ZTE, Mojio, and T-Mobile Team Up to Help Make Older Cars Smarter

While the connected car is slowly but surely becoming the norm in the auto industry, that doesn’t do much for the millions of older cars still on the road and in very good working condition. But, there are a lot of reasons to try to make those older cars smarter — there are individual safety benefits, to say nothing of the city management benefits of having an entire grid of connected cars. So, there’s no surprise we’ve seen a lot of aftermarket interest in smart car tech — Logitech and Sony have made their own products, while Verizon had their own in-car smart device made. This week, they’re being joined by a collaborative effort between ZTE, Mojio, and T-Mobile.

The SyncUP DRIVE doesn’t look like much, but it’ll give older gas-powered cars a bit of a brain boost. The small device can be attached to the OBD-II diagnostics port of a car, which became standardized on vehicles produced after 1996. Unsurprisingly, this means the main purpose of the device is to help make diagnostic checks easier. Checking for car problems using the OBD-II port usually requires a specialized device and a giant manual that matches error codes to vehicle problems. The SyncUP DRIVE does the legwork for you, reading the error codes and alerting you to exactly what’s wrong.

To do that, the device needs to be connected. The unit has LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity, so you’ve got a lot of options. T-Mobile customers will be able to add the SyncUP DRIVE to their accounts to get it connected, then use Wi-Fi to create a hotspot in the car. But, if it’s not connected to T-Mobile’s network, Bluetooth can still be used to sync the device with an app.

While ZTE is providing the hardware and T-Mobile is providing the network, Mojio is supplying the app. Their connected car platform can do quite a bit with the data gleaned from the diagnostics port. In addition to diagnosing problems, parents can create geofences and check on data like how fast the vehicle was going at any time, and when and how the brakes were used. In other words, teens won’t be able to get away with anything. The device can also put a connected device into distraction-free mode when the vehicle is in motion to prevent texting while driving. Mojio’s app works with Alexa and IFTTT, so more tech-savvy parents can set up alerts triggered whenever the device detects that the car is speeding or being taken out of a designated safe zone.

No word on pricing yet, but SyncUP DRIVE will be available at T-Mobile stores on November 18.