The iPhone defeats the CarPC.
It finally happened, over the weekend I dismantled the CarPC in my Mazda 3. I hadn’t turned it on in over a year due to the constant maintenance it required. But, while the blank touch screen was still visible I maintained the illusion that one day I would fix it and have it up and running again. Well, that dream ended Saturday when I ripped out the system and replaced it with my stock unit. I have been rocking the CarPC since 2003, and it was installed in my 2005 Mazda 3 from day 1.
I posted about my CarPC adventure on my site at the time, and you can still check out the installation pictures, specifications, and the pictures of the final install.
Why the sudden uninstallation?
My iPhone. Recently I have hijacking the CarPC’s audio input jack to use with both my iPhone, my girlfriend’s iPod, or whatever portable music player we could throw at it. It is just easier, a polished interface with full and up to date music libraries.
There are serious trade-offs, like the iPhone needing internet for Google Maps, and the iPhone’s turn by turn navigation doesn’t even come close the CarPC’s. However, the up to date maps and phenomenal search features of Google Maps more than make up for these limitations.
The good old days
Kareem Sultan inspired me to build a CarPC, and guided me through most of the process. Together we would brainstorm new features and outline plans for an ad-hoc wireless networks for cars to share data on the freeway. We patiently waited for the day when cellular networks lowered their bandwidth cost, or for Ottawa to launch city wide wifi. We envisioned a series of network enabled applications in your car for real time traffic, weather, news, and streaming multimedia. We wanted the full internet in our cars, but in 2003 the cellular data networks were too slow and expensive. Currently all of these are features available on the iPhone.
Regardless, the adventure was fun and was worth it just for the learning experience alone. Kareem used the lessons he learned from the CarPC to create RaceDV (with my help of course). When people ask where the idea for RaceDV came from, I respond that with the amount brainstorming and experimenting we conducted the end idea was rather obvious. RaceDV’s first prototype was simply the re-purposing of the tools we had already built to fill an obvious need based on our horrible videos at the track.
So, with the CarPC officially put to bed it is time to invest in something new to experiment with. Hopefully it will spark a series of ideas which will keep my engineering mind occupied for another 5 fun years.