New Toy for a Data Hound

I got a new toy today, the perfect thing for a data hound like me. It is the Automatic device, which is probably best described as a “FitBit for cars” type of device. The Automatic website describes the device as, “Your smart driving assistant.” And it comes just in time for our drive down to Florida next weekend.


The device plugs into the standard OBD-II data port on your car (it is compatible with most cars made after 1996) and syncs via BlueTooth 4.0 with the Automatic app on your iPhone. It does four main things:

  1. Provides real-time driving feedback on things like rough braking, speeding, and rapid acceleration, all of which contribute to lower fuel efficiency. It calculate a driving score for you and tells you how much money you save on gas based on how you drive.
  2. It creates trip timelines for you with all kinds of information about your driving habits, where, and how much you drive. It can detect when the car should be filled up and knows about local gas prices so that you can save money at the pump.
  3. It remembers where you park your car.
  4. It knows all of the codes for the “Check Engine” light, should it come on.

The device can also contact emergency services if the car is in a serious crash. (It has a built-in accelerometer.)

Of course, for me, this is just another source of automatically collected data for personal analytics that I can add to my FitBit activity data, writing data, and other data that I collect. I’ll see how it works on our vacation and you can bet I’ll be posting more about it.


  1. Did you receive it as part of a beta or did you purchase it? I also signed up long ago on their waiting list, even received an email a few weeks ago with a status update saying “soon”, but never quite understood if they were issuing demos for a pilot program or what.

    Anyway, as with your FitBit posts and general automation posts I look forward to your reviews and hopefully getting my hands on one as well.

    I too am a data and personal analytics junkie.


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