A blast of e-mail was sent out on Monday to all the car computer and telematics stores around the globe by some former employees of the now defunct Infill and Maxan. (we were open cced). Apparently they have formed a new company called HTS. The e-mail states they are accepting advanced orders on their FunDi G7. There are lots of concerns, but maybe it is just because they are still in stealth mode.
•As of Monday 3/23/2009 their domain carpcmall.com points to a parked website.
•Their PDF looks like CAD rendered image
•“Accepting advanced orders” Hmm. Have we heard that before in the car PC world?
Updated 09-17-2009 at 03:20 PM by optikalefx
In this video blog we test out Dash Command Lite – an innovative way of displaying OBD-II data. Talk about this on our forums in our blog talk section. Buy dash command lite here & get 10$ off the final version when it comes out in late spring or early summer
Updated 09-17-2009 at 03:21 PM by optikalefx
Community and Forum user Bugbyte (AKA: Tom Berry) explores more ways to connect your iphone to the screen in your car.
Follow this discussion in our forums.
Updated 09-17-2009 at 03:22 PM by optikalefx
How to build your own wireless USB monitor - We took an IOGear wireless VGA device (GUC2015V), an M1-ATX, a Lilliput 10” monitor and a laptop battery to make a super hacked wireless monitor. If you spent more than an hour on this you could really make this hack usable. We couldn’t get more than 15’ of range out of this with line of sight, but it was fun to try. Based on the amperage of the devices, we could theoretically get a few hours out of this per charge.
Other power supplies that could be used:
The m3-atx is probably a better supply to use for this project.
How much Power does this use?
260 milli amps for just the receiver.
1.1 amps for the receiver and screen.
Our battery has a capacity at 14.8 volts of 6600mAH.
Does this mean we get 6 hours of run time? Wow.
Host CPU Loads tested on my desktop
DisplayLinkManager is what does the processing for the Wireless VGA adapter.
Hardware used for testing
3 year old 2.8 Ghz Pentium D Dual core CPU
4gb of Ram
CPU Load Results
0% - CPU load with an idle screen (desktop only)
0-2% - CPU load with google talk
2-3% - VLC movie paused
9%-12% - VLC playing a movie
Part 2 Video Transcript:
Hi. My name is Rob Wray with MP3 Car. I told you we would test out this wireless monitor in the car, so for the last hour we’ve been goofing around in the parking lot of our office trying to get this to work. And actually it worked perfectly right off the bat the same way as it did work in our office. I just wanted to do something off-the-wall with it.
So it’s working perfectly. I happen to have a Centrifuge help video loaded on the monitor right now. We’ve got a great wireless signal. We’ve done some calculations recently. We think this little hack job here can get about six hours of wireless time using the 10” monitor. So that’s pretty exciting. And we’ve been really happy with the video quality playback.
The first thing that we tried to do to hack it, to make it look kind of cool and newsworthy was to hack in a USB HDTV tuner. So we did that. It worked well except the HDTV won’t play on this monitor. There’s certain things that don’t work well over ultra wideband USB and apparently the GT HD tuner that we sell in our store is one of those things that doesn’t work well.
We also had some problems with getting StreetDeck to work well wirelessly over ultra wideband, but things like VLC which I used in my previous demo worked wonderfully. You get great frame rate playback, and that sort of thing. So I’m going to go ahead and start this movie here, and you can see that the picture quality’s pretty good.
So we’ve been pretty happy with this as a solution. The only thing that we’ve seen is that, again it doesn’t support all video formats, and you also get – every now and then you’ll get a little bit of a wiggle over here on the left side. I’m assuming that’s from some type of interference that’s happening as a result of the engine alternator or various other little things. But it was happening before and now it’s completely gone away, so I think it’s almost unnoticeable.
So try this at home. Thanks for watching our blog.
Updated 09-17-2009 at 03:23 PM by optikalefx
This was the first time I've ever been to CES. I knew CES is the largest consumer oriented electronic show and despite a 10% reduction in attendance, this year did not disappoint in terms of size. Fibreoptic and I walked for 4 days straight and still didn't see all of the show, which takes up the entire Las Vegas convention center and spills over to several nearby hotels.
So, what were my impressions? The overwhelming sense I got was that car computing is alive and well but is unlikely to include traditional computers in the next few years. The days of the car PC are numbered.
Smaller and Smaller
The trend on the mp3Car.com forums for the past several years has been more towards innovation on the software development side rather than the hardware side. Although the learning curve may be steep for newbies, car PC veterans know that it is trivial to install a PC in a car. Power supplies, screens, hard drives and motherboards that can survive and operate reliably in the car are readily available and easy to install. While performance differences command differing price points, car PC hardware is effectively a commodity.
Combine this with the trend of shrinking hardware size whether form factor, power requirements or storage, along with continuing price reductions however you measure the cost (per megabyte, per CPU cycle, per watt) and the car PC is an endangered species. Why? Because small device like smartphones are getting both smarter and more powerful.
These phones are destined to be more than just application-enabled handheld devices. They represent a product that is increasing in storage, computational capability, full time connectivity whether bluetooth, WiFi, or cellular. Right now, they represent a simply a communication component that can link your car PC to data or voice networks but as they become more powerful they will eventually displace the PC in the car.
Consider how close a device such as an iPhone comes to replacing a PC in the car right now. The big apps for car PC's such as music, video, web browsing, GPS and high speed internet are all available. Turn by turn navigation and voice control are not on the iPhone but doubtlessly they will be and they are available on other phones today.
Of course, there are still compromises. Phones have a visually intensive interface, limited storage, proprietary protocols and OS capabilities, limited graphics capabilities and slower CPU's than full-blown PC's. Here's why I don't see that as a problem in the near future:
The move of desktop applications to the net via web applications such as Google apps like gmail, mapping, calendars, chat and so forth offload the processing to systems on the net. That means the net computes your routings rather than your PC. It also offloads the storage requirement for data like maps while permitting access to live, updated information like traffic, weather, video and so forth. Connected computers have much more value in the car than non-connected ones.
What Does the Future Look Like?
So, what do I think this new future of car computing will look like? I think within the next five years we will see a shift from hardware in the car to a mobile device that you carry on your person. This device will help deliver what I call "Webiquity," the intersection of the right information to the right person at the right time, and on the right device. Webiquity exists in a limited way today for example, whenever Google asks you if you meant to inquire about movie times instead of moive times, but it doesn't span the majority of our human activity.
When do I think a 'magic' device or phone will be delivered? First, I doubt if we will recognize it when it first appears. I certainly never connected the idea of putting a modern PC in my car when IBM delivered the PS/1. It will probably emerge through gradual experimentation and the ease of fitting crucial missing links in place.
The main link is advances in communications. It's pretty clear that if you are willing to pay for it, you can get net access most of the time. As the coverage becomes better and the cost for connectivity continues to drop, our attention will turn towards the possibility of actually depending on the net for things we can't store on our devices -such as weather, dynamic traffic, gas prices and so forth.
In fact, current iPhones might make a pretty good car PC except for the screen and the interface. Even if there were an easy way to link the phone's display or drive a separate display (say, by bluetooth or WiFi, or even by a docking mechanism), we'd still have the problem of the interface and extending the functionality of the phone in the car.
Therefore it's not necessarily a lock to say that this device will be a phone. As hardware gets smaller and more powerful, non-handset makers will be innovating to offer connectivity on new and different types of devices. Who knows? It may not be a single device at all. It might be a series of devices and interfaces that you interact with as you move from home to car to office and back. All I know is that the results will be small, powerful, and connected.
Given the ability of a web browser to access and run most any kind of web application running on nearly any type of OS, I expect the OS in the car device to become less and less of an issue except for specific hardware interface issues. The OS will still matter on the web server, but the end result -the application being run by the client, will be less and less important.
So, while one piece of the puzzle is probably hardware -something like a monitor that is wireless or cellular and can interface with your handheld device, the other piece is software.
The Software Will Be The Solution
Once we can reliably depend on the mobile net, we'll start shifting our attention from front ends that are tied to an OS to front ends or voice interfaces that are built on the web, for our cars. We'll be able to mash up services, figure out routings, get directions, find phone numbers, view webcams and stream data in both directions.
Of course, we can already do that in some of the most advanced car PC installations. The best part will be the applications we haven't thought of yet. Right now, nascent applications that are location aware are just now beginning to be developed. Consider how cool would it be if you could conjure up Zillow while driving through neighborhoods hunting for houses? School performance, tax data, things to do and see would be available to you on the move. How about dynamic GPS reroutes based on traffic density reports online? Or instant comparison and evaluation of codes thrown by your car's OBDII port to tell you whether you need to head to the nearest mechanic right away or whether that sound the car is making can wait a day or so?
It may all sound a bit far out right now but what I saw at CES confirmed what I already thought. The days of the car PC are numbered. It may die a slow and lingering death, but evolution is going to catch up with it eventually. I think sooner than later.