Automatic Link – Showing Car Manufacturers What They Should be Doing

Automatic Link - Images from The Verge

I love it when someone comes up with an innovative solution to a problem. That’s the best way to describe the Automatic Link available for pre-order right now ( Link ).

Car’s have become so complex over the last 20 years, that they barely resemble what they came from. The only thing that’s the same is the presence of wheels. A modern car is covered with as many sensors as an intensive care patent. All of these sensors are informing the car’s ECU (engine control unit) what is happening with every aspect of the car. From tyre pressures to exhaust emission and fuel use. Huge amounts of information, that ultimately get’s lost. Using that valuable data could make you a more economical driver (great when fuel costs are rocketing) and allow you to see what faults the car may have detected when the dreaded ‘check engine’ light comes on.

Enter Automatic and their Automatic Link and App. 

The vast majority of cars (if not all) manufactured from 1996 onwards have come with an ODB (On-Board Diagnostics) port. With this universal socket, the Automatic Link simply plugs in and pairs with your Communicator via Bluetooth (4.0). It’s iPhone only at the moment, but there will be an Android version before the end of the year. When linked, the Automatic starts to send all the data to the app, where it learns about your driving and gives you advice on how you could save fuel.

great-looking-appThe app produces a driver score and advises you on when you’ve been breaking and accelerating harshly, two actions that really hit MPG figures. The Automatic then compiles all of this data in a very nice looking app and produces maps of the exact route you’ve taken using the iPhone’s GPS. Each trip comes up on the timeline to help you keep note of each trip. If you have to keep a mileage log for work, this could become indispensable.

The Automatic Link includes a built-in accelerometer that can detect many types of crashes. Automatic uses your phone’s data connection to immediately report the crash to 911 (It’s a beta and only for the US at the moment) with your name, location, and vehicle description. Once help responds, Automatic can send a text message to your loved ones to let them know what happened, where you are, and that help is on the way.

engine-issuesAnother fantastic feature of Automatic is that it connects to your car’s onboard computer to decipher that little ‘check engine’ light and explain exactly what’s wrong. When the ‘check engine’ light comes on, Automatic alerts you right away with a push notification. It then retrieves the Engine Trouble Codes – which help mechanics diagnose the problem – from your car’s onboard computer. Automatic shows you what those Engine Trouble Codes mean and in many cases offers possible solutions. For simple problems, you can even clear the light yourself, and save a trip to the garage  For more complicated issues, Automatic shows you well-reviewed mechanics nearby and you can call them or get directions with a tap.

Another nice little bonus is that Automatic logs where you’ve parked the car without having to do it manually.

As the title of the article suggests, I really think this is something that the car manufacturers should be adding this to their new cars, but let’s be honest, they should have done it years ago!

The Automatic Link is currently available for pre-order for the rather sweet price of $69.95 US (aprox. £48).

I’ve been in contact with Automatic and they are supporting the US only at the moment, but would like to bring the Automatic Link to the UK. Here’s hoping that they do, as when it’s available for UK cars, I’m going to be all over this like a tramp on chips!

 

Sources: Automatic, The Verge




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