Unless you’re still driving your 1975 AMC Gremlin, chances are your car is a much smarter than what you used to be driving. Cars have had electronic systems, starting with fuel injection, since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that vehicles started being equipped with onboard microprocessors, which have grown more sophisticated ever since.
Some models are pretty darn smart, such as those with GM’s OnStar system that provides emergency calling, crash response, tracking and other services. We’ve written before about some add-on devices that also provide some of those same services, by plugging into the under dashboard OBD II port that has been required on US-sold vehicles for the past 20 years.
An updated add-on entry is Splitsecnd – and no, I didn’t misspell “second” – which plugs not into the OBD port but into your vehicle’s 12-volt accessory outlet, the former cigarette lighter location, and provides accident notification, emergency calling, and GPS tracking, among other functions.
The Splitsecnd has been available since at least 2013, but more recently it’s been upgraded in several ways, including being made a 3G device and instead of just connecting via T-Mobile it now connects to the strongest cell signal where ever the vehicle is, be it T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T, for example.
The hardware & firmware are also said to be upgraded, specifically a better antenna, and an improved accelerometer, which gathers information in a crash, such as the force of the impact and whether the car rolled over or spun. Splitsecnd automatically dials a 24/7 emergency services center where someone can then speak with the driver or passenger about what happened and send help. There’s also a button on the device to summon help through the call center, even if there’s no accident. And a battery inside provides some juice so even if the car loses power – say in a crash – the call center can speak with the driver for up to an hour.
The GPS tracking allows you – as the parent or grandparent of the driver, or the child of the elderly driver – to find out where the vehicle is, using a website dashboard, an app on your Android or iPhone, or even by asking Amazon Alexa or Google Home if you enable those voice-assistants. Splitsecnd can send a notification when the vehicle arrives at its destination or help the driver find where the car is parked.
You can also set up geofencing – that is – be notified if a vehicle has been driven out of a preset boundary area. Oh, and there’s a USB port on the Splitsecnd device, to allow charging a phone.
While plugging the device in is simple, it also has to be registered with Splitsecnd and they want a lot of information: not only the driver’s name and your contact information, but the vehicle’s make, model, year, VIN, and license plate. Also, an emergency contact and the driver’s birthday (do they send a card?). There’s a request for medical information, but filling that out is optional. Moving the device from car to car is clearly being discouraged.
One disadvantage Splitsecnd has compared to the OBD devices is that it sits right in the car console or dashboard, and the person you’re tracking, be it an elderly parent or teenage driver, can simply pull it out. The OBD devices are not visible unless someone looks under the dash and can be installed – if you so wish – without informing the car’s user, making it much less likely they’ll know they can be tracked. But Splitsecnd’s advantages are its manual help button and the two-way communication with the emergency services center.
At this time, Splitsecnd is available directly on their site for $299.99, for “lifetime service,” and when you go to buy it a $30 cellular “activation fee” is added.
Here’s one of their promotional videos: