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Thread: Project: Unified Car Control

  1. #1
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    Project: Unified Car Control

    Goal: To create a unified, open source method for installing computer control related equipment into a vehicle. We want the parts used to be widely available and provide detailed instructions so that anyone with the desire can integrate a computer into their car.

    Determine:
    [ ] Software Platforms
    [x] Front End: HTML5
    [x] Backend:Linux
    [ ] Hardware Platforms
    [x] Front End: Multiple devices supported based off of HTML5 being the chosen programming language for the interface
    [ ] Backend:
    [ ] Communications protocols
    [ ] Interface methods

    Things to Control
    [ ] Door locks
    [ ] Windows
    [ ] Sunroof/Moonroof
    [ ] Trunk/Hatch
    [ ] Automatic Doors (minivan sliding doors)
    [ ] Interior Lights
    [ ] Dash Lights
    [ ] Headlamps/Running Lights/ Fourways
    [ ] Climate Control
    [ ] Entertainment
    [ ] Seat Controls

    Interface
    [ ] Music
    [ ] Video
    [ ] Navigation
    [ ] Control of above mentioned systems

    Communications
    [ ] 3G/4G Internet Connection
    [ ] Bluetooth Phone Connection
    [ ] In-Car Wifi
    [ ] Wireless Bridge to Home Network
    [ ] HomeLink

    Sensors
    [ ] Indoor/Outdoor Temperature
    [ ] Ambient Light
    [ ] Water
    [ ] Seat weight sensor

    Misc
    [ ] Automatic Media Sync from home computer to car computer when wireless connection is made at home
    [ ] Proximity functions such as unlock, start
    [ ] System wake up when driver is present in seat
    [ ] Start car by depressing the brake pedal
    [ ] Remote Start over internet

    Obviously there are some components here that are more difficult to overcome than others, but in my experience where there is a will, there is a way.

    The heart of this system is actually three separate components:

    The Brain
    The Brain will a low power consumption device that can run for many days off of battery that will be the middleman for all components involved in the system. Exact hardware and software that will run on this device is yet to be determined. The Raspberry Pi is a candidate. The Brain will interface with the modules and the head unit over various networks.

    The Nodes
    Part of what will lead to the success of this project is creating hardware nodes that anyone with a little skill and knowhow can build themselves. Everything from Relay Clusters, to Sensor Interfaces, CANBUS, etc will all connect to the brain through a chosen network. An Arduino type device would be ideal for the nodes. The goal of the nodes is to allow the builder to have as much or as little functionality as they want.

    The Frontend
    In the perfect scenario the Frontend will be BYOD since it will not have to interface with the modules directly, instead it will communicate to the server software on the Brain. The ideal candidate for the brain will be an Android tablet since they are cheap and widely available. This will also allow you to use build and third party media and navigation software without having to integrate it into the brain.

    While I want the mp3Car community to be heavily involved in this project I know we may also need to reach beyond these forum walls, which I have already started to do. I will constantly keep this post updated with progress as we move forward. For those who are willing to lend a hand in this process let me know how you can contribute. I have created a private Google Community and will add developers to that so we can encourage others from different communities to get involved.

    I know this is a a BIG picture, hopefully we can make this a reality.
    Last edited by UnusuallyGenius; 08-16-2013 at 09:14 AM.
    - Project: Unified Car Control
    - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer

  2. #2
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    It is funny you bring this up... I am at the design stages on such a system for my truck...

    I am making use of low power ARM processors to interface to my truck, these will likely run QNX or Linux.

    For interfacing to the vehicles controls that are not linked to the CAN network I plan to make use of Parallax Propeller devices with custom programming and connect them to the ARM boards.

    My Central computer will be PC based and likely running Win7 or Win8.

    My intent is to also provide a 3g/4g connection to my truck (Rooted Metro PCS phone tethered to one of the ARM boards..).
    This will allow me to provide real time access to my truck via my phone over the internet.

    Kind of cool you are in my town so maybe we can bounce things off each other in person..

    Rodney

  3. #3
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadedrod View Post
    Kind of cool you are in my town so maybe we can bounce things off each other in person..
    Let's meet up sometime and hash out some ideas.
    - Project: Unified Car Control
    - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer

  4. #4
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    Hmm I got my new Freescale Development board today... Since the SDcard is reading in my old one also which was not working I am not sure what is up with that now.. They read fine on my PC... GRRRR...

    I was just given access to some cool QNX stuff. I wish they would let me access the CarQNX stuff though that stuff is really cool and Is the basis for most of the OEM infotainment stuff coming out. The QNX Bentley was based on it for instance... Very cool stuff but I have their QNX accelerator which seems to be a lower end version of it.. Now where are my 8gig SDcards....

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    I see where HTML5 has a future, here is my fear, correct me if I am wrong: how long will the load time be when you first launch the page? Does it have to load the assets from the server every time you switch pages within the interface?

    Personally I know if I switch tabs or even go to a different app and come back to the browser it takes a moment to reload the page, most times with old data. Will we be creating more queries on the server than needed by having the interface hosted on the server?

    Can the server send the front end notifications if you leave the interface and say you are using a nav or music app?
    - Project: Unified Car Control
    - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer

  6. #6
    Newbie BennY-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnusuallyGenius View Post
    I see where HTML5 has a future, here is my fear, correct me if I am wrong: how long will the load time be when you first launch the page? Does it have to load the assets from the server every time you switch pages within the interface?
    Most of the GUI should be made in JavaScript, this (in external files) is cached like images, for the Skin, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by UnusuallyGenius View Post
    Personally I know if I switch tabs or even go to a different app and come back to the browser it takes a moment to reload the page, most times with old data. Will we be creating more queries on the server than needed by having the interface hosted on the server?
    Many websites do this, but for ex. facebook, gmail & co use requests (xhtml request) that only load the data that's needed and manipulate the current site.
    so you only have to load what's needed. GUI would be loaded once on startup, and then you only push/pull "metadata"
    also html5 can use local storage to keep files cached on the client device, so that those aren't loaded every time you connect.

    Quote Originally Posted by UnusuallyGenius View Post
    Can the server send the front end notifications if you leave the interface and say you are using a nav or music app?
    best way might be websockets. they can push data to the client
    Last edited by BennY-; 08-15-2013 at 07:50 AM.

  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    This is why I defer to those with the knowledge. I really like the idea that the interface would be based off of HTML and CSS which would allow for people to easily create skins and layouts using a common language instead of some super specific programming language.

    My last question I have before we establish HTML5 as the way to go for the front end, is what are the disadvantages to using the HTML5 frontend vs a native frontend?
    - Project: Unified Car Control
    - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer

  8. #8
    Newbie BennY-'s Avatar
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    i don't know any. many apps on android/iphone devices use html/css/javascript and they feel like native apps.
    also opengl (webgl) is build in modern browsers. which makes it easy to create nice gfx effects.

    but you will run into a few other problems with frontend/backend design.
    for example when you play video on the frontend device and want the audio played through the backend device. (I'm trying bluetooth A2DP atm but i'm sure my next problem will be sync of audio/video)
    for audio playback another option would be uPNP/DLNA over wirelesslan.

  9. #9
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BennY- View Post
    for audio playback another option would be uPNP/DLNA over wirelesslan.
    A large debate in my thought process for this project has been do you use native apps to handle media playback, especially on mobile devices. The apps are already very well built and it would be a ton of extra work to reinvent the wheel.

    From a purely audio standpoint you could create the FE control for the music, and have it play all the audio from the backend server since the audio files will be stored on that server anyway.

    Another option I want to explore is creating a bluetooth audio link to the backend, and you can control/route all the audio using the FE. In theory you would be able to have multiple audio sources all run through your car speakers: music from backend, nav guidance from app on FE unit, and cell calls through car speakers. It'll take some serious programming on the backend, but I think it can be done. But this can all be part of the audio discussion.

    I would like to declare FE interface to be based off of HTML5 for cross compatibility, and close that topic for now. (I'll update the first post)

    Now on to backend.
    - Project: Unified Car Control
    - Original OpenMobile Interface Designer

  10. #10
    Newbie BennY-'s Avatar
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    for the backend i would recommend small daemons (each daemon provides some functions like mediaplayer/dsp/onboarddiagnostic/alarmsystem/io module controller/etc.) which support websockets to communicate with the FE.

    this makes it possible to run only the services the user really needs. and if something fails, it doesn't kill the other functions) one watchdog service which checks recently if the services are still up.

    The daemons could be made in any language, i've used c(++) for my project, and maybe i can share some of my work when websocket support is working)

    also you can make daemons for the same task like audioplayback for different OS/software. like mplayer for linux, and windowsmediaplayer or something similiar. for me mplayer was the choice cause it supports many file formats, and has a slavemode where it could be controlled over commandline. only the protocol has to be keept to keep compatible with the FE.
    Last edited by BennY-; 08-27-2013 at 03:31 AM.

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