New Digital Dashboard

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MikeB
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So, the newest release of the http://www.currentmotor.com/ website has launched, and the big update is the digital dashboard & connectivity.

I'm still browsing the screens, but it looks like the dash has a cell radio, kinda like OnStar, as well as a WiFi hotspot. It will talk to the CuMoCo servers, as well as to apps on your Android phone (iPhone app coming later). Some very cool technology here, hope it helps justify the higher bike prices.

I'm sure John has plenty of ideas and plans for what to do with this tech, but I'm also interested in seeing what the community can think of.

So, impressions? Ideas?

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My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

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PJD
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

My impression...

Maybe I am an unfashionable Luddite, but unless it is something I voluntarily initiate for the purpose of troubleshooting a problem, why would I want CuMoCo (and God knows what other corporation or police/FBI unit) to be tracking the usage of my scooter?

But getting an upgrade the originally-conceived digital dashboard, and the newer charging system, would be nice. Other than that, I am happy. I understand that, unfortunately, putting the newer fanless charger on the scooter requires some frame cutting/welding.

PJD
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Oh, and a service manual, wiring diagrams, and access to any upgrades to the BCU and BCU configuration software (the current version is buggy). I assume the production models have many differences, so I an getting a bit pessimistic about future trouble-shootability and serviceability of the test-pilot models.

Derby
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

PJD wrote:

My impression...

Maybe I am an unfashionable Luddite, but unless it is something I voluntarily initiate for the purpose of troubleshooting a problem, why would I want CuMoCo (and God knows what other corporation or police/FBI unit) to be tracking the usage of my scooter?

But getting an upgrade the originally-conceived digital dashboard, and the newer charging system, would be nice. Other than that, I am happy. ~ snip

I am in full agreement with you on this, PJD. I don't even own a smart phone and have no intentions of getting one.

One thing I noticed on the spec page is this statement: "Remote access & scheduling charging"
I had been led to believe that it should ALWAYS be on the charger when not being used.

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PJD
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Derby,

Some users may need to keep the pack fully charged for practical riding range reasons. But, in general, lithium cells prefer to be partly discharged (about a 2/3 SOC is good) when not in use - especially if you are storing the scooter off-season of other long time period.

This is a good thing becasue it means that, unlike lead-acid batteries which must be kept fully charged and preferably on a trickle "float" charge when idle, a lithium battery pack can be treated like a fuel tank - only charge when needed. Partial charges are fine - even beneficial - for pack life, and long as an occasional full charge is done to so the BMS is given an opportunity to balance the cells.

The "fuel gauge" on the Current scooter makes it easy to do this. The only caveat is that you should try to minimise discharging the pack below about a quarter-full if you can (which is actually still 40% SOC - the BMS conservatively defines "empty" as a 20% still remaining) - but this is no different than managing a fuel tank too.

Another, thing, if you are keeping the charger plugged in all the time, once the charging cycle is completed, you will actually be discharging the pack slightly, becasue whenever the charger door is open, the BCU and BMS are on, and discharging the pack a little bit, albeit not much - less than 100 mA.

So in general, treat the pack just like a car gas tank - except you should leave it at about 2/3-3/4 full if you are not riding for a few days or storing it for an extended period of time (make sure to turn the winter switch off) and when you can, unplug the charger and close the charger door when charging is complete.

Derby
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

I understand that storing the scooter is an exception regarding the battery state of charge. However, I was speaking of normal seasonal use and going on 2 different statements when I said "I had been led to believe that it should ALWAYS be on the charger when not being used."

First of all, the manual. Perhaps a new one is online now but the old one states this in the charging section:

You will get the longest life from your battery pack if you charge your bike after each ride. For example the life-expectancy of your battery pack as configured is 2,000 complete cycles – i.e. to the point at which the bike shuts down (approximately 70,000 miles). However, if you always re-charge your battery after using just 85% of the available charge then the life-expectancy of your battery pack rises to 3,000 cycles (approximately 84,000 miles).

The second statement was in an email from the tech staff at CMC in which it was said:
. . . a rule of thumb . . . which goes: "If you ain't ridin' it, it's chargin' "

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jdh2550_1
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Hi guys.

A few things to address here:

1. PJD (and Derby) - don't worry I don't think Luddites would have embraced EV's. So you're no Luddite as far as I'm concerned! ;-)

2. "Why would I want CuMoCo to track my usage?". If you agree to let us track that data we can build a better bike and we can also have a detailed history of usage to help diagnose problems. The trouble with waiting to collect that data when the problem manifests itself is that we then have no history to compare bike operation to. That's what we're interested in - building better bikes.

3. "What about other corporations?". We have an absolute policy that no personal identifying information will be given to other companies. We may choose to share anonymous aggregated data. We realize that the data is valuable to us as a company - and thus that we should give you something in exchange. That something at the moment is the smartphone apps that we have now and those that we plan to produce in the future.

4. "What about police/FBI etc.?". The courts have made it clear that search warrants are required to access this type of info. If we receive a subpoena or a warrant then we'll seek legal advice and we'll comply as appropriate. There are checks and balances in place to protect your privacy.

5. "Originally-conceived digital dash" and "newer charging system". Yup, it's still our intent to get these onto all Test Pilot bikes. Your patience is appreciated.

6. "Future trouble-shootability and serviceability of the test pilot models". It is still our intent to support all bikes we've sold. We will continue to be upgrading the BCU software on this model (it shares the same codebase as the new model). Remember that the reason of the Test-Pilot program was to learn about our bikes and make changes as appropriate? Thanks to you all we've managed to do that. We're not going to abandon you.

7. "If you ain't ridin' it, it's chargin' ". We still stand by that approach (and I bet it was Terry who told you - he's got 30+ years of EV experience!). It's not a necessity though. In the old days of lead acid that mantra was vital for the health of the pack (because a partially discharged lead acid battery will deposit sulphate on the electrode). With your Lithium pack it's still good advice. If you get into that habit then you'll see two benefits: (1) less deep-cycles will increase pack life & (2) you'll always have access to a full pack for your next ride. The one caveat is if you're not going to ride for more than a month - at which point partially draining and switching off the winter switch is the best-practice there. PJD has a pessimistic view about our charging system and thus his advice is very conservative and is not what we, as the manufacturer, suggests. It won't hurt to follow PJD's scheme - it's just less convenient and not necessary. PJD is right - treating the pack as a gas tank is, in general, fine and if you do that you'll still get the expected life out of your pack.

Again, many thanks for participating in the Test Pilot program - these updates are the fruits of your participation!

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John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

jdh2550_1
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Now back to Mike's questions (especially the "ideas" part):

I'm sure John has plenty of ideas and plans for what to do with this tech, but I'm also interested in seeing what the community can think of.

So, impressions? Ideas?

__________________

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

reikiman
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

I've been talking recently with a company developing a similar dashboard idea, that is targeting selling the dashboard to OEM's. I wrote up an article recently based on their collaboration with a competitor to CuMoCo, Evolve Motorcycles, at http://www.examiner.com/article/saturna-green-systems-and-evolve-motorcycles-teams-up-on-electric-motorcycles .. however, SGS is looking to partner up with dozens of scooter/bicycle/motorcycle manufacturers.

I've had this idea in the back of my mind for several years and IIRC had a little debate with John over it a couple years ago. To me SGS is interesting because their product plan lines up extremely well with the ideas that have been in my mind.

For example, the dashboard could be an infotainment system, showing maps of where you are, where you're going. Could offer location based advertising. Could offer social networking features. Could do a lot of things. An Android device is very flexible and could perform a lot of useful functions when embedded in the dashboard of a scooter.

However, one thing I'm wondering about is whether a scooter rider wearing gloves (you wear gloves while riding don't you?) could operate a touch screen device.

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PJD
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

John,

The main point is that there is no point in keeping the charger plugged in and the charger door opened. Once the charger turns off, it is off, until the charger door is closed and reopened. There is no float charging going on - which would be bad for lithium cells anyway. The open charger door turns scooter syatems on that discharge the cells at a rate that is admittedly low, but why discharge them at all?

My understanding is that lithium chemistries perfer not to sit fully charged - so if it is good for 3 months of storage, it is probably good for 3 days of storage too, if riding needs allow this.

jdh2550_1
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

reikiman wrote:

I've been talking recently with a company developing a similar dashboard idea, that is targeting selling the dashboard to OEM's. I wrote up an article recently based on their collaboration with a competitor to CuMoCo, Evolve Motorcycles, at http://www.examiner.com/article/saturna-green-systems-and-evolve-motorcycles-teams-up-on-electric-motorcycles .. however, SGS is looking to partner up with dozens of scooter/bicycle/motorcycle manufacturers.

Yeah, I saw their claim of being "first". It's a shame we've already shipped new bikes with this dashboard on it. ;-) But, I guess competition is good!

Quote:

I've had this idea in the back of my mind for several years and IIRC had a little debate with John over it a couple years ago. To me SGS is interesting because their product plan lines up extremely well with the ideas that have been in my mind.

For example, the dashboard could be an infotainment system, showing maps of where you are, where you're going. Could offer location based advertising. Could offer social networking features. Could do a lot of things. An Android device is very flexible and could perform a lot of useful functions when embedded in the dashboard of a scooter.

I don't remember the exact debate - but the intent of our system is exactly what you describe. What we've released so far are the basics and we see many more opportunities.

BTW, later this year we hope to have a "review bike" available for journalists. So you'll be able to check it out in detail at that point (assuming you're interested).

Quote:

However, one thing I'm wondering about is whether a scooter rider wearing gloves (you wear gloves while riding don't you?) could operate a touch screen device.

A couple of answers to that. First a quick explanation of modern touch screens - they use the natural capacitance of your finger to detect the press, not the actual physical contact. So it's all about proximity. With that in mind - what about gloves?

1) Thin gloves will work but will require a hard press. The press is flattening out the material and brigning your finger close enough to the screen.

2) You can buy gloves that have a capacitive material on one (or more) of the tips of the glove (I can't remember the vendor - I think it's IKON). This allows the touch screen to respond as if it were your finger. We also plan on adding some after marketing "finger tips" that you can attach to your existing gloves.

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

MikeB
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

jdh2550_1 wrote:

A couple of answers to that. First a quick explanation of modern touch screens - they use the natural capacitance of your finger to detect the press, not the actual physical contact. So it's all about proximity. With that in mind - what about gloves?

I think using a capacitive touch screen is a bad choice for a motorcycle, even if it's all the rage for tablets & phones. My Garmin Zumo GPS is targeted specifically to motorcycle rides, and it's still using a pressure sensitive screen, rather than capacitive. I've got 5 different pairs of gloves, for varying conditions of heat, cold, and wet, and probably only 2 of them have a chance of working on a capacitive screen. Maybe you can crank up the sensitivity since you expect people to have gloves, but I think this will be an issue.

Btw, as an application for the digital dash, I went to meeting of the Greater Atlanta Scooter Society last night, and needed to check the meetup.com site to get the address of the restaurant. I pulled over and used my iPhone for the task, but it would be interesting if a digital dash could go all the way to sites like meetup and find an event location, and then bring up the map for it.

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jdh2550_1
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

PJD wrote:

John,

The main point is that there is no point in keeping the charger plugged in and the charger door opened. Once the charger turns off, it is off, until the charger door is closed and reopened. There is no float charging going on - which would be bad for lithium cells anyway. The open charger door turns scooter syatems on that discharge the cells at a rate that is admittedly low, but why discharge them at all?

My understanding is that lithium chemistries perfer not to sit fully charged - so if it is good for 3 months of storage, it is probably good for 3 days of storage too, if riding needs allow this.

Hi Paul,

The only reason is convenience. Most folks want to plug their bike in and forget about it.

As for 3 days for 3 months - I'm not sure I've ever seen data to characterize the nature of the issue and we've only received instructions from our supplier that "months" not "days" is the issue. It would great to get some actual hard data in this area - but that's not easy to do.

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John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

jdh2550_1
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

MikeB wrote:

I think using a capacitive touch screen is a bad choice for a motorcycle, even if it's all the rage for tablets & phones. My Garmin Zumo GPS is targeted specifically to motorcycle rides, and it's still using a pressure sensitive screen, rather than capacitive. I've got 5 different pairs of gloves, for varying conditions of heat, cold, and wet, and probably only 2 of them have a chance of working on a capacitive screen. Maybe you can crank up the sensitivity since you expect people to have gloves, but I think this will be an issue.

Mike are you aware of the "capacitive finger tips" that you can add to your gloves? You only need to add one on the index finger of each glove. With that then a capacitive screen will actually be easier to use than a resistive/pressure-sensitive set up. Just think of adding a penny size patch to the index finger of your glove - problem solved. Do you see a problem with that approach?

Quote:

Btw, as an application for the digital dash, I went to meeting of the Greater Atlanta Scooter Society last night, and needed to check the meetup.com site to get the address of the restaurant. I pulled over and used my iPhone for the task, but it would be interesting if a digital dash could go all the way to sites like meetup and find an event location, and then bring up the map for it.

Yup that's exactly the sort of situation we're talking about. However, we won't let you manipulate things while moving for safety reasons.

__________________

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

MikeB
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

jdh2550_1 wrote:

Mike are you aware of the "capacitive finger tips" that you can add to your gloves? You only need to add one on the index finger of each glove. With that then a capacitive screen will actually be easier to use than a resistive/pressure-sensitive set up. Just think of adding a penny size patch to the index finger of your glove - problem solved. Do you see a problem with that approach?

I've seen gloves that were constructed with capacitive fingers, but all the ones I've seen were generic cold-weather wear, not motorcycle protection. If you've located some sort of adhesive patch that will glue on to the index finger of a set of protective leather gloves, that would be perfect, and I see no problems. But you need to point me at a website or something, since I'm not aware of a product like that. If not, you can invent it and put it on the market, I bet it would sell.

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MikeB
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Dangit, where's the EDIT button? My reply got merged in with John's quote, and I can't fix it!

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Derby
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

MikeB wrote:

Dangit, where's the EDIT button? My reply got merged in with John's quote, and I can't fix it!

Don't worry, Mike. We figured it out.

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jdh2550_1
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/cellphone/e76e/?srp=1

Also, if you google for "ipod motorcycle glove" you'll see some folks have stitched capacitive thread into their existing gloves.

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

PJD
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Quote:

For example, the dashboard could be an infotainment system, showing maps of where you are, where you're going. Could offer location based advertising. Could offer social networking features.

On the dashboard of a motorcycle - where staying alive and unhurt depends of high awareness of traffic and road surface conditions and defensive riding?

And, will there be anywhere where we are not subjected to advertising?

LeThala
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

I like the idea of an adroid tablet serving as a dasboard. For a while I was contemplating mount a tablet over my analog dash and hooking it up to the bcu but then changed my mind in favor of attaching my android phone via a cradle. Of course I hadn't gotten to it yet but it made it to my to do list. I confess the fact that I do android development does increase my entusiasm for this technology. I will definitely be writing apps for the scooter.

I don't mind sending data to current. I'm already collecting logs via a sparkfun logger under my seat to send to John periodically. I do need to be able to turn it off at times because I go to places with my job where radio interference would be a problem and even my cellphone has to be turned off. Actually my preference would be to do all the data transmissions via my android phone. and the bike would store the data internally during the times it is out of communication with my phone. I certainly don't want to pay for a separate data plan just for the bike.

Derby
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

LeThala wrote:

I don't mind sending data to current. I'm already collecting logs via a sparkfun logger under my seat to send to John periodically.

I've no problem with sending any info to CMC. My objection was if the info was sent in real time and/or would allow any recipient to know my location -- unless it was my choice to provide said info to said recipient.

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Derby
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

PJD wrote:
Quote:

For example, the dashboard could be an infotainment system, showing maps of where you are, where you're going. Could offer location based advertising. Could offer social networking features.

On the dashboard of a motorcycle - where staying alive and unhurt depends of high awareness of traffic and road surface conditions and defensive riding?

And, will there be anywhere where we are not subjected to advertising?

Good points, PJD.

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Re: New Digital Dashboard

PJD wrote:
Quote:

For example, the dashboard could be an infotainment system, showing maps of where you are, where you're going. Could offer location based advertising. Could offer social networking features.

On the dashboard of a motorcycle - where staying alive and unhurt depends of high awareness of traffic and road surface conditions and defensive riding?

And, will there be anywhere where we are not subjected to advertising?

This is a good point. The same conference where I learned about Saturna Green Systems - I happened to talk with a guy from Pipistrel (a Croatian airplane manufacturer that has a few electric airplanes) .. and he told me of having worked on a project with Piaggio for a similar digital dashboard for the Piaggia MP3. His opinion was that the last thing you want a scooter/motorcycle/bicycle rider to have is a distracting touch screen infotainment device. Riders need to have awareness of the road even more than do car drivers. It's a life-and-death thing.

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MikeB
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

jdh2550_1 wrote:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/cellphone/e76e/?srp=1

Also, if you google for "ipod motorcycle glove" you'll see some folks have stitched capacitive thread into their existing gloves.

The thinkgeek pins would not be good for my waterproof gloves, but would be fine for the rest. And sewing extra threads into the finger would be very tricky, to avoid piercing the waterproof liner (beyond my skill, but maybe a professional could do it easily). I still think a glue-on patch is about the best choice, but I haven't seen one of those yet.

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MikeB
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

PJD wrote:
Quote:

For example, the dashboard could be an infotainment system, showing maps of where you are, where you're going. Could offer location based advertising. Could offer social networking features.

On the dashboard of a motorcycle - where staying alive and unhurt depends of high awareness of traffic and road surface conditions and defensive riding?

And, will there be anywhere where we are not subjected to advertising?

I routinely ride with a GPS mounted to my handlebars. Sometimes just having a map present makes navigation much easier, even if it doesn't tell you where to turn. Sure, it's better when it talks to you and you don't have to look at the screen, but it's not a recipe for death on two wheels. And if it can pipe music to my helmet on long rides, even better! (ok, that applies to my big gas scooter, the Silverwing, not the electric)

John, I assume Bluetooth audio is supported?

Advertising would be a pain, can you imagine trying to close a pop-up ad just to see your current speed? :)

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Re: New Digital Dashboard

Derby wrote:

I've no problem with sending any info to CMC. My objection was if the info was sent in real time and/or would allow any recipient to know my location -- unless it was my choice to provide said info to said recipient.

I won't want GPS info sent either. I'm assuming John is only collecting information on the status of the bike's systems.

reikiman
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

LeThala wrote:
Derby wrote:

I've no problem with sending any info to CMC. My objection was if the info was sent in real time and/or would allow any recipient to know my location -- unless it was my choice to provide said info to said recipient.

I won't want GPS info sent either. I'm assuming John is only collecting information on the status of the bike's systems.

A devils advocate sort of question :-

Do y'all who wouldn't want John go get his grubby hands on your GPS data also own any logo emblazoned T-Shirts that you were given for free?

How many of you watch free television, that is paid for by advertising?

That is - if the bike were less expensive than others, but had an infotainment system welded into the handlebars that gave some useful features but also had occasional advertisements such as every time you pass by a McDondalds it spews something about getting a milkshake ... would you go for the cheaper bike?

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Derby
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Re: New Digital Dashboard

reikiman wrote:

A devils advocate sort of question :-

Do y'all who wouldn't want John go get his grubby hands on your GPS data also own any logo emblazoned T-Shirts that you were given for free?

How many of you watch free television, that is paid for by advertising?

If, as Lethala suggests, John would only be looking at performance info, not location, I've no problem with him getting it. In fact, I recently asked the techs at CMC if there would be any value in me getting a Sparkfun logger and providing such data as it would provide. So far I've not received a reply. If I found that data included GPS data (other than, perhaps, altitude changes) I would likely not provide it.

Also, I would want to download it to my computer and send it via an attachment to CMC. Only two people need to know where I am or when I'm moving, my wife and myself.

A few years ago I participated in an Earth Day event and was given a T-shirt with the names of some 2 or 3 dozen companies that supported the event. One of those companies is one I choose to not deal with so I almost never wear the shirt. If I could remove that name or block it out without ruining the shirt, I would. Also, getting a FREE T-shirt or cap with a logo is like being paid (the value of the item) to advertise for the company. You can choose when and where to advertise for them or choose to never do it. And I NEVER buy a shirt or cap with a logo other than the manufacturer's.

I removed the dealer's advertising license plate holder from my Camry Hybrid the day I got it home from the dealer. I told the salesperson that if it had any decals advertising their company, they needed to remove them before I picked the car up.

You can't watch TV without advertising. You pay for cable and satellite TV but still get advertising. You pay for magazines and newspapers but still get advertising.

reikiman wrote:

That is - if the bike were less expensive than others, but had an infotainment system welded into the handlebars that gave some useful features but also had occasional advertisements such as every time you pass by a McDondalds it spews something about getting a milkshake ... would you go for the cheaper bike?

First of all, if it had to be hooked to a smart phone to do anything more than provide driving data, I guess I wouldn't care as I have no smart phone. Also, I presume that if I got one it would be my option to connect or not connect. If it was embedded and not removable and could not be turned off, I guess it would depend on how much cheaper -- everybody can be bought and even I have my price -- but it would have to be very significant. The embedded advertising in the bike would be nothing but a distraction.

As previously stated, a bike driver needs to be very attentive of road and traffic conditions.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

__________________

Three vehicles in the household, 2 1/2 are electric.
2011 Current C124, 2011 Think City & 2008 Camry Hybrid.

jdh2550_1
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Joined: 07/17/2007
Points: 2338
Re: New Digital Dashboard

Whew, a lot of stuff here. Let me try and answer it all.

1) TOUCHSCREEN: Mike - that's what I found with a quick search. We'll look at adding adhesive patches as an option (or you could start a Kickstarter or Etsy project ;-) )

2) INFOTAINMENT: Interacting with infotainment on the dash will be limited to when stopped. However, I see no particular issue with a GPS display or a non-visual music player. The rider will be able to choose not to use these features.

3) BLUETOOTH: Yes, Bluetooth audio will be supported (it's not surfaced just yet - but that's just a case of development schedule)

4) ADVERTISING: Currently we have no intent of delivering location based advertising on the dashboard. We may provide location aware advertising via email to the rider's regular account. The rider will be able to opt-out of receiving advertising.

5) DATA-PLAN: The first year of data plan is included in the bike price. We're using a low-cost M2M (machine-to-machine) data plan so an ongoing renewal cost would be low. Riders will not be required to renew, but if they don't they'll loose certain functionality. We may decide to cover the cost of more than one year of the data plan depending on the business benefits of doing so.

6) SWITCHING OFF TRANSMISSION: We weren't envisioning a way of turning it on/off at will. We'll have to think about the case that LeThala mentions - for example I'm not sure what a system like OnStar does in this situation.

7) USING A CUSTOMER CELLPHONE FOR TRANSMISSION: We didn't go this route because that rules out all the usage cases where the rider wants to remotely access their bike (consider an office worker who is sitting at his desk and wants to know how much charge his bike has right now).

8) GPS DATA: This is the big one. See next post...

__________________

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

jdh2550_1
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Points: 2338
Re: New Digital Dashboard

GPS data is a sensitive subject - and rightly so. We respect that the location of an individual is personal and private. We also know that GPS data is of high engineering value to us and it's of high marketing value. So we're looking at a way of balancing all three.

First, let me describe why GPS data is of engineering and/or "functional" interest to us. We don't care about the specific location of RiderX at any particular time. However, we do want to know several things about how all riders use their bikes. How many folks ride on steep grades? How many folks ride on the freeway? How fast do folks ride on regular roads? How often are folks in stop and go traffic? How well is our system performing? Do the GPS data correlate with our other on-board sensors? Those are just off the top of my head. Some of that data we can infer from other sensors but it's more accurate to use the GPS.

Secondly, the marketing value. In an ideal world I'd probably lobby in the company to ignore all marketing benefit and simply sidestep this issue. I don't like intrusive marketing anymore than you do. However, that's just not practical. You've seen the price increases - and believe it or not they make me sad as well as you. Big picture is that we need to look at all revenue streams - and this type of a database has economic value. Now, before you cry foul it's very important to remember that this data is only accessed in an aggregated, anonymous form. We're looking at what we'd personally be happy with - and how to make it non-intrusive. We will never identify an individual. We will never say "Hey, John Harding, I see you regularly visit the bar would you like to come to our AA meeting instead?" We will never say "Yes, Mr. Divorce Lawyer the bike is visiting this address at 2am every Thursday.". Those things just ain't ever going to be allowed. It's not just a matter of ethics it would be professional suicide for us to abuse our position in this way.

So, please remember, our usage of GPS data is anonymous.

The only two times we access the exact location of RiderX are
(A) when he calls us and says "My bike has been stolen! Please can you tell me where it is?" After we confirm his identity we'll happily tell him and local law enforcement as well.
(B) when contacted by a law enforcement agency with a valid (and that means judge-approved) search warrant. Then we'll simply do our duty as law-abiding citizens.

In all other cases we have company policies in place to restrict access. Current Motor staff won't know where you are or where you've been.

In the end it all comes down to trust. I respect that, and I respect you. If you decide the stakes are too high then you can vote with your pocketbook and not purchase (no Test Pilot will be "forced" to provide us data). If enough folks express their reluctance to purchase because of this feature then you can bet we will change it.

__________________

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

PJD
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Joined: 11/22/2006
Points: 1246
Re: New Digital Dashboard

John,

Are you talking hypothetically, or will your new bikes actually collect GPS data?

Couple other points:

1. An old girlfriend who worked for the NSA would always tell me that I should not worry about being spied-on. She would say that there is a strict law against collecting domestic communications intelligence. Well, now we know from whistleblowers that the NSA is now intercepting and storing every e-mail and phone communication I produce.

2. If the FBI comes knocking, demanding your collected data on a person's scooter's whereabouts, even without proper paper from a judge, you will be required to hand the data over. The Forth Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights) has been pretty much "rendered quaint" to quote torture-defending lawyer John Yoo. And, you are aware that the FBI routinely gathers data on perfectly peaceful political activity - including organizations I've been or am involved with (and ridden my scooter to) don't you?

3. The First and Forth Amendments, for all practical purposes (if you want to eat and have a roof over your head), does not cover the activities of a private enterprise at all. They can simply make probing into your personal life a condition of employment on the one hand or allowing the purchase of an needed good on the other, and you can't do anything about it. Witness the increasing trend (along with the near universal US practice - outlawed elsewhere - of peeing-in-a-jar) toward employers making access to one's facebook account a condition for employment. A political opinion, privately expressed, that the boss does not agree with? No job. And this information can be shared for the purpose of making black-lists - it's all perfectly legal.

So, pardon me if I find such data collection rather disturbing - and i fine it more disturbing that others aren't disturbed as well.

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