Automotive
Vinli brings apps, cellular connections to your ride

There have been several onboard diagnostics (OBD) devices for cars introduced already. Some have focused on a single main function. In the case of GoFar, for example, it was fuel efficiency.

Vinli seems a bit more ambitious, coming with a wide range of apps. It’s an OBD-II device that’s been designed to quickly transform any older vehicle into a smart car. The device adds Wi-Fi to a vehicle using T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network, allowing the car to always be connected. Like other OBD-II devices, its maker is stressing how easy it is to set up, saying it takes only seconds to connect it to a car’s data port located under the dashboard. Drivers can then use the connection to stream media and send data.

 

Apps include Samsung Smart Things, allowing users to control and automate compatible devices based on when they are arriving or leaving home; MileIQ, which calculates driving distances and values automatically, tracking users’ driving miles, and securely accessing driving history in the cloud; and Lock & Key, which alerts users when their car has been stolen and alerts the authorities with one click. Vinli will ship in August and costs $99 as part of its Indiegogo campaign. Ir will increase to $149 at retail after that. Its maker set a goal of raising $75,000 by July 7.

Vinli is a good bet for consumers on the market for an OBD-II device. Although the pact with T-Mobile is significant, weak signals for its service in certain places could be an issue for some consumers. The service and apps could also be costly. To ensure data reliability, consistency and responsiveness across the device’s apps and services, its maker recommends users set up a minimum of a 500-MB data plan at $5.99 a month. The plans run as high as $40 for a 3-GB plan. The pricing of the apps will also vary, but most will include freemium and paid versions, its maker says.

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