Five gadgets that will transform your dumb car into a smart car

Cruise Automotive Cruise RP 1Cruise Automotive/YouTubeThe Cruise RP-1 is a highway Autopilot assistant that uses sensors and other technology to enhance safety.

Just like everything else these days, our cars are becoming more connected.

In fact, most new vehicles look more like smartphones on the inside than cars.

But the smarter automobiles get, the more expensive they become. And not everybody can afford to shell out thousands of dollars just to get a tech update in the car.

Fortunately, there’s another way to bring your car into the modern era.

Whether you’re looking to get more data about your car’s diagnostics, connect it to the Internet, or looking to get some apps for your vehicle, there are a number of devices available that can help upgrade your car to smart car status for a fraction of the price.

Automatic can give you data about your car

Automatic promises to connect your car to your digital life.

Automatic is a small car adaptor that you plug into the on-board diagnostics port of your car to get all kinds of data about your vehicle.

The device -- which pairs with your phone via Bluetooth -- diagnoses engine problems, remembers where you parked, displays your trip history, and can even call for help in the case of an accident.

Earlier this year the company also rolled out the Automatic app gallery which features apps for business, convenience and savings, and safety. For example, the Concur app enables drivers to track mileage for work trips, making expenses extremely easy.

The device, which works with most cars that were built since 1996, will only cost you $US100.

Vinli will turn your car into a WiFi hotspot

Among other things, Vinli enables high-speed WiFi so you can connect all of your mobile devices to the Internet.

Like the Automatic device, the Vinli plugs into the port under your dash and links to your smartphone to give you access to apps that can share information about your car.

But Vinli also enables in-car WiFi via T-Mobile's 4G LTE network. You'll have to pay for the data, though, which starts at under $US10 a month for 500MB. But you'll have a way to connect to all of your devices while in your vehicle.

The device also allows you to track your car remotely and enables you to geofence areas so that you know when your car has been driven outside a set parameter.

Apps in the Vinli app store range from those used to track performance to integration with your smarthome. For example, the Samsung SmartThings app can be used to control and automate compatible devices so that they automatically set when you are leaving or arriving home.

The Vinli is currently available for pre-order for $US99, but will later go on sale for $US149 and is also available with most cars made after 1996.

Zubie Key will track vital information about your car

The Zubie Tag connects with your phone to give you insights about your driving patterns.

The Zubie Key is another plug-in device that also links your car to the internet for enhanced features.

It has built-in GPS, a wireless connection to the cloud and sensors that track your car's health and activity. The device is always connected to the Zubie Cloud and analysing your car data to track your travel and share alerts.

It can also track your driving behaviours so that it can give you safety tips.

For example, if you have a tendency to brake hard, the device will alert you to help change your bad driving habits. It can also be set to alert parents if their teenage driver is doing something like speeding.

The Zubie Key also gives users access to Zubie Perks, which are exclusive discounts on things like roadside assistance, car insurance and for car maintenance services.

The device is marketed as an annual service priced at $US99.95 per year. For that you get the Zubie Key, one year of always-on cellular connection and access to Zubie Perks. The subscription automatically renews for the same price each year.

Metromile can cut the cost of your car insurance

The GPS-enabled Metromile Tag can be used to help you cut your insurance bill.

The Metromile Tag is a GPS-enabled, wireless device that links to your smartphone via iBeacon technology to provide information about your car's health and location. Based on the data it can also share insights about your driving habits. But the device can also be used to cut the cost of your insurance bill.

Because the Metromile Tag device tracks how far your drive, users can opt to sign up for the Metromile insurance plan that allows users to pay on a per-mile basis. Users simply pay a monthly base rate as well as a few cents for each mile they drive.

While the model doesn't work for all drivers, it makes sense for those who don't drive that often.

If you live in a big city, you'll appreciate the fact that the gadget can also send you street sweeping alerts.

A Metromile Tag without an insurance plan is currently free, but it is only available in California, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington.

The Cruise RP-1 can turn a regular car into a self-driving car.

The sensor pod mounted on top of the car uses cameras, radars and other technology to know what is nearby.

Driverless cars may not be on the streets in masses yet, but the Cruise RP-1 aims to bring some some self-driving features to your car while you're travelling on the highway.

While the device still requires someone at the wheel, the Cruise RP-1 can control your steering, throttle and braking while driving on the highway during daylight.

The highway autopilot product, which requires installation into your car, uses sensors and data to assist in making the car safer.

For example, motors mounted near the steering column gentle corrections to help keep you in your lane. And sensors track the lane markers and the cars around you to help keep you safe.

The device also features radar tracking which gauges the speed of the cars around it and uses that to keep the car driving at a safe distance behind.

While the technology is impressive, it does have a few drawbacks. For starters, the device is currently only available in California and only works with Audi A4 or S4. And it has a hefty price tag at $US10,000.

Nevertheless, if you can't wait until fully automated driverless cars hit the road, you can sign up to purchase the technology at Cruise Automation's website.

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