The work which [Mark] did to mount this iPad mini in the dashboard of his Ford truck is commendable. It looks like it came from the factory this way, and the functionality matches that illusion.
He actually started the project before he had the iPad mini on hand. A PDF that mapped out the exact dimensions was used as a template for the layout and alteration. He took the stereo controls out of the original faceplate. That opening was made to fit the screen by cutting, adding putty, then sanding and finishing.
Since the bezel won’t let [Mark] get at any of the buttons on the iPad itself he picked up an external home button on eBay and mounted it just to the left of the screen. Inside the dashboard a docking connector is responsible for powering the tablet and connecting it to the sound system. There’s even a WiFi connection thanks to the MiFi system he mounted in the overhead console.
[Ed Zarick] built a module to control his vehicle which he calls the Jeeputer. The name’s a mash-up of Jeep and Computer; the device itself is a combination of Arduino, character LCD, and a collection of shift registers and relays for interfacing. Watch the video after the break to see what this can do. We were surprised in the beginning when he says that all he has left to do is remove the steering wheel lock and he’ll be able to drive using the interface, but we think he means type in a code to unlock the ignition, not remote control for his car. He then goes on to demonstrate garage door control, power cycling for CB radio, GPS, 110V power inverter, vehicle light control, and much more. This must be the most feature packed car computer we’ve seen so far.
In an attempt to create more interaction with our vehicles, researchers have created AIDA. AIDA is basically a car computer and GPS that has some well designed personification. That cute little face will learn your daily habits and schedules and make recommendations to keep you out of traffic. We really like the idea, and the little bit we see of AIDA already has us falling in love, but won’t the placement be a distraction? We already know some people who give their car a name and treat it like a person, we don’t want to imagine what would happen if their car actually had some interactive personality. AIDA’s motion and emotive display are worthy of the crabfu challenge for sure, but do we want AIDA on our dashboard? Yes, most emphatically. She can sit right by the little hula girl.
[Gabe Graham] sent us this step by step process of building a dock for his Zune and hacking is steering wheel controls to work with it. Like many of us, he was not happy with the performance of those little radio transmitters that hook to your mp3 player. He remedied the situation by mounting a dock for his Zune onto the console and patching into his stereo. The sound quality was great, but controlling it was a pain.
He had one button left on his steering wheel that was not needed for anything. He created a custom controller for the Zune that would issue different commands based on how long he held the button on the steering wheel. If the button was held for less than half a second, it would skip tracks, any longer and it would pause. Though he could possibly clean up the look of the LED sticking out of the console, the over all effect is quite well done.
Here’s a quick hack to satiate our appetite for location aware applications. The Dash Express is a GPS unit with cellular and WiFi radios so it can do two way communication. Out of the box it can download maps and traffic on the fly. A little while ago they opened up the API so the device could receive info from other web services and owners could give feedback, like reporting speed traps live. The handy hack embedded above publishes your location to Twitter; we would have preferred it hit an actual location service like Brightkite. This just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible applications. We wonder what the adoption rate of the Dash Express will be, since the iPhone also has a touchscreen, GPS, and of course a cellular connection.
We’ve got a Dash Express in the lab and it’s based on the OpenMoko design. What sort of tomfoolery would you like to see us do with it? What do you think the killer app for the Dash Express will be?