Last 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.
The 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!