OBD-No-Way: Automatic Is the Do-It-All Connected Diagnostic Device of the Future

It was only a matter of time before someone thought of something productive to do with cars’ OBD-II diagnostics ports, and Automatic has a pretty worthwhile new piece of hardware and a corresponding app. While similar to Delphi’s connected diagnostics dongle, Automatic’s piece takes things a step further with a slick user interface and a gaggle of potential features waiting to be unlocked by third parties.

Simply plug the Automatic dongle into your OBD-II port (most 1996-and-later models are compatible), and let the Bluetooth low-energy connection to your Automatic app–equipped phone do the rest. Via the app, drivers can keep track of their driving habits, run vehicle diagnostics (or have notifications sent automatically when something’s amiss), and even tap into location data to find their car in a parking lot.

But the real potential, as Wired first reported, is in Automatic’s recent addition of IFTTT (if this, then that) internet protocols, which really open up a world of previously unimaginable connected-car possibilities. IFTTT is a service that, as Automatic puts it, “lets you create powerful connections between triggers and actions on the internet.” For example, this allows users to set up cloud-based actions tripped by location-specific vehicle moves, like turning the car on or off, completing a trip, and more.

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We could go on, but the most common examples include having your house lights turn on when you cross a so-called geofence as you approach home, or automatically logging mileage data to a spreadsheet for easy trip reimbursement from your employer. One avenue even includes setting up automatic text and social-media messages, like sending your significant other a text when you’re leaving work. We advise anybody with sketchy extra-curricular activities not to set up such alerts for reasons that should be fairly obvious.

About Alexander Stoklosa