Fitness trackers record your sleep patterns and exercise habits with ease, but the makers of a new device aim to bring that same kind of “quantified-self” tracking to another valuable part of your life: your car.
The FIXD sensor is a device that connects your car to your smartphone via Bluetooth and delivers updates on everything from when you need an oil change to when you need to replace your air filter.
By connecting the FIXD device to your car’s OBD-II (On Board Diagnostics-II) port, just underneath the steering wheel and then pairing it with your smartphone, you’re immediately given vital diagnostic data that allows you to track your car’s wellbeing.
Unlike so many other tracker devices, this one doesn’t need to be constantly recharged.
“Our device is powered by the car, so there is no battery,” John Gattuso, the founder of FIXD, told Mashable. “It will last as long as your car battery will last.”
In addition to tracking the status of your oil and air filter, the device also delivers updates on the condition of your airbag and tells you when your car needs more coolant. The FIXD app also tells you how long, in miles, you have until a particular problem might become critical, as well as the possible consequences if you ignore the app’s warning.
Another helpful aspect of the app is a feature that estimates the costs to take care of various problems the sensor discovers.
“For the repair estimate we are going to initially talk to mechanics about the time required for certain fixes and part costs,” Gattuso said, “but as our user base grows we would like to crowdsource that information from the actual experience of users.”
However, attaching such a device to an expensive car raises security concerns. Will hackers be able to exploit the sensor and app and steal your car?
“It is true that some have been able to hack cars using this port, but with our hardware that person would have to get the car started, connect a laptop to our hardware [within about 5 feet] and write their own software to send information to the car’s [engine control unit], which is extremely difficult,” Gattuso said. “Not impossible, but no system is completely impervious to hackers.”
Still, there will be those concerned about having their travel information possibly accessed by anyone who can intercept the sensor’s data transmission to the wirelessly connected smartphone.
Once the information is sent to the phone, though, Gattuso said it will be protected by the same kind of safeguards used by banks and online retailers to transfer payment data.
The first version of the app will be for Android only. An iOS version for the iPhone is still in development. Early adopters can snag the device for $40. And for those with multiple cars, several different FIXD sensors can be attached to your cars and monitored on one smartphone.
So far, the project’s Kickstarter campaign has only garnered about $4,000 of its $30,000 goal, with 18 days to go. If it succeeds, the team behind the device plan to ship it in April of 2015.