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Garmin communicates with your car via ESP

The EcoRoute ESP will connect your Garmin Nuvi to your vehicle's diagnostics port.

Nuvi 1690 displaying gauges screen
The EcoRoute ESP will connect your Garmin Nuvi to your vehicle's diagnostics port. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

We stopped by Garmin's booth at the 2009 SEMA Show expecting a new GPS device or news of another OEM integration deal, but we stumbled upon something even better. Sometime next year, Garmin's Nuvi GPS devices will gain the ability to communicate with your car through ESP. In this case, we're not talking about psychic extra-sensory perception, but the EcoRoutes ESP module for Nuvi navigation devices.

EcoRoutes ESP module
The ESP module is a small hideaway box that communicates with Nuvi units via Bluetooth. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The ESP module is a hideaway box that connects to (and is powered by) your vehicle's OBD-II diagnostics port. The device gathers information about your vehicle's performance and relays that info via a Bluetooth data connection to your Garmin Nuvi GPS device atop your dashboard.

Using the Nuvi's touch screen, users can view a set of customizable gauges, view and clear fault codes when the Check Engine light comes on, and monitor real-time fuel economy and emissions data. The unit also provides data logging for users who want to track their performance and interfaces with the EcoRoutes software that's already present on current Garmin devices.

Garmin's representatives were happy to give us a quick demo of the system in action at their booth on the show floor and it looks pretty slick. Pricing and availability were unavailable at the time of publication, but we're told to expect more information at CES in January 2010, so stay tuned.