Have you got an on-board diagnostics app for your car? Apparently it’s the latest thing in tech and Dash is spearheading the campaign to get your car tech smarter
Dash was founded in 2012 and has been named one to watch by many – it even attracted seed funding by Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley. So what is this startup and how will it change your life?
Dash has been described as fuelband for your car. If you want to “make your car smarter” (so says the content on the company’s official website) then Dash was made with you in mind. How does one make a car smarter, you might ask? Real time diagnostics, locating where the cheapest places to stop for gas are as you drive and informing you of road conditions and even your driving behavior are some of the features you can enjoy with Dash.
How Dash Works
Dash connects your smartphone to your car via an app and a Bluetooth-enabled on-board diagnostics (OBD) device. The app is available on Android with an iOS version in the works and OBD devices can cost as little as ten dollars.
As you drive, the kind of messages you can expect to see on your smartphone can range from “Looks like you’re low on fuel! By our estimates you have 260 miles until you run out” to repair estimates of any damaged parts of your car.
The automatic VIN decoding is what makes it possible for drivers to keep a beady eye on the analytics of their vehicle. So if your car has a cracked head gasket, you can see an approximation of how critical and costly the problem is just by looking at your smartphone. Of course, getting any problem confirmed by a mechanic shouldn’t go amiss even if your car has been made “smarter”.
Dash is not the only app to specialize in monitoring your vehicle’s system via devices that plug into the onboard diagnostics port located under the dashboard.
However, a lot of investors were initially hesitant about the idea as at the time the first prototype had been put together the landscape for connected car had hardly been touched. Now, things are clearly very different as the automotive market has come to the attention of app-makers.
Where Dash Came From
The company was founded in the summer of 2012 by Jamyn Edis and Brian Langel and is now being pegged as one to watch by the usual heavy-hitting, tech-savvy publications. It has attracted seed funding from the likes of Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley.
Edis and Langel had worked together at HBO for six years with Edis leading Consumer Technology R&D. The Harvard graduate had grown up in England but left in 2003, describing the environment for start-ups in the UK as being less friendly at that time. Whilst engineer Langel worked for HBO GO and HBO Sports to name but a few, Edis brought almost 300 start-ups into HBO and worked as a mentor for TechStars. It was TechStars that provided Dash with referrals and enough money for the start-up to hire engineers and designers.
A re-design was in order and consumer research was pretty thorough. But what had deterred some investors was kept in mind as interviews and online surveys were conducted. No precedent had been set for these kinds of apps. It was important that the app did not become a modern backseat driver and that the alerts provided by the app did not distract the driver.
The Importance Of Market Research
Interviewees said which features they would like the app to have but what they wanted and what they actually used appeared to be two different things. The quantitative data showed that the features users ranked lowly tended to be the most used features. It was the quantitative data that Edis and Langel listened to and acted on.
Since then, the company has attracted heaps of attention. Besides allegedly getting several great investors (that should be announced soon), Dash has won the White House and Department of Energy’s Challenge and an app challenge ran by Ford.