Sample image from the Glass app
The name 'jons car' comes from the car we drove here - owned by our friend Jon. We were interested in hacking with Google Glass, something you don't get to play with on any occasion. Combined with the heavy Ford presence at MHacks, we found OpenXC - a car measurement system. The culmination of all these factors resulted in _ jons car _.
What it does
'jons car' takes information from the car in real time while being driven. Then, it displays important information on the Google Glass - a relationship that wasn't so easy to build. jons car displays metrics ranging from speed to distance from important traffic and construction events in Detroit pulled from Total Traffic Data. Some of these stats aren't so obvious from the dash!
How we built it
'jons car' has many different parts working together, most of which we've never worked with before. First, OpenXC takes the data from the car. This required a hardware unit that needed to be plugged into the car. Luckily, any car from 2008 or newer is compatible. The unit required us to flash a custom firmware. Next, we use an android application to get the data from the hardware unit over Bluetooth. The android application then pushes the data up to Firebase. Finally, the Google Glass pulls the data off Firebase and renders it for the user. It was our first time even touching car data, Google Glass, and Android Studio.
Challenges we ran into
We were originally going to use the Target API, but we had trouble gaining access over the first night, so we moved on to something more exciting - cars! Besides our unfamiliarity, we ran into a few roadblocks and setbacks along the way. Firstly, the Google Glass did not connect to MHacks WiFi, so we had to work around that during development. We weren't aware of the need for a hardware unit for our car until almost halfway through the hackathon, but luckily the Ford representatives were able to pull one out of their backpack. Then, the publicly available firmware for the device did not give us all the information we needed, so we worked with Ford to obtain the developer firmware. Our car was almost towed. Lastly, we weren't able to get much driving time because we were stuck in the Detroit Masonic Temple from 6 pm to 6 am. It was a lot for only two people.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We hacked a car! But what we're most proud of is being able to produce something even with how inexperienced we are. We came in as two freshmen at their first hackathon, and one of us barely making it in time. We were proud when we could read the demo vehicle data onto an android application. We were excited when we could even push the simulated vehicle data to Firebase. And we were amazed when we started to see real data from our car show up right in front of our eyes. Even this devpost.
What we learned
We learned how fun hackathons can be when you find something completely new and interesting and work at it. We learned technologies like Google Glass and Android Development. We interfaced with a car. We gained skills like pair programming when one of our computers didn't work :( And we got to drive around Detroit.
What's next for jons car
Although Google Glass isn't a consumer product and might not be any time soon, we got to keep the OpenXC hardware, so we are excited to continue hacking on cars in the future! Rumor has it someone close to us at the University of Illinois has a Glass, so maybe this isn't the last of jons car. Either way, the jons car team came out of this with a plethora of new skills and experiences.