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Old 06-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #1
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Ironlight Element Nexus 7 In-Dash Installation Kit - FAQ and Discussion

What is the Ironlight Element?

The Ironlight Element kit includes everything you need to integrate your 2nd generation Nexus 7 tablet into your E46 dashboard - dashboard fascia with mechanical power button, wiring harness, amplifier, matte screen film, and a detailed configuration manual. With our touch gesture configuration, simply swipe or tap your finger to launch the apps you need, right when you need them. Keep your eyes on the road. Forget about navigating visual menus or grasping for dedicated hardware buttons - you're driving! You need a simple interface that you don't even need to look at. That's what touch gestures offer. Our instruction manual will show you our favorite gestures. From there you can further customize the interface to do exactly what you need.

We don't just think that the user experience with an integrated tablet is better than any head unit currently on the market for the E46, we think it's the best user experience available for any car. We set out to create the best solution on the market, period.
  • Touch-Based Gesture Control - keep your eyes on the road
  • The latest Android OS - with updates directly from Google
  • The newest apps on the Android market
  • The latest Android voice command compatibility (optional microphone required)
  • Instant-on availability - don't wait for boot up
  • 2nd Generation Nexus 7 hardware - high quality, reliable touch screen, CPU, RAM, and storage
  • Streaming music
  • Online and offline nav capability
  • Realtime traffic
  • In-dash phone call controls with synchronized contacts
  • Incoming calls displayed with contact photos through Tablet Talk
  • Endless customization options with Tasker Automation
  • Torque compatibility - with the built-in accelerometer, see how many g's you pulled
  • Launcher customization
  • Front-facing power button - easily turn the tablet on and off
  • OS Security lock features - don't leave your Google account available to the valet
  • Offline content - automatically download podcasts or broadcasts for offline listening

The Element is patent pending in the United States.

Check out our website, videos, or FAQ and discussion in this thread. Post your questions, I'll be happy to answer them.
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #2
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Frequently Asked Questions

Won't having a tablet be distracting?

We find that it is actually less distracting than a conventional radio. Touch gestures are a fantastic method of control in the car. The screen is a big target - with touch gestures, you don't need to take your eyes off of the road to see what you're touching. When you're trying to press a physical button on a conventional car radio, you generally look.

Navigation through voice commands is a thing of beauty. We don't know of another navigation option that allows you to focus on the road to the way the Ironlight Element does.

Why can't I use the tablet I already have?

We investigated the various tablets that fit the E46 opening. The first generation Nexus 7 and early Galaxy Tabs don't fit. The Tab 3 will fit, but it is not as well put together as the Nexus 7. The 2nd Generation Nexus 7 is currently the best available tablet that fits the E46 to our standards.

How do I incorporate my iPod?

We've found that it's more convenient to tell the tablet to synchronize changes in music playlists through cloud-based services like Google Music, than to try to keep a portable mp3 player in sync. You don't need a constant internet connection to accomplish this. Just tell a service like Google Music to keep local copies of your playlists on the tablet, and it will automatically sync them when it has internet. Changes that you make on your computer at work or at home can automatically update on the car.

Do I need a volume knob?

Volume control was something we focused on a great deal when we began to develop the Element. Throughout development as we gained experience operating an in-dash tablet, we found volume control becoming less and less critical. We found that we consistently relegated it to secondary importance in the interface.

Think about what you use volume control for on your current stereo. Turning down loud radio advertisements, adjusting in-call volume, turning down volume during a song you don't like, alternating between loud and soft songs...

Generally you don't need to do those things with a tablet. Streaming music is well balanced for volume. How many times do you adjust the volume while listening to Pandora on your computer? FM radio stations blast advertisements at high volume, but with a streaming service like Pandora or Google Music, you don't need to listen to commercials. And with the flexibility you'll have to access extensive playlists at your fingertips, you'll find yourself listening to playlists built with similarly loud or soft music for extended periods. You still want to make sure volume control is easy through a large on-screen widget or something similar, for the occasions where you do need it.

Moreover, with a tablet, the configuration options are endless. With an automation program like Tasker, you can invent volume profiles for individual playlists, times of day, or even particular vehicle routes. Volume control, automated.

Do I need steering wheel controls?

We thought you did at first, and we tested the Element with them. Over time we decided that it was not worth the sacrifice in simplicity. In certain configurations, you can use the Element with steering wheel volume controls, but you'll end up with two independent volumes. We found it more trouble than it's worth.

Should I buy this if I live in Arizona?

In short, yes.

It's true that extreme heat can be hard on your tablet's battery, but if you're diligent during the summer and take steps to preserve your E46's interior, you should be fine. On hot days, crack your windows or sunroof when you park your car. Use a sun shade, and install window tinting. Power down the tablet if you're anticipating leaving the car in the hot sun for an extended period.

Wouldn't it be better if i could remove the tablet?

Probably not.

For one, the ability to remove the tablet makes it easier to steal. However, the most important reason is that you want your tablet configured for use in the car. You'll have touch gesture controls, homescreen layouts, Tasker profiles, apps, and shortcuts all centered around making sure that your in-car experience is the best that it can be. In general, none of these are consistent with how you would configure your tablet for in-hand use.

Will this compromise my data security?

We always recommend incorporating a pin lock system on the tablet. In this way, your information may be even better protected than most stereos - which probably leave at least phone numbers and addresses accessible to valets and mechanics. With one press of the Element's front-facing button, your tablet screen is locked. If you've given someone the key to your car and they turn it on, the tablet starts out locked. That's how it should be - Android contains a lot of important information that you want at your fingertips and not at someone else's

Can I use a rear view camera?

Yes, there are rear view cameras designed to work with Android. There are many ways one might wish to configure a rear view camera.

What does the Element come with and what else do I need?

To use the Element you'll need the following:
  • A second generation Nexus 7 tablet with charging cable
  • An E46
  • A compatible wiring harness plug (see our installation page for more information)

Here's what the Element includes:
  • Extensive instruction manual
  • Amplifier
  • Wiring harness
  • Tablet housing with power button
  • Matt screen film

To use the Element to it's fullest extent, you'll probably want the following:
  • Fantastic non-free apps like Tasker, Torque, Tablet Talk, other apps that probably start with T.
  • An internet connection - either tethered from your phone or through a mobile network enabled Nexus 7.
  • An external microphone (the Element comes ready to accept one through an RCA plug)
  • A backup camera

Last edited by daniel@ironlight.us; 06-12-2014 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #3
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Video Demonstrations

How long does the tablet take to wake up when I start the car?

How does navigation work while listening to music?

Note the use of gestures and voice control in this second video:
- Voice activation to initiate navigation
- Double Tap for play/pause
- Swipe Up to return to navigation
- Two fingers up to go to previous track
- Two fingers down to go to next track

Last edited by daniel@ironlight.us; 06-12-2014 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #4
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Old 06-12-2014, 04:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dbills View Post
Have you figured out anyway to run a backup camera with your setup? Very interested in this down the road.

There are quite a few options for running a backup camera. The most straightforward route would be if the camera connected over bluetooth.

If you have a bluetooth backup camera. When you put the car in reverse, the camera turns on and connects to the tablet via bluetooth. Tasker can then launch a camera app automatically and display the camera feed. When the camera disconnects, tasker can be set to stop the camera app.

If you choose a wifi camera that doesn't spawn its own wifi network you can have the camera automatically find a wifi hotspot created by your phone (or the tablet if it has its own wireless plan). Once the camera connects, you'll need to trigger the wifi camera app, and that's a bit trickier. Here are methods I can think of:

- Tap a shortcut or perform a gesture to start the camera app when you put the car in reverse (low tech).
- Launch the app with a voice command "OK Google, start backup cam"
- Tie another bluetooth device to the power connection for the camera so that a bluetooth connection is made when the car is put in reverse. Have Tasker start the camera app when that device is present.
- Create a circuit that interrupts the phono cable when the car is in reverse (powered switch tied to backup lights). Have Tasker launch the camera app on headphone disconnect, close on headphone connect.
- Power a USB device connected to the USB cable in the glove box when the car is in reverse. Have Tasker open/close the camera app when the USB device connects/disconnects.
- Tie the USB data cables to a switch that connects or disconnects the USB cables when power is applied from the backup lights. Trigger the camera app based on whether the tablet has "AC" or "USB" power.

Unfortunately none of these are super straightforward. Adding the ability to directly detect when a device like a camera connects to the phone or tablet's wifi network is listed on the Tasker developer's to-do list.

If you have a wifi camera that does automatically spawn its own network, you can have tasker detect that the network is nearby, switch to it, and launch the camera app.

There is yet another option. There is/was a device that would convert RCA camera to a wifi camera. It acts as an IP video server (it was expensive, I don't know if it still exists for sale) and would basically host the an RCA video camera over wifi. This would be like the wifi camera option but would, in theory, allow you to use just about any RCA backup camera.

A bluetooth backup camera that works with android is currently the easiest and most automatable solution. How you set it up depends heavily on the type of camera you choose.

Last edited by daniel@ironlight.us; 06-23-2014 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:08 AM   #6
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There are still exciting developments coming out of Google on a regular basis that dramatically affect what you can do with an in-dash tablet. I expect this area to continue to heat up as we go forward. "Ok Google" is available now even when an app is in the foreground, and voice control commands are expanding as Google gears up for its OEM in-car software.


Meanwhile, mainstay apps like Google Maps continue to get fantastic upgrades for navigation with their latest OS versions. Google is spending a lot of resources to develop these technologies.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:27 AM   #7
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Google's voice commands are now programmable with the help of Commandr


Anything tasker can do can be linked to a voice command of your choosing (without needing to root the tablet).
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:00 AM   #8
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More good news for tablet integration! Google is adding voice commands to navigation. They'll continue to aggressively improve their navigation software as they push for their own proprietary in-car system. Now is a great time to be receiving all of the latest OS and App updates from Google in your vehicle navigation system.

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