Tracking footprints

Big Foot—if he does indeed exist—would be impressed.

Tracking carbon footprints emitted by vehicles on highways around the world via an Apple iPhone sounds a bit like a science fiction or folklore, much like the questionable accounts of Big Foot sightings and “footprint” evidence manufactured by Big Foot extremists.

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But the reality is this: GoPoint Technology in Birmingham, Mich., has created a product that allows drivers to gauge vehicle performance factors such as their vehicle carbon footprint on the environment, which could ultimately help modulate their driving habits, thus reducing the environmental impact of their vehicle. Best of all, this technology is incredibly practical in terms of cost and in comparison to other diagnostic devices.

Lori Dempsey Hamilton '90 and her husband Brennan '90 operate GoPoint Technology, which was established by Brennan in 2008. Recently, the start-up launched a new product called goLINK. This resource extracts data from the onboard diagnostic system of a vehicle and uses an algorithm to send engine, transmission, tire and other sensor data to a user’s Apple iPhone.

This isn’t the Hamiltons’ first successful attempt at developing state-of-the-art, hand-held, cost-conscious technology for drivers and car lovers. Initially, Brennan established Hamilton Performance Electronics (HPE) in 2002 as a hardware and software company specializing in the Palm operating system. HPE released the Pocket DYNO acceleration-based performance test system that cabled directly to Palm and allowed users to gauge vehicle horsepower and performance. Eventually, he and Lori established GoPoint Technology, which focuses on the integration of consumer electronic devices within vehicle data streams, among other activities.

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For the goLINK product, Lori Hamilton said that the company, “focuses primarily on two market segments: retail and business-to-business.”

For consumers, goLINK connects Apple iPhones and iPod Touch devices to the vehicle data bus. According to Hamilton, goLINK “is a fascinating mixture of tool and toy. By connecting a user’s iPhone or iPod Touch, we can provide raw and processed data to users, such as vehicle speed and miles-per-gallon.” Additionally, the product can connect legacy equipment to the vehicle bus and provide enhanced capabilities without a product re-design.

In terms of operation, the goLINK product utilizes a protocol converter and nine different protocols (vehicle languages) that are used on US 1996MY and new vehicle models. The goLINK automatically determines the correct protocol for the vehicle and opens a data session. The product then requests data in a simplified manner—goLINK’s algorithm computes such things as horsepower, torque, mpg and the carbon footprint of the vehicle. Drivers can then use this data to drive more consistently, which could potentially assist them in reducing fuel usage and vehicle emissions.

But one of the most compelling aspects of this technology is the low cost. In the 1990s, GM and Ford released PC-based diagnostic tools to help dealership mechanics diagnose and resolve vehicle problems. The cost of these systems approached $10,000. They were also packaged in cumbersome, five-foot tall carts that weighed 100 pounds or more. But the goLINK provides greater capabilities and users can carry it in their pockets for less than $100.

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Thus far, Hamilton reported that the product sales are going well. Since the actual application is Apple-approved, GoPoint has experienced wonderful consumer support and the online Apple Application Store carries the product. In 2009, the product also won awards at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show.

The Hamiltons’ passion for their company and work clearly demonstrates the kind of entrepreneurial mindset one must have in order to succeed in today’s challenging global climate. As Kettering continues its work on providing all students opportunities to study entrepreneurship in all course work through support from the Kern Family Foundation, the Hamiltons’ example of dedication is critical in showing students what one can achieve when committed to their entrepreneurial efforts.

During their Kettering/GMI careers, Lori was a member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and Brennan was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Lori holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Brennan achieved a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering. Brennan originally worked his co-op position with GM, but joined Ford upon graduation. He earned his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Lori served her co-op with CPC Engine in Moraine, Ohio, but also joined Ford following graduation and moved to Michigan. She earned her MBA from the University of Detroit-Mercy and left Ford in 2009 to join GoPoint Technology full-time. They currently live in Birmingham with their three children.

GoPoint Technology offices are located in Birmingham and Rochester Hills, Mich. For more information on the company, visit the website at or call (248) 232-3078.

Written by Gary J. Erwin