Screencap from Mavizon websiteEnlarge Photo
Several months ago, we talked about the Chevy Volt app, which allows Volt owners to unlock their vehicle, check battery levels, and more, all from their smartphones. Then, GM rolled out something similar to OnStar subscribers. That technology is pretty cool, but obviously it's restricted to specific models and subscription services. Now, Mavizon Technologies wants to bring the same functionality to drivers of every car with its new AutoBot device.
The concept behind AutoBot is pretty straightforward. You purchase AutoBot at a car dealership or retailer. (Mavizon hasn't released a full list of those retailers yet, but probably will after the Consumer Electronics Show in January.) Attach the device to you car's OBD connector, then visit http://mavizontech.com/autobot to creat an AutoBot account. After answering a few questions about your car, the website syncs with your vehicle and cycles that information to your smartphone. Then, you'll be able to check fuel levels, unlock your doors, and track your driving habits from your mobile device. The specifics of how AutoBot works are still a little sketchy, but the device just won the 2010 i-Stage competition, which implies that its technical underpinnings are pretty solid.
In the long run, AutoBot seems like a clever workaround while we wait for smartphone integration to become a standard feature on new cars. Just as we had to deal with old-school cassette adapters until in-dash CD players became commonplace, and just as we've had to put up with Bluetooth until Wi-Fi Direct matures, we know that AutoBot isn't perfect, but it's a good technology for now.