Bringing Telematics To Cars Without Them

Your ’97 Accord doesn’t have remote diagnostic reporting, geo-fencing, trip logging, yada, yada yada?  Well, for $200, now it can! Motolingo’s Motoriety is a system to bring telematics features to your older car’s OBDII port and represents a creative little bit of tech.

Using the vehicle’s OBDII data port and bluetooth connectivity Motoriety will collect vehicle information and deliver that information to a twitter feed, email address or web portal utilizing the users bluetooth connected cellphone for the data transfer pipe (a la Ford Sync, except Sync uses Airbiquity’s data over voice technology).

The site says a data plan is required for the emails or the data can be sent to a Twitter feed (which makes me think the system uses the SMS to Twitter feature to facilitate data delivery).  Using Twitter to deliver this data is a fairly ingenious implementation since it’s so readily accessible to all users through so many different portals (web, phone, etc).

The feature set is more extensive than I’d expect from a $200 plugin module, but it makes sense.  Since the OBDII port delivers comprehensive diagnostic data the Motoriety unit can take advantage of a lot of data (I don’t know if it’s exactly as much information as an embedded system like OnStar, but I’d bet it’s at least the majority of it) and Motolingo squeezes every last bit out of it. Highlights of the features include:

Aggressive Acceleration Detection
Records rapid accelerations and informs the driver with an audible chime and logs the event in the email report.

Drive Trip Records
Every time the vehicle is operated, the start and stop time along with distance traveled is logged and emailed.

Idle Monitoring
Idle time is calculated and provided in periodic email reports and can be used to reduce fueling costs.

High Speed Warnings
Prevent expensive speeding tickets and high speed crashes.

The system even has geofencing capabilities though it utilizes the smartphone GPS (the device itself doesn’t have one) for the location data.  It’s also worth noting that this is also an option

Overall I have to say I like the approach of this type of device.  OBDII is a standard and available on millions of cars.  Bluetooth is a standard and available on millions of phones.  Motolingo has just mated two readily available technologies and put a modern tech face on the whole thing (i.e. mobile access, web apps, etc).  Vehicle diagnostic data puts this above personal GPS trackers that offer many of the same trip and tracking features, but not detailed information about your car.  The use of Twitter is a great example of how a company can use publicly available services like Twitter to augment their own product without the cost and effort of developing from the ground up.

Between the plugin device and smartphone isn’t this essentially a model for what a modular / plug-n-play  / dealer installed system could be from a tier 1?  Updates shouldn’t be a concern because the OBDII standard isn’t changing, but adding new features might be a little tricky (maybe a built in USB port for v2?).

The biggest problem I see here is that the only smartphones supported right now are Windows Mobile (blech) and since the application needs to be always on (i.e. run in the background) the iPhone wont be supported until it supports multitasking.

If you’re a technophile driving a car without much tech then a plug-in system like this might be just the thing you need.

found via [cnet]

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