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  • Integrating a camera into a Car PC

    My boss, who works in real estate, often gives me little side projects to keep me busy. His new side project is a car PC setup for his 2007 Mini Cooper.

    He wants to be able to take pictures from his car of real estate properties and upload them to his website from the road. He does not have the camera yet, nor the car PC setup.

    I am posting in the Newbie forum because I am totally new to the car PC scene and don't know much about what's involved. I have, however, been building desktop computer for almost 10 years so I am very familiar with hardware and software configurations. I have also read the basic FAQs here so I am familiar with car PC specifics like power inverters and such. I have a feeling that the trickiest part of this whole project is going to be the software.

    I would want the computer to detect that a picture has been taken and have it immediately displayed on some sort of touch screen. (The camera will most communicate via bluetooth, but I'm not sure what kinds of bluetooth cameras are on the market.) At a basic level, the screen would present three options: Discard, Save, and Upload. Also, if there is no wifi signal available, the upload option would have to be grayed out and there would have to be some way to upload saved photos at a later time (when there is a wifi signal). If possible, however, I would like to integrate a very basic photo editor into the touch screen, allowing the user to crop the image, as well as adjust brightness, contrast, and size. How feasible would this be?

    I'm most likely going to use Wifi for internet access, but I'm unsure how to provide a simple upload feature as described above. Anyone have any suggestions?

    I really appreciate the help.

  • #2
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    • #3
      If you're not going to write the camera software yourself, why not (kiss) keep it simple stupid. XP already has a powerful camera utility as well as most camera software packages. Skip the bluetooth (it can be more trouble than its worth) and just have a USB port handy for the camera input. I have two ports right under my screenthat I use and as soon as you plug the camera in - -windows automatically loads the camera download software and you can choose which to upload to the PC and after the transfer, you can view/ edit/ email/ ftp/ to the pics to where ever!
      HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

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      • #4
        Most software available (XP's editor included) isn't that touchscreen-friendly.

        Writing the editing software would be quite simple using vb and some image editing library, look around on the web and you'll find pretty neat stuff.
        Just scan a specific drive (the camera is just an external drive mostly, search for the volume name) and once it is detected, scan for new files (use archive bit or timestamp). Open the first new picture file in a window with 'skip', 'edit', 'save', 'delete' and 'upload' buttons.

        For the upload, why not save locally and use an existing sync software (ftp or http) to sync it with a webserver? That way, if there's no connection, it will wait until there is one and upload then. No need to worry about protocols etc...
        You can use 2 folders: one that syncs automatically and one manually if you want.

        I second that bluetooth probably isn't the most stable way to communicate. The USB port in the dash is a good idea. You can even add a card reader (camera battery is dead for example).
        A wifi camera would be an other alternative, but I think your best bet would be the USB/card reader combination.

        Good luck and let us know what you come up with.

        Oh, and try to make the software a plugin for an existing front-end like RR or CF, that will simplify the integration and might make some nice extra's possible like GPS coordinates saved with the pictures (make that an option you choose when saving/uploading as your boss might upload/save multiple estates at once on the side of the road somewhere).

        You've got me all thinking and stuff dude!
        List of front-ends/usefull apps
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        • #5
          Originally posted by JC-S60 View Post
          Writing the editing software would be quite simple using vb and some image editing library, look around on the web and you'll find pretty neat stuff.
          Just scan a specific drive (the camera is just an external drive mostly, search for the volume name) and once it is detected, scan for new files (use archive bit or timestamp). Open the first new picture file in a window with 'skip', 'edit', 'save', 'delete' and 'upload' buttons.
          Sounds good, but I know very little about writing software. I know a little C and a little Visual basic. I'm assuming vb means visual basic, are there any guides put there for writing vb programs for Car PC touchscreens?

          Originally posted by JC-S60 View Post
          For the upload, why not save locally and use an existing sync software (ftp or http) to sync it with a webserver? That way, if there's no connection, it will wait until there is one and upload then. No need to worry about protocols etc...
          You can use 2 folders: one that syncs automatically and one manually if you want.
          Sounds great, but once again, I know very little about ftp/http syncing software (are you getting frustrated with me yet? haha). What software would you recommend I look into?

          In terms of bluetooth, it seems I'm switching over to a USB cable. Easy enough.

          Originally posted by JC-S60 View Post
          Oh, and try to make the software a plugin for an existing front-end like RR or CF, that will simplify the integration and might make some nice extra's possible like GPS coordinates saved with the pictures (make that an option you choose when saving/uploading as your boss might upload/save multiple estates at once on the side of the road somewhere).
          I'm assuming RR=RoadRunner and CF=Centrafuse? Do these front-ends run as stand-alone operating systems, or do I install windows first? Realistically, how difficult would it be for me to integrate my own bv program as a plug-in? Any guides on how to do it?

          Thanks for the help so far guys, I really appreciate it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kpmoore2 View Post
            Sounds good, but I know very little about writing software. I know a little C and a little Visual basic. I'm assuming vb means visual basic, are there any guides put there for writing vb programs for Car PC touchscreens?
            Just get into it with vb (visual basic indeed) then. Touchscreen friendly just means big buttons and maybe bigger text (depends on the size of the screen). Don't know about tutorials, but if you know vb, you should be able to get there.

            Sounds great, but once again, I know very little about ftp/http syncing software (are you getting frustrated with me yet? haha). What software would you recommend I look into?
            Haven't used any sync software lately, so I don't know what's good these days. Just look around on this forum and you'll find all info you need though.

            I'm assuming RR=RoadRunner and CF=Centrafuse? Do these front-ends run as stand-alone operating systems, or do I install windows first? Realistically, how difficult would it be for me to integrate my own bv program as a plug-in? Any guides on how to do it?
            Roadrunner and Centrafuse are programs that run on top of windows.
            For writing plug-ins, search around on here and/or the flux media forums, info should be around as many plugins have been written. Difficulty depends on your skills

            Thanks for the help so far guys, I really appreciate it.
            Keep reading and looking around. Once you're done doing that, read some more!

            Or outsource the project to me, I would do it for $1500

            Good luck, I'm sure if you don't give up, you'll get somewhere!

            Joachim
            List of front-ends/usefull apps
            XTroniC | XTroniC Direct

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