Vinli founder Mark Haidar reaches below the steering wheel of a 2007 Toyota Camry – right into the brain of the car – and plugs in a small black device that’s like an extra-large memory stick.
The device will live there, in the rectangular connector known as the OBD port. Any car built after 1996 is equipped with an OBD port, and it’s become hot real estate for tech companies trying to revolutionize the driving experience. Vinli, which starts at $99.00, turns your car into smartphone of sorts – where there’s an app store for your car, and an internet connection.
It has a GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, with LTE connectivity, an accelerometer,” Haidar says.
So, if you’re on a road trip, maybe in a 1996 Honda Civic, and your kid wants to watch cartoons on a laptop, no problem.
“It makes the driver experience and backseat experience much better,” he says.
Connecting to Netflix from the backseat is nice, but it isn’t the breakthrough technology that helped Vinli raise $6.5 million from companies like Samsung and Cox Automotive this summer.
That was for connecting your car to your phone, your home computer and the people around you. Through Vinli’s app store you can download apps to monitor your car’s health, improve fuel efficiency, and even track your teenager — like one app called Beagle, which lets parents watch the car in real time and even create alerts for speeding.