Project Detroit Ford Mustang – A Look inside the Microsoft technology

MicroStang (Micro-Stang) is what West Coast Customs call this tech/design-revamped 1967 Ford Mustang, who with the channel9/Coding4Fun team at Microsoft built this car under the codename “Project Detroit“.

The car was first shown on the Discovery’s Velocity reality show “Inside West Coast Customs” aired on March 25th, showing from how its built to the end product that surprised Microsoft’s guests and others who came to watch its unveiling..

photo source

Microsoft’s Technology behind the Project Detroit’s Ford Mustang:

Remote controlling with Windows phone:

A custom Viper SmartStart App that runs on Nokia’s Lumia 800 mobile running on Windows 7 turns the mobile into a remote controller for the car. This app isn’t currently available for the Windows 7 mobile on its page but as you can see on the image below, its a custom designed one made for this project.

This app has 2 features – “Keychain” and “Garage” feature. You can start, lock, unlock and locate the car with this app’s “keychain” feature.

When using the phone inside the car, the app has some “Garage” features which I will explain in while as this will do for the basic remote controlling feature.

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Cloud Connected – Built-in Wifi and Windows Azure:

The car has a 4G wireless network built in, to allow all devices to stay online connected to the cloud in Windows Azure platform accessing cloud services such  telemetry data, Viper SmartStart’s data send and received, Bing maps services and Ford Sync across multiple devices(3-4 tablets and a mobile) synchronously. This is how the “garage feature” of the Viper SmartStart app is made to use, you can talk to the phone to activate these features as well, in addition to touch.

Dashboard with a Digital Instrument Cluster and ODB II on a Windows Tablet:


The Dashboard

A Windows tablet is used to run the Instrument Cluster app and ODB II (On-Board Diagnostic) manager. On-board Diagnostic II(ODB) manager for the telemetry data and the Instrument Cluster application (simplified one) is shared as a open-source code by the Project Detroit team at Codeplex. Detailed instruction on how to read your car’s engine data with ODB II is shared as well. In addition to the ODB telemetry data and Bing maps, Ford Sync is used. Ford Sync provides real time up to minute traffic information and hand free communication by directly talking to the mobile to get the information.

Instrument Cluster app has 3 skins which you can select – 1967 ford mustang, 2012 ford mustang and Windows 8 metro design. Swipe the touch screen to switch between different skins (images below).

The dashboard also holds the projector unit and the Windows tablet outputs the ODB II data onto the modified Windshield which serves as the Heads up Display.

Windshield Heads Up Display (HUD):

Similar to the one found on the fighter jets, this mustang has a Heads Up Display (HUD) for the driver side and another one for the passenger side directly on the windshield. Information on near by points of interest locations with the Bing maps, turn by turn instruction, highlighting telemetry data(ODB II data) such as speed, RPM, fuel level, location…and real time traffic data from Ford Sync all obtained over wireless from the Azure cloud are projected onto the HUD. This HUD system is built by the West coast customs for the Project Detroit. I am not sure how the windshield is modified though. Taking a look at the comments here, Clint Rutkas has this to say,

The issue with our HUD implementation is it required structural changes to the physical car on top of modifying the dash and welding in mounts for the projectors.  The projector also require a power source which means you’ll need an inverter to go from DC to AC.  You have to remember, we had one of the world’s best automotive shops, west coast customs, helping us implement the HUDs.

Kinect Integration:

2 Kinect motion sensors along with cameras(image above) are mounted on both front and the rear side to detect pedestrians movements, idle objects, car that is tailgating, or kids that are running around or skating. Kinect cameras capture videos and stream to other tablets or to your mobile remotely. Image below shows the front camera’s video streaming onto the mobile.

You can get the kinect sense data through the Viper SmartStart “Garage” feature and act on it if needed. Like you can record a voice and play it through the Car’s audio system. You can “Say stop tailgating please” and hear it on the car’s read end speaker. Another “Garage” feature is turning on the Projection on the Rear Windshield, displaying videos, images, and text messages “Stop tailgating”.

External Audio System:

microstang-speakers

You can customize the car’s horn, and the Speakers can play them when you honk the horn. As seen in the kinect above, you can record anything on your phone and hear it on the speaker. You can as well as play Xbox with kinect and the audio system passes the audio output onto the speakers! That’s using the car for entertainment, which is the next feature we are going to see below.

Entertainment System:

You can tap projector on the “garage” screen on your phone, and the rear windshield raises up and is now the screen for playing xbox with kinect or to watch movies etc…behind the car.

There is a tablet on the passenger’s side(image above), you can play on Xbox with the headphones on, without disturbing the driver.

You can change the LED colors on the car from the mobile as well.

Closing…


All popular Microsoft’s products and services – Windows 7/8, Windows Phone/tablets, Azure, Bing Maps, Xbox & Kinect are deployed to geek this car up.

This car has been designed by The west coast customs, Ryan Friedlinghaus and his team, revamping a 1967 Ford Mustang with parts of 2012’s Mustang. They did all the work – Modifying windshield to act as Hud, LEDs, projectors mounting on the dashboard and for the rear windshield, audio systems and more… Their reality TV show “inside west customs” aired this car on March 25th titled “Micro-Stang” (season 2, episode 13) on Discovery Velocity.

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