It doesn't look particularly exciting: after all, it's just an innocuous box. But it's something that could soon become ubiquitous for delivery drivers, courier companies and transportation fleets — and insurance companies are going to love it.
It was one of the least flashy gadgets of Intel's keynote at Computex this year, but the small black box might also end up being one of the most easily adopted. Designed by SanJet and Chunghwa Telecom using an Intel Atom x3 dongle, the box hooks into the dashboard of your car so it can broadcast various telemetrics to the cloud.
Here's an idea of what it tracks.
The main things picked up is the stuff you'd expect: how far the car has travelled, how much you've been speeding, what route the car took, so on and so forth. But there's two extra items that are really intriguing: the ability to track how many times a driver has slammed the brakes or put the pedal to the floor.
It's basically using the internet of things with Chunghwa Telecom's infrastructure to provide real-time analytics for fleet management. If drivers are flooring it too often, you'll get more wear and tear — resulting in earlier and probably more maintenance.
I'm not entirely sure that I'd be super happy about it if I was a driver, mind you. The thought of having to explain to your manager why you randomly braked going down the M5 or the CityLink does kind of spoil the fun of driving a bit.
That's kind of the future though — analytics in everything. And if you're looking to do predictive maintenance on a fleet of vehicles, this is the kind of data you'll need. It's also the kind of data insurance companies would love to have when it comes to assessing claims, and they'll be the first ones mainly targeted.
"The first program to be offered to the market will be a usage-based car insurance service system that provides drivers with a customized insurance offering based on driving behavior and car usage," Intel said in a press release.
At a media briefing accompanying the announcement, reporters quizzed SanJet and Chunghwa Telecom on what other kinds of data they'd be able to monitor. It's fair to assume they can track more than what was shown on the dashboard, seeing as Intel already publicly showed how the solution was able to broadcast a live feed from the dashcam during their keynote.
Executives from Chunghwa and SanJet wouldn't reveal precisely what else could be monitored, but they did say it centered only on what insurance companies would normally use to process claims. The idea is using analytics to assess crashes, and potentially offer more options to the consumer with a more detailed history on their driving habits or history.
But for the latter to happen, the device would have to become mainstream — and it would have to be accepted by manufacturers. An Intel representative indicated that it's more likely to remain a fleet management solution for now, targeting efficiency gains through the analysis of their drivers' routes, habits and the environments in which they travel.
No matter how you cut it, it still comes down to the same thing: if Old Mate Truckie gets a bit tired and floors it one too many times, their boss is going to know.
Devices based on the technology will start to roll out to market in the second half of this year. There's no word on when something similar might be made available in Australia, which I'm sure couriers and delivery drivers will be thankful for.
The author travelled to Computex 2016 as a guest of Intel.