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Introducing Brainiac: Connected Car Technology with a 10.1" Display for your Z

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Introducing Brainiac: Connected Car Technology with a 10.1" Display for your Z

Old 09-23-2015, 12:09 PM
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Workshop12
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Default Introducing Brainiac: Connected Car Technology with a 10.1" Display for your Z


Hi Everyone,

My name is Tim Neil and I'm a Co-Founder of Workshop 12. We're a brand new registered vendor on my350z but I've been active in the Subaru community both at events and forums with my Widebody Bugeye WRX. We've also been busy building one of our project cars which is a 1989 Replica Batmobile.

My business partner (Rob Williams) and I have co-founded Workshop 12 where we're bringing some really cool connected car technology to vehicles that people already own. We grew tired of seeing all the new cool technology only showing up in concept cars, and if any of that tech managed to trickle through to production vehicles it would end up in some $80K-$100K+ vehicle that was out of our reach. But what about the vehicles that we already own and love to modify? I personally don't want to sell my Scoobie. I love that car! But I do want a great in-car experience.

Since both Rob and I have a long history in technology, and we've been building prototypes of connected car technology for the Batmobile for quite some time now, we decided we would do something about fixing this problem. Addressing this challenge was the birth of Workshop 12's upcoming product called Brainiac.

We recently published a blog article that talks more about the background and goals of Brainiac that I think you'll enjoy reading.

As a summary, Brainiac replaces your existing stereo head unit with a new intelligent computer controlled by a touch screen interface and a series of buttons. It's connected to your car via OBDII (without blocking your port) and also connects to the internet and integrates with your phone. It has 4 core features:
  • Data Logging: Log data both for commuting and performance. Think of it somewhat like a fitbit for your car that can track things like how much time you spend stuck in traffic and log data such as HP, lateral G's, drift angle, 0-60 and 1/4 mile times.
  • Infotainment: A great multimedia experience including Google Maps, a full in-dash browser, hands-free calling and integration with your cell phone for both media and apps
  • Automation: Brainiac is an integration backbone for controlling accessories and systems in your vehicle. This could be something as simple as running a set of relays for switches and linear actuators to plugging into your digital air suspension controller or ECU programmer.
  • Community: The system creates an online profile for your car so that your data, achievements and performance stats are synced up with your profile. You get to choose what information you wish to share with your friends or with everyone. Different points are awarded for different achievements so that you can compete with your friends or create online car clubs where you can see how your car stacks up against others around the world.


But here's where it gets extra sweet for 350Z owners. The standard Brainiac unit is a 7" double-din stereo replacement (which is awesome) but we're also providing snap-in 10.1" touch screen displays for select vehicles that create a really unique experience for your car.

Since I've had such a great experience with Subaru's the first two models of vehicles receiving a 10.1" display were in the Subaru and Subaru/Toyota family. But now we're expanding and also bringing the 10.1" dashboard option to the 2002-2005 350Z. We've already 3D laser scanned the 350Z interior and are about to move into the design phase to create something that looks like it should have been the dashboard when it rolled off of the assembly line.


A 10.1" installation kit will include:
  • Replacement Trim Pieces (Plastic Injection Molded Parts) that re-use stock mounting points
  • Brainiac computing unit
  • 10.1" touch screen display

Even if the 10.1" display option isn't available for your vehicle yet, the 7" double-din unit is designed in a way that would allow you to upgrade it to a 10.1" kit when one does become available.

We started off with the 3D modeling and fabrication on the WRX/STI dashboard first so that we could then apply that learning to the 350Z. You can find all sorts of behind the scenes information of that process on our blog.

We want to start and share information about Brainiac now so that you can follow along and have an opportunity provide feedback to help us make this product great. I mean, who doesn't love a good build thread Participating with us in this build process gets a little easier because we've actually published an installable Brainiac emulator for your Mac or PC that will allow you to preview the Brainiac experience before it becomes available. We'll be updating this emulator with more features as they become ready for release.


I'm sure by now you're probably wondering "How much is this all going to cost me?". We just recently released estimated pricing. But since we're still working on the product these could be subject to change.

Estimated 7" unit pricing: $699
Estimated 10.1" unit pricing: $1399

We're also providing a limited time offer for those who sign-up for our newsletter to receive 10% off of their first order. There's no commitment to buy, just by signing up you'll have the discount attached to your email address should you choose to purchase Brainiac when it becomes available.

Well there it is, our first post here on my350z. Please feel free to post suggestions and ask any questions that you like. We'll do our best to get you the answers.

Sincerely,

Tim Neil
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Old 09-23-2015, 03:49 PM
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Hi Tim:

Really interesting stuff, but I'd say getting $1399 from the owner of an early Z, most of which are worth well under $10K by now, might be a big ask. The $699 unit might be an easier sell, and presumably it fits many other cars, but then you're competing with the HU's from the big guys; Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine, etc., and with their adoption of CarPlay, their appeal is pretty strong for a huge group of iPhone owners. I've got a Kenwood HU which is 2 years old now, but this Winter I'm surely upgrading to a CarPlay unit. Even now, my HU and iPhone with the installed apps does much of what you're selling.

I don't know if the WRX and 350Z are your only areas of current focus, but common sense would say to go after the much more common domestic Pony-car crowd. And, with those cars being newer and worth more, that $1399 sale will be an easier sell.

So, that's just my opinion and quick impression of Brainiac as you described it here, and I'll be curious to see your updates.
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Old 09-23-2015, 06:11 PM
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Hi dcains,

Thanks for your interest and comments! I'll do my best to answer your questions, hopefully I don't get too long-winded

Our current focus for vehicle installations for the 10.1" Brainiac unit has been around strong communities and vehicles that have price points and ages where owners either have, or can buy, a cool tuner car and have some money left over to personalize and make the car their own. Whether that be engine mods, suspension or aftermarket infotainment. Plus the 10.1" installation really looks great and is an incredible experience while driving!

Our 7" unit is a universal fit double-din installation that packs all the same features as the 10.1". Just in a smaller universal package.

The other vehicles that we currently support for the 10.1" installation kit are the 05-07 Subaru WRX/STI and the Scion FR-S/BRZ. Much like the 350Z they are a great platforms for tuners. We've also been considering the 06-08 350Z which has a couple slight differences in the dashboard, so we're working on the earlier models first.

You are absolutely correct, some of the domestic cars like the C5/C6 Corvette and the Mustang are popular tuner platforms that really have lacked in the interior technology department. Those platforms are also planned for the future but we're just not quite ready to expand yet.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto take a different approach than Brainiac. That being said our planned software capability for launch should be pretty equal with those two technologies. Even now we already support integration with apps such as Spotify, Rdio etc with their existing Bluetooth head-unit support and also have built in Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation.

Both CarPlay and Android Auto focus on providing a secondary screen for a certain set of approved apps when the device is physically connected to the head unit. Those enabled head units typically sell for around $1400 for a 7" touch display. Our focus is more on vehicle integration and new experiences that can be created when you marry in-vehicle hardware, your smartphone and other connected aftermarket accessories.

To give an example, we have a digital air suspension accessory that allows you to plug in your existing air system (such as airlift, accuair, ridetech, etc) and manage the system through Brainiac's touch screen. Since we have access to vehicle's system data via OBDII and built in sensors such as GPS, accelerometer, gyro and compass we can also trigger air suspension presets based on conditions. So I can program my car to always lift up when I get home to my driveway or the speed bumps at my local grocery store, or lower when my speed exceeds 75mph.

We also have a relay accessory that allows you to turn on/off any system you may have in your car based on conditions set by you from these sensors. Also a 20Hz GPS chip that provides extremely accurate readings for lap timing and we allow for wireless control of all connected systems in your car from your smartphone.

So our goal is more of making your smartphone an interesting accessory for your car, vs the CarPlay and Android Auto approach of making your car an accessory of your smartphone

We already have a lot of great features and we're just getting started, so I hope you keep watching for our updates and continue to ask questions along the way!
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Old 09-30-2015, 09:51 AM
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We now have the first set of design sketches available for review

Check out the blog article link below to view the different revisions and see how we're continually tweaking the design to try and get to something that is "just right".

We're hoping that you give us your initial thoughts on both likes and dislikes so far

Blog Post:
http://workshoptwelve.com/2015/09/30...350z-sketches/

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Old 09-30-2015, 10:47 AM
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Daddy like.

I'll let you sponsor my car if you insist!

I'm doing quite a bit of customizing on my Z at the moment, having been rear-ended recently. One of the changes I'm probably going to make is to replace a Sony double din with something like this.

I would suggest that buttons not be recessed too far, if at all (from what I can tell, I like rev1.2 the best, as it appears to have dark trim separating the buttons from the screen, which I like, as it accents the unique art-deco design of the buttons). I do like the idea of a slightly recessed screen, if for no other reason than to somewhat shade from direct glare, as well as provide a nice transitionary bezel for the screen from its flatness to the curved waterfall of the center console.

I think it would quickly get annoying to have to push buttons at an angle where your fingerNAIL hits the buttons, due to the existence of a ledge right below them. I would think such a thing would also create undue wear on the finish of the buttons as well.

I'm subscribed; keep it up fellas!

Last edited by Heritage; 09-30-2015 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 09-30-2015, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Heritage View Post
Daddy like.

I'll let you sponsor my car if you insist!

I'm doing quite a bit of customizing on my Z at the moment, having been rear-ended recently. One of the changes I'm probably going to make is to replace a Sony double din with something like this.

I would suggest that buttons not be recessed too far, if at all (from what I can tell, I like rev1.2 the best, as it appears to have dark trim separating the buttons from the screen, which I like, as it accents the unique art-deco design of the buttons). I do like the idea of a slightly recessed screen, if for no other reason than to somewhat shade from direct glare, as well as provide a nice transitionary bezel for the screen from its flatness to the curved waterfall of the center console.

I think it would quickly get annoying to have to push buttons at an angle where your fingerNAIL hits the buttons, due to the existence of a ledge right below them. I would think such a thing would also create undue wear on the finish of the buttons as well.

I'm subscribed; keep it up fellas!
Thanks for the feedback! I totally agree.. moving your hands up to touch the buttons must be natural and not create mis-presses. The placement and angle that we used for the WRX has been really natural and I find it easy to reach them.

You might also want to check-out one of our recent posts discussing how we also provide natural gestures on the screen for some of your more common actions. There's some video in the blog post that shows them in action

Blog Post:
http://workshoptwelve.com/2015/09/16...easy-gestures/

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Old 09-30-2015, 04:02 PM
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Subscribed. Nice to see an original approach.
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Old 10-01-2015, 03:59 PM
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great work!!!!
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:15 AM
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Looking for some feedback from folks. How attached are you to your three gauge cups?

What if the gauges were replaced with a "heads up" 7 inch LCD screen. The screen would be pushed back towards the windshield as much as possible.

It would be used for displaying information like OBDII Gauges, maps, alerts etc. But it would not be a touch screen. The touch interaction would be from the 10.1" display below it.

Let us know! Image below is just an example from a Mercedes.

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Old 10-02-2015, 05:37 AM
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I like the gauges, but if they had to be replaced by a screen it would need to replace their functions without any extra addons.

Oil presure, alternator/battery voltage, tire presure would be nice but might depend on the year(03-05 had it?, 06-08 didn't I think?), MPG, outside temp with an ICY warning when temps drop below 40F, Trip computer(hours & miles).

If they replace everything I wouldn't mind replacing the gauges as much. I think it would be nice to have maps up there or gauges(digital) over the lower 10" screen.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:41 AM
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As a reminder we have an offer available until the end of October. We're giving a 10% discount on your first potential purchase for those who sign up for our newsletter

There's no purchase commitment for the discount. We don't have anything up for sale yet, but we're expecting to start pre-orders this fall!

brainiac.workshoptwelve.com

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Old 10-03-2015, 09:25 AM
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this is very nice!
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Old 10-03-2015, 01:57 PM
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Check it out! Matthew has pulled together some renderings of what a secondary display would look like instead of the existing three gauge cups.

Lots of revisions on the blog:
http://workshoptwelve.com/2015/10/03...ds-up-display/

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Old 10-03-2015, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Workshop12 View Post
Check it out! Matthew has pulled together some renderings of what a secondary display would look like instead of the existing three gauge cups.

Lots of revisions on the blog:
http://workshoptwelve.com/2015/10/03...ds-up-display/

Love the idea!! I've been looking for this!!
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:13 PM
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What if you kept the stock 3 gauge layout but replaced them with 3 customizable digital displays? IIRC all the data that's displayed on those gauges can be monitored in real time via OBDII. The torque app lets you create a virtual digital display on your phone/tablet like that.

IMO the triple gauge cluster is part of the unique character of Z's dashboard.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:32 PM
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This thing looks like Robocop... Not sure if it belongs to Z's interior...
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Old 10-04-2015, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mcubed45 View Post
What if you kept the stock 3 gauge layout but replaced them with 3 customizable digital displays? IIRC all the data that's displayed on those gauges can be monitored in real time via OBDII. The torque app lets you create a virtual digital display on your phone/tablet like that.

IMO the triple gauge cluster is part of the unique character of Z's dashboard.
We're still working through keeping/removing the gauges. That's why we've been putting out some renderings to see what owners think. We know that they are one of the main interior design features of the vehicle so it is a bit of a dicey topic

The housings for the existing gauges are a pretty complex engineering and mold making challenge. Which is why we're trying to find out how attached people are to them. We feel we can bring a better option (a screen with multiple functions) at the same price, if not lower, than trying to make the gauge cups work. Unfortunately 3 different LCD screens would drive up the cost both in components and circuitry to try and run the separate displays.

The LCD screen would allow us to show any gauge that is available via OBDII as well as provide heads up turn by turn directions, incoming alerts and more.

For some background, the existing gauge are is made up of the following separate pieces:
- Top outer shell
- Inner front shell (you can see the seam line between the two)
- 3 individual cups
- 3 individual trim rings

These are all glued or plastic welded together to form one unit. Event the individual cups can't really be re-used because they have been plastic welded to the top of the outer trim. So you would have to snap that plastic to try and re-use them.

We're still looking at different ways that we may be able to simplify the original Nissan design so that the existing 3 gauge cluster unit would fit. Trying to get it to look as close to the original as possible. We want to make sure we keep everything within a reasonable cost.

Keep the feedback coming
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Old 10-04-2015, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ARRRT View Post
This thing looks like Robocop... Not sure if it belongs to Z's interior...
Do you like any of the other designs of a secondary heads-up screen that were posted on the blog?
http://workshoptwelve.com/2015/10/03...ds-up-display/

REV 1.9 is a little less dramatic but looks nice. We wanted to do a range of designs to see whether or not the Z community was more conservative or looking for something more wild looking

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Old 10-04-2015, 05:13 AM
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Miss the gauges on this design. I like the earlier versions like 1.1. The entire thing about the gauges is, regardless of whether you can put something functional there will it look better than the gauges or look out of place? Has to stay aggressive to match the rest of the car.
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:19 AM
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What about a single slimer screen up top, but have a 3 cup design around the screen, so we could still have the oem design but able to switch gauges back and forth?
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