For people who want to own a connected and smart car, there are two main options: buy one or turn your current car into one. For those interested in the second, less expensive option, there’s Zubie, a device that plugs into the OBD-II port and gives you access to WiFi and connected apps.
What a smart car can do
The “Internet of Things” mentality has spread to the automotive world a long time ago but the question is what can a smart car do and a regular one can’t.
Installing a Zubie or any other similar device won’t make your car move faster or get better mileage, but it will give you constant access to a plethora of information that will help you drive better. Through apps, you can record your trips in a spreadsheet, get information on how well you drive and when to be careful on the road. It also provides you with almost every detail about your car.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. By connecting your car to your home, you can control one while being in the other. For example, you can turn the air conditioning on from your smart car. Your best friend will still be your smartphone, though. Through it, you’ll be able to know every detail about your home, computer, accounts and now your car.
What Zubie brings to the table
First, there are two versions of the device: the regular version that gives you the option to connect your car to other objects and give you information and a version that does all that while also providing you with WiFi if you have a Verizon Wireless account.
[Image Credits: Zubie]
Many devices just offer you the internet, but Zubie has other strong points and you even have the option of skipping WiFi altogether if necessary. The device gives you more information about the car than you’ll generally need. If something happens to it, though, Zubie will tell you exactly what isn’t working.
You can go even further: they have recently announced a partnership with Castrol InooVentures. Your device can feed them information in real time and when your need to visit a mechanic, he will know what your car needs before you even get to him.
As more apps come out, you get more options and possibilities for your smart car. Here are a few examples:
- Through Urgent.ly, your car can send an automated report with your location and what happened to the car. This can be invaluable if you don’t have your phone or you don’t know where you are when the smart car breaks down.
- Expensify is an app that calculates how much you pay for fuel. By using it with Zubie, you know exactly how much money it was to go from point A to point B and if it was a business trip, it will make a report for you. This way you get your expenses back with no hassle.
- Spot Angels will help you never to get a parking ticket again if you live in New York City or Los Angeles. In these two cities, it notifies you in real time about residential regulations, parking meters and street cleanings. If you’re outside of the areas, the data coverage is limited.
These are some of the most important features of the device for someone buying it for personal use. Zubie also offers certain services for businesses. If you’re managing a fleet of cars, you’ll know everything about them by installing a device in each one. This information ranges from the state of each car to the performance of the drivers to the routes they take and if they’re using the cars during off hours.
Is a Zubie worth it?
You can use the device only in the United States, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. So, if you don’t live in one of those areas, the answer is “no”.
If it works in your area, the standard Zubie comes free and asks for a $100 fee once a year. The version that also has WiFi asks for $100 up front and $10 a month, but that doesn’t include the money you have to pay Verison. There are also a few offers for “family packs” or for businesses.
Dongles are cheaper but they don’t offer the features that Zubie offers. There is also the fact that the device will become compatible with more and more apps and other “smart objects”. They will probably develop the infrastructure to work in other countries as well.
As it stands, it might seem pricey and it works only in certain areas, but I sincerely believe that everyone will have smart cars in the future. That means we will see many more apps and devices in the future.
What do you think of the Zubie? Would you buy it? Leave your opinion in the comment section below.
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