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View Full Version : VW/Audi Remote Control from Apple Watch - Testers Wanted



jamesatfish
26th June 2015, 09:13 AM
G'day all - it's been a long time since I've been on MacTalk and more than 10 years since I first registered here, but a few developers who have worked for me over the years came from the MacTalk forums so I'm hoping things haven't changed too much since then and this is still a great place to meet the local Apple community.

I'm currently working on a project called Conrod - it's a connected app platform for VW / Audi / VW Group cars. It's basically a smartphone that's permanently fitted into your car and uses the standard dash instruments as a screen. The device is up on Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/conrod/conrod-apps-for-your-car) at the moment with shipments due by the end of the year.

One of the apps that will ship with Conrod is the ability to remote control a connected vehicle via an Apple Watch app. You can see a brief demonstration in the YouTube video below.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDMXduf_zf4

Unfortunately I'm the only one in our development team who is an Apple fanboi and has an Apple Watch, so we're looking for early adopters of our Conrod technology to help with testing this app.

If you've got an Apple Watch and a post-2005 VW, Audi, Skoda or Seat, live in Australia and are interested in helping out with product testing please let me know. We'd prefer people who would like to use Conrod in the long term (i.e. sign up as a Kickstarter backer and we'll look after you as a tester), but this isn't meant to be a commercial post so that's not a prerequisite if you're interested in helping us out.

<Note to mods: I haven't been active here in recent years so if this post runs counter to any current policy please let me know.>

Erwin
26th June 2015, 02:11 PM
I've got late model Audis and VWs in the family, and happy to test for you. :)

TimboC
26th June 2015, 07:01 PM
Hi James, we have a 2007 Golf MkV GT, and am located in Cbr, if that helps. Apple Watch, of course!

jamesatfish
27th June 2015, 10:07 AM
Thanks guys - I'll send you both PMs in the next few days to grab some details.

TimboC - not sure if you've seen the details elsewhere, but we're having a launch BBQ at Northside European in Mitchell tomorrow (Sunday 28/6) from 12pm. We'll have one of the demo Golfs there with the Apple Watch app if you want to come take a look!

The_Hawk
27th June 2015, 07:18 PM
How's it going James! This is a very interesting little project and something I'd be interested in supporting the testing/development of.

I'm a little more than a VW nut, we currently have a 2012 MKVI Cabriolet and a 2010 T5GP Multivan. My wife has an Apple watch at the moment and I'm about to get one myself too.

jamesatfish
27th June 2015, 07:36 PM
Of course you're a VW nut Aaron - you may remember me from such places as VWWatercooled and the Cooma 1000 :)

Didn't realise you were an Apple guy also though!

I'll shoot you a PM and we'll sort something out - would be very happy to have you involved in testing.

Byrd
27th June 2015, 09:27 PM
Hi James,

I'm a bit of a car PC nut (flip-up OEM 7" panel in Mazda MPS with ITX setup in glovebox, running Centrafuse) - out of interest why did you focus on VAG cars and not make the Conrod controller universal for other motors?

The_Hawk
27th June 2015, 09:43 PM
Of course you're a VW nut Aaron - you may remember me from such places as VWWatercooled and the Cooma 1000 :)

Didn't realise you were an Apple guy also though!

I'll shoot you a PM and we'll sort something out - would be very happy to have you involved in testing.

Yep been an Apple person for a long while, although I'm a strange mix of tech junkie/grease monkey.

I was just watching the Kickstarter video earlier saying to my Wife... "I've touched that car ;)"

Are you heading back to Cooma this year? I'm considering going along as a spectator this time around since I'm not going any faster than last time. Always a good social weekend.

jamesatfish
28th June 2015, 10:21 AM
Hi James,

I'm a bit of a car PC nut (flip-up OEM 7" panel in Mazda MPS with ITX setup in glovebox, running Centrafuse) - out of interest why did you focus on VAG cars and not make the Conrod controller universal for other motors?

We're using CAN to communicate with the cars and not the OBD2 standard, and each manufacturer uses their own protocol over the CAN buses - everything from baud rates, packet structure, module identification etc - all unique and proprietary to each manufacturer. Sadly none of the manufacturers offer their protocols up as open information, you need to reverse engineer and decode on your own.

Because all of us on the team are VW-group enthusiasts we naturally started with those cars as our first brand to decode, and it has taken us about 6 months to crack VW's protocols to get to the point where we can do the things we set out to achieve.

We're certainly planning to expand to other brands, but we need to get established with the VW Group first before we can think about that.

Our board does support OBD2 (the universal data standard) but that's typically only read-only and fairly limited in terms of the data that comes back from the car. OK if you want to read engine revs and vehicle speed, not if you want to turn the demister on by remote control.


Yep been an Apple person for a long while, although I'm a strange mix of tech junkie/grease monkey.

I was just watching the Kickstarter video earlier saying to my Wife... "I've touched that car ;)"

Are you heading back to Cooma this year? I'm considering going along as a spectator this time around since I'm not going any faster than last time. Always a good social weekend.

I think I know that mix :) Have been an Apple fanboi from writing BASIC and Pascal on an Apple IIe, and have been into cars since I had pocket money to spend on Matchbox models.

We're actually sponsoring Cooma this year to promote this product - we're planning to run some 'virtual race categories' held between cars that are running Conrod during the event. I'm entered again this year but will probably take my wife's Audi wagon so I've got room to cart up the trade stand stuff.

The_Hawk
28th June 2015, 10:29 AM
IIGS kicked it off for me (although the school has IIEs).
I don't know that I've ever used kickstarter before but I'll kick in for the top package and am happy to play guinea pig. Will go read up on all that.

EDIT: Done, seems I did have an account from my timber hipster wallet (which I use as a business card holder) thing :P

nibbles
28th June 2015, 01:00 PM
It's a pretty cool idea James and along with plenty of other people on here I'm a VW Golf guy myself.

Only thing that I've got questions about is how VAG will respond if they come across it? I know of people who have been threatened with legal action for as much as offering to diagnose and do basic software changes on BMWs and Mercs. For your sake I hope VW don't mind.

TimboC
28th June 2015, 02:22 PM
Great to catch up, James...and thank you for the sausages 😉...and beer.

Very impressive development, which I intend to follow with keen interest. I'll probably sign up, and happy to be a guinea pig if needed.

jamesatfish
28th June 2015, 07:24 PM
Aaron - thanks for the support and for backing us - I'm sure we'll catch up sometime before Cooma for a show & tell!

Timbo - good to see you this afternoon and share a beer - always good to cross paths with someone in a new environment. Hopefully you enjoyed the demos and of course being local if you want to chat further about it all just drop me a note.

nibbles - very good questions re VW's take on all of this. It's very much a grey area in a lot of ways really. We're certainly not the first people to decode VW's protocols and sell a product based upon that work - RossTech for example (who make the excellent VCDS diagnostics tool that's almost as good as the factory products) have been doing this for years on a much deeper scale than us, and VW certainly tolerate their presence if not quite welcoming them with open arms. The module reprogramming aspects of VCDS are probably more controversial than what we're doing, so there's definitely a precedent that suggests we won't be fighting lawsuits from day 1.

The other aspect is that we're not doing anything that violates any laws or infringes on VW's copyrights. In much the same way that you can sell aftermarket wheels that bolt onto VW-spec studs, or aftermarket LED taillights with harnesses that have figured out how to bypass VW's broken bulb warnings, we're selling something that lets you modify a car that is 100% yours to modify.

That said, this is an area that's really going to cause legal issues in the next few years. A couple of the big American manufacturers are looking at trying to stop people modifying their cars through application of the DMCA (the same laws used to prevent you pirating movies), whilst others like Tesla are throwing immense processing power into their cars and effectively opening them up for users to modify and develop.