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.