Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CarHacker: Defeating the Curved Interior of a Prius to Mount a Nexus7

I'm a white middle-class male working in the tech industry in the Silicon Valley, so it should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that I drive a Prius.

As I told Ian during our podcast player App Clinic, the only thing missing from the stock version of this modern marvel of hybrid engineering technology is a convenient place to mount my Nexus 7.

The Prius interior is a combination of smooth lines and continuous curves that offer seemingly few surfaces flat enough to accomodate 7 inches of Android tablet awesomeness. Until today.

With all my music in the cloud and a full-blown addiction to the unrivaled Google Maps (and by extension Google Navigation), I elected to purchase a model without the fancier radio package or built-in GPS receiver.

The music I own is in Google Music, and what I don't own I listen to using Pandora or Spotify. If I want to listen to the radio, I use TuneIn.

As a result, my car stereo - which takes up a significant portion of the dash - is nothing more than an elaborate routing mechanism to get the audio from my Android devices directed out of the car's speakers. It also represents one of the few flat surfaces available within a vehicle seemingly designed to contain absolutely no straight sides.

When is a Tablet Stand Not a Tablet Stand? When It's a Mount.

I've been using this handy little tablet stand since I got my Xoom, and everything since - from 7 and 10 inch Galaxy Tabs to my new Nexus 7.

It has both long and a short third legs to allow for propping your tablet at either 10 or 80 degrees.

It turns out that my Prius has a legacy mounting slot at the top of the in-car stereo panel (Edit: turns out this is for playing "compact discs") into which the shorter leg fits very snuggly.

The application of a couple of 3M backing tabs from some wall hooks is used to hold it firmly in place laterally and a 3M cable tie hook keeps the power and audio cables neatly tucked away.

The pincers of the stand are collapsable, so I can bring them as close together as I need in order to use the same mount to hold a phone, 7" or 10" tablets each in portrait or landscape orientations. The whole thing leans backwards slightly, and that - plus the "tacky" pads on the stand - help to keep everything in place when driving.

It would be better if I could figure out a way to use the Nexus 7 pogo pins for charging, and maybe come up with some kind of bluetooth solution for audio, but for now I'm pretty happy!



  1. That's pretty neat, but how do you stream music when the Nexus 7 is WiFi only?

    1. I should have said -- I tether it to my Galaxy Nexus :)

    2. Are you crazy? That mount/stand is $6.60! Outrageous.


      Sources are telling me that is quite reasonable. Carry on.

  2. Awesome. I have a 2012 Pruis with integrated bluetooth. Now I know what I will be doing this weekend!!

  3. Anonymous8:12 pm BST

    Neat but what are the chances of bumping into a police officer who will accuse you of committing a criminal offense because the Nexus 7 is capable of playing movies and you've positioned it to be viewable by the driver. Perhaps the next challenge is to cripple the Nexus 7. :p

    1. :) You'd have the same problem when using *any* smartphone or tablet as a GPS unit.

    2. One of the few advantages of not living in California. :)

  4. Anonymous10:18 pm BST

    Very nice - but how much data do you use per month? Without unlimited data, this would get expensive fast, no? Listening to NPR on FM would be free. I am basically doing the same with my Galaxy Nexus, minus streaming and navigation.

    1. Possibly, but I'm on an effectively unlimited data plan so I don't even think about it. I _could_ listen to NPR on the radio - or (apparently) listen to CD's - but I have everything I want accessible on my phone and tablet so I'd rather use those.

      It's frustrating that variable data cost is a factor for so many people. Hopefully that'll improve over time.

      FWIW Google Music lets you "pin" music for offline access, Google Maps / Navigation lets you save offline maps, and many other apps (like podcast players) offer similar functionality -- so you can actually use most of the functionality without connecting to the Internet using mobile data.

  5. I am amazed to know that your car music - which takes up a good part of the sprint - is nothing more than an intricate redirecting procedure to get the audio from your Android operating system gadgets instructed out of the vehicle's sound system.I don't believe about this opportunities.

  6. This and a Bluetooth backup camera and an inexpensive app will complete the package. I so hope to buy a Prius II today! I already have the Nexus 7.