5.0 Mustang & Super FordsNews & Views
Network Programming - Bench Racer
As you may have read, the '15 Mustang was named the official car of the '14 Consumer Electronics Show. If you aren't a gadget nut, the name of this show might not resonate with you in the way the SEMA or PRI Shows might. That said, Ford's CEO Alan Mullally has delivered a keynote speeches at CES in recent years.
With Ford's vehicles becoming their own mobile electronic devices, it only makes sense that the company would make a strong showing at the world's largest trade show geared toward consumer gadgetry. Doing so with a car that's not quite out yet is a bit odd, but trade shows are renowned for vaporware that only exists in prototype and press release form. At least we know we will get a Mustang.
Now, I have long paid attention to the machinations at CES. I love a good gadget, whether it accompanies a car or not. Cameras, computers, games, TVs, and myriad other tech that you didn't know you needed debuts at this show. Besides, it's always fun to see your new holiday electronics become obsolete a few weeks into the year.
So when I logged onto to the Internet to see the flood of new tech announcements, the first thing of note I ran into came from Chevrolet. I don't often talk about Ford's rival here, but it goes without saying that competition drives innovation. When I started reading about the Corvette Stingray's optional Performance Data Recorder offering, my first reaction was how cool it was.
Then it hit me. Last year I suggested right here on this page that Ford add this kind of technology to the Mustang ("Augmented Driveability," Aug. '13, p. 10). Not only was I momentarily bummed for just spewing out ideas here and not patenting them, but I was little sad that Ford was beat to the punch with this sort of tech.
The Stingray PDR fuses a front-mounted camera with GPS and CAN bus data to record lap times in video form and overlay the performance data atop that video. You can view the video accompanied by data like speed, rpm, lap times, g-forces, braking force and more. Not only is a it a cool learning tool for performance drivers, but you can take that video away on an SD card and share it with the world.
Sharing is, of course, the part of this equation that can be best exploited by Ford. Yes the Stingray system is cool, but Ford can do something better if it wants. We know the S550 Mustang is built around a more robust and better connected electronic architecture. Its systems are set up to more easily speak to one another. That sets the stage for fusing all manner of data.
There is always room for improvement. While the aforementioned system does allow video portability via an SD card, wouldn't it be great if you could just hit a share button on the MyFord Touch screen and port your best on-track antics right out to your social networks via your smart phone or a cellular modem plugged into the Sync USB? It would be cooler yet if you could go ahead an livestream right from the car.
Action cams are one of the fastest growing tech segments because people love to show off on social networks. Online egomania is a strong motivator for technology. Being able to put a camera almost anywhere has delivered plenty of online entertainment.
As with most things automotive, however, more is always better. One front-mounted camera is cool for on-track learning, but why not have one front-facing factory on-board camera—let's make it 1080p—and then allow for adding at least two other cameras to the network via USB or wireless networking? This would allow for showing the driver in the car and the challengers behind the car. The possibilities are endless.
So I was a little disappointed that someone else did it first, but I'm crossing my fingers that Ford will do something even better with its new platform. Sure we might have to wait for the next special-edition Mustang, but let's hope it's worth the wait.