Introducing Voyo, a new device that says it can turn any car into a smart car. Ed Baig takes a look at the product for USA TODAY.
NEW YORK—Cars these days are often described as computers on wheels and rightfully so. But not every vehicle on the road can be categorized as a “smart car.”
On Wednesday, San Francisco startup Voyomotive launched a Kickstarter campaign for Voyo, an aftermarket solution that promises to turning your older automobile–most cars built in 1996 and beyond–into a connected car.
What exactly does that mean? One potential benefit is that you can lock or unlock your car using an app on your smartphone. Another lets you immobilize the car when your phone isn’t in the vehicle.
You can receive notices through the Voyo app on your phone for certain events: when the car encounter obstacles, when the vehicle swerves or when antilock brakes are activated, for example.
And I got to try an EcoStart feature that lets you shut off the ignition when you are idle at a stoplight, just by applying a little extra pressure on the footbrake. You release the brake to start up again.
Voyo can crowdsource intersection stop times too, to inform drivers through the app where it makes sense to save the most fuel.
The Voyo system consists of a small controller you install under the dash of the car and “relays” you plug in under the hood. Voyomotive CEO Peter Yorke says installation can take just two minutes.
Yorke claims that if a consumer wanted to add all of the functionalities provided by Voyo to their car on their own, the cost would exceed $2,000.” Such functionality through Voyo, he says, would cost more like $200.
Voyo units will ship by February 2016 with approximately 2,000 Kickstarter backers getting first dibs. Initially, a limited number of relays will be made available for Toyota, GM and Ford vehicles.
Voyomotive plans a full U.S. product launch in the second quarter of next year, with the goal to expand internationally after that.
I got to take a spin with Yorke in a Chevy rental. The video above shows Voyo in action.
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