My new car stereo

The title of this post is misleading. I don’t have a new car stereo but every time I use the one I have, I think about how awesome it could be if just a few changes were made. And I know how to get exactly what I want (since no car stereo maker seems to ever think of user interface.. this goes back about 30 years now).

But first lets talk about my current unit. About 2 years ago I bought a Kenwood DNX6140 from Crutchfield (highly recommended company). I wanted a unit that had GPS where I could also plug in my iPod (attention thieves, I keep a 80GB iPod in my glovebox with low bitrate copies of most of my music library). This unit fit the bill and seemed pretty awesome. So far, it’s met my needs and that’s about it. Where does it fail? Let me count the ways..

But the 2 key failure points are the GPS and the iPod integration. The GPS (by Garmin) is a piece of crap. It gets me where I’m going pretty accurately, but the map graphics are very weak and it has no traffic updates, etc. Of course I’m spoiled by the awesome, super awesome Navigation app by Google that I have in my phone combined with the awesome lookup functionality of points of interest. The iPod integration works, but the interface is just poor. For example, say I want to hear me some Tupac. I have to go to a menu that lists by Artist and then scroll down through all 500+ artists until I find Tupac. I can’t search for it at all. I have to scroll and that takes forever. Same for songs and albums, etc. Just poor.

So what’s the solution? I’ve written and ranted in the past about making stereo head units that could use any mapping/gps software but now we’ve got a better solution available and this is totally marketable (who will be the first to do it? probably some garage startup) : Android!

Someone needs to build a car stereo that is built around an Android OS tablet. How awesome would that be? Imagine having it connected all the time to your wireless carrier, streaming tunes from Pandora (or maybe your own music collection), with the awesome Google Navigation and the ability to add apps as well. How cool would that be? The only thing we would need is an interface/connection to your car power and speakers and an amplifier and presto : awesome car stereo! Configurable and open and awesome!

Who wants to build this for me as a prototype? I will pay for it and then we can start a company!

GPS Improvements

I was thinking the other days of ways that I’d like to see in car GPS systems improve. Here are my notes :

1) 1 screen, any software : Every car should come equipped with a unit that can use any software. Same for aftermarket units. Why should I have to decide beteween Tom Tom or Garmin or some other system? Why can’t I choose the software I use? This competition will be awesome for the consumer and force the companies to build interfaces that rock!

2) Tourist mode: there should be a mode that you can turn on that will provide you with info as you drive. Sometimes when I’m going somewhere new, along the way I see parks and stuff and I’d love to know about the towns I’m passing through or the near landmarks. “You’re passing through the Shady Vally region which in the 1700’s was home to a pirate tribe. 5 miles south of here is a museam of their history”, etc.

3) Big Screen! I want a big screen that I can scroll with my fingers like an iPhone. I want to be able to see my surroundings and other roads in case I want to detour. You can’t do that now.

4) “Real Map” mode: Instead of the simplified maps I want to be able to overlay a real old fashioned map instead.