Zachary Nelson, a research engineer for Ford, created a vibrating shift knob for the Ford Mustang out of hardware from an Xbox 360 controller using OpenXC.
“OpenXC is an open source platform that allows people with smart phones to connect to real time vehicle data. It’s really open ended. We’ve designed the platform such that people have real time access to the vehicle data and then they can do whatever they want with that data such as windshield wiper blades, engine RPM, vehicle speed, everything down to if the doors are open or closed.”
What’s the point of the vibrating shifter? The shifter will vibrate or pulse to let the driver know the right time to shift into the next gear without taking their eyes off of the road if they are used to looking at a light indicator on the dash. It also detects when the best time to shift is in order for the best fuel economy. It can also teach people how to shift correctly before they develop the instincts to do so.
If interested, the design is meant to be available to the public. If you are tech-savvy, you can go to the OpenXC website and get the links to the firmware, the Android application, and even the plastic housing file.
“One of the great benefits of OpenXC is the amount of customization that you can bring to your vehicle. What OpenXC allows you to do is to take real time vehicle data that you would otherwise need high-performance or more expensive tools to use, use a simple Android device and you can instantly connect and do new things with this data.”
Check out the video of the shift knob installed in a Shelby GT500 Mustang as Zach takes it for a spin.