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Aston Martin at MIX 08

The keynote from MIX 08 is now available online at the www.visitmix.com. There were a number of pretty exciting announcements including:

Well worth a watch. The highlight for me comes at 1hr 55 minutes into the session when Marek Reichman, Design Director of Aston Martin hands over to a video showing a proof of concept for a new in-car entertainment system written in .NET 3.0 on an XP embedded platform and actually integrated inside a real Aston Martin DBS car.

I was priviliged enough to be one of just three developers who worked on this project in the MTC (Microsoft Technology Centre) at Microsoft's HQ in the UK. At times we actually had a £160K Aston Martin DBS (the one from Casino Royale) on site - this was the view from my workstation at those times :)

Aston Martin DBS

(Yes, it's the sports car on the right I'm excited about, not the Vauxhall on the left).

It was a great project to be involved in with plenty of challenges including integration with the car's systems to record telemetry and receive input from the control panel (harder than it sounds!) and, perhaps best of all, plenty of WPF to allow us to create a UX worthy of an Aston Martin.

Grab from the video

One of the coolest features of the application was the 'Track Pack' where, during a track day, the application would record telemetry data including speed, gear position, GPS location, throttle position, braking, lateral and longitudinal acceleration (G) and more. There's also a small camera capturing video and sound and once captured, this could all be replayed inside the car with the capability to compare one lap with another (ideally once you've pulled up :).

Replaying the telemetry

The team had to build all kinds of controls including Speedometers, Revcounters, G-Force-ometers (?), Map displays and Charting controls to display telemetry. There's even some Virtual Earth integration in there.

All this took just four weeks which is testimony to the power of the .NET framework and WPF.

For obvious reasons I can't talk about some details of the implementation but there are a couple of things I will be talking about on this blog. During the development I used a subtle adaptation of a pattern called Model-View-ViewModel. I've been doing a lot of research into patterns and their place within a WPF project including meeting with John Gossman (formerly an architect on the Expression Blend team [written in WPF using Model-View-ViewModel] and now an architect with the WPF team) and Ron Jacobs (of arcast.tv fame) during my recent trip to the States.

I'm hoping to find time to write up some of my findings and conclusions from this research and experience right here - so stay tuned.

There's also an interview with Marek Reichman that discusses the Aston Martin design approach here. Paul Bishop of Splendid also discusses the proof of concept including (albeit briefly) the in-car piece that I got to work on.

Tags: WPF

Josh Post By Josh Twist
12:09 AM
07 Mar 2008

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