When consumer electronics products are opened up to third party developers, it’s a certainly a good thing for makers. In the Ford booth, they’re demonstrating the Sync AppLink API and The Ford Developer Program. The AppLink API lets you create mobile apps for iOS or Android and have them interface with Ford’s Sync voice controlled interface inside the car. While it’s mostly aimed at developers that want to bring their applications to market, the API is entirely open and approval is only needed if you wish to make your app available to the public.
Another developer program just launched by Ford is OpenXC. According to the company, “OpenXC is focused on the future as an open-source hardware and software platform developed by Ford Research and Innovation to unleash the power of the open-source hacker community to explore what can be done with vehicle data.” Their press release offers more details:
The OpenXC kit includes a vehicle interface module based on the popular Arduino platform developers can use to read data from the vehicle’s internal communications network. The hardware module provides real-time access to parameters like the vehicle sensors, GPS receiver and vehicle speed. The hardware module is connected to a smartphone or tablet on which apps can be written to consume and use these data.
The read-only system is designed to keep everything isolated from the vehicle control systems. The OpenXC website also provides schematics, documentation and code for open-source hardware modules, including the wireless solar-powered heads-up display developed by OpenXC co-founder Bug Labs.
While I’m not a car owner myself, I see huge potential in this for makers. With the unfettered access to protocols and documentation, we can do even more to connect technology in creative ways. Here’s hoping this is only the start of a larger trend in the automotive industry.