The Porsche Boxster Carputer Project got its inspiration way back when we first tried to get the iPaq/Navman GPS combo to work reliably in the car. While we did get the GPS to work pretty well, it was clear there was a HUGE gap between the potential of the "computer enhanced" driving experience and what was actually available on the market.
We have been keeping our finger on the pulse of car computing over the past several years. We started to seriously thinking about a car computer project in January of 2005. Our research into the available car computing literature and sites left us wanting. Most of the discussions were centered around three basic functions ...GPS, music, and playing DVDs. All of these capabilities were easily implemented using standard off-the-shelf software. While interesting from a car tuner's perspective, it was not exactly boundary pushing.
There are some interesting activities around constructing a unified UI for accessing functions, but ultimately these discussions are about how to "package and present" already available capabilities... not extending or stretching capabilities.
We wanted our carputer project to be a platform from which we can research and develop new capabilities for car computing. This criteria heavily influenced our decision to choose the Mac OS X platform as the foundation for this project. We wanted to see what can be done with the new Tiger OS release...especially with the enhancements to xCode, CoreImage, and CoreData. Choosing the Mac platform also brought along a suite of well integrated applications (iTunes, DVD Player, etc...). We may have some problems with applications like GPS, Voice Recognition, Video image processing, and car diagnostics. However, we decided that the advantages of the development platform available under Tiger far outweigh the disadvantages of any potential problems from lack of commercially available software apps.
When we began spec'ing out our other components, we leveraged off a lot of the work done by folks on the various car tuning boards (Porsche Pete's Boxster Board, MP3Car.com, DigitalWorldWide, TunerTricks, etc...). Boxster Carputer Design Version 0.1 was the result.
Design V0.1 :
1. LCD Touchscreen - Digital WorldWide 700M LCD Touchscreen
2. Computer - Apple Mac Mini, base version with WiFi/BlueTooth
3. DC/DC regulator - Carnetix P1900
4. Voice Recognition - iListen software, Griffin iMic / Lapel Mic
5. Music/DVD software - Apple iTunes, Apple DVD Player
6. Video - Apple iSight, Logitech QuickCam Orbit, SecuritySpy
7. Secondary interface - Griffin PowerMate, Belkin Nostromo
GPS (hardware/software) selections are very limited for the Mac. This may change in the next year or so. We have decided to leave the GPS out of v0.1. Currently we are speaking to vendors and exploring a few possibilities.