Awesome Stuff: Hacking Your Car, Part II

Photo-littleTech Dirt – by Mike Masnick

A few months ago, for our awesome stuff post looking at crowdfunding projects, we did one on hacking your car, highlighting a couple of projects involving OBD devices and software. It seems this market is exploding with other options, and a bunch of them have recently launched crowdfunding campaigns. To be honest, as with any such crowded market, the features of each start to blend together, and it’s a bit difficult to tell how any of these are particularly different than the others (or previous ones that are already on the market).  

  • First up, we’ve got the OBDLink MX WiFi. These guys keep insisting their offering is better than everyone else’s, especially on speed (they claim it’s 4x faster than any other competitor) though it seems like you have to trust them that it’s true. It uses WiFi, which isn’t as common (many, though not all, competitors use bluetooth) and it certainly looks like they’ve put a lot of thought into making it just work, but it really does seem a bit difficult to distinguish from the competition.
    Of all the projects listed here today, these guys have (by far) the most traction, already raising over $170,000, well past their $35,000 goal, and they still have nearly a month left on the project. Having seen so many of these devices out there, they tend to gravitate around $100-$150, and the OBDLink guys have made sure that they have a ton of early bird offerings, including some that were as low as $49, though they’re all sold out. There are still some $79 ones left, and after that the price jumps to $119.
  • Next up, we’ve got Freematics, which plays up the fact that it’s based on Arduino and the goal is to be as open source and flexible as possible on the hardware side. This one definitely seems designed more for those who would be a lot more interested in hacking their own OBD setup. By using Arduino and some built in sensors (accelerometer and gyro) there are definitely more opportunities to do different kinds of things with the Freematics device, though it’s arguable how useful those things really are. Still, for someone who wants to dig a little deeper, it’s an interesting option.
    This project is still way below it’s $50,000 goal, hovering around $17,000 with about a month to go. It still might make it, but it’s going to take a lot of effort. There are a range of prices depending on what hardware you’re getting, so it’s pretty customizable both for features and budget. However, loading it up with everything, definitely can be a lot pricier than most of the competition. While the basic versions run closer to $100, if you want to include GPS, microSD and various development kids, it goes all the way up to well over $300.
  • Next up, we’ve got the Clickdrive. The marketing around this one is basically all about the apps and the “app market” it will have — but that still seems to be very much in development, which makes it a tougher sell. Others advertise a variety of apps (including the OBDLink above), but for Clickdrive that seems to be the central selling point, whereas others don’t promote their apps as much. The “current” apps really look like the same basic apps pretty much everyone else offers, so focusing so heavily on the apps seems a little strange. They are also promoting it as open platform for others to develop apps, but there’s a chicken and egg problem there if no one’s using the devices…
    These guys are asking for $100,000, which is a pretty high target, and they’re only around 10% of that with a little over a month to go. And even though this is on Indiegogo, they chose the option to only get the funds if it hits the target, meaning this one has a decent chance of not getting funded. Of course, the fact that the Clickdrive appears to be a lot more expensive than OBD offerings already on the market, and the software isn’t as developed, seems like a tough sell. The “earlybird” is $249 and they claim retail will be $359. But that’s tough to square with the OBDLink one above being less than half the price with what appear to be more developed apps, or things like Automatic Link which is already on the market for $99.
  • Finally, there’s the Truvolo, which, again, looks an awful lot like many of the other offerings, making it difficult to find anything that stands out as particularly different. About the only “difference” they highlight is that they have a cloud solution that comes with it to store and sync data — but we’ve seen that before with the Fuse project from last year as well — and like the Fuse, Truvolo is looking to sell premium services at a monthly fee that utilize the cloud. Most of the other devices in the market promote their lack of monthly fees. If the cloud services are worth it, it could be interesting, but Truvolo even admits that they’re still figuring those out.
  • These guys are also looking for $100,000, and are only at about 30% with a little over two weeks to go. That means it’s unlikely it will get funded, and again, Truvolo only gets the money if it hits the target. Unlike the Clickdrive above, however, at least these guys are more in line with the competition on pricing, offering early birds for $89 and setting the regular price at $99.

That’s it for this week. Drive smarter, everyone.

One thought on “Awesome Stuff: Hacking Your Car, Part II

  1. Just what I always wanted a devise to hack my car. Oh wait my truck is too old.
    Anyone with a new car should pay to have their car hacker proofed. If that is possible.

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