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If you can plug in a USB device and download a smartphone app, you are officially tech savvy enough to get your car talking to your mobile phone.
Vancouver-based Mojio’s plug and play, open platform gadget lets almost any car on the road join the Internet of Things for $169 by tapping into its network of sensors through the on-board diagnostics port, something mechanics and dealers have used for decades.
By harnessing the car’s computing power, Mojio’s app becomes a virtual mechanic, prompting the driver about errors and warnings from the onboard computer like low engine oil or deflating tires. It can also track distance, speed, fuel efficiency, and cost per trip. It finds nearby parking or gas stations, and offers instructions on fuel friendly driving and turn-by-turn navigation. I can even notify the owner if the vehicle is towed or stolen.
The first year of service is free and $6.99 annually after that. Canadian models connect to a 3G cellular network with a Telus (T.TO) SIM card, or an AT&T (T.N) card in the U.S, and work with both Apple and Android devices.
“Cars have really powerful computers. In fact, they’re more powerful than smartphones. Cars can have upwards of 400 sensors and 20,000 lines of code,” said the company’s CEO and co-founder Jay Giraud, in an interview with BNN.
The open source architecture means developers are free to design limitless applications based on mechanical, location, and acceleration data.
“Today we have 125 developer teams building smartphone applications. Almost all of these developer teams are working for automotive related companies. Companies in roadside assistance, leasing, insurance, retailers, coffee companies, national gas station chains, service garages, dealerships and even automakers,” said Giraud.
He says data from the accelerometers could one day be used to prevent accidents, and temperature and journey duration data could suggest the perfect drink to cool off after a long summer drive.
“One of the big cases has been gamifying safe driving. We have actually demonstrated from a program with 1,000 drivers and Shell gas a little over a year ago that we can save people 15 percent on fuel per month on average, some people as much as 35 percent. That’s $50, $60, $70 per month back in your family’s pocket,” said Giraud.
Mojio plans to follow in the steps of Sirius XM, a monthly service paired with aftermarket hardware that became a standard offering in new cars from most major automakers. Giraud says there are 800 million compatible cars on the road, mostly without internet access.
“Those cars will be on the road for 10 to 15 more years. Even the vast majority of cars sold today don’t have an internet connection, and they will be on the road for the next 20 years. We can build up a user base with our carrier partnerships. Combined they have 160 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada alone, and then [we can] build that user and that developer base to leverage access into being built into all new cars,” he said.