January 14, 2016
A new product from startup Voyomotive aims to take advantage of your car’s OBD-II port like never before. An OBD-II port is included on every vehicle built after 1996, usually located under the dash. These ports have traditionally been used only for emissions testing and reading error codes, which give you more information about why that check engine light is on.
In recent years, a number of companies have made devices that use your OBD system to gather and record data about the car and your driving habits, helping you drive more safely and even detecting mechanical problems early. Voyo will do even more.
Voyo has similar data-collecting abilities to other OBD products, but it also has a few features that go beyond gathering info about your own car. Voyo uses a combination of GPS data and your OBD system to track your driving, uploading that information to the cloud. Data from all Voyo users is then used to track traffic patterns and mark potential road hazards. If a Voyo user swerves to avoid a pothole, another user behind them will see it marked on the map, letting them know to watch out for the hazard.
Preventing the Idle Waste of Fuel
This information can also be used to save fuel. Voyo can remember which stoplights have particularly long wait times. When you’re stuck at one, the device can actually shut off your engine, then restart it automatically when you let off the brake. You can also manually trigger this temporary shutoff by pushing the brake in further after you’ve already come to a stop.
This kind of start/stop system can potentially increase fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent, depending on how much time you normally spend in idle. Voyo claims its system can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 1,200 pounds and save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. These numbers are based on a somewhat generous estimate of 20 minutes of idling time per day, so customers who spend less time stopped at red lights will see smaller gains.
Combining Security and Convenience
Using its companion app, Voyo can detect the proximity of your smartphone, which allows the device to perform a number of interesting functions. It can automatically unlock doors when you approach the car and automatically lock them when you leave. You can also tell the app to pop the trunk the next time you approach the car, which can make it easier when you come back from a shopping trip with your hands full of bags.
Voyo also includes an immobilizer function which prevents the engine from starting. If you wish, you can turn immobilization on and have it automatically disable when your smartphone is in proximity. That makes it easier to prevent theft without having to turn the function on every time you leave and off every time you return.
Putting Data in the Palm of Your Hand
Like other OBD systems, Voyo records all manner of data coming from your car, giving you a comprehensive look at your vehicle’s operation. This kind of real-time data tracking is becoming more common in the testing industry due to the clearer picture it provides of how systems operate under normal use. Voyo applies those same principles to your car, allowing you to track mileage, fuel consumption and emissions for each individual trip.
Of course, the big question facing Voyo is whether consumers want the data and other features enough to justify the device’s price tag. The OBD-II device alone costs $100, and some functions may require up to two additional relays, which sell for $50 each. They offer a Premium Pack Subscription, which is $30 for the year or $100 lifetime. A Premium Pack subscription includes: AutoKey, AutoTrunk, AutoStop, AutoMobilize, Immobilizer Clock, Advanced Diagnostics. Premium Pack Services are available on a trial basis for 30 days, after which an annual subscription is required. It’s a lot to ask, but for some consumers, the fuel savings and added convenience may justify the cost. For others, it may be just a new toy. We may not have flying cars just yet, but Voyomotive wants to help us get one step closer to the cars of the future. Will it work? We’ll find out soon.
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