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Ford's Open-Source Kit Brings Era of Smart Car Apps

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computer tablet taking photo at automotive show

Ford Motor's newly released OpenXC open-source hardware and software toolkit could promote innovation.

Credit: Bloomberg / Getty

Ford Motor Co. recently released OpenXC, an open source hardware and software toolkit that will allow the hacker community to experiment with the computer systems that run its cars. The open nature of the system could eventually lead to custom applications that give drivers more control over their car's performance. A driver will be able to download approved apps from a Ford store onto their smartphone that can communicate with a car's computer system. Such apps may tap some underused components of a car.

Although manufacturers try to balance their cars between economy and performance, software could push it to one extreme or the other, giving the car owner a more efficient or faster vehicle than the one they bought, says Ford researcher K. Venkatesh Prasad.

Most microcontrollers in cars use the CAN bus protocol to communicate. Since this protocol is well understood, encryption can be bypassed with off-the-shelf tools. In theory, OpenXC will work with any make of car that supports the standards, and Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have already expressed interest in the system.

From New Scientist 
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