Ideas for supporting multiple users with one car

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  • Updated 1 year ago
The old system (my current system since I do not have pro) of having multiple user accounts is a nightmare. Really hard to determine how much each car is driven because the wife gives up when it doesn't work, and both phones are usually in range in the morning when one of us leaves so much of the time the wrong phone connects, and then disconnects as the real person drives away. Much better is one account.  However, in that account, it would be nice to be able to setup mutliple users so it would be easy to track who is driving.  For ambiguous trips when multiple people are in the car, how about a popup from the app that asks "Who is driving?"  I guess that goes against the name of the company since it is manual--but it would still work.  Or just let me specifiy the user later in the dashboard.  Since the pro has 3g, and the trip is going to get recorded regardless of BT connection, it seems that when one of us drives away and the BT connection is lost, that it could be re-established again, and then it would stick and the trip could be annotated with that user.  It seems like all the pieces are present for this to be done, and it would FINALLY realize the actual goal of recording WHO drives WHAT WHERE.  Not sure I want to invest in pro if I can't do that.  Already went through gen 1 (X2) and gen 2 (X2).  If you can get this to work, then bank on 4-5 pro adapters coming my way.

Note: This conversation was created from a reply on: Crash alerts for multiple drivers on one user account (Automatic Pro).
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Jason Richardson

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Posted 1 year ago

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Photo of Amy


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Hi Jason. Thanks for the feedback. Multi-user is a super tricky thing to implement elegantly and certainly hasn't been done in the original products. It's problematic for all the reasons you've described. 

The way Pro works, there's no notion of "the driver" -- just "the vehicle". Everyone shares one account. Any supported phone with the app can log into that account and see all the data for the car. The trips are all captured in that account no matter who's driving or if there's even a phone in the car. It does not connect to the phone via Bluetooth to capture the trip but rather uses the GPS in the adapter and then a 3G cellular connection to send the trip data in real-time to our servers where it then gets sent to the mobile app in real-time. So your goal of "WHAT" and "WHERE" are met. There's just not a notion of "WHO" as there's only one user account. We don't track individual driving behavior in Pro but rather driving style of the car and insights around that.

For Crash Alert in Pro, you select a "Primary Contact" - this is the person who will be contacted first should Crash Alert get triggered. This is certainly not ideal if you share a car equally with another person. But it's a first step. So one of you is the "Primary Contact". Then you'd add the other as the first "Emergency Contact". That person will be called next should the Primary either not pick up the phone or answer and confirm they've been in a wreck. We just had someone go through this scenario this week. She was in the passenger seat and was called first. Her boyfriend, who was the one driving, was called a minute later as her "Emergency Contact". Emergency Services were on the scene before she had even fully registered what was going on. If she'd been home and answered, they would've called the next number immediately after talking to her so they still would've gotten through to him within a minute. 

We've certainly thought a lot about how to allow for multiple accounts in a more elegant way but it's much more complex to implement than one may realize. 
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I'm glad that the crash alerts appear to have worked for an account with two drivers. It seems like that's to the credit of the people handling the emergency services at Automatic. 

I can see how it would be difficult to implement multiple drivers in a way that is elegant. It sounds like the main difficulty is imperfect bluetooth pairing. If bluetooth doesn't pair, there is no way for the adapter to know who is driving. So, it sounds like you all designed the system to identify data based on the adapter, since you always know what adapter the data are coming from and also what vehicle it is plugged in to. I think that's great. 

I do think there is demand for the system to at least try to identify who is driving the vehicle at a given moment. For each trip the adapter probably already stores information on how long it has been paired with what bluetooth ID (for the phone). If you knew that my bluetooth ID was associated with my phone number (and name, because I entered it in the app when I set it up) and that the car had been paired with my phone for more than half the time the car was moving, then I think you would be pretty sure I was in the car. That way, once the data is synced, you would be able to say, oh, it looks like Mike was in the car for this trip. Also, if there was a crash you would be able to say, oh, Mike's phone was paired with the car for most of this trip, we better call him. Or, oh, one minute ago it looks like he was close to the car. That could be done while having all data still be identified by the car/adapter (as in it's primary key in the database schema would still be the adapter, it would just have another field for the paired phone). You could also have the adapter itself notify all phones it was paired with so the owners could check in on the app. 

I, personally, would be happy to have that feature since it would make a lot of things go smoother. The most critical would be crash alerts where speed is particularly important. It would also be neat to have data about how I drive vs. my partner (when only one of us is in the car).
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Thanks for the feedback and thoughts, Mike. Rest assured, we've given driver identification a lot of thought and it's something we'd love to be able to tackle down the road.