A vision of open in-car computing systems

Tim Abell · June 6, 2008

I have a vision. A vision that puts you in control of your in car computing experience.

There are many superb appliances and embedded devices available for your in-car enjoyment, such as the sat navs, the dvd players, the built in games consoles. But they all share one thing in common, they are closed to you. You don’t have the freedoms defined by Stallman because they are designed, intentionally or otherwise, to be hard for you to modify as you wish.

I feel deep in my heart that there is enormous potential for in-car computing. There are more possibilities than any individual or company can imagine or provide on their own. I’m sure my imagination is not big enough to list them here, so I leave the ideas for you to contemplate.

Add to this, the evidence and my experience that open source when done right produces the better engineered solution at a lower cost, and you have a compelling argument for such a system.

I have seen the freedom that open source and the GPL provide on the desktop computer, and I believe that this culture of openness and freedom for the users can be applied to the in-car computing market to the benefit of all.

My mission is to provide a basis for this innovation, and cultivate a thriving ecosystem in the way that only open systems can. And so, my vision is a range of affordable flexible and most importantly open computing devices for your car.

<p style="text-align: center;">front view of voompc case</p>And so, I introduce to you in the above photo, the mark one of my in-car pc. It has no name, and the software and hardware needs some work to say the least, but in the tradition of openness on the internet, I will present here my ups and downs, successes and failures, genius and downright stupidity for your entertainment.

I have minimal spare time and numerous other projects, but there is no rush, as I think this plan will stand the test of time, and all the while hardware gets cheaper, smaller, faster and less power hungry. As I progress in fits and starts I will post photos to flickr under the tag carpc (first set) and progress updates to this blog under tag carpc.

All feedback welcome. I will announce new articles on my twitter feed, twitter.com/tim_abell, and can be contacted using the links at the bottom of my blog.

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Suggest improvments: page source on github