Introducing the automobile that will out-tweet you and defeat you in Foursquare

by Knowlton Thomas

We often baby our cars, personifying them with nicknames or talking about them as though they were a person.

But what if your vehicle determined its own mood - and then tweeted about it?

Introducing AJ, a 2011 Ford Fiesta. The automobile is a test bed for Ford's engineers, who are exploring the boundaries of possibilities when it comes to vehicles connected to the internet.

AJ enjoys tweeting, with a typical entry being, “It’s getting pretty dark; time to put the headlights on." And if there's no traffic, no rain, and a fun-to-follow winding road, AJ will let the world know it's feeling "joyful."

ford fiesta

Software embedded into AJ taps into a wide spectrum of data within the car, according to an article in the New York Times: it tracks and analyzes GPS, speed, braking and acceleration, as well as steering input and windshield wiper activity - and correlating it all with live web data.

In theory, then, AJ’s software could combine, for example, real-time traffic notices (via the web) about congestion with its current physical situation (stop-and-go driving) and also weather forecasts (via web again), and then tweet: “Stuck in traffic; not looking forward to next 50 miles either.”

AJ isn't limited only to the little blue bird, though. The car has also been integrated with Foursquare, the renowned location-based app. all it unfair, but AJ can automatically check the driver in at restaurants and tourist spots along its driving route (not to mention send pictures with a built-in camera).

You may be saying at this point, "Okay, this is all very well and cool, but what's the point?"

Well, admittedly it's mostly for fun - an experiment to test what cars can do with internet connections. It also signals the future of automobiles, which will increasingly feature Wi-Fi capabilities and computer operating systems (AJ runs a Dell comp with Windows 7 in the trunk; theoretically most any car could become a social media app-fiend).

How would you feel if your car had more followers on Twitter than you?

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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