Meet the Disruptors: Carfit
Meet Carfit, the next in our series of interviews with disruptors and innovators involved in enabling and delivering emerging technologies. These are the companies driving digital disruption, changing the landscape of different industries, and challenging established and outdated systems.
This week it’s the turn of Nicolas Olivier, Co-Founder and CEO of Carfit, the company revolutionising car maintenance one vibration at a time, applying advanced mathematical principles to deliver insights into mechanical issues before they become a costly service problem!
Who are you?
My name is Nicolas Olivier and I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Carfit.
Where are you?
I’m usually based in our headquarters out in California but I’m currently confined in France due to the COVID-19 lockdown situation. I’ve lived in the States for the last 2 years and previous to that I was based for 15 years in Hong Kong. This is the longest that I’ve been back in Paris for many years - but it’s an easy adjustment to make!
Tell us two things we should know about Carfit:
One: We are doing something amazing. We’ve developed a technology that reads your car’s vibrations. In the past, this could only be done by highly experienced and intuitive drivers who really understood the mechanics and workings of their individual cars. They were able to “sense” what was happening with their cars before issues arose.
These days cars are, of course, far more reliable but our technology replaces the human sense of feeling a car and understanding if everything is running smoothly. When a car is in use, it creates vibrations that can be read and managed as part of self-diagnosis, so reducing potentially costly wear and tear issues in the future.
It’s a whole new way of managing self-diagnosis to keep your car in top shape and avoid breakdowns.
Two: The company was founded in 2016 on the West Coast of America, the reason being that at the time, I was living in Hong Kong but my business partner (ex Microsoft) was based on the West Coast, a prime location in the development of artificial intelligence.
We’ve now expanded, and have two subsidiaries in France and Asia (with a small team in Shanghai) so that we’re now covering the three largest car regions in the world; Europe, North America, and China.
What’s the problem that you’re solving?
With car maintenance, there’s a very significant blind spot.
Car manufacturers have kept control of the car engine and packed them with sensors. There’s lots of information that is displayed on your dashboard and available to professionals via a diagnostic plugin but very little is known about what’s happening when it comes to basic wear and tear. Generally speaking, today's engines are incredibly reliable. Issues with wear and tear are what end up costing you money.
Our technology specifically monitors the wearing parts and triggers alerts, so professionals can better understand what routine maintenance is required and when based on usage.
We're moving towards a more customised approach to car maintenance rather than the standard, scheduled approach which offers a “one size fits all” solution.
Who are you solving the problem for?
For car owners as well as those maintaining your car.
It adds an additional layer of diagnostics and data to make the professional service you receive more accurate and efficient.
As a car owner, your blind spot is not knowing what the potential cost of your routine service is likely to be. With more reliable and regular diagnostics (based on vibrational information), you can make simple adjustments (such as rotating your tyres) which will help your car run more efficiently over time, saving you money as a consumer. Better information removes frustration and helps preserve your car for longer, improving your service history and potentially the resale value of your asset.
Secondly, we’re addressing the aftermarket. There are 1.2 billion cars on the road worldwide today. The average age of a car in Europe is 11.5 years so there are lots of old cars around that require maintenance. Optimising maintenance is key.
What makes your model so disruptive to your sector?
There is no-one else out there offering anything that’s equivalent.
“Everyone talks about “connected cars”. We have a solution to simply and cheaply connect 1.2 billion unconnected cars while maintaining the individual’s privacy.”
— HENRI-NICOLAS OLIVIER, CEO, CARFIT
We are not [using] GPS coordinates, only the car vibrations. Our service is fully GDPR compliant. It’s a basic exchange of car usage information that then enables the professional or end-user to better understand how their car is performing.
Tell us more about the technologies you are bringing together.
The technology is leveraging two pillars:
One - Mechanical science by using something known as NVH which means Noise Vibration Harshness. It involves the disciplines of mathematics and physics and is heavily used in car manufacturing to analyse the transfer of vibrations. Using this NVH science we’ve begun to map and match frequency ranges.
Two - Artificial intelligence and machine learning in a federated way so it’s happening in the cloud. The starting point is to run a calibration for your specific make and model. Every single car has a unique vibration signature which we are then able to analyse for any abnormalities.
Some of the most simple and common issues we’re able to pick up include wheel alignment and balancing problems. These alone make up for 50% of all issues experienced in today’s cars. It can be hugely costly, yet is such an easy fix and can help keep your car running safer and more smoothly. Shock, break and gear issues are also blind spots that this service can help address.
Overall, our service can significantly help with depreciation so when you do decide to trade in your car, you’re in a better position to negotiate, especially with the full and detailed history that our diagnostics provides.
How different do you think the automotive industry will look in five years’ time?
Self-diagnostics for cars is an obvious direction that the automotive industry is headed in. It will enable service providers to provide a faster, more efficient, and super-individual service. Parts can be ordered in advance based on diagnostics so logistically cars will be in and out [of repair] faster.
In the future, (not five years but ten years from now) cars will go on their own for their maintenance checks as self-driving cars become a reality.
In the future at Carfit we hope to develop a direct to consumer product with a mobile app that will allow the end consumer to read and manage their own self-diagnostics.
Interested in discovering what the future might look like for your industry?
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