Open XC Development
Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
August 1, 2013

While on hand at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, I witnessed the unveiling of Ford’s new logo for the 50th anniversary of the Mustang. And I was on-hand at the party that kicked off what will be a year-long buildup of excitement leading up to the celebration and all-new Mustang next April.

While we build up to the crescendo of excitement next year, there’s not much new on the Mustang front. The ’14 ’Stangs will carry over with minor tweaks to close out this era with a car that has taken the Mustang to a whole new level of performance and quality. As I’ve said before on this page, the Mustangs at the end of the era are often shortchanged by the excitement of a newer model, but they also tend to be the finest examples of their breed.

Certainly it was cool to check out the Mustangs and celebrate the car, but there was no anniversary model or upgrades to celebrate. There is a litany of new 50th anniversary merchandise that debuted for those that are ready to start wearing the party on their sleeves. I was most excited about a leather jacket created by Schott NYC (www.schottnyc.com) from recycled Mustang interior parts.

Obviously it’s pretty easy to get excited about a luxury item like that, but the next day is when the real Ford news of the show appeared as Ford’s Jim Farley (executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln) gave the keynote speech at the show. He began by discussing how consumers have come to expect affordable luxury in packages smaller than the traditional luxury car.

After making the case for luxury in all segments, small and large, Jim made the astute point that cars and mobile technology are inextricably linked, and consumers would prefer familiar interfaces in their cars rather than the inflexible, brand-specific interfaces found in today’s cars. As part of this presentation, he brought on representatives from both Facebook and Google, which seems to hint that Ford is working with these tech giants on its interfaces. Could we see Android on our Ford dashes? It’s an interesting concept.

All this led up to Ford announcing an app development contest (www.ford.challengepost.com) that will award $50,000 to the creator of the app that best aids the driver in improving fuel economy by providing information on how conditions and driving styles impact that economy.

App developers have to use Ford’s OpenXC research platform (www.openxcplatform.com), which the company developed at 2011’s TechCruch Disrupt event with a company called BugLabs. OpenXC is an open-source development kit that allows outside companies access to the flow of data pouring from a Ford’s onboard computers.

While fuel economy is obviously a big selling point for modern cars, you might be wondering why I’m droning on about this here. Well, that’s because open-source access to your Mustang’s onboard data could be used for performance uses as well. When you combine Ford’s huge technology push with its love of social networking, it opens infinite possibilities.

I have already put out ideas on this page about combining OBD-II data, GPS data, and cameras for a GPS-enabled track camera/lap-timer for a track car that would upload lap times to social networks. Imagine taking that further and having an app actually use all that data to help make you a better driver.

Augmented reality is all the rage with mobile apps. With all these data streams joining in a confluence, the potential for augmented driving is upon us. Let’s hope that’s the kind of affordable luxury that finds its way into the next Mustang.