Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hypermiling iPermiling

Thanks to Hunter Research and Technology, budding hypermilers can become iPermilers with an iPhone app that costs less than three gallons of gas. GreenMeter uses the iPhone's built-in accelerometer to tell drivers, in real time, how much their lead-footed ways are costing them in carbon emissions and fuel economy. His new greenMeter app builds upon the gMeter app that works like a poor man's dynamometer.

Don't expect to hop in your car and turn on the greenMeter. You've gotta get a little data together beforehand, including vehicle weight, engine efficiency, current weather conditions, rolling resistance and your car's drag coefficient. Once that's all entered, you've got to balance your iPhone (or iPod Touch) on a sturdy, level part of your car's dashboard or console to recalibrate the accelerometer. We probably shouldn't have to say this, but don't do this while driving. In fact, once it's set up, don't look at any of the numbers while driving. As Hunter says on his website, the colors on the screen will be all the information you need to know.
I wrote recently on eco-driving and this iPhone application would be a great way of letting drivers know the fuel economy and carbon emissions of their driving. Being able to see in real time how you are doing is the best way to teach people how to improve their driving technique, and $6 for the information (assuming you own an iPhone) is a bargain.

While the concept is good, I think it could be easily improved to make it much more valuable. First, it could better display just the pertinent information while you are driving, so you can better see the impact of your driving style. I like the idea of using colors, but the screen at left looks cluttered with other information.

Second, instead of having to determine your car's vehicle weight, engine efficiency, current weather conditions, rolling resistance and drag coefficient, there should be a database of that information for all cars and then the end user can just select their car.

Third, if it could follow your progress and tell you how much you are improving your eco-driving skills, that would make it much more enjoyable for users. If it could be turned into a game where the more efficiently you drive the more points you get, that would be even better. Add to it a way for people to upload their scores and compete trying to out eco-drive each other and I think you have a winner.

via Wired

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