Workshop 12 launches Kickstarter for automated car systems
December 8, 2015
The typical startup story can be broken down to; founder has idea, hires team, builds product, tries to become a unicorn.
But for some founders, the road to their startup begins when a beloved side project starts attracting customers. And that’s exactly how the story began for Workshop 12, a car software and fabrication startup.
For co-founders Tim Neil and Rob Williams, who met while working at BlackBerry, it started with Neil’s project car — a 1989 Batmobile dubbed “the BatBerry.” It featured numerous linear actuators, air suspension and sound effects. After blogging about creating the car and automating its systems, the pair had gained a large online following.
“We started getting requests by a lot of different followers about being able to bring the same technology to their own vehicles,” says Neil. “After a lot of research we found that there really wasn’t anything in the market that could act as an integration backbone for existing vehicles.”
This feedback led them to develop Brainiac, a central computer for your vehicle that utilizes built-in sensors and your vehicle’s OBDII (on-board diagnostics parameter IDs) diagnostics data to provide insights, automation, entertainment and connectivity.
Brainiac comes in three different solutions to cover as many different vehicles as possible: a universal fit 7” touch screen unit, similar installation as a regular stereo; a 10.1” snap-in installation kit for certain vehicles; and a Retrofit Kit, which includes all the same components as the 10.1” snap-in installation kits but includes a universal screen-mounting cradle instead of custom dashboard specific plastics.
“That way those do-it-yourselfers or car customizers can embed Brainiac in any custom solution,” says Neil.
With their Kickstarter launching today, the standard questions on whether the final product will reach backers will come up. Neil assures they will deliver, saying he and Williams spent an extensive amount of time sourcing the right touch display modules.
“Both the 7” and 10.1” need to be automotive grade for operating temperatures in cold/heat and then still provide great viewing angles, brightness, resolution and also a very responsive capacitive touch input.”
Neil and Williams have long-term plans for Workshop 12 and the Brainiac platform.
“One of our main goals for Brainiac is to become the aftermarket backbone for hardware and software integration for the vehicles we love,” says Neil. “That means broadening both the number of supported vehicles that have our 10.1” snap-in kit as well as the number of partners that we’re working with for hardware integration.”
Looking beyond their current integrations, Workshop 12 is looking into aftermarket digital air suspension manufacturers, action cameras, climate control, traction control accessories and fuel mapping/tuning companies.
“We plan to expand this hardware ecosystem as quickly as possible. Every piece of integrated hardware and every piece of data collected allows Brainiac to grow smarter and create even more compelling experiences,” says Neil.