UPDATED 12:56 EDT / AUGUST 07 2013

Ads in your Smart Cars, Bikes for Rent + More

In this week’s SmartCar roundup, we’ll be featuring not only the latest developments in smart cars, but other forms of transportation as well, such as the CoGo bike Share and smart cars for rent.

Ads in smart cars


Today, we see cabs and buses laced with ads.  They are typically implemented in a physical way like interactive screens, painted on the body of the vehicle, or even a marquee on top of the vehicle.  But as more cars come equipped with on-board diagnostics systems, which are required in all vehicles manufactured after 1996, one company saw this an opportunity to push ads.

Dash Labs, a company popular for its Dash reader that plugs into the 16-pin connector to the car’s electronics and connects to your smartphone app, which is used by mechanics and inspectors to diagnose your vehicle, has come up with a way to push advertising to your vehicle.

It works like this: when a person starts the car, the Dash reader automatically gathers data such as location, that can be transmitted to the app via Bluetooth or WiFi.  These data sets can then be sold to brands so they can push more targeted ads.

According to Advertising Age’s Kate Kaye Dash Labs has siphoned 15 million data points, just from a “small number of closed beta participants.”

If you’re worried that your privacy is being invaded, Kaye explains that “the data Dash provides would be aggregated without including personally-identifiable information unless a user opts-in to exchange personal data for more targeted offers.”

Just remember to keep your eyes on the road!

Smartcars for rent


Car2Go is a smart car rental service that is available in eight US cities, and may soon be available in Columbus, Ohio.  What makes it different from other car rental services is that you no longer have to go to a car rental shop to get your car.

The first step is to register online so you can get your membership card, which arrives in about three to five business days, used to lock and unlock your car.  The membership fee costs $35 and you only have to pay this once.

To find a Car2Go, you can check out the real-time Google Map to see how many units are available in your area, or you can reserve a car for when you are planning your trip.  When you get to your car, just swipe your member card on the reader mounted on the windshield to unlock it.  Once inside, you will locate your key on the right side of the touchscreen.  Enter your PIN on the touchscreen on board, answer a question, then you’re good to go. A red light on the card reader will light up indicating that your trip has started.

Stopovers are billed, so make sure it’s worth it.  You don’t have to go through the whole process with the member card, as you can use the car2go key to lock and unlock the vehicle.  This way, your trip remains active and no other car2go member will mistakenly take your car.

To end a trip, all you need to do is park the car inside the home zone, in an approved parking space.  Return the key where you got it, at the right side of the touchscreen, follow the instructions on the screen, and swipe the member card on the card reader to lock the doors.  Make sure you see the “Trip Complete” displayed on the card reader before you leave, otherwise you will be billed continuously.

So how much does a car2go rental costs?  It costs 38 cents a mile for the first 150 miles and 45 cents a mile after – excluding the $35 one-time registration fee.  It’s a smart and easy way to get around the city, especially for those not interested in purchasing a car.

CoGo Bike Share


Many people choose to ride a bike instead of walking or commuting to get around.  Some say it’s faster, and can a great way to avoid heavy traffic.  Unfortunately, a lot of bike owners have had the misfortune of having their bike stolen, or some of them can’t find a place to park their bikes so they have to carry them where they go.

In Columbus, Ohio, a new bike service has been commissioned.  Dubbed CoGo Bike Share, the program aims to give people the power to ride a bike when they want, as long as they want, without having to own one.

CoGo Bike Share works like this: you can either choose to pay $75 for a year of unlimited 30-minute rides plus you get your own key fob that you use to lock or unlock your bike, or pay $6 for a 24-hour rental of 30-minute rides, which would require you to swipe a credit or debit card to unlock the bike.

If you’re confused about the 30-minute ride, it goes like this: each bike is only allowed to be ridden free for 30 minutes, if you do not dock it before time runs out, you will be billed an additional $3.  You can use the bike as long as you want, just make sure you dock it in the proper docking station every 30 minutes, since the first 30 minutes are always free.

Why only 30 minutes?  CoGo wants to promote quick trips so there will always be a bike available for others to use.  The bikes can be returned in a number of stations — you don’t have to go back to the place where you got it first to return it.  You can check CoGo’s site for stations near you.  Others recommend finding the right bus to take you to the nearest CoGo station to make your trip quicker, or if you’re lucky, you might even find one that is walking distance from your place.

CoGo has a smartphone app for both iOS and Android so CoGo riders can easily track down the nearest station.  There’s a special promo that CoGo is offering: for the first 100 yearly subscribers, they will be provided with special colored key fobs and other merchandise.

The first key fob was given to Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

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