Clickdrive wants to be the first open platform device that connects all driving apps and aftermarket monitors. The small black box, which plugs into an adapter under your steering wheel, lets you run several apps simultaneously from your smartphone, directly on the device itself, or on Clickdrive’s cloud platform.
“There are a bunch of driving apps coming out of various natures, but what we don’t have is the ability to use more than one at a time,” says Mark Sutheran, co-founder of Clickdrive, which is based in Singapore, but works with international car models.
He compares on-board devices currently on the market to computers where you had to load tape software one program at a time.
“You can have an iPhone app and connect it with a specific OBD. Then when you want to switch to another app, you have to pull out the adapter and plug another one in. It’s not scalable.”
Clickdrive is now raising funds on Indiegogo to start production and has hit about $10,000 of its $100,000 campaign goal, which has a March 15 end date. The device will ship in November, but to give people a chance to test out Clickdrive’s SDK before the final hardware is available, the startup is sending crowdfunding supporters a free lite version in April. (Since there’s been some confusion, Sutheran emphasizes that the Clickdrive lite, which works only with Android and is made with an off-the-shelf adapter, is definitely not the final device).
In addition to offering the convenience of letting drivers run several iOS, Android, or Windows apps at once, Clickdrive’s creators also claim that it is faster and more secure than most existing OBDs.
The device will come with a bundle of apps that other developers can add to using Clickdrive’s SDK or open API. (Check out demonstrations of its analytics for cars in Europe, the Americas, or Asia here).
Driving apps already on the market include Automatic, a Y Combinator alum and Techstars-backed Dash, both of which offer their own hardware to connect with smartphones. Apps like Dash also work with other Bluetooth-enabled OBD, including some that cost as little as $10 on Amazon.
But Sutheran says Clickdrive will appeal to car enthusiasts who are eager to run more than one app at a time, as well as people who don’t want to pick and chose between apps that monitor their fuel usage, carbon emissions, engine performance, or driving performance.
Clickdrive can download and run third-party apps on the device itself, which means it will continue to analyze and store data even if your smartphone is out of power. The Clickdrive is also upgradable, so you can add more storage or new connectivity options, like GSM, 4G or Zigbee.
Sutheran, a self-described “petrol head,” first became interested in car computers when the engine of his Fiat Coupe blew up after he bolted on a turbo. This was back in 2004 and connected diagnostic tools for vehicles were too expensive for Sutheran to afford after shelling out for repairs. So he built a device to connect his car engine with his laptop.
At that time, Sutheran was working as a software developer and consultant, creating trading systems for investment banks such as Lehman Brothers. Then in 2012, Sutheran decided to leave the financial industry and see what he could do with the advancements in mobile tech and cloud computing in the eight years since his Fiat Coupe’s engine met its fiery demise.
Sutheran and co-founder Rishi Saraswat say they built Clickdrive with the same engineering principles they applied to low-latency, high-performance trading systems. They expect the device’s first adopters to be other petrol heads, as well as tech enthusiasts and people who want to reduce carbon emissions.
But Sutheran expects the apps and devices that connect to Clickdrive to quickly become ubiquitous.
“In a few years, there may be many thousands of driving apps out there,” Sutheran says. “Insurance companies will offer premiums if you install their apps, and there will be ones for ridesharing, tracking your family members’ driving, parking. There are many, many different ways you can go with this.”