(Courtesy of SlashGear)
In the wake of Tesla’s announcement that all of its cars going forward will be pre-wired for stage 5 autonomous driving, it occurred to me that smart cars were not a topic that I had covered in this blog. But instead of focusing on how smart the car is on the road (because, as dear Elon says, retro-wiring a car to be autonomous may cost more than a new car), I want to discuss how your car and your home can interact.
The car is an extension of the home, at least here in the US. It allows us to range out from our base of operations into the wilds of both the urban and sub-urban worlds. For that matter, without the modern automobile, suburbia could not exist: we’d all have to walk that five miles to the grocery store and back, lugging the groceries. Without the car, we’d be back into a more direct rural/urban split. So, it makes sense that if you are going to have a smart home, you need a smart car to go with it.
Smart Car Geo-Fencing
(Courtesy of Biznessapps.com)
The first smart car option for the burgeoning smarthome enthusiast is to set up some rules based on geo-fencing. Things like having your smart thermostat change into a lower energy use mode when your car has traveled a far enough distance from your home. And then move up into a more comfortable range as the car comes back. Another is lighting: have the outside lights kick on as you approach, but only at night, and turn off when you leave, all without you having to remember a thing.
Another option is to set alarms. For instance, have your system warn you that you left the garage door open if your car has traveled a certain distance from your home. Or maybe have the triggers for your smart home security trigger into an ‘alarm’ mode at that same distance. Or, why not all?
The main component most people use for doing this is not actually anything to do with the car, but all powered through the smart phone. If you are the only one driving the car, then this works: you take your phone with you where ever you go, so of course it will be in the car with you. Then its GPS module can play the part of the sensor that interacts with your home. However, if you are not the only one who drives the car, or if your car is often in a place where other people might invite themselves to drive it on their own, then it is worth your while to invest in something more.
Smart Car Sensors
The first option is to have a small RFID tag like thing in the car: hanging from the mirror or in one of those dash pockets (but probably not in the glove box or other enclosed space that might restrict its transmission range). Things like any of those in the Qioto Item Tracking category. Most of these are like the Tile Slim, small and using a short-range (under 50 meters) radio system. For a car, they will let the home system know that whether the car is home or away, but will not allow for tracking beyond their range. For instance, you can set the thermostat to change when the car leaves that short range, but if you are only driving the kids to school and will be home quickly, then that change may not make sense.
The other option is a full GPS tag, like the Trax GPS. These will allow for dedicated tracking of your vehicle beyond mere geo-fencing. Know where it is if it get stolen or if your teenager seems to have appropriated your keys. These are much more capable, but they are also much more expensive.
Beyond Smart Car Location
(Courtesy of LifeHacker)
Another way to smarten up your car is to get a better idea of what is happening under the hood. There are a variety of devices that will plug into the On-Board Diagnostics Port (OBD II Port) usually located next to the driver’s outside shin (in case you live someplace with the roads backwards). Devices like this range in price from $25USD to over $100USD. LifeHacker has a great article on what they can do for you, but the TL;DR version is:
- Know why the engine light is on
- Track and graph your fuel efficiency
- Know where you parked
Some of them, like the Automatic, are a bit more expensive (and a bit more proprietary), but are also very simple to use.
That’s it for this week. This is Schmoid, reminding you to keep the rubber round things on the road.