The Trigger + Jamyn Edis – Dash

Driving a modern car remains a strangely analog experience. For all its digital wizardry beneath the hood, your car hardly gives you any feedback or data on your driving habits. You could be a great driver or a terrible one, and you’d have no way of knowing it – other than vaguely subjective feedback from your co-passengers.

This is where Dash steps in. With its new smart device, Dash promises to bridge the “data gap” between you and your car and changes the way you think of driving.

What is Dash?

Dash is a smartphone app that collects data from your car’s computer through a connected On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) device. Once installed, it can send data about the car directly to the Dash smartphone app, where it can be collected and further analyzed.

A good way to understand Dash is to think of it as a “Fitbit for Cars.” Just as Fitbit’s health tracking device collects information about your physical activity and makes it viewable on your smartphone, Dash collects data from the car’s OBD device and crunches it to reveal useful information on your driving habits.

The Dash Score

At the heart of the Dash experience is the “Dash Score.” This is an algorithmically determined figure that scores your driving on a 100 point scale. The higher the score, the better the driving.

Dash collects over 300 data points to calculate the Dash Score. This includes data about your driving behavior (including speed, acceleration and braking), road conditions, time of day, fuel usage and car maintenance. Dash crunches this data in real time, giving you objective feedback on your driving skills as you drive. Thus, instead of a subjective scale like “good,” “okay” or “better,” you get concrete verifications of your driving skills.

However, the Dash Score is more than just an ego-inflating number. Dash is already in talks with several insurance companies to reward good drivers with discounts on their insurance. Going further, it isn’t unimaginable to foresee a future where your Dash Score becomes as indispensable as your Credit Score when getting car insurance.

More Than a Score

Although the Dash Score remains the focal point of the Dash app, its range of features goes far beyond the score alone. It includes a litany of features, such as:

• Crash detection: The app can detect crashes and automatically send out alert messages to select people on your contact list.

• Driving statistics: Like Fitbit, Dash gives you detailed statistics on your driving habits, such as miles traveled, fuel consumed, etc.

• Diagnostics: Since the Dash app hooks up to the car’s computer, it can diagnose common problems easily. For instance, if your car’s “check engine” light goes off, Dash will point out the possible source of the problem, saving you money on a mechanic.

• Repair estimates: Dash can give you fairly accurate estimations for common car repairs, again, saving you money on car mechanics.

• Deals and discounts: Besides helping you cut down on insurance costs, Dash can also show you deals on gas, food, etc. near your location as you drive.

Beyond Statistics: The “Automotive” Graph and the Internet of Things

While the above features are groundbreaking in their own right, what makes Dash particularly exciting is the “Automotive Graph.” This is an open platform built upon the massive amount of data Dash collects every day. Developers can connect to this platform through Dash’s API (called “CHASSIS API”) to create smartphone apps that utilize Dash’s driving data. Developers can also use this API to create better experiences on connected “smart” devices. Going forward, you can expect your car to “talk” to the Nest thermostat in your garage, or expect to seamlessly transfer data from your Fitbit tracker to your Dash app.

Dash points towards a near-future where the “Internet of Things” isn’t limited to narrow, esoteric functions such as fitness trackers and home thermostats, but extends to include a wide range of activities such as driving. With its smartphone apps and smart APIs, Dash is also bringing the notoriously slow-moving automotive industry into the future. Perhaps most importantly, Dash promises to make our cars a little easier to understand – and our roads a whole lot safer.