Smart driving accessory provider Automatic has just integrated IFTTT technology into its ‘Link’ driving assistant product in a move to make the ‘connected’ driving experience even smarter, increasing the range of remote actions that can be programmed or commanded from your vehicle.
Cars have been equipped with on-board computers for quite a number of years already and they are now starting to see measurement and monitoring tools installed that connect up with the driver’s smartphone. Towards the end of last year, US-based Automatic, a ‘connected car’ startup that builds smart vehicle accessories, launched a driving assistant called Automatic Link on to the market. The system combines a small piece of hardware with a mobile app in order to track, analyze, and potentially improve the driver’s capabilities. Since then Automatic Link has undergone further development and is now even smarter. On 26 February it started using IFTTT action-programming technology. This means the driver can connect to a number of apps at the same time and create sets of instructions for actions triggered by a simple ‘If This, Then That’ sequence.
Making drivers more careful and competent
Automatic’s ‘Link’ assistant uses a small widget that plugs into the car’s standard On-Board Diagnostics (ODB-11) port, which accesses the vehicle’s running data. Every car made after 1996 has one. Link uses a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection and GPS data to capture and display basic information on the journey and driving behavior – including statistics on any abrupt acceleration or braking, too-high driving speeds, distance covered, journey time, plus a calculation of the fuel cost – to the driver on his/her smartphone. It also offers a ‘driving score’. The app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, can also aggregate data drawn from external sources such as Google Maps and fuel prices. Link will also help you to locate your car in a large car park or to find a mechanic in the neighborhood if your car breaks down. In addition, the service has a program called Crash Alert currently testing in beta version, which uses an integrated accelerometer to detect when the car is in a collision and will then automatically send an alert message to an emergency call center plus three other pre-selected phone numbers.
Car-based actions and communication options
The newly-integrated IFTTT online service enables the car-owner to create ‘recipes’, i.e. sets of instructions whereby a simple action involving your vehicle – such as you switching the ignition or the headlights on or off – acts as a ‘trigger’ for an associated remote action to be performed, for instance a command for your home automation system to switch off your house lights when you drive off or put them on and turn up the central heating when you arrive home again. You can specify that these actions should be triggered only when you arrive at a particular place, as you would not for example want your home lighting turned on when you cut the car engine outside a friend’s house. You can create a recipe to text your partner automatically when you are on your way home from work and the app also allows such combinations as alerting your friends on Facebook when you find yourself in town or in their neighborhood, or tracking your business trips. At the moment only a small number of such recipes are available as the service has only just been integrated into the Link system, but the company promises that more recipes will become available in the near future.