For the last week, I’ve been driving around Charlotte listening to my car lambaste me for stomping the throttle too hard or slamming on the brakes. I’ve also had the unique ability to look back through all my driving history, in borderline-creepy detail.
I posted my review of Automatic, a smartphone app with an accompanying module which plugs into the OBD-II port on your car and tracks your every last move while driving, yesterday morning.
For $100, the device isn’t exactly cheap, but what it offers is pretty compelling. If you speed (drive over 70mph), brake too hard, or accelerate too quickly, the Automatic Link will chirp to let you know you’re wasting gas and, in turn, money.
It tracks your mileage, fuel efficiency, route, and other useful information, and it breaks that data down and organizes it in a way which is easy to decipher and understand.
After just one week with Automatic, a device I wasn’t fully convinced I would like before actually trying it, I can’t imagine driving without it. Yes, the chirping becomes annoying quickly, especially since I bought a sports car for one sole reason: I like to drive. I can be a little heavy on the throttle when taking off sometimes, and that has resulted in quite a few proverbial wrist slaps from Automatic. So I switched off the audio feedback immediately after finishing the review, plugged it back into my car and plan to keep up with my driving all the time.
It wasn’t until last night, actually, that I realized why this might be so compelling for my personal and business use. A personal friend of mine, the photographer who took all of the pictures for my Pocketnow Insider episode, asked me:
“Do you think this would be worth it to track for business purposes? I never seem to remember to write trips down.”
Absolutely. In fact, it’s perfect for that.
Since I now work from a remote office, I drive a lot more than I used to. And being a business owner, those miles are tax deductible. Thanks to Automatic, I don’t even have to worry about tracking or estimating how much I drive or how much of my driving is work-related. Automatic does all of that for me. I can single out individual trips to places I know are work-related. I can actually tally up how much money I’ve spent driving (once Automatic supports premium gas, that is).
And thanks to that epiphany, I can’t imagine driving without Automatic plugged into my car. If and when my check engine light comes on, I know what the problem is and can clear the code … immediately. It’s an immensely neat tool to have in my belt and well worth the $100 initial price.
So we ask you. Does this sort of integration between car and smartphone appeal to you? Could you see yourself spending $100 for a device that translates your car’s gibberish to your smartphone? Answer the poll below and express your feelings in the comments below!