Automatic is a combination app and hardware unit, launching this May for $69.95. It mixes your car's data with Google Maps and gas pricing info to create a comprehensive record of every trip you take, tracking fuel efficiency, acceleration and engine alerts. It's a familiar playbook — opening up a legacy tech into the mobile world — but few companies have tried it on the automotive world. And with backing from Y Combinator and Founders Fund, Automatic has the resources to give it a shot.
In the connected car space, there are a few basic approaches: dumb car (BYO telematics and infotainment), connected telematics/BYO infotainment, or connected telematics and infotainment. A majority of cars on the road fall into the first bucket. A growing number of cars are falling into the second bucket (think of all GM cars with OnStar). The third is an area of heated debate within the industry - driven mainly by debates around who pays for the data and radically different development cycles between telco networks and vehicle lifecycles.
This solution from Automatic is interesting because it can address the largest part of the market - the legacy non-connected cars. It could even address the second bucket because GM doesn't alway like to share it's data with you. So in that sense it makes this interesting.
I'm am a bit wear of ODB-II, however. In the US it has been fairly standardized for quite a while. Worldwide that is definitely not the case. In addition, most manufacturers implement the bare minimum data set over ODB-II and the rest of the data is either in obfuscated, proprietary formats or even encrypted. Internationally, you also run the risk of voiding your warranty by plugging a 3rd-party device into the ODB port.
At any rate, this looks pretty compelling and at $70 could be worth a try.