The Year, and the Future, of Google Glass

2014-07-21 17.01.16After a year in the Google Glass trenches, the future of the platform is getting sharper. It’s not fun, it’s not fashionable, but it will be fundamental.

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AutoHud: Your Car’s Performance Data on Glass

If you’re a journalist covering Glass, looking for The Next Big Thing in white-collar terror and moral panic, you’ve thought about driving with Glass. The distraction! The avoidable crashes! What a goldmine of terrifying link-bait headlines, ready to wrap around a shoddily-researched article!

I present Voidstar AutoHud, a Glass app designed to be used behind the wheel, that makes the driver safer.

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Voidstar AutoHud is a unique piece of Glassware, as it’s actually a combination of hardware and software. You plug a cheap OBD-II dongle into a port under your dashboard, hit Connect, and bam, you’ve got your speed, RPM, MPG, and fuel live in front of your eyes.

AutoHud is compatible with every vehicle sold in the US since 1996 (that’s when OBD-II was mandated) and can update as fast as your dashboard. It’s open-source and compatible with open hardware, so you can enforce that your driving data is yours alone.

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This app was developed to prove a point – that you can be safer with a wearable than without one. While I’m wearing Glass and running AutoHud, I don’t take my eyes off the road – my dashboard is in the sky above the asphalt everywhere I look.

You, on the other hand, take your eyes off the road every ten seconds or more to check the dials. That’s just unsafe. You also take your eyes off the road to check your phone and GPS, which makes me fear for my own safety.

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While AutoHud is running, it actually makes it harder to do distracting things on Glass. Like every Glass app that uses a Live Card, AutoHud blocks the wearer from using voice commands and checking notifications while active. If you cover Glass and didn’t know this, I recommend doing some research before your next big scare piece.

AutoHud is easy to install and use, and requires a car, an OBD dongle, and Google Glass. View the source and instructions at my GitHub, or just download the ready-to-install APK.

Right now, AutoHud displays the most important data on your dashboard – RPM, speed, instantaneous MPG, and remaining fuel. By popular demand, the next feature package will be a performance HUD with engine torque, engine load, throttle, and shifter position. Future updates will add an overspeed warning that knows the road’s speed limit, a post-trip report with cost of gas and performance summary, and automatic GPS logging to find your car.