While the whole world is going gaga over the possibility of everyday devices becoming smart and , the car has been capable of it since the early 2000s thanks to the availability of the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. Of course, it has taken some time for enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to utilise this feature to its maximum potential but we are now closer to doing it.
Rollr claims that you can know more about your car in real time, analyse your/your driver’s driving style, track and log your car’s position and be alerted about any issues with the car instantly with the Rollr Mini.
Designed, developed and manufactured in India by the Rollr division of automobile ancillary parts manufacturer and service provider Samvardhana Motherson, the Rollr Mini promises an enhanced car ownership experience at a very low cost (in the long run, the unit costs Rs 6499).
What is the Rollr Mini?
Simply put, it is a GPS tracker and an OBD reader combined into a single package. What makes it unique is the features it offers to customers via a smartphone app (both on Android and Apple), enhancing its appeal.
If you have seen or used an OBD reader before, the Rollr Mini may not feel so small in your hand. Being both an OBD reader and having components (including a data-only SIM card) to transmit GPS and telematics data makes it bulkier. The build quality is good, with the device featuring a matte black plastic finish with no hard edges. There’s one small light on the device which switches on to let you know if it is working. Don’t throw away the box just after removing the device from it though, you will need it till you get the app running properly.
Installing the Rollr Mini is meant to be simple. Find the OBD port in your car, which in most cars is placed under the steering wheel away from sight. Take the help of the owner’s manual of your car to locate it, line up the pins to the receptor and just plug it in. Wait for the small green light to switch on, and you are good to proceed to the next step.
The Rollr Mini’s larger dimensions can make it difficult to install it in some cars, as it did in the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross that we are testing it on. Many manufacturers design these ports to be used by technicians who use a hand-held device connected by a slim cable, meaning the space may not be enough for devices like the Rollr Mini. You can find extension cables for OBD ports online (in fact, it is a recommended accessory for the Rollr Mini on Amazon) to help place the device properly.
You can find the Rollr app, which is free to download and use, on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Open the app and it prompts you to add a device. Choose Rollr Mini and then use the code written on the box to start your service. Buying a Rollr Mini includes a one-year subscription (which costs Rs 1800, before discounts) to Rollr’s services. Yes, this is not a one-time investment. The basic subscription lets you access all of your car’s data from the app for a year. Pay Rs 59/118 extra, for 150/400 SMSs respectively, and the device also sends SMS alerts to a mobile phone number of your choosing. What you really pay for is all the data generated by the computer inside your car in an easy to understand format through Rollr’s app.
The Rollr app
Open the app and you realise that the design brief for the app developers was to make it feel simple and easy to use. Many free OBD apps suffer from simple but jarring user interfaces and the overwhelming amount of data that they present to users. The Rollr app makes it simple for even non-enthusiasts to use. In fact, even my not-so-technologically-sound mother is using the app to make sure I don’t overspeed.
The homepage of the app shows the last known location of the car on Google Maps, which adds to the simple but useful nature of the app. Tap on the name of your car (Brown Beauty in these photos) and it takes you to the app dashboard where more data of your car is shown. This includes trips taken, the real-time health of the car (which may be different for different cars), customisable notifications and, most importantly, a ‘Rollrscore’.
The Rollrscore is a rating of your/your driver’s driving technique. It is determined by how much the person avoids the four basic sins of inefficient driving - hard acceleration, hard braking, speeding and idling. Do more of these (it’s quite evident that we did) and your Rollr score goes down. Avoid them and you score better. The gamification of these factors is aimed at forcing drivers to adopt smoother, safer and more efficient driving styles. Click on a particular trip and you can also see the specific points on the map where you may have made any of the above-mentioned actions.
The Health bar decodes the various outputs from the car and shows you whether it is doing well. Depending on which car you own, you may be able to check the status of your engine and its various sensors, battery, coolant temperature, ambient temperature and fuel level. This feature is especially useful for those cars which only have the engine check light to inform you that there is a problem with the car.
The app also allows you to share the data generated by it with two other people too. This feature comes in handy if your car is a shared resource. If you are a fleet owner, you can even track multiple cars through the same app.
Who should buy it?
The Rollr Mini makes perfect sense for chauffeur-driven car owners. While the cost may seem prohibitively expensive at first, most of the alternate offerings in the market lack the combined ability of GPS tracking and an OBD reader in a small package which does not require any modifications to your car, keeping your warranty intact. Pairing it with a well-designed smartphone app also makes it unique and should make it more appealing for users who may feel overwhelmed by most of the existing data heavy but poorly executed apps. The addition of more in-depth analysis of the user’s driving style and more data points for self-driving enthusiasts may broaden the appeal of the Rollr Mini, and is possible considering the device and the apps can be updated over the air. In the long term, the Rollr Mini certainly makes a lot of sense.
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