One Michigan-based driver sold his car for $7,000 more than what he would have at his local dealer just by using data gathered by DIMO, an open-source, decentralized project that aims to connect drivers and their data with developers and manufacturers. As DIMO sees it, car data can provide valuable and monetizable insights – but drivers often aren’t the ones benefiting. DIMO wants to change this.
Although $7,000 is on the high end so far, Andy Chatham, co-founder of DIMO, said the average savings is over $1,000 for users who share their data on the platform.
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"It's already a $100 million plus industry – just people collecting and selling that data. But it's happening outside most people's understanding of their cars. So we're really just helping people participate in that directly," Chatham said.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) often sell data generated by cars, such as battery health information, but drivers themselves aren’t a part of this transaction. DIMO sees blockchain as a tool to "flip this model on its head." The project creates vehicle identities for cars and turns them into non-fungible tokens (NFT) on the blockchain.
"It's kind of like the [Department of Motor Vehicles], but in the metaverse for the vehicle," Chatham said.
Drivers can get economic upside from the data they contribute, without losing ownership.
"Whether it's being used to train a machine learning model, or evaluate the quality of some battery data, a lot of times this data becomes quite valuable," Chatham said.
DIMO is eyeing a big market. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, total sales for all new light-vehicle dealerships exceeded $1.18 trillion in 2021, and DIMO believes the U.S. used cars market is over three times bigger. The U.S. auto insurance market is valued at about $317 billion as well.
"And just the data itself, like people paying for the data from the cars, is [worth] about $80 billion a year today,” said Chatham. “Even if we can go and make some of these markets 1% or 2% more efficient and return as much of that back to users as possible, like 1% of 1 trillion is a really big number.”
Meanwhile, DIMO also supports developers, who can build on the open-source platform and utilize real-world data from cars that contribute to the network, enabling them to create mobility apps that include vehicle valuation, auto insurance and roadside assistance.
Earlier this year, DIMO finished a $9 million funding round. Since launching last year over 30,000 users have registered and over a dozen mobility companies have begun assessing DIMO, with several already building products and services on the platform.
Chatham believes what they are creating is similar to the Helium network, a blockchain network that leverages a decentralized global network of internet hotspots with two tokens. DIMO also plans to issue a token that compensates users and gives them ownership of the platform and their data.
"Token holders will be able to vote to control the baseline issuance and marketplace of apps and services," Chatham told CoinDesk.
Chatham will be presenting on "Investing in the New IoT Economy" at IDEAS Conference, and hopes to bring Web3 into peoples’ daily lives and to inspire them to think about new and beneficial ways to harness their data.
"I think that's just kind of a powerful message to get across to people to have them start to think about the world a little differently," Chatham said.
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