Car maintenance is about to become a breeze, according to a few Canadian companies aiming to bring the internet of things into your vehicle.
The internet of things refers to the modern connectivity of everyday objects – such as items in your home, vehicles, and buildings – through sensors and other electronics that collect and compare information. Now, along with your fridge telling reminding you to pick up milk and your furnace turning itself down depending while you’re at work, your car will be able to inform you when it’s not feeling 100 per cent.
One Canadian upstart, the Toronto-based Driven, plans to offer a suite of intelligent tools and services that will link a driver to their vehicle. Their FOB technology, the Kē (pronounced “key”) attaches to your car’s on-board diagnostics port, and communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth. It will automatically scour the internet for information pertaining to your specific make of car, in order to monitor performance, and make suggestions for upkeep and necessary fixes – before they become a problem for you. The device is expected to launch in Canada this fall.
Pitstop is another Toronto is another Toronto organization working on a similar offering, but with an additional element of connectivity: it’s all-in-one connected maintenance platform enables communication between your car, your phone via mobile app, and dealerships. The company touts this technology as a “proactive virtual technician”, communicating vehicle maintenance needs and failures to both the car’s owner, and service centres, in real time. When an issue arises, the driver can request service at a connected service centre with one touch. Pitstop tech is currently available through over a dozen dealerships, with plans to make the technology available direct-to-consumer this year.
Vehicle diagnostics and preventive maintenance is an industry growing at an accelerated rate. In April, internet radio giant Sirius XM acquires Automatic Labs, a San Francisco-based company also working to bring vehicle data diagnostics to the mainstream. And in Canada, investors are taking an active part in putting these technologies into consumers’ hands. Infiniti Lab, a tech accelerator partnership of the luxury car brand and Multiplicity Media, has recently taken both Driven and Pitstop into their fold.
What does the increased availability of these diagnostic apps mean for car drivers? Owners can look forward to easier maintenance and lowered costs, as they will be reminded or alerted to issues in real time, and before they worsen and call for additional repairs. Having an objective source of information will also increase transparency (and possibly reduce the need for second opinions) when it comes to diagnosing car troubles. And as we look towards the future of connected cars, the possibilities are potentially endless.