is an actual product.

          Yes, ELM327 chips are dirt as cheap. No, they are not useful in any way by themselves.

      • That won't save any money. What is needed is a USB to OBDII cable with the converter in it, the ELM327 that everyone mentions is just fine. The fancy software and hardware from Garmin isn't necessary either. Here is the basic setup [pistonheads.com] I am going for but not for a bike, still cheaper than the $90 Garmin device. Besides if all I cared about was the ability to read and clear codes I have an ODBII scan tool that I got years ago for $25 that works just fine for that.
    • Um, I had a system like this a decade ago. Laptop instead of Pi, but still the same thing.
      Still have it, still use it. With the same laptop.
      • I had seen those setups previously and that is why I wondered if it was possible on the Pi. I went with the Pi because I have 2 of them and when not doing RTK GPS stuff I could easily re-purpose one for this. I could probably have it doing GPS loggin and OBDII logging at the same time all from the same $35 device + the cost of the add on hardware.
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        You can probably download this type of app from mp3car.com's app store, and its probably been there for years already as well.

        Sadly, the carputers are probably still no more advanced than what you built a decade ago.

        Carputers are like snails when it comes to progress. WTF can you not buy a reasonably priced sunlight readable capacitive touch display?

  • by hierofalcon (1233282) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:26PM (#43559605)

    Hope that's programmable as the interstate speed limits in large portions of the country are 75 or 80.

    • just because the speed limit is 80 it doesn't make it any more fuel efficient to go over 70...

      • just because the speed limit is 80 it doesn't make it any more fuel efficient to go over 70...

        YMMV, literally. It sort of depends on your engine and transmission. My car's US EPA mileage rating for highway is 29mpg, presumably based on 55mph. I consistently get about 34mpg on the highway at 70mph. Measured by the on-board mpg display and confirmed via gas pump fuel dispensed and odometer. I haven't tried 75, but for all I know the sweet spot could be over 70, or under. Yeah, 80 sounds a bit too much but who knows. I guess I have an experiment for that next road trip to Vegas.

        • according to your 'sweet spot' theory maybe the sweet spot for me riding my bike would be 30mph (should take less energy to go 30mph than 20mph) oh, wait...

          Your comparison to EPA is apples/oranges, just because you can get 34mpg at 70mph it does NOT mean that if you go 55mph you will get only 29mpg everything else being equal...

          • by perpenso (1613749)

            according to your 'sweet spot' theory maybe the sweet spot for me riding my bike would be 30mph (should take less energy to go 30mph than 20mph) oh, wait... Your comparison to EPA is apples/oranges, just because you can get 34mpg at 70mph it does NOT mean that if you go 55mph you will get only 29mpg everything else being equal...

            In my haste I left out a little detail. I do in fact get around 29mpg at 55mph. I say "around" because I haven't measured things as carefully at this speed. My quick and dirty checks varied, a little under, a little over, so I just think in terms of the EPA rating which seems about right.

            Sorry for the confusion but my mind seems more focused on the unexpected result than the expected result. In the past my cars did in fact get worse mileage at 70. The current car has a six speed manual transmission and i

            • I had a similar experience with a Mustang. Ran very well (and efficiently) at 2000 RPM, which was just under 80mph in 5th gear. Tended to lug a bit at lower speeds. I suspect a lot of sports cars have this, as the engine's most efficient speed * gear ratio determines most efficient road speed, and that math comes out well above 55 for cars with powerful engines.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              " I say "around" because I haven't measured things as carefully at this speed"
              so it's biased..hence worthless.

              It sounds like you don't know how to use manual transmission properly.

              Or, you know, you are lying.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          No.
          The faster you go, the worse your gas mileage. There is no magic sweet spot.
          You are deluding yourself. They only way you could be more delude is if you tried selling a calculator app..oh, wait.

          "presumably based on 55mph"
          wrong. It's more complex then that, but hey, lets not let facts change your stupid conclusion.

          • So, a truck in bull low, going 1 mph, gets the most gas mileage? There is indeed a sweet spot for every vehicle.
    • Right. I spent a couple of weeks in Oklahoma one time, and was happy to see the 75 MPH speed limit signs on some of their 2-lane highways. I was driving a Japanese sports-car with about 240HP, so it was cool to roll out across the rolling landscape there at 80+ MPH with no worries of tickets.

      When you crest one of the rolling hills out there, you can often see the next town even if it's 20 miles away. The overall landscape is flat with lots of bumps to get upon and scout about.

  • by KernelMuncher (989766) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:33PM (#43559691)
    This nanny device could allow parents to spy on their kids driving habits. No more rally driving for them !
    • by frinkster (149158)

      This nanny device could allow parents to spy on their kids driving habits. No more rally driving for them !

      Or they can buy a Ford, which can already do that for parents and more - like you can set it so the radio can't be turned on if the driver isn't wearing a seatbelt, or the low-fuel light comes on sooner because your kids are idiots, etc.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Have you tried just sitting down with your kids, turning off the TV, and beating them?

        Why in the world would you want a car you can't park and run the radio?

        How is your kid gonna get laid in this nanny wagon?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:33PM (#43559693)

    get one of these [amazon.com]

    Install this for free [google.com]

    Or get the pro version for $5.

    does almost the same things for more than $50 less.

    The rest is just common sense and marketing hype.

    Then again, there are a lot of folks out there who need to spend money and have a "cool" app.....

    • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:43PM (#43559789)

      Yeah. I don't know WTF these people are smoking.

      Bluetooth ODBII has been available for pocket-change for a while, so much so that there's dozens of phone apps for them already.

      Torque Pro is awesome. I 3 it.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      For the first one, get the cheapest one you can find. Inside they are all the same, a cheap chinese ELM327 clone and a bluetooth transmitter.

    • but demanded it back after 3 months. It was annoying, and i have real questions about the usefulness in predicting accident rates. It went off when i would back out of the driveway sometimes. My driveway is a bit steep, and if i had to stop while backing out the braking force would trip the device. It would go off sometimes for no reason i could figure.

      Before i had the device, i was a pretty enthusiastic supporter of black boxes. This has dimmed my hopes substantially. :-(

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:34PM (#43559707) Journal

    Something else chirping at me.

    Or, alternately, I already have a wife who notices rough braking, aggressive acceleration, or speeding over 70 mph, and she is more than willing to chirp at me about it.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:40PM (#43559757)

    Sounds like it does same thing.

    http://kk.org/cooltools/archives/5845 [kk.org]

  • by David_Hart (1184661) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:43PM (#43559799)

    The are a number of Android apps and ODB Bluetooth adapters already on the market. You can use them view trouble codes,capture car diagnostics, etc. This isn't new or news...

    I have a Garmin EcoRoute with Bluetooth which grabs ODB data and presents it as gauges to the Garmin GPS on my Kenwood head unit. I can also use it record trip/mileage information and view/reset diagnostic codes. It will even show me an efficiency graph over the trip. This is enough for me.

    My concern about the gameified "driving score" is that it could lead to some people being more concerned about beating their top score than focusing on driving safely. We don't need more distracted drivers...

    • by frinkster (149158)

      But this is a SAN FRANCISCO start up! They are going to collect all that data and sell it to advertisers! This is major automotive DISRUPTION you are witnessing!

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Lets see:
      It's an app.
      It use electronic device.

      It should be here. Just because it's not the first one is irrelevant.
      " This is enough for me."
      as it turns out,l you aren't the only person in the world.

      You should probably think upon that a little bit.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Thats like slashdot posting an article about dell releasing a new model. Nothing special about the model, just a new model.

        Its not that its not the first one ... its that its been done HUNDREDS OF TIMES BEFORE and has NOTHING NEW TO ADD to the existing plethora of ways to do this already.

        Do we want to read stories about how Dell just release a new laptop that is exactly like every other laptop?

  • Slashvertisement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hobadee (787558) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:46PM (#43559829) Homepage Journal
    How is this news? I got a ODB2 -> Bluetooth adapter last year, and that was after a year or two of thinking about it. I use Torque on my Android to track my mileage, chirp at me when I go over a speed I set, and track engine performance.

    The only thing here that *might* be news is the gamification of ODB2 stats, but who really cares about that?

    Oh, and my dad just picked up a ODB2 -> Bluetooth adapter for about $25 and it works great, so why would anyone want to spend $70 on one!?
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      You can find them for $10 these days. So the ripoff is even worse than you think.

  • I use a $10 bluetooth ELM327 adapter and the free version of Torque [google.com] for Android. It doesn't do any of that chirp stuff, but it easily could with the right software. On top of that, access to ALL sensors and codes.

    Not only that, the GPS in our trucks at work do exactly what this thing does [blogcdn.com].

    It's not new, it's not even a good price.
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday April 26, 2013 @02:48PM (#43559853)

    Screw the nanny bit, but this integrated with decent navigation software could be cool.
    After a while, you could gain some useful insights into your regular trip; places where you often have to brake hard etc.
    Imagine one dark, rainy evening, after working late, your GPS says "hey, you're going too fast for the next bend..."
    Now THAT would be useful...

    Come to think of it, you could do that without this device, methinks...

  • "The unexamined life is not worth living", so I'm going to thoroughly examine every aspect of my own life! How much time can one really spend on things like this? I've tried keeping calorie counts every day, but now I just weigh myself every morning and approximate calories on every new meal I add to the repertoire. If I spend too much time trying to optimize everything in my life, what time do I have left to live it?

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Did you examine your word count in that post? Or your spelling?

      No, I didn't see any obvious errors. You even spelled "repertoire" correctly. But I'm just asking.

      At some point, you have to examine whether you should be examining everything. I think you just started. Congratulations.

  • That is so self-incriminating!
  • It's all a sign that that the ethic of ubiquitous mobile/cloud sensing and analytics that 'quantified selfers' are applying to their personal health and fitness is spilling over to neighboring areas of consumer technology, including transportation. The Automatic Link device costs $70 and will begin shipping in May.

    It will only be a sign if people actually pay $70 for it. I'm sure that Xconomy will publish a follow-up piece next year.

  • Way to home in on your product in Google searches - "About 874,000,000 results (0.19 seconds)"

    Next thing they're going to trademark the word "Automatic" I guess...

  • The app chirps at you when it notices rough braking, aggressive acceleration, or speeding over 70 mph.

    So it's basically the same as having my wife in the car.

  • by TheCarp (96830)

    Wow....no. Not. Never, will I allow anything in my car, app or human, that complains when I go over 70.

    That is seriously how you get told to walk the rest of the way.

  • Really ... like this is a new concept?

    There have been ODB-II apps for longer than there has been an app store. Before the app store, you had to hack your own adapter together and jailbreak. Since the app store we've gotten WiFi and Bluetooth ODB-II adapters with deep sleep modes and god knows how many apps that do a shitload more than this crap you are slashvertising.

    You're only about 4-5 years late to noticing this app category. Without scrolling up to look, I bet timothy posted this story.

  • If I can trust a company that publishes for the smaller smart phone market first. Doesn't seem like they have real bright decision makers.

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