One Week with Dash App

March 10, 2014

If there is a quantified car movement, the Dash App will lead the way. The Dash app sucks up massive amounts of data from your car as you drive and provides you with interesting metrics around your driving style.

I’ve been using it for about a week and I definitely look at driving differently after using it.

The Dash App connects to an ODBII bluetooth device. I purchased one from Amazon for $10 and it’s reasonably reliable. You can purchase one directly from Dash for $69 which they say will work better. (The $10 version definitely drops connections now and again but I’m not so serious about the data that it bothers me.)

Once you plug the adapter into your car, you pair the device with your phone much like any other bluetooth device. And then you drive.

Since I started using the app, I’ve driven 363 miles and “scored” a 64. The score is ranked 0 to 100 with 100 being the optimal driving situation. I generally can’t get over 80 in the city as even stopping at a stop sign brings down your score (too much idling!). Dash wants you to share your score with your social network.

My least favorite piece of the app is this social scoring. I’m sure as part of the VC pitch, they needed to include a social component, but I’m not changing my driving habits to beat out my Facebook friends.

Beyond the score, the app tracks miles driven, the exact route you took, the average speed, average miles per gallon, temperature, and cost for the trip. This is where the app gets interesting.

There are plenty of metrics on gas mileage and we all shake our heads when we fill up our tanks. But I’ve never thought about the cost of gas to drive to a specific location. My trip to Costco costs me $1 each way. Running out to the grocery store is 41 cents. I actually have an exact metric on the cost of driving 4 more blocks to save 2 cents per gallon at the gas pump (it’s break even).

If I were driving for UberX (the service were people drive their own personal cars as taxis), I’d definitely use the app to understand my cost model much more carefully.

Finally, the ODBII connection was created primarily as a way to understand why the check engine light came on. While I haven’t had any problems with the car, the app can save you money by helping you understand what is going on with your car.

I can only assume that Dash will continue to provide meaningful data from my driving. (And no, I’m not going to change my driving style.)