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New "Ultimate" Front End Being Developed: Looking For User Input

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  • New "Ultimate" Front End Being Developed: Looking For User Input

    The "Ultimate" Front End is getting a lot of response as far as what is best, and what it should or should not have. In the development process you must realize that there is now way, you can ever satisfy all interested parties. With that in mind, I set out to develop a very stable, very functional FE. I give credit to those who have come before me, and those who are still on this road of Front End Development.

    It has been questioned as to why I do not skin a previous FE, that is because I want this FE to be as stable and fast as possible. I can accomplish this by starting from scratch. No extra bloat to slow the FE down.

    Also I have chosen to limit customization to some presets. You wont be able to change what items appear on the home screen. You get what you get. It will be a very easy to use FE, with everything you should need right there. There will be an "Apps" page that will allow you to assign programs to buttons. This is as far as customization will go, with the exception of a few built in themes and colors.

    Touchscreen vs. Griffin Powermate
    **EDIT** Originally the concept for this FE did not encourage the use of a touch screen, but as the design process has come along, i have decided that it would be beneficial to alot of users to use a touch screen.

    I am designing this FE for those who want to use it. I am not going to try and please the masses, because I never will. I will instead focus on what will make a solid program, that is easy to use.

    With all that being said, here are some images; updated rough drafts of what this interface will look like, and what it will do. As I fine tune the images, they will be updated, so far here is the home screen.

    We will start with the Home Screen

    As you can see by this, it is very simple and elegant. The final design will be very glossy and rich. Here you have the Honey Comb interface that works very well with the Griffin Powermate. As you rotate the controller, the focus will change from one item to the next, as shown in the next image.

    The currently selected item is highlighted in blue. You would press down on the item to bring up the page for that item.

    If you double press on the Powermate, on any screen, basic media controls will appear, as shown in the following image.

    This allows you easy access to basic media control functions; Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, Rapid Scrubbing, Stop. It also has the volume up and down. As you rotate the Powermate, the individual controls will highlight. You press down, or hold down to perform the action. Now Playing and Album art is also displayed.

    The above image shows the Now Playing information, as well with the Album Art. The Now Playing is always shown while music is playing, and the Album Art briefly displays when songs are changed.

    When an upcoming action is required by the GPS Program, it will display it as shown in the following image.

    The notification will show up over any page when it is needed.

    This is the Apps Hive for your applications. You can assign a label or an image to each button. You will use the Powermate to scroll through the buttons, and press down to launch it.

    **EDIT** Once again, to clarify, I have chossen to build this interface for touch screens as well as other input devices such as the Griffin Powermate
    - Project: Unified Car Control
    - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer

  • #2
    For UI guidance, don't look at existing CarPC software, or desktop software, or media center software - look at something that uses a touch screen. The iPhone is an obvious example, but there are others.

    The most important thing to is to design the UI around a 7" touch screen with 800x640 or 800x480 resolution. Design it with the assumption that the user would rather be looking at the road than at the screen. Then test the UI with that hardware as often as possible. If you do 99% of the development on a desktop computer it will be far too tempting and too easy to put a dozen buttons on every screen that need hunt-and-peck while driving. Or a dozen little icons/glyphs/indicators that the driver will have to squint at to find the one they're interested in.

    A UI that works great on 17"+ screen with a mouse is probably going to be awkward in the car on a 7" screen with no mouse and no keyboard. A UI that works great in the car is probably going to be awkward with a mouse. Look for thinks that create those differences, and make something that rocks in the car. Doesn't matter if it sucks with a mouse.

    Most of today's front ends don't get this right, and that's the main reason I'm still using my car's own stereo for music. Some front ends get bits of it right, but other parts still have the legacy desktop UI design, and I'm still looking for something satisfying.

    Features, in order of preference:

    * able to launch 3rd-party applications (navigation especially, but I also have a Subaru-specific engine monitoring app, and proprietary stuff like that will always be far better and far faster than OBD2)
    * music library and player
    * acts as a hands-free device for bluetooth phones

    Nothing else matters to me.


    • #3
      There is nothing to be gained in reinventing the wheel, so why do it? Why not take an already started project (like nGhost) and put all your effort into contributing to that?

      If you do insist on braching off on your own, I think some of the important things are:
      GPL licensing
      Complete Pluginability (able to add features or remove features easily)

      Most importantly:
      Fast on low power systems (500mhz or so).

      Look at CarPal (in my signature) it's a fine example of a not especially small frontend that runs great on slow linux and windows systems. One of the big problems with a lot of the major frontends is they are just plain slow and laggy.
      "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
      My Shop


      • #4
        The only interface I've seen in person is centrafuse, and it looks ok. I like the large buttons (a must for a touch screen), and that there aren't too many buttons on screen at one time. I'm certainly a fan of the "clean" look.

        I agree that the ability to launch third party apps is very important, as well as bluetooth for phone and the all important media player. I like to see a certain amount of information displayed on screen at all times; e.g. a clock and track/title of a song that is playing. If that can be done in a clean way, it would certainly be worthwhile. Skinability is also a must in the "ultimate" front end.

        What language are you using to develop it? Has the project begun? Will the source be available? How can an interested party become part of the project?


        • #5
          Originally posted by NSFW View Post
          Design it with the assumption that the user would rather be looking at the road than at the screen.
          +1 for this. After using many FE's and skins, the only one I've ever been comfortable using is Amp, which is a Mac based imitation of Frontrow and Thunderstick's New Age Garmin skin.

          The reason is you don't use a touch screen with Amp (and I modified the New Age skin to work the same way). A touch screen requires you to touch it. To touch it, you must look at it to ensure your finger hits the right button. Since it is a touch screen, you can't tell from feel whether you hit the right control or not.

          I use Amp with the Griffin Powermate. A clicking sound allows you to know when you've scrolled from one menu choice to another. Big text allows you to glance at the screen and read it very quickly. Selecting the function is a press on the knob.

          Others will disagree, but give some thought to why they don't use touchscreens to control all of the functions in a car like heat, blinkers, fans and so forth. It would be much easier and probably cheaper to do this -like they do on wall ovens and microwaves, but they don't.

          After the cool effects and multiple functions are experimented with, you'll see that the computer-human interface is an area of car computing that is severely lacking.

          Oh, and don't even think about the iPod or iPhone. If you don't believe me, try using that tiny screen in the car. It's extremely well designed for personal use when not operating the car. But in the car, it is flat out dangerous.
          Originally posted by ghettocruzer
          I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
          Want to:
          -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
          -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video


          • #6
            Also, I wrote up some thoughts on front end UI a while back...


            • #7
              The ability to use as many different types of GPS systems as you can.

              Pretty much make an ipod touch interface, with Garmin maps.



              • #8
                programmable voice command for all tasks/buttons .


                • #9
                  Thanks so far

                  Thanks to all who have sent their input.

                  I will be looking forward to hearing more

                  Also i will soon be posting some interface images and feature set

                  No version of this software is available for release as of yet.

                  Thank you for your time

                  Unusually Genius Dev

                  - Project: Unified Car Control
                  - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gopichand View Post
                    programmable voice command for all tasks/buttons .
                    This would probably be the toughest to accomplish but in my opinion the most valuable of any feature a car pc engine could have. As bug byte mentioned, the interface between the system and the driver is lacking. This would really help keep eyes on the road.


                    • #11
                      The ability to minimize the front end to get to the desktop periodically. Love Carwings Dynamic for this.
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                      • #12
                        voice control

                        Originally posted by JQFletcher View Post
                        This would probably be the toughest to accomplish but in my opinion the most valuable of any feature a car pc engine could have. As bug byte mentioned, the interface between the system and the driver is lacking. This would really help keep eyes on the road.
                        Through a in depth, comprehensive set of pre-defined phrases, we hope to be able to control everything that has to do with your carpc.

                        The vision is to be able to sit in your car in the morning, and have it give you an audible report. Tell you the forcast for the day, alert you if there are any traffic backups on your pre-defined trip to work, check your gas level and let you know if you need to stop on your way to, or from work to get gas. The system would also alert you to the nearest and cheapest gas station.

                        That is just the beginning of the voice control functions we hope to fully develop.

                        Matthew -UG Dev
                        - Project: Unified Car Control
                        - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer


                        • #13
                          So I have looked at every frontend in the forum, and I have yet to see a really clean, nice system. With "Ultimate" I plan on rethinking the wheel, because the wheel as I see it is not any good. I do not wish to take away from the hard work that all the creators of the frontends have done, but I think we need to do something different.

                          If you look at Windows Media Center, Palm WebOS, XBOX 360, upcoming Windows Mobile 7, Apple's Frontrow, etc you see very clean, very easy to use interfaces, that serve their individual purposes. That is because they have months, even years of research and development behind those interfaces. Usually CarPC frontends do not. I plan on drawing from the above mentioned interfaces and creating a really nice/creative.

                          I am debating between weather or not to build touch screen support into this project. I am a huge fan of the Griffin Powermate. I would like to base the entire interface to be controlled with that device.

                          Now I understand that most people will be frustrated that I have chosen this route with this front end. But I think a frontend that is stable, and properly functions is a higher priority than if each any every user is satisfied. So there will also not be any gadgets or ways to customize what is on each screen. There will be a page dedicated to launching external applications.

                          The debate is still in the air as to which OS to use, and which programing language to use. This will all be decided on which is most compatible with all of the feature that will be in the frontend and which are compatible with the individual API's.

                          Thank you to all for your support and input on this project.
                          - Project: Unified Car Control
                          - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer


                          • #14
                            Touchscreen control is just a matter of skinnability, which IMO if you don't support you won't succeed. As for OS, why not go cross platform? There are several languages (the fastest and most cross compatable of which is c++) that support cross platform programs. I highly recommend you check out Qt. It's a full featured yet lightweight toolkit (IF the program is written correctly). A frontend written with Qt can run super fast on even the slowest hardware.
                            "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
                            My Shop


                            • #15
                              Road Runner IS the ultimate front end!!!! LMAO!
                              MY INSTAllS: