It’s not totally uncommon these days to see a product that will bring more data transparency to your car’s dashboard — right now, lots of these products are being rushed to market, as companies collectively realize that new technology offers easy ways to get more out of automotive communications. Still, it’s a very new technology and a market space that’s still emerging.
Within this brand-new market, there are some tools that are interesting for the specific features and interactivity they provide. One of these is VOYO, produced by Voyomotive LLC. A recent press release announced a Kickstarter campaign promoting this auto data controller, which is built for any vehicle model 1996 or newer.
A number of features built into VOYO demonstrate new examples of how today’s engineers can really change the way we drive and how we interact with our cars.
Here’s one example: A feature called AutoKey automatically locks or unlocks the car doors based on how close the user’s phone is to the vehicle. It wasn’t too many years ago that wireless key fobs were something new and super-convenient. This new technology simply gets rid of key security entirely, much like a “smart key” that now comes with many vehicles from the factory.
Another feature called Aware Alerts looks for crowdsourced information on dangerous roadway conditions and reports that to the driver. It’s not hard to imagine this technology helping a particular driver learn about and practically “see” an accident or obstruction half a mile or a mile ahead, instead of getting stuck in a traffic jam and opening the door to try to crane his or her head above traffic to see what’s going on.
These innovations are interesting, but one of the biggest new utilities of VOYO is something the company calls the “gamification” of vehicle and fuel conservation data.
Voyomotive’s announcement specifies that VOYO generates pop-ups on a user’s device for things like carbon emissions reduction, fuel savings, and safe driving outcomes. It also notes that these can be ported to social media platforms.
The reality here is that drivers using VOYO will be able to post about all of their neat driving habits right on Facebook. Instead of those annoying Farmville posts asking you to feed someone’s imaginary sheep, you’ll see that so-and-so used a left turn signal appropriately, saved a couple of miles per gallon on his or her way to work, or drove efficiently in stop and go traffic.
Is this going to be less annoying than the virtual gaming posts that have flooded Facebook for the past few years? That’s for you to decide, and it’s likely that quite a few people on Facebook will end up blocking over-sharing drivers. But the idea behind this is really full of potential. It’s also safe, since the VOYO platform will block any of this posting and texting while the vehicle is in motion. VOYO CEO and Founder Peter Yorke explained that VOYO also has a “stop and go” tool that can turn the engine off while the car is stopped, to decrease idling. So with this, he says, the functionality is turned on when the car has been verified to be at a stop, and gets switched back off as soon as the vehicle starts moving.
Another brilliant new set of features in VOYO has to do with engine diagnostics.
Explaining how Voyomotive has a vehicle R&D center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Yorke said VOYO will be the only tool to produce “deep-level” engine codes, the kind that dealerships use to diagnose computers, instead of the generic codes that a $20 reader will pull from a car.
Yorke said VOYO will be able to see some of the pre-set codes that are thrown without flagging a vehicle’s check engine light. To the average driver, this may not mean much, but for anyone who has ever diagnosed a catalytic converter or an oxygen sensor, it means a lot.
The ability to get a wider range of diagnostic codes means drivers will have more of that vital information that ASE mechanics get when the hook up a car. In today’s modern car world, you need this kind of data to “be your own mechanic” or just to know what your shop is talking about when you bring a vehicle in. Technologies like these will, to a certain extent, start to level the playing field for modern vehicle owners.
Yorke said that right now a Kickstarter campaign is the model being used to support the production of VOYO, but that will change. The campaign has already met its threshold, and company leaders say VOYO will start to ship early next year. The estimated sticker price will be around $100 for a basic services platform. If you want to be an early adopter of an OBD plug-in, VOYO’s worth a look.
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