Blog Post: A Dongle For Your Car

I can’t be the only person who gets annoyed by the “check engine” light in my car. It’s so generic, and it involves me schlepping my car at an inopportune time to have someone tell me there’s nothing really wrong. While I am there, however, there are several things that need maintenance if I want to sleep well at night.

The problem is I don’t own information about something I possess.

My car — just like my body — contain information that I could use to better take care of it. The problem is the people that have access don’t want to give it up because it could possibly cut them out of something they want a piece of.

Dash is trying to change that, and should be able to after their funding round is complete.

Their device, which fits easily in the palm of your hand, attaches to any vehicle and immediately starts collecting 300 different types of data about your vehicle and transmits it to your mobile device. It will be cheap ($5-$40 estimated), easy to install, and gives you the owner the data you need.

The iOS and Android apps will tell you more than just what’s going on with your car. You can quickly find the cheapest gas. Safe drivers can get insurance breaks. Emergency services can even be automatically dialed if you have been in an accident.

One of the founders has pledged to keep a firewall up between users and insurance companies, but frankly I don’t care of my data is sold. It’s already done on my behalf by dozens of other services, and it encourages me to be a safer driver. Privacy should be dispelled as an illusion in favor of using the data to benefit society.

Just like health bands like the Fitbit and Nike Fuel, there is so much to be gained from gathering your own information. For me, I would love to know more about my car and how I can speak intelligently about it’s performance. A small part of me would love to walk into a shop with my smartphone telling the mechanic what needs to be done instead of blindly trusting what I’m being told.

Keep an eye out for this device, and buy one for every auto you own.  

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