Lisa Johnston On Mar 25 2013 - 12:00am

Automatic Introduces Plug-In Driving Assistant


SAN FRANCISCO — Automatic launched an iPhone-compatible plug-in “driving assistant.”

The $69.95 Automatic Link plugs into a car’s OBD port and uses Bluetooth to connect to an iPhone 4S or 5. An Automatic app running on the phone will display miles per gallon gas usage, parking reminders, and car diagnostic alerts. The app even allows drivers to clear the “check engine” light for certain issues; for those in which the light can’t be cleared, the app will display a list of nearby mechanics.

The device also provides a driver score based on “metrics shown to increase fuel efficiency and safety, like braking and accelerating smoothly,” the company said. The score is given on a 100-point scale.

A Crash Alert feature uses a series of algorithms to determine if the car has been in an accident, then alerts the company’s servers that an accident occurred. The servers in turn contact the nearest 911 dispatcher with an automated call that provides the GPS location and car description. The server will also notify a user-designated emergency contact.

The Automatic Link will retail for a suggested $69.95, and there are no monthly service fees after purchase. The device can be pre-ordered now on the company’s website, and shipping is scheduled for May. An Android version of the app will be available in the fall.

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