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Fresh thinking for vehicle telematics

By Nathan Wrench - Last updated: Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Internet of Things will have pretty radical implications for all of us in the next few years. Ubiquitous low-cost ‘appcessories’ that measure everything about anything are already coming on to the market, connecting to our mobile phones and beyond. As the cost of connectivity continues to drop, more of our day-to-day devices will start giving us value-add services – and I don’t just mean my ‘smart fridge’ re-ordering more beer! The impact will be felt not just in the home but also in our cars.

About 18 months ago I came up with the idea of a low-cost asset-monitoring sensing device called DropTag. My inspiration came from a broken teapot being delivered to my house, and the result was a clever little tag that could be stuck to just about anything. I rather like cars, so that ‘anything’ soon became a vehicle windscreen. We were astonished by what the tag could detect, and quickly devised clever ways to capture and analyse what the car (and driver!) were doing.

Because DropTag requires no electronic connection to the car, it can literally be stuck on any make or model. We need no permission or data from the vehicle manufacturer – DropTag just needs an occasional interaction with a smartphone and, via the phone, a connection with our server. It’s so small it can be sent out in the post, and anyone can fit it. The total cost of the service per year is less than a tenth of the current black-box ‘telematics’ solutions.

DropTag uses our know-how in Bluetooth Smart wireless communications and low-power electronics to create a truly disruptive solution. The tag will last a year on a single tiny battery, and can essentially be considered disposable.

But why, I hear you ask? I’m a careful driver, and there’s no way I’d agree to having a black box fitted to my car, even if my insurance premium meant it was commercially viable. DropTag is different. It brings new consumer wins to the market. Once stuck to your car, it’s always looking out for you, notifying you if anyone bumps into your car, helping you if you’re involved in a crash – the data it stores could even be submitted to the insurance company to help support your claim.

The key message is that any data it shares is under your control. You decide what benefits you want – perhaps you’re keen to earn some savings on your annual premium based on how safely you drive, or you want an accident assist service for your daughter. Either way, it’s a consumer-controlled solution that gives a real-world, value-add service, at a fraction of the cost of its nearest competition.

It’s the Internet of Things made useful.

For more information, download our new whitepaper “DropTagDRIVE: fresh thinking”.


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AuthorNathan Wrench


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