A new gadget that plugs into older cars will give them connected, smart-car features that their owners have only dreamed of. The gadget is called Vinli. The company met its $75,000 funding goal on IndieGoGo within 48 hours, and then surpassed it. The Vinli plugs into the diagnostic port of any car built after 1996, writes Kristen Korosec for Fortune.
Among the more than 150 apps Vinli can access are: Flo, which helps drivers improve their driving skills; Beagle, which helps teen drivers to drive safely; Otto, which “diagnoses a car’s problems before they become problems”; SafeDrive, which gives drivers points for not touching the phone while driving (points that can be used for rewards and discounts); eCall, which notifies loved ones should the driver get into a car accident; and Roadside Assistance, according to Vinli’s IndieGoGo campaign page. In addition, Korosec reports, Vinli has created an open platform for developers to create other apps for it. It runs on Linux, writes Aliya Barnwell for Digital Trends in an article titled: “Vinli Transforms Any Old Clunker into a High-Tech Connected Car.”
Korosec notes that there are many older cars that could benefit from Vinli:
In the U.S. alone, more than 253 million cars are an average of 11 years old, according to Vinli. That leaves a big opportunity for any company that can develop an universal way to connect those old cars to a smartphone or computer.
Older cars are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents, according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as this blog has reported. Before the advent of Vinli, the only way to have a connected car was to buy the whole car. And as Justin Fritz writes for Wall St Daily, “The problem is, connected cars go for an “average selling price of $55,000,” according to Greenough. And most people can not afford that, Fritz adds.
In addition to many safe-driving apps, Vinli can access apps that track your car if it is ever stolen; find your parked car; tell you the vehicle’s average fuel efficiency and speed; and help you find the cheapest gas, Barnwell writes. “[B]y using Vinli you’ll also be equipping your car with highspeed Wi-Fi and 4G LTE allowing you to stream movies for the kids,” writes Cool Gadgets.
Jennifer Conley, Vinli’s VP of Communications, writes on Vinli’s IndieGoGo comments page that Vinli has partnered with T-Mobile to provide a WiFi hotspot connection on the road. No contract or monthly fee is necessary, as users only need to prepay for data — 1GB for $15 or 3GB for $40, and Vinli notifies the driver when the data is running low, Conley writes.
Created at Dialexa Labs, a Dallas innovation and development lab, the Vinli is expected to ship in August. It will sell at retail for $149, but if pre-ordered via the IndieGoGo page, a limited number will be available for a $99 early-bird price.