For those who still hope to learn how to drive a stick shift, Ford junior engineer Zach Nelson is here to help. He put an Xbox 360 feedback motor into a 3D-printed grip he printed himself, added an Arduino controller, connected an Android tablet with USB and Bluetooth, and brought them all together with the diagnostic system on a Mustang to create a vibrating “smart shifter.” It can be programmed to vibrate for efficiency or for better performance, or it can just let a complete newbie know when it’s time to shift. Nelson even installed an LED display on top that shows the gear position.
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What’s the Big Idea?
At a time when various tech companies are working on taking out the driving part of the car experience entirely, Nelson’s creation is a nice nod to those fans who insist that manual transmissions are still the way to go. The device also demonstrates one of the many possible uses for OpenXC, Ford’s open-source software platform. With it, Nelson was able to get real-time data, including engine speed and accelerator position, to the shifter.