updated 04:00 pm EDT, Mon September 12, 2011
Project based on technology from Bug Labs
Ford has announced that it has partnered with Bug Labs to offer an open-source platform for connected vehicles. The project, which is referred to as OpenXC and based on the latter company's Bug System technology, will enable developers and accessory makers to create new software and interchangeable hardware modules that can be added to upcoming vehicles.
The car maker suggests the modular system will enable companies to create new audio and visual feedback interfaces, environmental sensors and safety devices, among other innovations. Accessories and apps can conceivably be built to target specific geographical areas and languages, or be provided on a rental basis.
"Imagine you live in India, own a Ford Figo and love the game of cricket," said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader of Ford's Infotronics R&D division. "Now imagine that you could purchase a $30 community cricket module from your local Ford dealer that was designed by a local developer and approved by Ford. This module plugs into a master control board in your car and your Figo would then play a community radio channel dedicated to cricket for the season. After the season is over, you could remove the module and replace it with something else."
The companies are working to create development toolkits, including SDKs, along with an app store model for distribution.
At the TechCrunch Disrupt gathering, the companies demonstrated prototype OpenXC accessories connected to the Ford Fiesta. The preview included a Fuel Economy Challenge app that works in conjunction with a Bluetooth-connected LED fuel efficiency display in the vehicle cockpit.
Ford has yet to announce pricing details or a launch time-frame for the OpenXC system. [via TechCrunch]