Dallas Startup Vinli Creates Dashboard Tool for Connected Cars

[Corrected 9/21/15, 10:24 a.m. See below.] Vinli, a Dallas-based connected car device maker, is bringing a tablet-style dashboard product to market to be offered in new cars.

The company offers a connected-car device, which users plug into a car’s diagnostic data port, that lets developers build apps for automobiles. A user can access any number of apps with various services—from roadside assistance to an app that connects you to a repair shop when a problem arises in the vehicle—through a smartphone that connects to the Vinli device via Bluetooth.

Vinli’s new product, called Carport, is intended for the more than 60 million new vehicles put on the market annually, according to Mark Spain, vice president of automotive. It brings the mobile device experience to the in-car dashboard display, he wrote in an e-mail.

“This prevents the driver from pulling out their phone while they are driving,” he wrote. “Rather the driver is glancing at the information on their car’s dashboard when they’re at a stop light.”

Third-party developers can also build apps for Vinli’s Carport. The service will also offer diagnostic and preventative maintenance tool, like the diagnostic port device, for not only the primary user’s car, but also any family members, the company said in a statement. Plus, it can connect to smart devices in a user’s home, automatically turning them on or off.

Vinli debuted Carport at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt Sept. 15. [Corrects misspelling of Carport in previous two paragraphs.]

The company raised a $6.5 million Series A round in June, which was led by Samsung Venture Investment Corporation; Cox Automotive, The Westly Group, and Continental also participated.

Vinli makes money by offering in-car services, charging developers based on usage of their apps, and charging for data connectivity.

“Bringing innovative solutions to the industry expands our channels for innovators and redefines the how drivers and consumers will experience the increasing amount of time spent in cars,” Spain wrote in the e-mail. “We want to provide the maximum value for drivers and passengers on the road and we are exploring strategies with partners who bring decades of deep expertise in technology and automotive services.”

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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