Introducing Brainiac

Paving new ground

We’re extremely excited to be able to share more details about our upcoming product for the connected car market called Brainiac.  Brainiac takes a different approach to the connected car industry where our focus is to bring great connected experiences to the vehicles that you already own!

At Workshop 12 we have two major passions:  First is our love of technology and all of the incredible experiences that can be made possible with the right combination of hardware and software. The second is everything on wheels!  I personally consider myself a self proclaimed car junkie and have previously built a 450hp show car that I drive daily and I’m currently in the middle of building the car of my dreams, a 1989 Michael Keaton era replica Batmobile dubbed the BatBerry.

Both of these builds have taken years of nights and weekends and have connected me with many other car enthusiasts from all over the world who enjoy getting together, sharing notes and pushing each other further to accomplish even crazier feats.  This combination of community participation, technology, constant drive for improvement and the love of cars has been the breeding ground for many of the technology advancements included in Brainiac.

Truly connected

Providing a great connected car experience involves a combination of different complimentary technologies all working well together.  At the heart of these experiences is a computing unit acting as the “brain” and central integration point of the vehicle.  That’s where Brainiac enters the picture.  Brainiac simply replaces your existing stereo and becomes the central computing unit for your car. Its user interface is controlled by an interactive touch screen display which is available in either a standard 7″ double-din size or an optional 10.1″ large display for select vehicles (more on the larger display option later in this article).

Yes, Brainiac has lots of great infotainment features, but it also has a direct connection into the ODBII port of the vehicle so that it can read system data which is being broadcast from your vehicle’s ECU (Engine Control Unit).  It uses a specially designed ODBII cable so that the connection is tucked away under your dashboard without blocking your ODBII port.  The installation process for Brainiac is the exact same as that of an aftermarket double-din stereo plus the additional ODBII cable.

headunit

This ability to listen to your vehicle’s ECU provides the potential for a lot of great features and driving experiences.  It also allows you to choose the information you would like to record and review at a later date.  This data provides insight into your daily commute such as the amount of time you’re spending stuck in traffic, your true fuel economy,  how much you’re spending on fuel and even insight on how your driving style is affecting your day to day costs of operating your vehicle.

You choose how much information you’re interested in recording.  This information is then securely stored with your vehicle’s online profile.  Don’t worry, your commuting speed is never an option to record 🙂

Connectivity also means the ability to do more within the vehicle as well.  It’s not just about providing an internet connection to software running in the car.  It’s about the vehicle being able to operate intelligently.  This includes how to safely interact with information from your smartphone such as media, notifications, appointments, messages and hands free calling.

Like many car enthusiasts I love extending the capability of my car.  This can range from something as simple as adding a reverse camera or GPS to full electronic control of an air suspension system, lighting systems, installing gauges to keep a close watch on the health of my vehicle or even linear actuators.  All of these are “connected” systems of the car.

As enthusiasts we continually push to increase the functionality of our beloved “ride” based both on the desire to make it better and also unique.  Typically each of these different enhancements mean buying many different products and then trying to find a way to bubble gum and paper clip them together to create a clean installation.

But what if there was a product that allowed for the integration of multiple systems all driven by software to create a truly integrated experience?

hardware

Brainiac provides the integration backbone to connect all of the systems of your vehicle together through a combination of hardware and software to create new integrated experiences.

Let’s take a quick example.  You’ve just installed a great new electronically controlled air suspension system on your car and you love driving it low.  Sure it has a couple of pre-sets you can use to adjust your height, but you’re constantly adjusting your ride height coming in and out of your driveway, pulling into the drive-through for your morning coffee and those pesky raised man hole covers on Main Street.

But what if you could adjust your ride height settings for those locations and have Brainiac remember them based on a combination of data such as your current GPS location and speed?  Or other possibilities… What if Brainiac knew when you were entering your driveway and it automatically flipped the switch to run your garage door opener? Or you were heading into the hairpin corner on the track and to stiffen the driver’s side suspension? Or even knew that it was the end of the work day and you’re heading home so to tell your house’s connected thermostat to cool the things down?

By providing an integrated backbone Brainiac opens up a new world of possible experiences.  This backbone extends right from your vehicle’s ODBII port to your smartphone and to the Brainiac cloud based servers providing valuable new experiences whether you’re in your vehicle, at your computer or connected with your mobile device.

Connectivity

Clean installation

One of our pet peeves is that it seems like everything we want to install in our vehicle comes with a suction cup, vent clip or some kind of space age goo that you need to stick somewhere on our windshield or dashboard.  Our goal with Brainiac is to create a clean installation with an intuitive software experience allowing you to tuck away all the nasty bits behind your dashboard.

This drive for a great looking installation and ultimate software experience was the inspiration behind our large 10.1″ touch screen display option.  We were tired of seeing large displays only showing up in concept car designs or ending up in super expensive vehicles.  What about the rest of us?  Especially those of us who love our current vehicle but want to simply improve its awesomeness.

For select vehicles we are providing Brainiac with a large 10.1″ display option which replaces your stereo and climate control with a beautiful piece of touch enabled glass.  At the heart of the installation is the previously mentioned double-din computing unit without the 7″ screen attached.  Instead, the installation kit comes with precision plastic injection molded trim pieces which fit into your dashboard so that there’s no need for cutting, drilling or modifying your existing dash.  Simply pop out your existing trim and pop in the new pieces designed to fit perfectly with your dashboard.

Connecting the automatic climate control consists of unplugging the connectors from the back of your existing climate control switches, dials or knobs and plugging them into Brainiac’s climate control wiring harness.  Replacing your physical controls frees up the space on the dashboard for the larger display and creates an incredible unique look for your ride.

We’ll have more information shortly on the design process for the 10.1″ display as well as which vehicles will be targeted first with a large display installation kit.

Community

One of the best parts of being a car enthusiast is becoming part of a community of people who all share a common passion.  We love to share pictures, stories and build logs recording the journey of our car from normality to our own personal unique style.  We meet in parking lots, car shows and online to trade war stories and pass on advice and opinions.  No matter if we drive domestics, imports, classics, low-riders, lifted 4×4’s or any combination of these, we all appreciate quality work and push ourselves to improve.

Our belief at Workshop 12 is that the word “connected” in connected car should also mean a connection with your community.  A way to enhance the driving experience and a place to come together as enthusiasts.  That’s why we’re building a connected community for everyone to enjoy.  Not just those who have Brainiac installed in their vehicle.  It will be free for everyone!

Part of creating a Brainiac profile is a virtual garage where you can log your modifications and share your car details.  You choose what you share with friends or with everyone.  Brainiac gives you a place where you can post pictures and details about your ride so that others in the community can follow your build.

community

But it’s not just about sharing your ride with the world.  We embrace the competitive car community spirit and award affinitiy levels and badges based on your accomplishments and modifications.  Brainiac awards points for many different aspects of your vehicle from economy, performance to achievements.  This creates a great healthy competition between you, your friends and the global car community.

We’re providing Brainiac’s online community for free so everyone can participate regardless if you have Brainiac installed or not.  Brainiac hardware simply enhances your experience allowing you to compete in additional ways and also post your driving accomplishments to your vehicle’s profile.

Early preview and discount

While we’re well on our way to making Brainiac available for your vehicle, we wanted to provide a way for you to experience Brainiac today as we continue to push towards availability.  To do that we’ve published a Brainiac emulator which can be downloaded and installed on your Mac or PC.  The emulator gives an early preview of things to come and allows you to experience both the 7″ and 10.1″ form factors.

screenShot_10.1_portrait_1280_800

We’re also providing a limited time offer for a savings of 10% off of your first order by signing up for our newsletter where we’ll keep you informed of progress and software updates

Vehicle dashboards that allow for a 10.1″ display may be oriented in either landscape or portrait depending on available physical space.  We’ve built these options into the Brainiac emulator so that you can experience both options.  We’ll be continuing to update the emulator as we drive towards availability so that you can keep up to date every step of the way.

We’re not quite ready to reveal pricing yet, but our goal is to be competitive with existing high end double-din car stereos currently in market.  You can sign-up now for our limited time offer for a savings of 10% off your first order.

Stay tuned for more news, announcements and behind the scenes progress as we push forward 🙂

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