The Gadgeteer has reviewed various devices over the years that can diagnose your car’s problems, track your car’s location, monitor your driving practices, and even remember where you parked your car. The Automatic Link from Automatic Labs can do all of the above, and it transmits its data automatically to your iPhone 4/4S or 5. You just plug the Automatic Link into the ODB II diagnostic port, download the Automatic app to your iPhone, and you’ll be ready to monitor. (The Link works with “just about any gasoline engine car sold in the United States since 1996”; check here to be sure your car is supported.)
The Link connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0 to minimize its drain on your phone’s battery. Using the information it gleans from the diagnostic port and your phone’s GPS, the link tracks your bad driving habits – hard braking, speeding, rapid acceleration – and gives you a weekly driving score to help you improve your skills to save gas and shows you a timeline of your driving routes. It will also give a warning as it notices bad driving habits, so you can address them as they happen. It will alert you of any problems with your car and sends the diagnostic code, and an explanation of what it means, to your phone. If it’s a simple problem that you can fix yourself, like a loose gas cap, you can even have the Automatic Link clear the code and turn off the check engine light – saving you a trip to the mechanic. The Crash Alert function (currently in beta) uses the Link’s built-in accelerometer to detect when your car has been involved in an accident; it automatically calls 911 with your name, location, and vehicle description. Once help is on the way, it will automatically text up to three of your contacts with information about the accident, where you are, and let them know help is already on the way. And the Link always knows where you are, so it will automatically note where you parked the car, and it can even share that information with other drivers of the same car for easy car sharing.
The Automatic Link for the supported iPhones is available for pre-order for $69.95, with shipping expected in May 2013. A version for specific Android phones will be available in the Fall for the same price.