GitHub Repository: here

This work was done in the context of a Stanford Senior Design Project.

Smartphone User Interface Cloning

Smartphone User Interface Cloning is the idea of using a large, fixed touchscreen mounted in a car to interact with the driver’s smartphone. The static touchscreen displays exactly what the phone is displaying, and the phone responds to touch gestures on the display as though they were on the phone itself.

(We called this ‘User Interface Cloning’ (UIC) instead of ‘Mirroring’ because when explaining this idea to people, they frequently misunderstood the idea as not including the touch input capability.)

The big picture motivation including explaining why good smart device integration is important, is discussed in Stanford Senior Design Project. There’s also the added bonus of making it easier and safer to use existing OpenXC projects!

There are currently several forms of smartphone integration in cars. Two main trends are:

  • Button-based feature access. Each new feature requires a new button, as exemplified by Chevy’s Siri commercial.

    -> This clearly isn’t a very adaptable or modular system.

  • Touchscreens running interfaces developed by car manufacturers, recently compatible with certain pre-approved apps that have custom-coded interfaces. (Example: Cadillac CUE.)

    -> This is only falsely modular as there is no way a manufacturer will be able to keep up with the multitude of useful apps being developed.

Both of these lack modularity and don’t give users the choice of an interface they are comfortable with. Here are 2 ways to solve this:

  • The car directly clones the phone’s interface, and we trust users and developers to make responsible choices about how they use this interface. A manufacturer could still work towards driver saftey by moderating the interaction between driver and display. (E.g. infrared hand sensors near the screen, eye movement detection coupled with audio warnings or warnings through vibrations, etc.)

    -> We chose to demonstrate this idea as UIC.

  • A smart-device-related company such as Apple or Google takes responsibility from car manufacturers to deliver a good and familiar experience that complies with official driver distraction guidelines.

    -> Apple announced iOS in the Car two days after the end of this project. :) This isn’t open source and will likely provide limited functionality, but it’s a step in the right direction.

For the sake of time, our implemenation simply piggybacked off an Android app-pair called MirrorOp Sender and MirrorOp Reciever.


  1. The Android phone you wish to UIC. Nexus models are recommended, or at least newer/popular models, which have more active forums discussing rooting.
  2. An Android tablet which will serve as your static display. Larger is better.

How to set up:

  1. Root your phone if it isn’t already rooted. MirrorOp Sender requires root priviledges.
    • The best way to do this is to find a forum post specific to your device by googling root [device name and model].
  2. Install MirrorOp Sender onto your phone.
  3. Grant MirrorOp Sender root/SuperUser priviledges.
  4. Install MirrorOp Reciever onto your tablet.
  5. Use Wifi to connect your devices.
    • For testing, you can simply log onto the same network.
    • For in-car use, create a hotspot with one device, and log into that hotspot with the other device.
    • You can also use Wifi Direct.

Usage recommendations:

  • Phone homescreens tend to be in the portrait orientation, so mount your tablet in the vertical orientation and lock your phone’s orientation to vertical (you can do the latter by downloading Rotation Lock).
  • Put your tablet as near as possible to your field of vision.
  • Android icons aren’t designed for use while driving so download a widget that improves your homescreen such as Car Widget.
  • Change your settings to prevent your tablet from going to sleep.
  • Prevent your phone from going to sleep. Since you use your phone outside of the car, a toggle switch such as Screen Timeout Toggle is probably better.
  • Charge both devices while using UIC.