OpenXC is a combination of open source hardware and software that lets you extend your vehicle with custom applications and pluggable modules. It uses standard, well-known tools to open up a wealth of data from the vehicle to developers.
OpenXC is an API to your car - by installing a small hardware module to read and translate metrics from a car's internal network, the data becomes accessible from most Android applications using the OpenXC library. You can start making vehicle-aware applications that have better interfaces based on context, can minimize distraction while driving, are integrated with other connected services, and can offer you more insight into your car's operation.
Ford Motor Company and Bug Labs joined up to create a standard way of creating aftermarket software and hardware for vehicles. Every new car is full of computers and electronics, and there is growing interest in connecting the output from those systems to third-party applications and the web. Many companies are already offering tools to hook into the driver's interface, but for the most part they have limited availability for hobbyists and developers. What if the system was designed from the ground up to be open source and to give insight into the vehicle itself? With proper hardware isolation to ensure you can't "brick" your $20,000 investment in a car, OpenXC imagines when your car is as easy to program as your smartphone.
On March 27th, Ford launched a challenge to engage the developer community in creating innovative apps on top of the OpenXC platform with the goal of helping drivers better understand and improve their personal fuel efficiency.
Plug the OpenXC vehicle interface into your car and from Android, you can read data from the vehicle in real-time like the steering wheel angle, GPS position, and vehicle speed. Right now, OpenXC supports over a dozen different measurements on a growing list of Ford vehicles.
A simple start is to take advantage of the GPS antenna on the roof of the car to improve the accuracy of your location aware application. Or get creative - why not generate a digital painting based on your steering wheel movements over the course of a day, and upload it directly to the web? No single company can think of all possibilities for applications, and that's why OpenXC gives the freedom of experimentation to developers.
You can get started right away without any hardware - check out the tutorial to begin. When you're ready to test in a vehicle you'll need to buy or build the vehicle interface and make sure you have a compatible Android device.