A Layman’s Approach to Connected Car

I have a 2008 Volvo, no remote start, no advanced infotainment system, no companion app. As my car gets older, it reveals more problems, mostly the “check engine” light is on. What does it really mean? After some research, I learned that there is a capability called On-Board Diagnostics (OBD), which is a standard in all cars. Then I bought an OBD scanner with Bluetooth from Amazon like this one, installed Torque Pro. The app is capable of translating code from OBD to human-readable description.

This is cool and all. But the real fun begins when you can build something on top of OBD data and make your car connected, sort of. My idea is to upload real-time car data, such as speed, fuel level to the cloud, then I can ask Alexa what the status is. In order to accomplish that, I need a Raspberry Pi 3 (which has a built-in Bluetooth adapter) and my smartphone (which serves as a hotspot). The Pi reads car data from OBD scanner via Bluetooth, uploads to AWS DynamoDB via hotspot. Build an Alexa skill that can read data from DynamoDB and respond:

Me: “Alexa, ask My Volvo what is my current fuel level?”
Alexa: “Your fuel level is at 60%”

The step-by-step instruction is available on my GitHub. I think having these little projects after a long week of work is super fun and rewarding!

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