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"Unlocking my Car's Secrets: How to Access Telemetry Data"

Getting telemetry data from my car onto a computer or a cloud-based observability platform sounds easy and simple, yet to the untrained eye this involves several key steps, each requiring specific hardware and software considerations.




First, we are going to need something that can read data from the car's onboard diagnostic system. In my Subaru Impreza, this is called the onboard diagnostic system or OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics, Second Generation). This system is standard across most cars manufactured after 1996 and is designed to monitor the vehicle's performance and control emissions. The OBD-II system in the 15 year+ old Impreza WRX can provide data on various engine parameters and trigger the "check engine" light if it detects any issues. This I know from first-hand experience! THe Subaru Impreza WRX models back in the mid 2,000, like many vehicles from that era, don't come equipped with an advanced telematics system from the factory. During the mid-2000s, integrated advanced telematics systems were not commonly installed in most vehicles.. These systems, which provide advanced connectivity, navigation, safety, and remote diagnostics, became more prevalent in later models and higher-end vehicles.


For the mid-year 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX, any advanced telematics capabilities would need to be added through aftermarket solutions. These can include devices that connect to the OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) port and offer features such as:


  • Real-time GPS tracking

  • Vehicle diagnostics and monitoring (Hard braking, accelerating)

  • Automatic crash notification

  • Remote control functions (like remote start)

  • Wi-Fi connectivity


Popular aftermarket telematics devices come from brands like Automatic, Verizon (with their Hum device), and others that provide a range of services from basic vehicle diagnostics to full-fledged internet connectivity and emergency services.

These devices typically require a subscription for full functionality, including access to mobile apps that monitor vehicle health and location in real time.


So the first $ decision we will need to make is do we invest in a Basic OBD-11 Reader or an Advanced Telematic Device?


We need to also consider ensuring either device we choose includes some form of $ connectivity option, like mobile, wi-fi or Bluetooth. Are we looking to go directly to the cloud ( devices with mobile capabilities that transmit data directly to a cloud service)? If so, this will require a data plan and the device must have built-in or configurable capabilities to connect to the chosen cloud platform.


I also want to be able to do local transmission to a local laptop, so the car can travel the breadth and depth of the country without having to worry about mobile connectivity coverage. The computer can act as a server to gather, process and then push the data to the cloud when back in range.


It is going to be important to show the data can be transferred securely ( I don't want everyone to be able to see how hard I brake :-) from the car to the cloud or local computer.


Depending on the telemetry device choice and its compatibility, I am going to need to consider integration and use or develop an API for receiving the data. This may require developing or configuring an interface that uses the API to receive the telemetry data and might involve additional $ programming a middleware or using existing integration tools.


I will need to identify the $ cost storage of the data and management and ensure that our platform can securely store and manage the data, including data retention, access controls, and audit trails to ensure compliance with privacy regulations. As well as ensure that a $ dashboard can be configured in our observability platform to display the data in a useful and accessible way. Customised views and both near-real and real-time location tracking, vehicle performance and other analytics will need to be tested.


Then Testing and validating the entire system, data latency, accuracy issues, custom integrations, etc. Plenty to think about ahead of building out the plan.


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