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UWAFTLast year the University of Waterloo’s (UWAFT) business lead championed the idea of designing a mobile application to encourage drivers to commute in an economical manner. The Eco Driver App was designed for iPhone users and tracked trip distance, speed, acceleration and miles per gallon of gas. In addition, it gave warnings for sudden acceleration, excessive idling and cruise control. The app was powered by GPS which offered the ability to know where a consumer is at all times while driving and integrate the app with Facebook/Twitter.

This year the team adopted a different design philosophy and decided to focus on actual vehicular performance and ensuring the vehicle is functioning at peak efficiency to encourage green driving. However, a number of recent studies and increased governmental pressures have focused on the use of mobile devices while driving.

The challenge was clear: UWAFT had to design an app that would provide functionality during the times that the consumer would be driving so they created a “set it and forget it” app that is activated before driving and the can be checked upon arrival at a destination. The app connects to the car via Bluetooth, which means the entire process is wireless and drivers can focus solely on driving.

UWAFT 2The team liked the idea of retaining the Driver Profile from their original app so they kept that idea as a secondary functionality while the main focus was determining the life cycle of various parts to ensure that vehicles are running at their optimal levels and any maintenance can be tracked. The app tells users when their oil needs to be changed amongst other things.

Another new piece of functionality is the use of a fault logger. This was designed to give end users a better idea of how their vehicle works by diagnosing the OBD signals given off by the car when instrument panel alerts arise. Giving drivers a better understanding of these alerts allows them to save money when visiting a mechanic and keeps them informed of their vehicles’ issues. Remember to always drive safe and green!

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With the smart phone craze spreading rapidly across the world, Penn State EcoCAR wanted to get in on the action, so the outreach team spent the Spring Semester working to create Penn State EcoCAR’s very own iPod and iPod Touch Application.

The free app can be found on iTunes and other app stores by typing in “PSU EcoCAR.” It includes feeds to all of the team’s social media streams including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube. Users can view the team’s videos and pictures directly on the app, as well as leaving comments.

The Penn State EcoCAR team debuted the app at a campus Earth Day event, and it has been downloaded 257 times so far. The team was especially proud that State College’s Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and District Representative Rick Sollman downloaded the app when they visited the Penn State EcoCAR garage!

The app is a great way for the team to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology and spread EcoCAR goals and missions to a wider range of people. As Year Three comes to a close, the Penn State team will be sure to keep the app updated on the competition’s progress. Download Penn State EcoCAR’s App today!

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