Skoda launched a campaign site today to promote their new Octavia model. For the next two weeks, everyday a brand new and slightly customized 'Octavia RC' (Remote Control) is parked in a street somewhere in the Netherlands. Installed in the car are two camera's that are connected to laptops. Using a media server makes it possible to send live(!) video that is being shown on the website.
As a visitor of the website you can remotely manipulate several features of the car, like turning on and off the lights, honking the horn and making the wiper blades sweep. Furthermore, you can start promotional audio jingles that are being played by a seperate set of speakers, built in behind the front bumper.
My role in this project was getting the data out of the laptop that receives the visitor's input and sending it to the outputs of an interface board, made by Phidgets (the InterfaceKit 8/8/8). The interface kit is attached to the car's electronic circuit, and voila, you can make the car do things from behind your computer at home.
Rotating a little servomotor pulls the wiper blades handle up and down. This motor is also driven by a Phidgets device, the Servo 4-Motor Controller.
I used Phidget's Actionscript 3.0 API, which enabled me to easily communicate with the Red5 server that takes care of sending the visitor's input to one of the laptops in the car.
The campaign has ended, but to see some short video's visit the Skoda Octavia site and go to Octavia RC.