Ernest is a bit difficult to describe. It’s a device, it’s two devices, it’s an app, and according to its founder, Arturs Pumpurs, it’s a kind of virtual butler. The system secures your vehicle, tells you where it is, and controls your garage door or, if you have one, gate. The Kickstarter campaign starts October 28 and runs through December 7.
The project began as a way to protect vehicles, with a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled device that can be installed by the user but should probably be installed by professionals. That’s because if you have the immobilizer feature, Ernest keeps fuel from getting to the engine unless it recognizes your device. You can allow other people with other devices to use the car, and you can also revoke those privileges.
The Ernest GPS devices, like many car-related apps and devices, will show you your car’s location plus driving information like speed and distance. It will also guide you to your car if you forgot where you left it or you share it with other people.
The same secure Bluetooth-based sharing principle applies to garage doors and gates. This requires a second Ernest device that you install in the gate or door panel itself, not in the car. Then, you connect the same Ernest app on your phone, the one that controls access to your vehicle, to the door device. Once again, you can share and revoke access to your garage door.
While Ernest would make one person or family’s life a bit easier, there’s potential here for security in the sharing economy. When your car and private garage are used by multiple people, knowing who has access and cutting off that access when, say, their vacation rental is up would be helpful. If a car is being shared, it would be nice to know who used it when and how many miles were driven by each owner. Just set every user up with the app and give them access.
During the Kickstarter campaign, the Auto GPS (without the immobilizer feature) starts at $60, and prices go up from there. It’s too expensive for a fleet operator to use, but it might work for limited sharing situations.