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April 2014

Biz - Sci - Tech, Zubie Key, Tim Kelly:
Drive Smarter
Written By: 
Stratton Lawrence
Photographs By: 
Mac Kilduff

Locally based Zubie connects you to your car’s vital statistics


Ever been frustrated by a mysterious “check engine” light or wondered how your 17-year-old is faring on the highway? A Sullivan’s Island start-up called Zubie aims to help you unlock those secrets.
Plugged directly into a vehicle’s diagnostic port, the Zubie Key sends signals about the car’s performance and condition to your smart device via an app. That means drivers will be informed of mechanical troubles and can keep tabs on their driving habits—as well as those of, say, teens and elderly parents.

“We want to make driving easier, safer, and less expensive for the consumer,” says CEO Tim Kelly, a former Sprint executive who helped ground Zubie in Charleston after its initial seed funding by Best Buy.

For $100 per year, cars with a Zubie Key grade their driver’s performance, and that score can be shared (at the owner’s discretion) with insurance companies to qualify for discounts. Some consumers worry this will lead to a “big brother” auto insurance culture, but Kelly simply compares it to the Nest thermostat or Fitbit wristband in the way it uses information to help people improve. “There’s an explosion of personally connected devices,” says Kelly, who is speaking about those technologies at DIG SOUTH this month. “How you deliver that experience to a customer can really enhance their life.”
 


Road Warrior
What exactly does Zubie do? Take a look! More functions are in development

➼ Location tracking: Tracks drivers’ locations in real time and can send alerts when they arrive at their destination
➼ Problem alerts: Notifies users of engine or battery problems, notes how serious they may be, and offers an estimate of repair costs; Soon, it’ll also provide reminders and guidance on upcoming service needs.
➼ Driving information: Scores a user’s driving, recording details on bad habits (such as sudden braking) to help you improve yourself or monitor other drivers in your family
➼ Trip coordination: Allows drivers to create groups with friends to share locations and simplify coordination on trips and carpools



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