Truly, we are living in the age of the software-defined vehicle.
Beginning with systems like electronic fuel ignition and anti-lock brakes, black boxes and ECUs have proliferated throughout our vehicles, all networked together on the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus.
Standardized back in the olden days, when even cell phones were uncommon, the CAN bus even provides a handy way to connect devices that can query other ECUs on the car’s internal network.
Being able to read information from that network was originally envisioned as a way to make servicing easier—hence the reason the port is known as an OBD (on-board diagnostics) II port.
But these days, it’s far more likely to be pressed into service as a way of enabling some form of telematics, whether that’s a device that records your driving style for your insurance company in return for a discounted rate or gadgets like Automatic, Mojio or Verizon’s Hum that let you monitor your car via a mobile app.
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