I have a confession that I’m a pretty big fan of Griffin cases. I love my iPod Touch 4 case, and actually held off getting one until theirs was ready. So, as I walked around CES last week, I made a point to drop by their booth to see what new items they had on offer, and my attention was immediately drawn to a new device and app called CarTrip. The fact that it won a Best in Show award from iLounge just increased my interest.

Cars manufactured since 1996 have a computer interface in them called On-Board Diagnostic Computer Reader, or OBD-II for short.  Any time your warning lights come on and you take your car into the shop, this is what they plug into to see what the car’s computer says is wrong.  Sometimes it’s something simple, and you’ve just wasted a whole bunch of money on finding out it’s a sparkplug.

This is where CarTrip comes in.

“We’ve all wondered at one time or another if our vehicles are running as efficiently as possible; or looked at a check engine light with curiosity (and anxiety),” said Eric Weisinger, Category Manager for Auto Accessories at Griffin. “CarTrip helps conscious drivers decode the inner workings of their vehicles, be it maintenance codes, fuel economy, engine performance, or environmental impact.”

CarTrip comes with a Bluetooth enabled plug-in that fits into your OBD-II socket.  It then transmits data to an iOS or Android device via an app called CleanDrive.  This app will show you all sorts of information about how you’re driving, if you’re burning fuel efficiently and so on.  The better you drive, the higher the plant on the screen grows to give you a very quick visual cue that you are driving properly.

Now, if something goes wrong with the car, that information will also be transmitted to your device, and a log will be stored.  If you don’t have your device with you, don’t worry, there is also an SD card slot built into the transmitter that will continue to record the log.

The package will be available in the first quarter of this year, and the app will be on iOS at the same time, and the Android version will come out in the second quarter.

Considering the number of cars in my family, and as often as we’re in the shop with one, this sounds like a perfect solution to us.

What say you?  Are you interested to know what your car warning lights mean without going into the shop?

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