Last October, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the Apps for Vehicles Challenge, a competition where participants submit their idea for a smartphone app that uses vehicle information to help drivers improve both fuel efficiency and safety. While some of this technology is available on the latest car models, including the Lincoln lineup, the great thing about these apps is that you don’t have to go out and purchase the newest model to take advantage of this technology.
Four winners were selected based on their app’s usage of open vehicle data, accessibility, and ability to aid consumers in improving fuel efficiency. The Judge’s grand prize went to Dash Labs, Inc., for their DASH app, which uses an Onboard Diagnostic Reader (OBD II) to obtain real time vehicle performance information. The OBD II is compatible on all vehicles sold in the U.S. after 1996 and can monitor data such as fuel efficiency, carbon footprint, and total ownership cost of the vehicle. Another benefit of DASH is that it monitors your driving style and gives you a score out of 100, which could possibly be used to help lower the cost of your insurance.
The Popular Choice grand prize went to MyCarma, an app that can help car buyers choose a vehicle that fits their driving needs. MyCarma logs driving data in your current car for 7 days. Once the data is compiled, you can apply your data to the top 3 cars on your vehicle consideration list and get a personalized fuel economy label for each. This allows you to see which car will give you the most benefit, since real fuel economy is based on driving style.
The final two winners received honorable mention for their innovations. The Honorable Mention for Safety Innovation went to Green Button Game: Driver Challenge. Their app is a driving game that awards points for safe driving. You can go up against a friend, even betting up to $1 on the game, and the person who drivers the safest wins. If you close the app to do something else on the phone while driving, you automatically lose. The Honorable Mention for Fuel Efficiency Innovation went to Fuel Economy Coach, which records driving habits and provides feedback to help you become a safer and more fuel efficient driver.
If you want to take advantage of safety and fuel efficiency technology but don’t have the budget for a new car, these apps are a great alternative!