November 20, 2018

How Spiffy locates and unlocks cars using the Smartcar API

Charlotte Kosche

Sr. Content Writer

Smartcar makes it fast and easy for app developers to integrate with cars. One of these developers is Spiffy — an on-demand car care app based in North Carolina. So, what is Spiffy, how do its developers use our API, and what are the technical advantages of using Smartcar?

Introducing Spiffy

Spiffy offers on-demand car care services such as washing, detailing, and oil change to individual vehicle owners and fleets of cars. “On-demand” means that customers can schedule appointments from an app, and that Spiffy staff will come to service the car on the spot. On top of one-time appointments, customers can book subscriptions to Spiffy’s services to get their car washed and serviced on a regular basis.

How Spiffy uses Smartcar

It’s actually quite simple. Spiffy uses the Smartcar API to let their car care staff do two things: locate a customer’s vehicle and — in case the customer has booked inside cleaning — unlock the vehicle doors.

To clean the inside of a car, Spiffy’s staff needs an easy way of unlocking the vehicle’s doors.

Technical pain points

Before integrating with Smartcar, Spiffy’s developers were facing two challenges:

  1. Locating the car: In order to wash and service a car, you have to know where the car is (obviously). But as your customer and their car might not always be in the same location, just locating the customer’s phone isn’t enough. Instead, customers have to manually enter their car’s location in the app.
  2. Unlocking and locking the car: If you want to do more than just wash the outside of a car, you need to unlock it. This means that your customers and staff members have to physically exchange car keys — a hassle and waste of time for both sides.

To work around these complexities for their customers and staff, some app developers use OBD (on-board diagnostics) dongles. But integrating with those dongles — especially the kind that can locate, lock, and unlock vehicles— is an expensive and complicated process. Each model, make, and production year of cars might bring their own nuances, making the lives of developers more difficult.

Spiffy uses the Smartcar API to locate, unlock, and lock the vehicles it services.

Smartcar’s solution

With Smartcar’s standard API, you can access data and send requests from and to vehicles — across car brands, without hardware, and using only simple HTTP requests:

  1. Thanks to our API’s location endpoint, your staff can easily locate your customers’ vehicles.
  2. The security endpoint lets your customers share a virtual car key with a member of your staff.
  3. Last but not least, it’s easy and secure to integrate with the Smartcar platform. We provide extensive documentation, SDKs in six languages, and a demo app to help you get started.

This is how Spiffy’s developers use the Smartcar API for their on-demand car care app.

Did we make you curious? If you’re building a similar app yourself, great! If you aren’t building an on-demand car care app, we still have good news for you: Our API permits you to integrate with much more than just on-demand car care apps. Car sharing, fleet management, mileage-based insurance, and in-car delivery are just a few examples of other apps you can build using the Smartcar platform.

Thank you, Spiffy, and have a great trip, everyone!

Smartcar is an API that allows mobile and web apps to access data from and send requests to cars (think “check odometer” or “unlock doors”) — across vehicle brands, hardware-free.

Want to take our API for a spin? Check out our docs and get started with our demo app! Have any questions or feedback? Shoot us an email! 🚀

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