Workshop 12

One of the areas that we’ve been exploring at Workshop 12 is finding simple ways to control common functions while driving.  By finding easy ways to control the things we do over and over again your body creates muscle memory and helps to reduce distracted driving.

The key to finding effective controls is to first determine the common repetitive functions and then find a natural physical action that would match the desired result.  We’ve found that two of the main actions we perform all the time while driving are volume adjustment and skipping/scanning through media such as our radio presets or the current playing track in a playlist.

With Brainiac we’ve provided physical buttons that allow for these functions but we’ve also added some simple gestures that allow you to make these adjustments without having to look at the screen or search for a button which helps you keep your eyes on the road.  Read More

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our early supporters for your great feedback, suggestions and excitement for our upcoming release of Brainiac!  The response has been phenomenal and we’re just getting started.

Make sure you spread the word about registering for our early supporter discount of 10% off of your first purchase by simply signing up for our newsletter.  This offer will be ending October 31st, so make sure you get your name on the mailing list for a nice “Thank-you” discount 🙂

As awareness of Brainiac continues to grow we’ve been receiving a ton of support and feedback from the car community.  We’ve been attending meet-ups and car shows almost every weekend and have also been spending many different week nights at local meet-ups.  We make sure to post pictures of some of the cool cars we find at these events on Instagram.  It’s amazing to know that we could pretty much meet with car enthusiasts every day of the week with such a strong community presence in Ontario.  It was great to see an article by Dave Thomas published on Speedhunters summarizing the great diverse car culture that exists in our area.

The reaction to Brainiac while attending these different car events has been overwhelming, with drivers eager to install the system in their ride.  Whether it be the beautiful 10.1″ custom fit display, the integration with their digital air suspension system,  ability to pair the system to your smartphone, performance data logging or the thought of replacing their current 7″ double-din unit with something better.

The message has been loud and clear.  “Bring Brainiac to market as quickly as you can and for as many vehicles as you can”.

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The last couple of weeks have involved crazy working hours and lots of blistered fingers, but they were all worth it as we prepared for our first two events where we could finally get Brainiac out there for everyone to try in person!  The final push to the event was about 5 days of getting up at 6 AM and into bed at 2 AM.  I felt like I was on an episode of Overhaulin’.  We’ve learned a lot by attending these two events, most importantly that when we get a chance for someone to take a look at the product and see what it can do they are absolutely floored 🙂

Friday afternoon we moved both of our prototyping vehicles and display unit down to ImportFest to make sure everything was ready for the show on Saturday which ran from Noon until Midnight.  After the show ended we packed everything up and managed to get home and into bed around 3:30 AM on Sunday morning.  Then it was back up again at 6:30 AM to get the Subaru WRX and our display stand packed up and ready for the Toronto Subaru Club HyperMeet which ran from 10 – 5pm.

It was incredible to see everyone’s reaction to the product, which motivates us even more to get Brainiac to market as soon as possible!  Watching people use the system also gave us loads of feedback on our user interface as well as provided a great opportunity to receive direct feedback and suggestions on how to further improve Brainiac’s features.  One of the most encouraging common questions was “So when will the 10.1 inch install be available for my car?”. Read More

As we continue to push towards having Brainiac ready for sale, one of our main offerings will be the 7″ double-din unit that will work with pretty much any vehicle on the road.  Luckily there are all sorts of stereo installation kits out there to fit a standard double-din sized head unit in your dashboard.  One of our goals is to create the 7″ unit as an upgradable platform so that if you have one installed and a 10.1″ display becomes available for your vehicle, you don’t have to go out and buy everything all over again.

We want to design the 7″ unit in a way that you’re able to remove the touch screen display and buttons and simply upgrade to the 10.1″ display, custom trim and buttons.  With this in mind we’ve been working on our first revision of the double-din unit mechanics and wanted to share this early work with you.  There’s still work to be done to achieve our goal but with this revision we’re one step closer to reaching our goal.

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In this edition of Inside Brainiac we’d like to pick-up from our last post where we briefly discussed our goals for adding physical buttons to the Brainiac 10.1″ design.  We believe that there’s never a one size fits all solution when it comes to interacting with electronics.  This holds true whether you are holding a smartphone in your hand, using your TV in your living room or interacting with your car.  If you ask 10 different people their preference, you end up with 10 different answers.

The debate gets even hotter when it comes to physical buttons and virtual buttons.  This was a topic of great debate in the smartphone world where “a touch screen would never replace physical keys for typing on a smartphone”.  While there were still people who swore by their physical keyboard there were many who felt that the new innovative aspects of the alternative phone out weighed the touch screen difference.  The key to change was innovation, not physicality.

The same holds true for touch interaction in vehicles.  This is another area where reaching over to a physical button or knob has a certain muscle memory to it.  Many existing touch implementations by car manufacturers have tried to simply replace buttons and knobs that require fine motor skill with small intricate touch screen controls and the result has been a lot of consumer backlash. Read More

After our initial test fitting session for the 10.1″ Brainiac screen there were lots of insights gained and revisions to be made to the 3D model which helped us dial-in the fit and finish.  That feedback cycle gave birth to revision number two of the 05-07 Subaru WRX/STI plastic trim pieces.

This new revision also had the addition of the OEM mounting points and the 10.1″ cradle which holds the touch screen.  These additions to the back-side of the trim allow everything to snap and screw in-place to further test how everything fits.  It turns out that the second revision prototype prints fit so well that we decided we would clean-up them up and color match them to the existing dashboard trim to give everyone a better idea of what Brainiac will actually look like when installed.  I mean the green plastic was “dead sexy” but painted smooth surfaces are so much better 🙂 Read More

At Workshop 12 we love to see clean and simple modifications that look like they were intended to be part of the vehicle as they rolled off the assembly line.  This tends to get more and more difficult as we start to add new accessories to our vehicles to make them unique and also satisfy our drive to make our project car better.  A lot of times this turns into what we like to call “suction cup hell” where we tend to stick things to the windshield with suction cups, clip things in our air vents, hide them away in crevasses or if we’re lucky create a custom mounting solution. Read More

As word of Brainiac and Workshop 12’s connected car goals have been spreading across the “Internets” we’ve been making sure that we’re participating in the conversation to make sure we can have a great open dialog for questions, comments and feedback.

One great location to collaborate with Toyota FR-S and Subaru BRZ owners is on FT86club.com.  With the exciting news of Workshop 12 bringing a 10.1″ display to the FR-S/BRZ there are lots of questions, and we’re excited to now be an official vendor on FT86 Club to provide answers and post Brainiac progress updates.

So if you’re a member of FT86 Club feel free to follow the links above and join the conversation in our Brainiac information threads 🙂

Last week we posted up some teaser photos of an early test fit session where we 3D printed the faces of some new plastic trim panels.  Those panels were the ones that fit the 10.1″ Brainiac display into a 05-07 Subaru WRX/STI.  If you missed the photos, don’t worry, we have a lot more pictures in this post to share!

The goal of our initial test fitting session was to get a general idea of sizing and general fit of the new replacement trim panels as the 3D model was continuing to be revised in parallel.  This allowed us to provide feedback in real time as the model was being reworked to include more detail.

Our first test fit prints were created at a medium quality (hence the grainy surface) and were only the face of the trim pieces which did not include any of the clips and mounting points.  This meant we needed to prop up and tape the trim in-place to get a general feel of how things will look. Read More

Mark the date in your calendar for a fun day of looking at some great modified cars and checking out Brainiac and the BatBerry in person!  On August 22nd Workshop 12 will be attending as an exhibitor at ImportFest 2015 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from 12 noon – 12 midnight.

I’ve personally attended ImportFest many times as a competitor with the TMBLER shop car winning multiple awards such as top Subaru and best paint.  So I’m really excited that we’re now going to be attending the event as an exhibitor with both of our Brainiac prototype cars; the BatBerry and the TMBLER.

It should be easy to find us since we’ll be located smack dab in the center of the show with both of our vehicles and two additional display units.  Both vehicles will have their early prototype Brainiac installs on display.  The BatBerry will showcase a 7″ touch screen utilizing Brainiac’s accessory capability to control many of its systems such as opening and closing the canopy, the actuators that raise and lower its 30 caliber replica machine guns and some more functionality that we’ll reveal closer to the show.

Our widebody Subaru will be displaying our 10.1″ Brainiac installation for a 05-07 Subaru WRX/STI which provides a large screen full-console experience with factory fit and finish.

While show cars are great, they don’t really let you try things out for yourself.  Most car shows have a strict “look but don’t touch” policy when it comes to the vehicles.  Because of this we’re also bringing two standalone dashboard units so that you can physically interact with Brainiac.  We’ll have one dashboard with a standard double-din 7″ installation and a 05-07 Subaru WRX/STI dashboard with a 10.1″ Brainiac unit installed.

This event will provide an opportunity for you to try out Brainiac in person and provide early feedback on the prototype units as we continue to fine tune our hardware and software as we continue to push towards commercial availability.  We hope to see you there 🙂

Earlier today we updated the Brainiac emulator in the Chrome app store so hopefully by the time you’re reading this post the software will have already been updated on your previous install of the emulator for your Mac or PC.

In this emulator update we’ve focused on both personalization and customization of your Brainiac install.  First on the agenda was making sure that the color scheme of the user interface matches your vehicle’s interior.  While this may seem subtle, it’s one of those details that really makes Brainiac look like it was factory installed and matched to your car.  It’s also one of those details that’s sometimes missed by car manufacturers as they have different teams working on the physical gauges and button lighting than they have working on the head unit software. Read More