On-Board Diagnostic devices (OBDs), also known as vehicle GPS trackers can, for companies still using them, are invaluable sources of driver data.
What is OBD?
OBDs have a long history because they’re proven and reliable technology. Companies with fleets, and insurance companies wanting to monitor driver behaviours in order to check compliance with policies, use them thanks to the quality and stability of the data. However, over time telematics apps started to make inroads into the market, reducing the popularity of OBDs as companies started to move over to a cheaper alternative.
Developing new technologies to transfer data unlocks new opportunities for OBD manufactures to bring cost down, such as replacing the GSM module with Bluetooth. Therefore, there are two types of OBDs on the market:
Compared to legacy (standalone) OBDs, Bluetooth OBDs might sound like a more useful solution. However, there are a few reasons why companies haven’t adopted this technology as much as they could.
In order to sync the data, Bluetooth OBDs require the driver to open an app, to manually transmit the data between OBD and smartphone. Companies using these devices do send drivers regular reminders to sync the data. Because people receive so many notifications this seems like one task too many, and is often ignored.
As a result, the company that needs this data (e.g. insurance, transportation, etc.), receives it on an irregular basis. Making the data collected less useful, it won’t be in real-time, and that also means the company receiving it won’t know where drivers are, and therefore they can’t make useful real-time operational decisions.
Is there a better solution
for real-time vehicle data?
Yes, there is. At Raxel, we have developed a telematics SDK extension that automatically interacts in the background with Bluetooth OBD.
Combining Bluetooth OBD with Telematics SDK solves all known modern telematics problems. With this SDK, the driver (user) doesn’t need to do anything.
Data is automatically synced between the Bluetooth OBD, smartphone and telematics platform. Everything runs fully automated without the driver needing to open or use an app. When you combine high-end hardware with a sophisticated mobile telematics app, drivers and those who need the data will get the most accurate real-time driver and vehicle information possible. The data collected will be far more accurate and useful than if it only came from an OBD.
Data transmission is consistent, unlike the manual method, which requires a person to remember to take action — the outcome: regular and consistent driver and vehicle data.
Benefits of combining
Telematics SDK & Bluetooth OBD
#1: Cost savings
Companies that combine Bluetooth OBD with mobile telematics SDK can make huge cost savings, while also collecting and processing a much broader and deeper range of data, as the table above shows. It’s around 4x cheaper to collect telematics data this way compared to legacy OBDs, especially since companies don’t need to worry about installation/deinstallation, extender cable, telecom, maintenance, and other associated logistics costs.
#2: Accurate and rich data
Now with these data collection sources combined, the overall usefulness and value of the information being collected increases enormously compared to relying entirely on traditional OBDs. The Bluetooth OBD is collecting high-quality data about the vehicle, whereas the smartphone and its dozens of sensors are collecting the most useful data possible about location and driver behaviours.
#3: No telecom, and less pain points
Also, with Bluetooth-based OBDs, there is no need to worry about having them certified as vehicle-related devices. Both GPS and GSM OBD modules need to go through regulated paperwork in many countries, which can take weeks or even months.
It also helps that they are small devices, and therefore fit any location within a vehicle, so there is no need to make them fit in more difficult locations. It’s also possible to connect an OBD to a CAN-port with additional accessories.
#4: Flexible and easy updates
Compared to traditional OBDs, the cost of replacing or upgrading an OBD when it transmits data via a telematics SDK is far cheaper. In Singapore, for example, everyone who owned a telematics device needed to replace them when the 2G network was switched off and replaced with 3G.
That sort of thing isn’t an issue when mobile telematics SDKs, or when combined with a Bluetooth OBD solution. Replacing or upgrading is cheap and easy, unlike the six or so months it can take to get a new hardware telematics device. There is no need to replace bluetooth OBD if your country changes a connectivity network, as what happened in Singapore in 2017.
#5: Improved sensors and data collection
Modern OBD devices don’t have very powerful sensors to collect location and driver data, not compared to constantly-evolving smartphones. When a Bluetooth OBD is combined with a Raxel telematics SDK solution, users and companies benefit from the best of both worlds. Multiple sensors collect far more data than traditional telematics ever could, making older devices outdated and almost obsolete.
Smartphones come with dozens of sensors, and they’re developing more powerful ones through constant R&D iterations. Making a combination of a Bluetooth OBD and Mobile SDK the most forward-thinking and future-proofed way to collect useful and actionable telematics data.