Vice President, Rational Continuous Engineering Solutions
IBM Software Group
The Internet of Things and open standards are bringing amazing capabilities to our cars. Self driving cars with vehicle to vehicle communications will be here sooner than we think. Already today, our cars have automated parking, navigation, and the ability to integrate media devices over Bluetooth and USB. And, while we wait for a future of truly automated transportation, there is a lot we can do today, with off the shelf components to bring our cars just a little closer to the future. With a little research, I set this up in my own car. All I have to do is enter may car, place my phone on the magnetic dock, and I get access to all of this:
By using my phone as the brain for my car, (1) It will always be automatically updated, (2) I avoid any other monthly connectivity charges, (3) I only have one user interface to learn (4) It is completely open for future features and apps.
This simple guide will show you how to get all of this for under $150 in a few hours without any custom wiring or modification to your car. The key to doing all of this is to have a high end Android smartphone (for LTE and Qi wireless power), a car with bluetooth or an aux input, an OBD II bluetooth adapter ($15-$65 on Amazon), and a good mounting plate for your dash. If the mount is high enough, the camera can even be used for driver safety assistance.
1) Set up a phone mounting plate high on the dash. I used the Proclip mount which connects to the top of my dash without any tools. ($20)
5) Pair your phone with the Bluetooth in your car. If you car does not have Bluetooth, a simple USB/Bluetooth adapter ($20) can plug in to the 3.5mm auxilliary plug for your stereo. Pair with this adapter. Also, pair your phone with the OBD II adapter.
6) If you have a Nexus 5 phone, it will stick to the Qi wireless charger magnetically. Some other phones will do this as well. If you can't, the sticky mat will work on top of the wireless charger.
7) The rest of this is all software and is very simple. Apps you will need:
- BT Auto Connect (free). This app makes sure your phone connects as soon as it is near the car, no involvement needed once it is paired the first time.
- Waze (free). This is the absolutely best navigation software and was bought by Google in 2013. It includes Social inputs to know in real time the speed of other cars nearby. It also allows users to tell every other user about accidents, police and other road hazards. It will guide you around these issues.
- Google Music (free). Use this on your PC (https://play.google.com/music/listen#) and upload all your favorite music to it. Now, from your car, the Google Music app will have access to all your music from the Cloud. It will cache music on your phone or stream it. If you change your music on your PC, the phone will always have the latest.
- Dash (free). This app gives you access to your OBD II data. It recommends ways to save gas, shows you how your car is performing, points you to the cheapest nearby gas, helps you find your parked car, and looks great.
- Torque ($4.99 for the full version). This app gives a deeper view of your OBD II diagnostics data. It also creates custom dashboards to display any sensor data you want, live as you drive.
- Ultimate Car Dock ($3.99 for the full version). This app gives you a simpler (safer) menu for apps you need while you drive. It also gives you text to speech to hear and answer messages
- Extra Tip: The key to using any touchscreen in a car is simplification and automation. Ultimate Car Dock only shows the icons you need. And, I set up favorites for locations and contacts for one touch navigation and dialing, and I use codes in my calendar entries for one touch access to conference calls.
iOnRoad (free with ads or $4.99 for the full version). This app will watch the road ahead of you, warning you of danger, collisions, and if you wander out of the lane. It needs a clear view of the road, so mounting your phone high is key.
That's it. Drive safely into the future!