An automatic smart driving assistant that streams car data to your phone


I’ve been eyeing these for a while, a perfect gift for my brother! And a perfect excuse to get one for myself at the same time. :wink:

I have had a ScanGauge in my Jetta TDI for a few years. At first, I paid attention to it all the time, but after awhile the novelty wore off. I just started keeping the RPMs low, not braking hard, and when you only fill up every three weeks or so, the cents per mile readout seems much less important.

That said, I think the low-hanging fruit in the energy crisis is implementation of instruments like this that display the real-time costs of energy consumption. Things like this should be everywhere, in our houses, our cars, the buildings we work in. There is so much hype about the Nest and what a wonderful ‘smart’ device it is, but it doesn’t tell you what it’s costing you by bumping the heat from 65 to 70. The devices and technology are all out there; they should just be a lot more common.

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LOL!! I’ve been waiting for the Check Engine light too!

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“The dongle then beams that data to your smartphone, using bluetooth, and
an associated app then uses your smartphone to analyze and synthesize
the dongle data; track your driving route and parking location; and
guess at your overall fuel cost (based again on location).”

Does the app let you access the raw data? Or just its summaries of the data?

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Protip: if you don’t have an ithing then you don’t have to pay the ithing tax. I got this one for ~$11 and it works a charm with my phone & Torque Pro (the app for this purpose that is most feature-packed). I don’t exactly recall why you cant use this one with iphone, but it’s something to do with the way that iphones partially cripple full bluetooth functionality.


I suspect a lot of why people get better mileage in a Prius is all the feedback it gives you about the energy consumption implications of how you drive. It really makes you notice just how many people speed up in order to get to a red light faster so they can hit the brakes harder and wait longer, as opposed to just cruising up to it with a more gradual slowdown.

I suspect that mileage feedback is why you see a lot of Priuses doing 50 on the highway.

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Do you leave it plugged in all the time? Does it drain your battery?

I’ve read that the OBDII port remains powered even when the ignition is set to off, so some people claim that they’ve drained their battery by leaving it plugged in. I don’t see why the port would do this since there’s not a lot to measure if the ignition isn’t on, but I can imagine that it may not be uniform between manufacturers. I’ve left it plugged in overnight a couple of times and the car started perfectly so if it is drawing power, it’s not drawing much.

Some cars have the OBDII port in very accessible locations and others have them in almost-impossible-to-reach locations.

Heh. Actually I think that’s from not paying enough attention to the dashboard. The thing with the Prius is (at least on the C model), if you’re cruising at 65 and start to slow down, there is pretty much nothing about the feel or sound of the car that will change and tip off your subconscious. (If you start to speed up above 65, the ICE is going to work hard enough to sound different.)

As far as actual mileage goes, 60 is generally as efficient or more so than 50 anyway. Somewhere in the low-mid 70s there’s a steep falloff, just as there is on many vehicles. It’s still about 40mpg at 75mph though.

At highway speeds, the biggest factor in a Prius’s mileage isn’t vehicle speed but season. Colder outside temperature means and winter formulation gas take away efficiency.

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I have a similar setup (diff dongle) - yes, all the time, no on battery drain (AFAICT). And strong agreement with @teapot - this is an excellent solution.

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While that may be a fine wireless OBD, it’s worth noting that the Automatic has a bunch more features than just a plain ol’ OBD. I think it has additional accelerometors, which help in tracking real-time fuel efficiency, but also those sensors are used in the “crash alert” function that is similar to the OnStar system that notifies emergency responders in cash of a serious accident. Most of the other functions are software based, and those include things like GPS integration (I assume from the phone) that automatically remembers where you parked your car. That sounds like a silly feature to some, but for others like the elderly or those with memory problems, it’s a critical feature. Even for me, it might be nice; I have to move my car frequently for street cleaning, and I find myself sometimes thinking “Oh I parked it on 10th Street, or wait was that the time before?” Anyway, there are other software features too, like the IFTTT, integration with some vehicles on-board entertainment system for Siri/Cortana/Google Now, and features like being able to automatically shut off your phone while driving (Android only, apparently).

I don’t own one, but it does sound like Automatic has done a good job of adding enough features to justify the price. If you just want to know why your check engine light is on, yes a simple OBD can do that. But for robust, integrated data gathering and feedback, Automatic provides a lot of value.

I think you may have drunk the marketing kool-aid, but each to their own. As far as I can tell the dongle itself doesn’t differ in any way, apart from being shiny (and being compatible with ithings). All the features they tout are done with software and most of which (except the crash notification) are the same in Torque Pro. The accelerometer, GPS & gyroscope stuff is done using your phone’s sensors (which is the same for the Torque Pro app). OBDII gives an obscene list of data points which are all measurable and trackable using Torque Pro. Google Now has been able to remember where you park for a while now.

This screenshot is from the Torque Pro site:

The reviews on the app store would also suggest this thing doesn’t deliver on its promises:

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…and apparently it was delicious!


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