Surreal GateKeeper

The Surreal GateKeeper is the hardware+embedded software package of the Surreal vehicle data and diagnostics system. The hardware itself is known as the FDOM, short for freedom.

It’s a small package with a lot of features. There are so many features it is simply impossible to list them all, but some of them really make this adapter shine.

Wi-Fi? Bluetooth Low Energy? Why not both?

Gatekeeper has both wifi and Bluetooth. Of the two, Bluetooth is highly preferred simply because it is overall easier to use. However not all devices have Bluetooth, and Bluetooth has low bandwidth compared to WiFi. So, the simple solution is to have both protocols in the adapter. The user can choose which communication medium they want to use.


Security is a massive issue as cars are getting more advanced. Many OEMs are thinking about locking down obd2 diagnostics due to these security issues, however Surreal Development doesn’t agree with this. Instead, Surreal Development believes the obd2 adapters must change to fit the new world. The days of  simple pass through diagnostics like you would see with an ELM327 are over. In this world the adapter must be smart enough to insure the safety of the vehicle’s drivers and its passengers.

GateKeeper implements a wide variety of security features to help insure you feel safe using the GateKeeper.

Protocol Level Security

Perhaps the biggest change in the adapter is the idea of protocol level security. Simply put, the adapter analyzes communications with the adapter and identifies any potentially dangerous commands the phone or laptop is trying to send. This means the user is free to ask for something simply and non intrusive, such as engine speed, but is given an access violation if they try to do something dangerous such as lock the front left brake. Of course we understand there may be reasons why someone would want to lock the front left brake, which is why Protocol Level Security works with User Permissions to insure risky commands are used in a controllable manner.

User Permissions

GateKeeper remembers every single client that connects to it and gives them each an independent permissions set. By default a new client has very limited permissions and is able to only pull basic information about the adapter. The client is capable of requesting new permissions, but the adapter will not grant them automatically. For permissions to be granted the user must physically tap the button on the adapter. This process repeats whenever the client needs to get new permissions, such as the permission to set engine speed to 2000 rpm.

Secure Communication

The security features of the GateKeeper would be pointless if anyone can snoop on your data. So the GateKeeper has secure communication. Bluetooth uses strong AES-128 encryption as specified in Bluetooth 4.2. WiFi uses an HTTPS and has a variety of encryption methods to maximize compatibility, all of which are guaranteed to be secure.


The GateKeeper solves all of these security problems and thus is the most secure adapter in the world with wireless capabilities. We spent a long time analyzing other adapters and established security criteria, out of all the adapters that we analyzed only one scored at ‘Moderate Risk’. The remained were given ‘SEVERE’ ratings due to their massive, and painfully obvious, security issues.

Micro SD Card Support

If the pictures haven’t made it obvious, the GateKeeper is capable of fitting any standard micro sd card. The adapter is more than capable of running in standalone mode, and can thus log data and engine codes even while you are nowhere near the vehicle. This is a highly requested feature that most people want to see in an OBD2 tool.


CAN-FD is the new CAN standard that will be rolling out soon. FD stands for flexible data and simply allows for higher speed CAN frames. Unfortunately CAN-FD is not backward compatible with CAN so any CAN based scan tool will not work on CAN-FD vehicles. The GateKeeper has 2 independent CAN-FD Controllers and transceivers, and is currently the only known OBD2 adapter to be implementing CAN-FD.

Robust Power Management

A big issue with many adapters is they get confused and tend to drain the battery. The GateKeeper always errs on the side of saving battery life and will go into a low power mode of less than 0.1 milliamps.

To top it off the GateKeeper is capable of operating on 12V busses and 24V busses. It can even operate off 5V USB power and has protection against alternator surges. Max typical current will be around 300mA (from low voltage side).

OTA Updates

Something as powerful as the GateKeeper needs to be improved over time. It is thus capable of securely downloading new software. This can be done passively when the adapter is near a trusted WiFi Access Point, or it can be done actively by running the built in the ultralight OTA Service from Vortex.

Open Protocol

The GateKeeper is made to work with any application, not just Vortex. The BLE and WiFi protocols will be made public as well as basic libraries to assist in mobile app development. The protocol is extremely high level, so you can simply ask for data and forget about it. This is much easier than manually talking on the CAN Bus.

Developer Friendly

If the open protocol doesn’t satisfy you, the FDOM (hardware powering GateKeeper) is made to be developer friendly. It is the only cost effective OBD2 development system that can also be taken to production as is. With a powerful ESP32, there are very little tasks the GateKeeper cannot handle using your own custom code.

Disclamer: FDOMs preloaded with GateKeeper come with rolling encryption and locked down JTAG for security reasons. These restrictions are burned using EFuses and cannot be undone. You can, however, still load your own programs. Unlocked FDOMs will be sold separately.



GateKeeper is currently in its final hardware revision stages and is now under early development. GateKeeper is 100% open source which helps solidify it’s robust nature.

You are free to check it out and even contribute on GitHub. For early access to hardware please contact us, early access hardware prices will vary from $200 to $400 depending on current supplies.