Startup Highlight: Automatic

Ben Bajarin / March 13th, 2013

Automatic_Link_PhoneYesterday a company named Automatic launched a very interesting product. They launched a smart driving assistant. Its a product that further emphasizes the point many of us at Tech.pinions make around the smartphone becoming the hub of our digital lives. Automatic has a simple premise. It’s hardware accessory, which is loaded with BlueTooth, connects to your smartphone, and connects easily to a car’s OBD-II Data Link Connector. This is the port that mechanics use to get diagnostics from your cars CPU when you bring it to the shop. By connecting to this port, Automatics hardware can relay information to your smartphone and give you valuable insights into your car and even your driving habits.

The application tracks each of your trips and will give you extremely useful information regarding each trip including things like, actual gas mileage, how much gas in dollar amount you used for each trip or as a whole, how much time you spent in the car, and more. What I found interesting about this, while I got the demo of the product, was how much information the solution provided which we would never know otherwise. This information can be used to understand driving habits better and even be used to create better habits for safer driving and even saving money on gas.

Automatic_Insights_2-up

The application knows when you do things like brake too hard, or speed up then brake hard, or drive over 80 mph, etc., all things known to lead to harder wear on a car and decrease gas efficiency. The solution can also detect a crash and instantly connect to your phone and call for emergency assistance if needed.

My favorite feature, however, was the ability to get diagnostics and data about issues related to warnings or check engine light notifications you get from your cars dashboard. Many times the check engine light comes on for something simple like the need for an oil change, or gas cap malfunction, or any number of non-serious issues. Right now the check engine light on my car is one because its recommending I get an oil change. With the Automatic solution you can see exactly what the diagnosis is related to the light and even turn it off.

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The entire solution costs about as much as an average fill up at the gas station these days, $69.99. From the time I had to experience the app and get the demo, that price sounds like a bargain. And its a one time fee with no service charge.

Ultimately, Automatic has a lot of potential for the automotive and insurance industries. Imagine mechanics being able to provide better service or target relevant customers. Insurance companies can use this solution to incentivize better cost savings and get better driver analytics.

Automatic’s solution highlights the many ways that our smart devices like our phones and tablets are becoming the hubs of our digital lives. Smart sensors like the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone UP, give us data and analytics related to our bodies and to a degree our health. These solutions give us the data so we can use it to our benefit and make us smarter about our bodies. Devices like Nest make our homes smarter and let us manage them through our smart devices. Now Automatic has jumped in and made our car smarter. These types of solutions are just the beginning of the hardware renaissance I see coming from Silicon Valley. Automatic is also following the software developer trend I see regularly of iOS first. Their Android app is slated for the fall.

I love the trend of hardware with a side of software.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
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