Automatic, a combination app and hardware unit launching this May for $69.95, is set to make your car feel “a little smarter” by displaying everything from its fuel economy to its crash response, right on your iPhone. As The Verge goes hands on with the upcoming device, it appears the device connects to a car’s OBD-II Data Link Connector (standard on every car since 1996), accesses its fuel, mileage and engine information, and then sends it to the iPhone over Bluetooth.
The iPhone app also has the ability to pull in GPS, fuel pricing, and map data to build a comprehensive picture of every drive you take. According to The Verge, when you stop to fill up, Automatic uses geolocation data to determine which gas station you’re at, then uses its own database of stations and daily prices to calculate how much you paid. The most prominent feature of Automatic is the fuel-efficiency score. To drive you towards a higher fuel economy, Automatic monitors your driving behaviors and gives you a running tally of how well you’re doing based on your previous driving record.
The app also has access to the engine alert codes usually pulled by mechanics. That means that when your “Check Engine” light comes on, Automatic can tell you whether it’s lighting up because of an oil leak or just because you left the gas cap off. […]
Automatic also offers an OnStar-style crash-assistance service. The hardware unit’s onboard accelerometer is programmed to recognize the unique profile of a crash and trigger your phone to alert Automatic HQ. From there, the company’s servers will robocall the nearest 911 center with details about what happened and where you are.
Looks like Automatic is going to be the most practical take so far on “what a cloud-connected car” should look like, don’t you think?