Creating the Dashboard Part I: Concept

This is part one of my series of posts describing the Nokia N900 Contest I entered in the spring of 2010.

Way back in September I heard about the Nokia PUSH N900 global competition. I had been drooling over pictures and all the info I could find about the phone and thought, “Finally! This is my chance to get one!” I started brainstorming ideas.

I had recently built a fixie bike from a frame I found on craigslist (It’s awesome – green Japanese roadbike with some sort of Phoenix on one of the tubes), and various parts I bought from local bike shops. I really loved riding my bike everywhere I could! My wife Sarah and I would bike to the farmer’s market, out to eat, etc. I decided it would be awesome to have a kind of dashboard for my bike with info about the ride.

The way I approached this was to think of everything that I wanted in a dashboard, and then figure out what I thought was actually feasible. First, I knew I wanted some data. Speed and distance were a must; Cadence would be cool, but as a casual bike rider, not critical. I wanted a map showing the route we took. I wanted to have lights that I could control from the phone, a horn to honk back at cars that cut us off. I wanted to integrate the camera to quickly take pictures and maybe even have a video of the ride.

I started to sketch everything up in my Maker Notebook. I love this thing – graph paper is by far my favorite of the lined varieties and this has a great grid layout. Here’s my first design:

First design in notebook

I’m not the best artist, I know, but the idea was sound. I then had to create a mockup to send to the judges. Here’s how that turned out:
Mockup of Dashboard

I didn’t hear back from Nokia about that first competition, but at the begining of this year, Nokia announced that they would hold a second competition for the US. I immediately submitted my application again, and this time I was chosen!

This post has all the info on us at the competition and has links to the videos and articles written about it. You can see in the following photo that the final version turned out pretty similar to the mockup. note: the camera was not on for this shot, but it did work :)

Dashboard Final UI

I’m going to be writing up my experience here and I’ll be diving into the more technical aspects of everything I learned/did. Next up in the series: Planning

2 thoughts on “Creating the Dashboard Part I: Concept

  1. Nice work! I like the clean layout of the display. How about a rear-view camera?

  2. Hi – Wow I need a speedometer like this to run under Windows using the sound card (or Bluetooth) input. Do you have any experience with it?

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