Automatic wants to help you save money on gas, more
Maintenance, gas prices, accidents, forgetting where you parked, running out of gas -- cars can certainly be a pain.
This device aims to remove -- or at least lessen -- that pain. It's called Automatic, and it's a bluetooth-connected adapter that plugs into your car's OBD-II port.
Mechanics use the OBD-II port to connect to a vehicle's internal computer; Automatic uses the port to read data from the internal computer and churn out helpful information.
If you're asking yourself whether your car has an OBD-II port, the answer is probably yes. Most cars built since 1996 have the standard port.
The device pairs with an app on your smartphone, which shows you all the information it collects. If your "Check Engine" light comes on, for example, Automatic can tell you why. That way you can decide if it's a problem you can fix yourself, or if you'll need to seek out a professional — it'll also help you search for nearby mechanics.
Accelerating too quickly or hitting the brakes abruptly can negatively impact your fuel efficiency. Automatic helps you improve your fuel efficiency by teaching you to become a better driver. It does this through gamification. The app scores your driving each week with a score out of 100, based on your braking and acceleration, and it can even give you audio feedback if it senses you've stepped on the gas or the brake too quickly.
Automatic can also help you if you're ever in a car accident. Using its built in sensors, it can detect a collision and help you contact emergency services. It will even upload details of your crash.
It can also assist drivers with a less dangerous situation: forgetting where you parked. Using GPS data, you can get a map and walking directions back to your car.
Another inconvenience: the dreaded gas light. You can have Automatic estimate your driving range based on your current fuel levels. And it'll send you a warning when your fuel dips below a level of your choosing.
There are plenty of other features to check out, like third-party apps, which you can find on the company's website.
So that's Automatic. But how well does it work?
Well, CNET gave the device a 4-out-of-5-star rating. The outlet praised Automatic's distraction-free data. You don't see all the information until you pull it up on the app (which you're not expected to check whilst driving).
CNET's biggest con: the $100 price tag. Well, it's $99.95, but we all round up.
Engadget praised the device for its ease of use and said it's a perfect fit for those who want to "learn to lay off the accelerator in order to save money." But the outlet also complained about the steep price.
Not everyone was unhappy with the price, though. iMore says "the crash alert feature alone makes Automatic worth the money."
And a writer for Re/code says the device is worth the cost if you let it change the way you drive.
As we mentioned, it gives you subtle audio cues when you accelerate too quickly or hit the brakes suddenly. Those audio cues are meant to remind you not to make those gas-guzzling mistakes. If you ignore them, then you've very nearly got a $100 charm for your car's OBD-II port.
If you're planning on following Automatic's rules and are interested in having one all your own, you can place your order on the company's website.