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Ford engineer builds haptic shift knob with 3D printer, Xbox controller

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  • Ford engineer builds haptic shift knob with 3D printer, Xbox controller

    It's not exactly a full-on PC, but it's a pretty nifty hack:

    Ford's haptic vibrating manual gearshift knob

    By Michael Harley
    Posted Jul 29th 2013 1:01PM

    Vehicles with manual transmissions have been equipped with shift indicators (illuminated or audible) for decades. While some are used to improve performance, most are designed to encourage more fuel-efficient driving. Regardless of the original objective, nearly all drivers become desensitized or learn to ignore the illuminated lights and arrows after just a few short hours behind the wheel.

    Enter Zachary Nelson, a recent MIT graduate and an engineer with Ford. Working at the automaker's Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Nelson devised a haptic shift knob that vibrates when it's time to select another gear. "I wanted to create something that expands the car's capabilities and improves the experience for the driver," said Nelson. "I decided to use OpenXC to provide a new kind of feedback for the driver through the shift knob."

    The process, greatly simplified, has the vehicle transmitting data wirelessly from its on-board diagnostics (OBD) port using a Bluetooth OpenXC adapter. The knob uses the innards of a Microsoft Xbox 360 controller for vibration. "I decided to have a little fun with it and installed an LED display on top that shows the gear position and colored lights that glow from inside at night similar to the ambient lighting in Mustang," adds Nelson.

    Overall, it's a rather fascinating idea that you can check out in the video below. The software-driven haptic shift knob allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road, while the vibration can be set to alert one of many different parameters, including optimal fuel efficiency, quickest acceleration, maximum torque, redline shifting and so on, giving it many different uses.

    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?

    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

  • #2
    gratz for finding this out dude. its a pretty nifty install, and i bealive, it can be easily be done DIY style. as i can see he uses an arduino controller! (my car has anyway already an arduino mega as its "ECU" so it would be easy!)


    • #3
      useless! you're supposed to only have your hand on the shifter when you're already ready to shift. maybe if you could integrate the vibration into the steering wheel.
      COMPLETED! 02 VW Golf TDI 7" Eee PC Budget Build


      • #4
        are tachs just too old school? I don't really see the point in this. how much is a vibrating shift knob worth, and what will someone pay to get one?
        Progress,.... that is what I keep forgetting ;)
        planning_[++++++++++]. 110%
        parts___[++++++----] around 60%
        install___[-----------] -9,000%


        • #5
          The point is that you don't have to take your eyes of the road to know when to shift
          COMPLETED! 02 VW Golf TDI 7" Eee PC Budget Build