Ford, Bug Labs Announce OpenXC Platform

Ford, Bug Labs Announce OpenXC Platform

Car maker Ford has been increasing its tech cred for some time now by adding to its SYNC in-car connectivity innovations. From hands-free calling to navigation to in-car WiFi to music streaming, Ford is building a compelling suite of services into its vehicles.

Now, lovable open source hardware and software maker Bug Labs is partnering with Ford to create the OpenXC platform. Announced today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, OpenXC is an in-car research platform that both parties hope will entice the open source community to do what it does best: fiddle, tinker, discuss, and innovate.


According to the press release, OpenXC “transforms the car into a plug-and-play platform where interchangeable open-source hardware and software modules can be quickly and easily customized to perform tasks deemed previously unimaginable by developers.”

Ford is hoping that OpenXC will give it an edge around the world, helping it anticipate the needs and wants of disparate markets and adapting to them quickly. “The platform is designed to help us answer the question of how Ford can accelerate the car connectivity experience around the globe, at a value proposition, for both mature and emerging markets.”, said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader, Infotronics, Ford Research and Innovation, in the release.

The idea of OpenXC is that the car itself in effect becomes a “docking station” wherein the driver can use Bug Labs’ modules to program whatever features he wants. He can add or subtract modules at will for a constantly changing, fully customizable experience. And the best part is that the whole shebang is designed to be affordable, which enables consumers in emerging markets to enjoy the same level of luxurious innovation as wealthier countries.

Ford is wise to tap into the open source community. At a time when America’s car makers have so clearly demonstrated a long-term paucity of smarts, leveraging the collective brainpower of open sourcers worldwide allows Ford to conduct market research while simultaneously developing products based on that research, all at a relatively low cost. That’s R&D at its finest.

The press release is incredibly long, so we didn’t post it here, but it’s full of more details, background information, and market-speak. Hit the Via link to read it in its entirety.
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Ford is wise to tap into the open source community.

You can say that again,....as long as they have a way to keep it secure as they 'roll' with this idea, it's a stroke of genius. The open source community is largely untapped, and is comprised of some of the smartest people on the planet. You just can't buy this amount of concentrated brain power these days.

This will never make a Ford into a Bentley, but it will result in a lot of unique alterations and features that Ford will have the option to adopt for free.

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Have you guys been in the new Fords? They are really cool now, I just checked out the 2012 focus it has SYNC and all sorts of features that make my car look lame. I agree with @realneil this is going to give Ford an edge over the competition. People love customizable technology and cheap things, looks like a promising future for them.

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Eh. I can't really afford one of the new Ford cars, no less one that can be customizable to the bone. Still, even though Sync and OpenXC gives Ford an edge over the competitors, it kinda makes them feel like a monopoly and it's telling me directly that "if you want Sync and OpenXC, go Ford... We're like the only car provider to have that." I mean I'm not really wild about Ford; even though they have SYNC.

I'd prefer to have a car made by another manufacturer, even though it doesn't have SYNC and OpenXC.

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Ford isn't my first choice in cars either. My Tacoma Truck and my Hyundai Sonata are both exceptional vehicles. My experiences with Fords haven't been so good in the past. But they're putting Sync into their very lowest priced models. And other manufacturers are working on their own flavors of new technology too.

In the near future, most cars will have high tech on the dash.

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Ford is the first vehicle OEM to work together with Bug Labs but I think on some Ford Expedition repair also has the bug labs technology.

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