PDA

View Full Version : Hands-On with the 'Automatic' Connected Driving Assistant System




MacRumors
Aug 9, 2013, 01:15 PM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/08/09/hands-on-with-the-automatic-connected-driving-assistant-system/)


Announced (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/03/12/automatic-link-app-and-bluetooth-adapter-create-connected-car-for-diagnostics-and-safety/) earlier this year, the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant (http://www.automatic.com) is a Bluetooth 4.0 device that plugs in to your car's OBD-II port. Typically found somewhere under the steering wheel of every vehicle made after 1996 in the USA, the OBD-II port provides all sorts of useful diagnostic information which traditionally is only used by mechanics and for emissions testing.

Over the years, a number of devices have been released for home mechanics to connect to this port -- both to a Mac via USB and to iOS devices via the dock port. However, for the mechanical layman none of them have been that useful, with functionality specifically for figuring out why your "Check Engine" light is on or otherwise tuning/tweaking your engine.

http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2013/08/automatic_eli_package.jpg
Automatic changes all that. The Smart Driving Assistant is about the size of two matchbooks, and lives its life constantly connected to your car's OBD-II port. Unboxing the device is uneventful, as all that's really in the box is the Smart Driving Assistant, a small Automatic "A" bumper sticker, and a piece of paper that essentially tells you to download the Automatic app (http://www.appshopper.com/lifestyle/automatic) on your iPhone. Setup is simple, and involves creating a simple login to the Automatic service and then pairing your iPhone using the unique security code printed on the bottom of the Smart Driving Assistant.

http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2013/08/automatic_eli_obd.jpg
From there, it asks you to start your vehicle, and you're on your way. Amusingly enough, to get the setup to actually finish the engine of your car has to start. I drive a 2011 Prius, and the internal combustion engine only fires up when it's actually needed. So, there was a bit of confusion between what the app was asking me to do (simply start my car) and what I needed to do, which amounted to just driving around the block so the gas engine started.

The Automatic app runs in the background and automatically connects to the Smart Driving Assistant whenever you get in your car. Regardless of whether or not you even have the app open, once you start driving, it begins tracking everything you're doing. Data points captured include how long you were driving (both in time and distance), your miles per gallon, how many times you both braked or accelerated too hard, and how many minutes you were driving over 70 miles per hour. Your route is also saved and plotted on a map, and by tracking local gas prices the app computes how much each trip cost you.

All of this data is tallied together for your weekly totals and averages which is displayed at the top of your driving timeline. Additionally, using the information the app collects, it computes a "Drive Score" to grade you on how efficiently it thinks you're driving. In its current implementation this scoring system seems crazy, as right now I'm rocking a 35 out of 100 in my Prius, regardless of the fact that I'm exceeding the EPA estimated MPG of my car. The Automatic blog mentions tweaking this formula (http://blog.automatic.com/2013/07/31/changes-to-your-drive-score-2/), as right now it is not computed on a specific car-by-car basis and instead is just grading you on hard brakes, acceleration, and how often you're driving over 70 MPH.

http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2013/08/automatic_eli_tracking.jpg
Arguably the most useful feature of the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant's current implementation is seamlessly saving the location of where you parked your car. When you turn off your car, the app tags your current GPS location, and a simple tap loads up a full-screen map showing where you are in relation to your car. In my experience, accuracy of this feature has been fantastic, and way more useful than my typical routine of wandering through the parking lot pressing the lock button on my key fob over and over when I can't find my car.

Without a doubt, the geek-factor of the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant is off the charts. Being able to load up an app and see exactly where your car is, exactly how much each trip cost you in gas, and everything else feels futuristic -- particularly with how seamless this all is with the automatic Bluetooth connection and background data collection. It's also by far the most user-friendly OBD-II device I've seen, in that it parses the data the port can deliver in a very easy to understand format even for the least mechanically-minded drivers out there. The system also remains in beta testing, although it is unclear whether any additional features will be added before the official launch.

However, just how useful the Smart Driving Assistant actually is in reducing fuel consumption is debatable. It aims to save gas by reducing the amount of hard braking you do, how much of a lead foot you have, and how much you speed. But, do you really need a $70 gizmo to tell you that? Just simply making an effort to drive more slowly and conservatively, and both gradually accelerating and braking will have the same effect -- all without spending $70.

Article Link: Hands-On with the 'Automatic' Connected Driving Assistant System (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/08/09/hands-on-with-the-automatic-connected-driving-assistant-system/)



arkmannj
Aug 9, 2013, 01:18 PM
So when will my preorder get delivered ?! :D

Sneakz
Aug 9, 2013, 01:24 PM
$70? Your pretty much paying for the software at that price point cause it's not the hardware that's commanding that price.

ConCat
Aug 9, 2013, 01:26 PM
You don't have to drive around the block. At least for my 2007 model, slamming the accelerator in park gets the gas engine to start.

smittyofdhs
Aug 9, 2013, 01:31 PM
So when will my preorder get delivered ?! :D

Current estimate is end of August. Private Beta Users should have their unit and the final of v1 of the software should be completed.

ikir
Aug 9, 2013, 01:32 PM
I really want it. I've tried other OBD solution but the software is terrible, this is really Apple style, simple and clean. It also interest me how much I spend with my trips. Sadly I don't live in US so I think I will wait a lot.

smittyofdhs
Aug 9, 2013, 01:32 PM
$70? Your pretty much paying for the software at that price point cause it's not the hardware that's commanding that price.

I beg to differ, there's a lot of work and programming going into the hardware unit itself. It's a one time purchase and unlike other services like this, there is no reoccurring fees.

AppleDeviceUser
Aug 9, 2013, 01:33 PM
I really want one of these, does anybody know if it will work on my 2002 Ford Explorer and 2013 Toyota Corolla? And how about the iPad do they have an app for the iPad? 1 more thing does it have the ability to show the speedometer and other gauges on my iPad/iPhone screen like DashCommand does?

TheKrs1
Aug 9, 2013, 01:36 PM
So when will my preorder get delivered ?! :D

I would bet way sooner than the vapourware that is Mavizon/Mavia (http://www.mavizon.com/). My pre-order was supposed to be shipped last November. After months of no communication they now send out an e-mail every couple of months explaining why they are delaying it again and again. :mad:

smittyofdhs
Aug 9, 2013, 01:37 PM
I really want one of these, does anybody know if it will work on my 2002 Ford Explorer and 2013 Toyota Corolla? And how about the iPad do they have an app for the iPad? 1 more thing does it have the ability to show the speedometer and other gauges on my iPad/iPhone screen like DashCommand does?

Automatic is continuing to test with different makes and models. When you get ready to order the unit, you will be asked for make and model, it will let you know right then if there's a known issue. Both our vehicles are newer (<10yrs) so they should work with no issue.

At present it's not designed for iPad but you can install it and use it in x2 mode. At present it does not show your speed or other info.

Shrink
Aug 9, 2013, 01:38 PM
How to say this politely....

What a piece of...no, that won't work.

Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?

All that other ...ah...stuff (aside from the find your car thing), is useless and silly ca-ca, fit for folks for whom driving is a data gathering chore.

Of course, I'm just speaking for myself, and perhaps a few other people who enjoy driving and have gone to the bother of actually learning how to drive well. :D

HiRez
Aug 9, 2013, 01:40 PM
I don't think that little box is big enough to fit my "Hard Accels" count.

J1989
Aug 9, 2013, 01:40 PM
Is that the port that is hackable when the NSA/CIA want to terminate you? :rolleyes:

smittyofdhs
Aug 9, 2013, 01:41 PM
How to say this politely....

What a piece of...no, that won't work.

Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?

All that other ...ah...stuff (aside from the find your car thing), is useless and silly ca-ca, fit for folks for whom driving is a data gathering chore.

Of course, I'm just speaking for myself, and perhaps a few other people who enjoy driving and have gone to the bother of actually learning how to drive well. :D

Before going off just what was mentioned in this article, you should check out some of the other cool features, like it will call 911 when you are in accident and it gives the dispatcher your GPS info. It will also tell you why the "Check Engine" light is on, giving you the actual error codes and the remedy for the issue. I understand not everyone cares about pollution and the world we live in, but if people changed their driving habits just a bit, things would be better.

notjustjay
Aug 9, 2013, 01:41 PM
This sounds great. I hope to get one if/when they are available in Canada.

It would be neat if the driving scores could be grouped by car make/model as obviously each car has its own set of driving characteristics. Even better is if the app could compare my driving habits with that of other people driving the same car. Sort of like how you can look up other cars in Fuelly to see how you compare.

Tankmaze
Aug 9, 2013, 01:42 PM
However, just how useful the Smart Driving Assistant actually is in reducing fuel consumption is debatable. It aims to save gas by reducing the amount of hard braking you do, how much of a lead foot you have, and how much you speed. But, do you really need a $70 gizmo to tell you that? Just simply making an effort to drive more slowly and conservatively, and both gradually accelerating and braking will have the same effect -- all without spending $70.

Bravo!!, the best fuel saver is your right foot.
just keep your right foot calm.

Some guy
Aug 9, 2013, 01:44 PM
How to say this politely....

What a piece of...no, that won't work.

Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?

All that other ...ah...stuff (aside from the find your car thing), is useless and silly ca-ca, fit for folks for whom driving is a data gathering chore.

Of course, I'm just speaking for myself, and perhaps a few other people who enjoy driving and have gone to the bother of actually learning how to drive well. :D

Uh, what?

notjustjay
Aug 9, 2013, 01:45 PM
Before going off just what was mentioned in this article, you should check out some of the other cool features, like it will call 911 when you are in accident and it gives the dispatcher your GPS info. It will also tell you why the "Check Engine" light is on, giving you the actual error codes and the remedy for the issue. I understand not everyone cares about pollution and the world we live in, but if people changed their driving habits just a bit, things would be better.

In the end what I really care about is fuel consumption and related metrics (mileage, cost per trip, etc.) and car diagnostic/trivia. The geotagging features (911 dispatch, "where did I park") are nice too.

Assigning a score of my driving style is just another way of presenting how efficiently (or not) I consume gas. "How much am I spending on gas?" is ultimately what it all boils down to.

GadgetGav
Aug 9, 2013, 01:48 PM
So all this data goes up to Automatic servers and thus the NSA? Can you link the BT ODB dongle to the phone without the app uploading that data?

Sweetfeld28
Aug 9, 2013, 01:49 PM
Got mine in the mail yesterday. I registered it with my 2005 Scion tC, but of course by the time they started shipping these devices I had already bought a newer car. My newer car wasn't on their list of known supported cars.

However, it has been working like a charm in my newer Subaru Legacy 3.0R.

nagromme
Aug 9, 2013, 01:50 PM
How to say this politely....

What a piece of...no, that won't work.

Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?
...

That particular feature, obviously, is for people who already think for themselves that they are driving inefficiently. This is a tool to help. Among a great many other features.

You might as well ask, Do I care if some so-called "scale" thinks I weigh too much?? That scale is useful because you already care about your weight, not because you care about the scale-manufacturer's opinions.


So all this data goes up to Automatic servers and thus the NSA? Can you link the BT ODB dongle to the phone without the app uploading that data?

Good question (as horrifying as it is to hear myself say that). If there's any online component, it should be optional I would hope! The thing should be able to run on BT alone with no Internet involved.

Carlanga
Aug 9, 2013, 01:57 PM
Thanks for what looks like a good and honest review bot (which I find weird in MR),
I guess I will get it for $25 or none then lol

inspirations365
Aug 9, 2013, 01:57 PM
Beta Tester here.

So the article pretty much sums up how this aims to save you money: by making you drive slower.

In short, if you tend to drive in the passing lane for the majority of your commute, like I do (or used to ;) ), the little device's benefits become immediately apparent. I'm getting a full quarter tank more than I was before.

The software works very well- or it used to up until two updates ago at the start of August that has rendered my app useless. As for the device itself, it works regardless of whether you're connected or not, and the beeps are pretty unobtrusive, so I've still been able to benefit from the fuel savings. The parking location feature is nice as well.

My largest gripe with the Automatic is that it requires Location Services to be turned on at all times. I hope they find a workaround for this (they do explain the reasoning for this on their forums), because it does cause a significant battery drain even while you are not driving. The cure for this is to simply disable the Location Services for Automatic when not driving in the Settings -> Privacy menu.

All in all, I'm glad I have this device. It's not for everyone, but for me not having to fill up twice a week two times has already caused the Automatic to pay for itself. Very satisfied.

0815
Aug 9, 2013, 01:59 PM
I have mine since 2 days. I love how easy it is to use - you set it up once and than can forget about it, all you have to do is to look from time to time at the data. I wish they would add more statistics, averages, ... etc - but it is still in an early phase and according to their blog they keep adding new features. The software is just beautiful and easy to use.

donutbagel
Aug 9, 2013, 02:03 PM
Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?

So you mean a Toyota Prius :D
You know, I've probably saved gas by stepping on it to get through a few almost-yellow lights and around morons who don't move when it's green here in LA. Sadly, I am stuck with an auto-shift car.

----------

All I want it something that will say why the **** the "check engine" light is on. That alone is worth $70.

----------


Without a doubt, the geek-factor of the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant is off the charts.

Geek factors don't go off the charts. They go over 9000.

football751
Aug 9, 2013, 02:03 PM
Seems interesting. I bought a Hybrid Hyundai Sonata, which is a much different beast than a Prius, drives almost like a normal car. I like the idea of route logging and all that stuff. I don't like that it docks you for driving over 70 mph. Here in TX the 2 lane farm-to-market road I drive to work is 70 mph, and the main highway by my house is 75 mph, so I drive over 70 mph very often.

audio_inside
Aug 9, 2013, 02:11 PM
The hangup with previous ODB dongles for iOS was that you either had to jailbreak your device (because Apple wouldn't approve apps that used Bluetooth to connect to these devices) or the dongle used an awkward special-purpose WiFi network, meaning you had to disconnect from your other networks to communicate with the thing. Has Apple loosened up or did they figure out a workaround?

The other complaints about these devices is that, unless they include batteries and/or on/off switches, they're draining the car's battery every second they're connected while parked. Yes, that parasitic current draw DOES add up.

inspirations365
Aug 9, 2013, 02:23 PM
The hangup with previous ODB dongles for iOS was that you either had to jailbreak your device (because Apple wouldn't approve apps that used Bluetooth to connect to these devices) or the dongle used an awkward special-purpose WiFi network, meaning you had to disconnect from your other networks to communicate with the thing. Has Apple loosened up or did they figure out a workaround?

The other complaints about these devices is that, unless they include batteries and/or on/off switches, they're draining the car's battery every second they're connected while parked. Yes, that parasitic current draw DOES add up.

See my earlier post: the Automatic Link uses Bluetooth and the app requires Location Services to be turned on in order for it to "wake up" properly.

Not sure about the battery thing. I do know that the Link is only on when the car is on, so I'm pretty sure it turns off.

charliex5
Aug 9, 2013, 02:24 PM
My Prius already gives me basically all this info. Just not quite broken down as much but I really don't want to get into that much. I just want it to give me the basics. It would be interesting to put it in my wife's Honda civic though and compare our cars.

I do like the "Hands On" review. More Macrumors!

football751
Aug 9, 2013, 02:35 PM
The other complaints about these devices is that, unless they include batteries and/or on/off switches, they're draining the car's battery every second they're connected while parked. Yes, that parasitic current draw DOES add up.
Is the OBDII port always hot, or is it switched with the ignition? I was under the impression it''s switched, since the Ultra-Gauge in my FJ automatically turns off when I turn the car off. Plus I think it'd take a long time for that little bit of draw to drain your battery to the point where your car won't start.

Crzyrio
Aug 9, 2013, 02:39 PM
A truegeek would see right past the fancy Score here. This is literally useless.

My current OBD2 wifi controller which connects to Enginelink on my iPhone, actually checks the MAF sensor and the throttle Sensors and give you a MUCH more accurate reading for everything this does.

iMerik
Aug 9, 2013, 02:53 PM
Beta Tester here.

So the article pretty much sums up how this aims to save you money: by making you drive slower.

In short, if you tend to drive in the passing lane for the majority of your commute, like I do (or used to ;) ), the little device's benefits become immediately apparent. I'm getting a full quarter tank more than I was before.

The software works very well- or it used to up until two updates ago at the start of August that has rendered my app useless. As for the device itself, it works regardless of whether you're connected or not, and the beeps are pretty unobtrusive, so I've still been able to benefit from the fuel savings. The parking location feature is nice as well.

My largest gripe with the Automatic is that it requires Location Services to be turned on at all times. I hope they find a workaround for this (they do explain the reasoning for this on their forums), because it does cause a significant battery drain even while you are not driving. The cure for this is to simply disable the Location Services for Automatic when not driving in the Settings -> Privacy menu.

All in all, I'm glad I have this device. It's not for everyone, but for me not having to fill up twice a week two times has already caused the Automatic to pay for itself. Very satisfied.
Do you know why Automatic uses Location Services to create a geofence when you aren't driving? Is it so it knows when you are far away from your car? I don't get what it's doing at that point? I see why a geofence is useful if you want Reminders to tell you to get milk when you leave work, but I'm not sure what Automatic is doing with it.

dssstrkl
Aug 9, 2013, 03:22 PM
I've actually had one of these for about a week and just yanked it out of my car last night. The problem is its just way too inconsistent to be of any use. It randomly decides that any acceleration between 2 - 3.5k RPM is a hard acceleration and sometimes anything other than the softest stop is a hard brake. It also doesn't recognize grades, even though its linked to a smartphone with its own accelerometer and gyroscope, leading to additional false positives on hills, of which there are many in San Francisco.

If the only way to get a good score on this thing is to drive slower than my mother, than everyone should save themselves the $70, at least until they push some updates so it works in the real world.

asthamapheo
Aug 9, 2013, 03:35 PM
pretty awesome, definitely gonna consider this great driving assistant system.

iScott428
Aug 9, 2013, 03:47 PM
Good question (as horrifying as it is to hear myself say that). If there's any online component, it should be optional I would hope! The thing should be able to run on BT alone with no Internet involved.

^^This. First thing that came to my mind is dang now I cant get this cool accessory because the government will know I am always going over 70mph...

Second how does the system account for a manual gearbox as opposed to auto? My accelerations in either direction will certainly be more severe than someone with only two pedals on the floor...

This is like the Nest thermostat for your car.:apple:

Hodapp
Aug 9, 2013, 03:51 PM
If the only way to get a good score on this thing is to drive slower than my mother, than everyone should save themselves the $70, at least until they push some updates so it works in the real world.

Thing is, this has potential to be really cool with a few huge updates to the app. Right now there's almost no interactivity between you and the Automatic gizmo. It just does what it does, you get a readout, and that's it. It's be really cool to be able to label or categorize trips for different kinds of reporting so you could figure out things like "I spend $x in work commuting this week, $y on running errands, and $z on social activities." You could do this now, it'd just be really manual.

Also, Automatic could be the best thing ever for people who can write off milage if you could tag certain drives as work-related then automagically send a report you could email (or print I guess) to your company for reimbursement. There's lots of cool potential here, but right now it feels very, very version 0.x

yg17
Aug 9, 2013, 03:56 PM
This seems like a solution in search of a problem. I don't need to pay $70 to know that I regularly drive like a moron and could save some gas if I drove like my dead grandmother instead.

verniesgarden
Aug 9, 2013, 04:54 PM
on thing i use mine for (got it a few weeks ago) is great way to to log milage for meeting clients, the app straight tells how much it costs from point A to point B

techwhiz
Aug 9, 2013, 06:39 PM
This is not innovative in anyway, shape or form.
The only thing new is that now an iPhone will connect to a special BT OBDII dongle.

I have a $20 dongle and an app on my in car tablet (Nexus 7) that does quite a bit more.

It tells me readiness for SMOG based on sensor and drive cycle.
I can read any sensor that is on the CAN bus and in real time no less.
I don't need to connect to a central server to tell that I'm driving fast or whatever.

It might be cool because it has never been on an iPhone, but the same+ has existed in the Android world for several years.

shamino
Aug 9, 2013, 10:49 PM
I like the idea of tracking this kind of information that I can later use/analyze for my own purposes, even if that purpose is mere curiosity.

Fortunately, there are alternatives (for some cars, anyway). My 2012 Civic has a mileage gauge which shows the car's instantaneous MPG while driving (I assume it's based on data from the fuel injection system, but I'm not certain of that.) The car also tracks cumulative MPG via the trip odometer - I use one to measure MPG on a per-tank basis (it auto-resets whenever I fill the tank) and the other to measure individual trips. These two serve me very well for helping me driving in a way that maximizes fuel economy, when I choose to do so, and I don't need to buy any extra hardware or have an app running on my phone.

iLilana
Aug 9, 2013, 11:17 PM
They need to make the actual driver for those that can't. Like us poor people who can't.

Cisco_Kid
Aug 10, 2013, 02:50 AM
I could not agree more, my new BMW and my wife's Denali both do this stuff built in from factory.

Yawn, I just wanna drive my vehicle, I could care less about accelerating to harshly ect...

Total bust


How to say this politely....

What a piece of...no, that won't work.

Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?

All that other ...ah...stuff (aside from the find your car thing), is useless and silly ca-ca, fit for folks for whom driving is a data gathering chore.

Of course, I'm just speaking for myself, and perhaps a few other people who enjoy driving and have gone to the bother of actually learning how to drive well. :D

Rajani Isa
Aug 10, 2013, 03:34 AM
Geek factors don't go off the charts. They go over 9000.

But what if the chart only goes to 9000? Then it's still off the chart.

tekno
Aug 10, 2013, 03:43 AM
surely it wont be long Before this is bilt-in to you're car and you dont need a app or a Iphone to see this sort of informaton.

OldSchoolMacGuy
Aug 10, 2013, 10:29 AM
I've been doing this and a lot more for years using a $9 BT OBD-II dongle and a jailbroken iPhone. Forget paying that much for less functionality.

donutbagel
Aug 10, 2013, 11:04 AM
But what if the chart only goes to 9000? Then it's still off the chart.

Geek charts always go to 9000, and anything that is off the charts is over 9000.

c1phr
Aug 10, 2013, 11:56 AM
Seems interesting. I bought a Hybrid Hyundai Sonata, which is a much different beast than a Prius, drives almost like a normal car. I like the idea of route logging and all that stuff. I don't like that it docks you for driving over 70 mph. Here in TX the 2 lane farm-to-market road I drive to work is 70 mph, and the main highway by my house is 75 mph, so I drive over 70 mph very often.

Same here in Arizona. Many of our roads are 75, and you'll get run over doing anything lower than 80 if you aren't a semi.

gibstros
Aug 10, 2013, 12:05 PM
As a small business owner who does a lot of driving, I can't wait for mine to show up just so I can have automatic logging of all my miles. No more need to log things for the IRS. And I have had great feedback from the company. I pre-ordered but never got a confirmation email. I emailed support and after a couple of emails back and forth, they located my order and got me at the appropriate place on their que.

ehmyerson
Aug 10, 2013, 03:24 PM
Speed, brake rates, some gps... any kid over 18 driving a parent's car is going to have to make up a new story...

egoistaxx9
Aug 10, 2013, 03:36 PM
$70 is too much for this, it's a great device and i was super excited about it after reading the description but this high price is a deal breaker for me.

pubwvj
Aug 10, 2013, 05:21 PM
Shucks, I was hoping this gave the diagnostics info that the mechanic gets so it would be easier to maintain and repair my own vehicle. Even then the $70 is a bit steep.

Murphintosh
Aug 10, 2013, 07:08 PM
"Regardless of whether or not you even have the app open"

You can have "Regardless of whether" or
you can have "whether or not" but you can not have both.

It could be worse. I've actually seen "whether or whether or not."

I know, I know, but it gets to me.

BigJayhawk
Aug 10, 2013, 07:16 PM
Like Golf???

So, in my Cadillac STS-V (469 HP Supercharged V-8) the purpose of this would be to achieve a LOW score like in golf???

Nice Tool!

iMerik
Aug 10, 2013, 10:16 PM
"Regardless of whether or not you even have the app open"

You can have "Regardless of whether" or
you can have "whether or not" but you can not have both.

It could be worse. I've actually seen "whether or whether or not."

I know, I know, but it gets to me.
:) You didn't correct the "could care less" also posted in this thread.

jrawsterne
Aug 11, 2013, 05:01 AM
Shucks, I was hoping this gave the diagnostics info that the mechanic gets so it would be easier to maintain and repair my own vehicle. Even then the $70 is a bit steep.

This is very cheap for what it does. Super chips used to make something called the bluefin which would translate error codes and load a new engine map onto your ecu, 220 it cost!!!

The adaptors they use in garages usually cost quite a lot and the adaptors to plug to certain agricultural tractors cost 700 + leads, I know that first hand.

$70 is nothing for what this does and you can reuse it in future vehicles.

pubwvj
Aug 11, 2013, 12:54 PM
This is very cheap for what it does. Super chips used to make something called the bluefin which would translate error codes and load a new engine map onto your ecu, 220 it cost!!!

The adaptors they use in garages usually cost quite a lot and the adaptors to plug to certain agricultural tractors cost 700 + leads, I know that first hand.

$70 is nothing for what this does and you can reuse it in future vehicles.

The difference between a consumer product and a technician product. With the captive audience of mechanics they get to charge very high prices. With consumers the prices typically go down 10 to 100 fold. Thus a price of $30 would be about right. It has to do with monopoly power over markets and economies of scale.

phowson
Aug 11, 2013, 01:56 PM
How to say this politely....

Do I give a ...ah...darn if the piece of...er...junk thinks I accelerated too hard? And by whose standards...some dork sitting behind a computer who thinks driving is about going nice and slow (probably in the left lane) in their automatic shift, never-go-over-the-speed-limit, boring piece of...junk...car?

All that other ...ah...stuff (aside from the find your car thing), is useless and silly ca-ca, fit for folks for whom driving is a data gathering chore.

Of course, I'm just speaking for myself, and perhaps a few other people who enjoy driving and have gone to the bother of actually learning how to drive well. :D

So, let's review here, this is a product which provides information some people find interesting and useful. This makes the Automatic, a small piece of plastic and silicone, more useful than you since you provide information (your opinion of a product you have not used) which is neither interesting, or useful. Just a thought.

----------

There's lots of cool potential here, but right now it feels very, very version 0.x

Well, technically, it is still version 0.9.3 so give them a little time. We 1st world humans are setting the bar of what we get from prerelease software pretty frickin' high these days.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8m5d0_everything-is-amazing-and-nobody-i_fun

----------

Seems interesting. I bought a Hybrid Hyundai Sonata, which is a much different beast than a Prius, drives almost like a normal car. I like the idea of route logging and all that stuff. I don't like that it docks you for driving over 70 mph. Here in TX the 2 lane farm-to-market road I drive to work is 70 mph, and the main highway by my house is 75 mph, so I drive over 70 mph very often.

I asked them about being able to peg the speeding to the speed limit on the road where you are driving and the answer I got was essentially: Yeah, we're working on that. It's not an easy problem. We'll get there soon.

Another thing they have mentioned is the ability to unlock the car from the phone which would be handy. And to all the people who are going to say "My brand new <insert car name here> does that." I would point out that my 2008 FJ can now do the same things your brand new car can do and it only cost me $70.

wackymacky
Aug 11, 2013, 10:21 PM
So all this data goes up to Automatic servers and thus the NSA? Can you link the BT ODB dongle to the phone without the app uploading that data?

Same thing crossed my mind. Am I opting to plug a tracking device into my car as well as the capacity already to track my phone.

Think I'll opt out of this one for now.

Murphintosh
Aug 12, 2013, 02:34 AM
:) You didn't correct the "could care less" also posted in this thread.

I was trying to show some restraint.

jettredmont
Aug 12, 2013, 11:07 AM
All I want it something that will say why the **** the "check engine" light is on. That alone is worth $70.

Well, it's worth at least $20, which is what most OBD2 readers go for in the store. Even cheaper on Amazon. They've been out for, what, a decade now? Or, just stop at your nearest auto parts store and ask them to scan your vehicle for you (they obviously would much rather you scan than the service station, because then you're more likely to buy parts at their store) almost always at no charge.

The other features are what you get for the other $50+. If you just want to figure out why your check engine light is on without having to tell the guy at AutoZone "No, I don't want to buy the bits to fix that right now", buy a cheap scanner off Amazon and be done.

From a high-level point of view, I'd love to see this succeed. However, for a gadget nerd to get excited about it, Automatic needs to prove its hardware is capable of reading realtime ECU data (ie, the data displayed by $80+ single-purpose hardware OBD2 readers, such as specific engine timings and misfires data, etc). If it can just get that data sent across to the phone, beating the Actron devices is all a matter of software, and I'm confident software written on a general-purpose device will quickly surpass that built into single-purpose hardware (as has been the case in every previous similar situation over the past 30+ years) and Automatic will have a rabid customer base.

Of course, another option if you want the more techy aspects of it (as opposed to the slow-down / auto-call-for-help-in-an-accident features which seem pretty much completely divorced from the OBD data stream except maybe for braking measures) is to get a $15 OBD2 bluetooth dongle at Amazon and a $50 display/logging app in the app store (but it sounds like you need to jailbreak your phone to get the bluetooth OBD2 dongle to connect!). In the non-jailbreak world, though, it sounds like that $15 device needs to be replaces with a $150-ish WiFi device (and you need to have your phone ad hoc connect to its wireless, which might cause issues with your carrier's data connection, etc).

Overall, I think Automatic has a good start. Keeping things simple is a great strategy here. If they can build out (or partner with one of the existing iOS OBD display/log software houses) their software they can really make a killing in a market whose leaders have long been in complacent cash-cow-milking mode.

jettredmont
Aug 12, 2013, 11:36 AM
Seems interesting. I bought a Hybrid Hyundai Sonata, which is a much different beast than a Prius, drives almost like a normal car. I like the idea of route logging and all that stuff. I don't like that it docks you for driving over 70 mph. Here in TX the 2 lane farm-to-market road I drive to work is 70 mph, and the main highway by my house is 75 mph, so I drive over 70 mph very often.

I think that the thinking is that, despite various speed limits across the country, fuel efficiency tends to really drop off on current vehicles once you've hit 65 (sometimes, even 45). Look around, and you'll see a lot of charts that look like the top chart at http://www.mpgforspeed.com when graphing measured miles per gallon versus sustained (highway) speed.

So, even though your state allows and encourages fast driving on those country roads, it has not conquered physics. Your car still does use more gas per mile to go 75 than it does to go 70 or 65. Thus, if you were able to safely drive on those roads (safely being the most important word here) at a lower speed you would see your gas mileage increase, just as Automatic would tell you.

That having been said, fuel efficiency is definitely not a binary thing. There is nothing "magical" about 70mph; keeping yourself at 75 instead of pushing 80 will also increase your fuel efficiency, perhaps even more so than shifting from an average of 75 to an average of 70. It would be nice if Automatic would look at actual speed / calculated "area under the graph" fuel efficiency to calculate its score rather than having a rather arbitrary black/white division between "good driving" and "bad driving".

All that having been said, the absolute worst gas mileage you will ever get is when your car is smashed up on the side of the road draining its fuel tank onto the shoulder. No minor gas mileage gains are worth driving at speeds significantly inconsistent with the rest of traffic on a road. If you are on a two-lane road, you'd best be going the "normal" rate (often a smidge above whatever the posted speed limit is); if you are on a multi-lane road, keep yourself in the "slow" lane while driving slower than the rest of traffic (and accept that you might actually get worse gas mileage there due to slowing down for merging / exiting traffic).

----------

"Regardless of whether or not you even have the app open"

You can have "Regardless of whether" or
you can have "whether or not" but you can not have both.

It could be worse. I've actually seen "whether or whether or not."

I know, I know, but it gets to me.

What about "Irregardless of whether or not"? Better? :)


(I'm pretty sure I've used "regardless of whether or not" as an idiomatic phrase before, and never really thought about it. You are right that it doesn't make sense. I'll try to avoid it from here out.)

PracticalMac
Aug 12, 2013, 12:06 PM
Now, when will this be standard on ALL cars?

Since when did diagnostic info have to be secret from the owner??

kissfan
Aug 12, 2013, 02:15 PM
Hi all,

I'm a beta test user for the Automatic device.

The company is taking all of our suggestions for improvement and looking into them. We have asked for a lot of the things mentioned in this thread, and they are receptive.

I'm sure that soon after the stable 1.0 is released they will start to add features.

I know they're looking at allowing users to set thresholds on speed, acceleration, etc.

Give it time, it's got all kinds of potential.

g2312
Aug 13, 2013, 04:34 AM
Regarding the BT abilities of the hardware I found that very interesting car parking and sharing solution:

http://www.park-and-share.com/Park-and-Share/EN/Park-and-Share/English.html

iMerik
Aug 14, 2013, 08:02 AM
Hi all,

I'm a beta test user for the Automatic device.

The company is taking all of our suggestions for improvement and looking into them. We have asked for a lot of the things mentioned in this thread, and they are receptive.

I'm sure that soon after the stable 1.0 is released they will start to add features.

I know they're looking at allowing users to set thresholds on speed, acceleration, etc.

Give it time, it's got all kinds of potential.
Good points. Automatic Labs will be improving Link far into the future. I'm happy to be on board now; it's fun and neat.

benji888
Aug 15, 2013, 11:30 PM
This is very cheap for what it does. Super chips used to make something called the bluefin which would translate error codes and load a new engine map onto your ecu, 220 it cost!!!

The adaptors they use in garages usually cost quite a lot and the adaptors to plug to certain agricultural tractors cost 700 + leads, I know that first hand.

$70 is nothing for what this does and you can reuse it in future vehicles.

Before going off just what was mentioned in this article, you should check out some of the other cool features, like it will call 911 when you are in accident and it gives the dispatcher your GPS info. It will also tell you why the "Check Engine" light is on, giving you the actual error codes and the remedy for the issue. I understand not everyone cares about pollution and the world we live in, but if people changed their driving habits just a bit, things would be better.

NOTE TO REVIEWER: Your review is incomplete as you only covered one aspect (ok, two, GPS find-my-car)... This is a 10x better way to hook up to find out what a check engine light is on for, when a device that gives you a code and tells you nothing more costs double or more (in the US too jrawsterne). It calls 911 when it detects a crash is something else you failed to mention, (the car's computer knows when the car has had an impact). Multiple smart phones can connect with the device, and so, if you share a car, the next person to use the car can see on their iphone where it is parked. I'd also like to know, does it show your engine RPMs, does it give you your MPG, tell you the outside temp? My car does not have the latter two features, yet, the A/C system knows the outside temp, so the computer has this info.... What about coolant temp, oil pressure, alternator status, does it have anything else in there?

As far as your Prius's score of 35...the website states that it is for "gasoline engine cars", perhaps that score is given based on the gas engine only, maybe it doesn't account for the hybrid electric motor and regen braking. ("Automatic works only in the United States with just about any gasoline engine car sold in the U.S. since 1996.")

----------

Now, when will this be standard on ALL cars?

Since when did diagnostic info have to be secret from the owner??

Exactly!! ...why? so that the carmakers can make profits off servicing your vehicle (they want you to come to the dealerships for this).

AppleTools
Aug 16, 2013, 01:32 AM
Will it work on a 1972 Mach 1?

I could use some gas saving when driving that monster...

Oh wait, I forgot to care the second I heard the V8 and let the clutch go...

Just kidding, I think it's a nice toy for car fans. I wonder if it measures top speed, acceleration and other interesting things. It would also be cool if data could be transmitted using the telephone over the web to a remote computer so you can measure the performance of a car while it's in the track. If combined with the gyroscope and accelerometer of the iPhone you could have some cool data there...

Or you could just stick that thing in your kids car (or your wife's) to constantly see where they are and where they park... ;)

I'm glad I'm still not married and don't have kids! :D