SME Tech

No speeding - Overdrive is watching you

Local start-up has built systems that monitor vehicles such as school buses and delivery vans

Mr Chia (left) and Mr Chin are co-founders of Overdrive, a local SME specialising in fleet management solutions.
Mr Chia (left) and Mr Chin are co-founders of Overdrive, a local SME specialising in fleet management solutions. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Coffee makers, washing machines and security cameras are some of today's smart devices that can be controlled and monitored remotely by their owners.

Add your car to the list.

Local start-up Overdrive can help you install a box-shaped gadget the size of your palm, that can turn a car into a smart device.

The gadget, which is installed under the dashboard on the driver's side, houses a SIM card and a variety of sensors that can track parameters such as location, speed and cornering force.

All this real-time information can be fed directly to an app. The app can be set up to send notifications once thresholds have been breached, such as if a car is being driven over the speed limit.

Such devices are not new - accelerometers have been used in crash testing for years - but Overdrive specialises in building comprehensive customised solutions for companies to manage multiple vehicles at the same time.

It sources for devices such as sensors and NFC (near field communication) stickers from a number of hardware partners. It then installs them and creates an online platform to gather and analyse all the data for easy viewing.

The one-year-old company was founded by Mr Aston Chia, 34, and Mr Zen Chin, 42.

Mr Chin and Mr Chia met each other in Monash University in Australia, while they were studying for a bachelor's degree in computing.

Overdrive is their second company. They set up their first company, Covexis, in 2009, to provide fleet management tools, and other services such as Web hosting and mobile app development.

The pair decided to set up Overdrive last year to focus more on fleet management.

Mr Chia said: "After speaking to customers, we realised that every company has specific needs, and coming up with just one solution does not work.

"So we have decided to provide a platform, and build solutions for each individual company."

Overdrive has built a variety of systems, ranging from tracking children boarding school buses with NFC stickers, to monitoring delivery vans. It currently has close to 20 corporate clients, including car rental firms, bus services and companies with delivery fleets.

Its platform can be used to catch anomalies in vehicle usage. For example, using the system, one of its clients found out that a driver was leaving his bus engine and air-conditioner on overnight so that he could sleep in it.

Another client used location tracking to hunt down a stolen vehicle. Mr Chin said: "The police managed to find it within half an hour, and they said that the location tracking was very useful in helping them find the vehicle."

The information gathered can also be used to protect fleet owners. Mr Chin recalled how one of his clients used the data to manage a customer complaint.

He said: "A customer complained that the goods were delivered damaged because of bad driving, but our client generated a report showing that the vehicle adhered to the speed limit the whole time. Perhaps the goods were damaged beforehand or during loading."

While Overdrive is currently focusing on corporate clients, it eventually plans to market such devices to consumers as well, although it does not yet have a timeline for the development.

While funding for the company initially came from the founders' own pockets, they completed a $50,000 round of financing from government funding scheme iJam in February this year.

Mr Chia said: "As the Singapore Government is trying to encourage the Smart Nation initiative, it's actually a very good time for us to come in. But, as a whole, the Singapore market is too small. We're looking to step out, to become a local company with a global footprint."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2016, with the headline No speeding - Overdrive is watching you. Subscribe