Forget Ford’s new developer program and Tesla’s third party API, car “hacking” just got super simple with the new Automatic system. Automatic is made up of an iPhone app and a small hardware “box” that attaches to your car, so long as it has the necessary data port (basically most cars built after 1996). The ‘Automatic Link’ takes advantage of all the data the onboard computer stores — usually reserved for your mechanic — and now displays it in a user friendly format right on your iPhone through a low-powered Bluetooth connection.
Automatic also provides you with all kinds of personalized driving feedback, such as speed, braking tendencies and lead-foot quick acceleration. Obviously the consequences these can have on your fuel consumption as well as mileage and mechanical condition are all reported to you from the app. With a few trips, the app learns about your driving behavior and can make minor recommendations to help you save gas or recommend nearby mechanics if there’s a serious problem or a quick fix if it’s only minor.
Automatic is also aware of your car’s location, so it can help you find it in a parking lot, or contact 911 — as well as emergency contacts — if you’re ever in an accident. You don’t need to launch the app each time you drive; it’ll just collect the relevant info in the background, so you’ll certainly save on battery time while driving around.
This is probably just the beginning for Automatic and apps of this nature given how quickly cars are becoming tied to our smartphones. But, with Automatic available for pre-order currently only to the residents of the United States and set to ship in early May 2013 (69,95), expect it to give other apps a run for their money.
It’s also expected to be released in the UK later this year and for Android in the fall — no word on Canadian availability yet. So, boourns to that.