Collecting data is all well and good. Turning it into actionable information is something else entirely. Automatic has managed to ace the former with its plug-in device that collects data on how you're driving. And it's hoping to extend its ability to help with the latter via a new website that lets users take a closer look at that data.
Launching Wednesday, Automatic's web dashboard will take the data collected by Automatic's $100 car accessory and accompanying mobile app and display it on a larger canvas than the screen of your iOS or Android device. All the data from each of your car trips appears both in list and graph views; you can then filter that data to see how much fuel you're using, how long you're behind the wheel on each trip, and how you might be able to improve fuel efficiency.
That's been the aim of Automatic since it debuted last year as a connected car accessory. The tiny device taps into your car's onboard computer by plugging into a computer socket, something you'll find on most cars sold in the U.S. since 1996. In addition to logging the time, distance, and fuel consumption of each trip, Automatic also records when you brake abruptly or accelerate quickly. That information is beamed to an app (available for both Android or iOS), which you can study for insights into how you drive.
The new online dashboard is an extension of all that, giving Automatic users a more in-depth glance for finding trends in their driving habits. The company opened up access to its API in January, which allowed some users to build their own data analysis tools for the information Automatic was collecting. That's the same data on display in the web dashboard, where users can call out everything from miles-per-gallon to fuel costs per trip to a driving score Automatic calculates based on whether you had any hard brakes or accelerations and how long your speed topped 70 miles per hour.
What exactly can you do with that data? Say you filter your trip information to show your morning commutes. You might see that leaving at a specific time consistently leads to a shorter, more fuel efficient drive. Filtering by miles-per-gallon might reveal that your fuel efficiency is declining even when other factors remain steady--that could indicate it's time for a tune-up.
You don't have to manually upload any data to the web dashboard: it's synced automatically to both the web and the mobile app at the end of each trip.
Automatic has a few other tricks up its sleeve apart from data analysis. The app helps you figure out what that inscrutable Check Engine light might be trying to tell you, and it remembers where you parked, which can be a helpful trick if you do a lot of city driving. Our colleagues at IDG News Service took Automatic out for a test drive earlier this year and filed a video report, which you'll find embedded below.