Friday, February 17, 2012

Ford introduces OpenXC to India!

Ford of USA has acknowledged that in-car entertainment and information systems 'infotainment' for short - are progressing at a rapid rate, and the day isn't far off where the car will be a rolling computer in more ways than we imagine.

To this end Ford has the OpenXC platform, which one can use to develop applications that might be in demand. Yes, the concept is much like the Android-powered phone and app developer ecosystem; in fact, the current platform is the Android OS. The interface is the OBD-2 port in the car, a standard with all new cars today. The developer makes the app, Ford will test it and after validation it can go on sale - or given away for free, if the developer wishes.

Of course, this assumes a few things: like a mobile phone, a Ford will have to have a minimum set of hardware components that can handle the applications. You'll also need people knowledgable enough to find the OBD port, plug in and do it themselves. The current generation of children who know they way around a tablet PC and PlayStation instinctively suggest that this won't be much of a hurdle.

Ford has already tied up with universities such as the University of Michigan, MIT and Stanford, and India is the first place outside of the US that they're making the effort to get OpenXC going. They hope to rope in at least a couple of Indian universities as well.

The North American Market is already filling up with application-driven automobiles so a platform like OpenXC will not be a quantum leap for the consumer there. In the Indian market, however, features that are considered basic like ABS, airbags and an audio system are usually optional. It will be more than a few years before there will be a market for something like OpenXC, but the Indian consumer's love for features will make sure that once it sticks, it will grow exponentially.

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