Will Ford’s open-source car API drive us to distraction?

Specifically, Farley used his prime showcase slot to announce the company’s $50,000 Personalized Fuel-Efficiency App Challenge. Ford wants developers to cook up apps that will help customers optimize their personal fuel-economy performance. But what’s noteworthy is that the apps won’t use humans as a medium to enter information; rather they will utilize data directly from the cars themselves via OpenXC, a vehicle-specific API. OpenXC creates data out of parameters such as steering wheel angle, GPS, and brake pedal status and can share it directly with an Android device or to the Web.

The platform has only been around for a little over a year, but OpenXC has already been used to create apps that alert drivers to local rain by combining data from Weather Underground and the car’s GPS, or ones that reflect LEDs off the windshield to present heads-up information directly to the driver.

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