Automotive Connected Objects

Freematics dishes driving data to developers

FreematicsWhat do you get when you cross the hobbyist Arduino platform with Bluetooth and  the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD-II) port found in every vehicle? Nobody really knows yet, but the developers of Freematics (a portmanteau of “free” and “telematics” aim to find out by opening up the combination to open source developers. One thing’s that certain is that the device can handle a lot of data about your car’s vital statistics such as its speed and engine RPMs. Turning that into something more meaningful for people will be left to developers who will be the main audience for the data collector. Freematics should be available in March 2014 to backers who pledge at least $89 AUD.

Automotive Connected Objects

Truvolo plugs in to vehicle diagnostics

The Premise. Technology is fabulous. Alas, we still do not have flying cars, but if we do you can bet they’ll be connected to our smartphones. In the meantime, car manufacturers are focused on connecting gravity-bound automobiles.

The Product. Truvolo is a small device which plugs into your car’s data port along with a smartphone app that collects data from the device and sends it to a secure cloud-based platform. The device, which plugs into a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) connector can clue you in to problems, help optimize gas mileage, and send alerts for unsafe driving. Being connected, it also provides several car-related services such as regular maintenance reminders, alerts when it’s time to fill the gas tank, alternate routes when traffic is heavy and an organization system which helps account for trips for business and separate them from personal travels.

The Pitch. Jaideep Jain, co-founder and CEO lays out the need for Truvolo in a straightforward video in which he also explains that the project was inspired as his son approached legal driving age. He thinks of Truvolo as “the place to go for everything car-related.” He explains that Truvolo can help make you and a safer driver by providing feedback on driver performance in addition to location information. He claims that in the future, Truvolo will even be able to block texting while driving. Other than the video, the campaign on Indiegogo features a link to the various press Truvolo has garnered to date in addition to some partial screen shots of the app.

The Perks. This project has many, many reward tiers starting at $30 for the most basic level of support with a corresponding reward of a Truvolo tee and letter of thanks. The first 150 people to donate $89 can become either an “early bird” or “beta tester” of the Truvolo device and app, with beta testers receiving the product about two months in advance of other audiences. Other tiers escalate to increasing amounts of product and rewards which include dinner with the founders (transportation excluded) and for $6,000 you can even become a “development partner.” According to the posted project schedule, units will complete beta testing in May and start shipping to Indiegogo supporters in June 2014.

The Potential. While there’s no doubt in the potential for a new connected standard for future vehicles, the concrete benefits to a product like Truvolo remain somewhat unclear for now. Similar products like Zubie and Automatic are already available in the market and it’s difficult to see how Truvolo will differentiate itself. Most people already know how to be safer drivers — slow down, use caution, stop fully at stop signs, etc. But there’s something to be said for hard evidence. If Truvolo can’t leverage that to change driver behavior, it may be seen as just an expensive way to remind yourself to get an oil change.

Automotive Cell Phone Accessories Organization

MOS Spring, MOS Menos attack car cable chaos

editors-choiceThe Premise.  You have a cable connecting your music player to your car’s stereo.  The fear that it will somehow manage to electrocute you has become intolerable, yet you refuse to replace it because the amount of dough you’ve coughed up for aux cables has already reached unacceptable levels.  No more shall be spent on another just for it to become lost or ruined like those before it!  Just jiggle it a little, sound quality be damned!

The Product.  The MOS Spring is a high-quality audio cable meant to be a permanent replacement to all those cheap cables.  It has woven cotton­ shrouding, and a coiled metal wire where the cable meets the jack, just like you would find on a pro-grade audio cable.  The MOS Menos is a discreet base for keeping your Mos Spring cable safe and at hand.  It mounts to your car, and employs strong magnets to keep any wayward cables in check.

 The Pitch.  The combined practicality of the Spring and MOS Menos are demonstrated with a video depicting the standard cable drama: cable lost in car, guy damages cable while retrieving, guy plugs in his phone to hear music, music rendered inaudible by cable’s crappiness.  The day is saved by the Spring, with its woven cotton, anodized aluminum and electroplated steel construction, its black, red, or teal color options, and its lifetime warranty.  The MOS Menos lends its super strong neodymium magnet,  satin body, and options of permanent adhesive, or semi-permanent suction mountings to the fray. It is also worth mentioning that the MOS Menos is the scaled-down version of the original MOS, which Kickstarted in Winter ’12 and is now selling in Apple stores.

 The Perks.  The Spring and Mos Menos are slated for availability in late March ‘14.  Sold individually, they are moderately priced at 10 dollars, or a mere 15 bucks (just 11 for early backers!) for the combo.

 The Potential.  While there are other woven cables out there for as little as 99 cents, they can also range as high as $40.  Moreover, one is hard pressed to find cables that have the Spring’s coiled wire joint reinforcement.  So combined, the Mos Spring and Menos can relieve all your electrical apprehensions, musical frustrations, and organizational headaches, for what you might spend on any other decent-quality cable.  Take the Spring’s lifetime warranty into account, and you find a sound audio investment.