The start-up company whose adaptor and accompanying smartphone app can turn pretty much any vehicle built since 1996 into a truly connected car is now hoping to revolutionize the way that consumers interact with the cars in the same way that the iPhone redefined how we use mobile phones.
Back in May 2013, Automatic unveiled a little matchbox-sized adaptor in the US, called the Link, which plugged into a car's diagnostics port and enabled it to talk to a smartphone via an app. Once synced via Bluetooth, the Automatic system could monitor everything from driving technique and real-world fuel economy to potential engine problems and the need to find a garage.
An ingenious idea, the system garnered lots of praise, lots of interest and even one or two imitators. However, that was just the start of Automatic's ambitions. It has recently rolled out the system, in beta, to 33 countries beyond North America and on Tuesday it unveiled a new version of its Link connector, capable of third-party Bluetooth streaming apps and a dedicated app store called the Automatic App Gallery.
"The next wave of connected devices poised to change the world are those we've been using for decades: our cars," said Thejo Kote, Founder and CEO of Automatic. "Just as the iPhone App Store unlocked the power of the smartphone, we've built an open platform that makes it possible for the world's best developers to build amazing apps for your car."
So now, as well as fuel economy, alerting the emergency services, and real-time engine diagnostics, the Automatic system can do everything from automatically turning on the Nest thermostat in your home as you round the corner, to recording and sharing business mileage for collecting expenses.
Initial apps in the Gallery also include titles that work with fitness trackers and with other Internet of Things devices and something called License+, an app that parents can use to make sure their teenaged kids are driving safely.
And that's just the start, as more titles, compatible with any car as long as it has a diagnostics port (i.e., 1996, onwards) will be on their way soon. That's because alongside the app store, Automatic has also launched a developer platform, just like Apple and Android, to make it simple for app creators to integrate Automatic's capabilities and car data into their apps.