vinli2Unless you have the money to splash out on a new car every 18 months, chances are, the tech in your trunk is a pile of junk.

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Such is the speed of the tech industry, even if you’ve just splurged on a brand new, shiny automobile, in a year’s time, the tech inside will be woefully out of date. And while waiting in line once a year for a new phone or, *cough,* a smartwatch may not be much of a financial drain, buying a new car that frequently is much less feasible.

Enter Vinli, a connected car platform that turns your vehicle into a tech hub with a little device scarcely bigger than your key fob.

The plug-like device slots in just under the dashboard, more specifically into the OBD port (on-board diagnostic port), used by mechanics to diagnose your car when you bring it in to the shop. From there, it connects to and communicates with the car. The next step for the driver is to download the Vinli app catalogue onto their smartphone and select the apps they want to use for their car right away.

Indeed, Vinli is an in-car platform which already offers a selection of apps and offers the opportunity to developers to build yet more applications and services going forward. The best part? It works on all cars manufactured after 1996, making them smarter than most cars that have just left the assembly line. With over one billion low or no-tech vehicles already on the road today, that’s quite the target market!

Apps already available for use with Vinli include Beagle, which tattles on teens to their parents if they’re speeding or driving like hoodlums. The app can send real-time notifications to a parent or guardian’s phone, without any software having to be installed on the teen’s phone.

There’s also the e-call app, similar to GM’s OnStar crash detection service, which calls the emergency services should the car detect it’s been in an accident.

Another useful one is Lock and Key, an app that tells you if your car gets stolen, or Otto, which diagnoses your car mechanical problems and gets bids from nearby mechanics to fix it cheaply. Or, if not cheaply, at least helps avoid letting you get utterly ripped off by your regular mechanic.

There are some more lighthearted apps too. Both Race and Drive apps let you track your drive and help make your car rides more social. And Vinli also has an app for Google Glass.

vinli

The startup also believes it could find a use in the enterprise market, tracking fleets of vehicles.

So, how much does this all cost then? Surprisingly, not as much as one might imagine. The Vinli basic comes in at just $50, while the complete package including GPS, Bluetooth, LTE mobile hotspot and data is $150. The platform is currently open for developers, too, so expect to see a whole slew of new apps on the platform soon.

Cheaper than having to shell out for a new Tesla year after year, that’s for sure.

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