Ford Invites Developers Inside the Car With New Dev Program, Platform
Currently, the three main categories of AppLink-enabled apps include: News and Information, Music and Entertainment, Navigation and Location. Once a developer has incorporated AppLink code into the app, it will be submitted for review by Ford engineers to ensure it works properly and is suitable for use in the vehicle. Once approved, Ford will then work with the developer to provide a distribution license, after which the app is submitted to the relevant app marketplace. Yet, while AppLink is available in Ford vehicles now, OpenXC is focused on the future as an open-source hardware and software platform developed by Ford Research and Innovation to unleash the power of the open-source hacker community to explore what can be done with vehicle data, Ford said. OpenXC is a combination of open source hardware and software that lets users extend their vehicle with custom applications and pluggable modules. It uses standard, well-known tools to open up a wealth of data from the vehicle to developers.“Ford is committed to innovating with the help of software and now hardware developers,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford vice president and chief technical officer, in a statement. “By connecting cars and trucks to wireless networks, and giving unheard-of access to vehicle data, entirely new application categories and hardware modules can be explored – safety, energy efficiency, sharing, health; the list goes on. OpenXC gives developers and researchers the tools they need to get involved.”The OpenXC kit includes a vehicle interface module based on the popular Arduino platform developers can use to read data from the vehicle’s internal communications network. The hardware module provides real-time access to parameters like the vehicle sensors, GPS receiver and vehicle speed. The hardware module is connected to a smartphone or tablet on which apps can be written to consume and use these data. The read-only system is designed to keep everything isolated from the vehicle control systems so that users do not accidentally “brick” their cars. The OpenXC Website also provides schematics, documentation and code for open-source hardware modules, including the wireless solar-powered heads-up display developed by OpenXC co-founder Bug Labs. “Through the OpenXC platform, we are paving the way for new opportunities that will help us prepare for the future of transportation where the automobile, mobile networks and the Internet cloud come together in ways never before imagined,” said Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader of Open Innovation for Ford Research and Innovation, in a statement. “OpenXC is an extension of the work being done at the Ford Silicon Valley Lab focusing on big data, open-source innovation and user experience,” added Mascarenas. “We are enabling independent developers to flesh out their ideas using affordable and accessible hardware and software tools.” Early in 2012 Ford shipped the first OpenXC beta toolkits to universities such as the University of Michigan, MIT, Stanford University and HCL Technologies in India. Since that time, OSIsoft has sponsored a hackathon to create an application using vehicle data from OpenXC in combination with its enterprise data analytics platform. In addition, at Michigan State University, a team of undergraduate students has built an Android app that uses OpenXC to collect data from the Ford MyKey system into a centralized database and present it in visual report card format.