Merge your tablet and your car with OBD-II

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Your car is smarter than you think, and it keeps track of a lot of things you might not have been aware of. Want to be aware of it? There’s an app for that! Actually, a whole interface system, called OBD-II. OBD means On-Board Diagnostic, and OBD-II is the newest standard. It can be used to feed mechanics data, or feed data to you. This is a very widespread system, available on any newer car (2001-2003 and newer, and probably some older ones) and there have been apps made for this for years- I remember seeing one back when I had the Nokia N800, even.

To interface your tablet with your car you need an OBD-II adapter. You can get one that fits your iOS device specifically, or simply get a $150 adapter that does USB, Bluetooth and WiFi. Then you need software, which by now is available on pretty much any platform. Once hooked up, you will be able to access a variety of data on your tablet, somewhat limited by what the car supports. Engine speed, fuel consumption, acceleration, remaining fuel levels, temperatures of various things, etc. A $50 iOS app called DashCommand is one of the most comprehensive such app I’ve seen, and it has an epic list of features.

I’m not a car person so this system isn’t for me, but I sure appreciate what sort of control this can give you as a driver. Advanced statistics such as these are often built into very new cars, but they’re static and not very…interactive. An OBD-II setup gives you direct access to what your car is thinking, and can be a powerful tool if used right. This is another one of those hidden gems that you can do with your device that most people aren’t aware of, and I think it deserves a little bit of attention.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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