SAN FRANCISCO — Brendan Nee is a walking contradiction. He’s car guru who doesn’t own one, a 21st-century geek with an 18th-century mustache who has come up with a novel bit of nagware that could help Americans get off their spreading behinds.
An engineer working on “smart car assistant” Automatic, he spends many of his weekends at hackathons and has a coder’s physique to show for it. In January, he won the Clinton Foundation Code4Health Codeathon by developing a working prototype of an app called Walkoff in just a weekend. A few months later, Nee and team rolled out a more polished version that mashes up the data Automatic pulls from cars with info gathered by a Jawbone Up fitness tracker, showing a user how much time they’re spending behind the wheel versus walking.
“Clearly, without an actual car, I’m not the ideal tester,” admits Nee. The closest he comes to owning a set of wheels is a retired public bus dubbed the PlayaPillar that he only rolls out for Burning Man.