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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just a random idea but would it be possible to make a cobb app for iOS/android to reflash cars? Many people already own phones and there are quite a few apps that integrate OBD2 cables for info/logging so it should be possible right? I'm sure phones have enough processing power to do flashing/logging. It would take some investment to code for a new OS and apple's fees and whatnot, but then you'd eliminate the hardware cost of having to manufacture/ship/store the actual AP. Making/selling a cable seems to me like it would be cheaper than making the actual accessport. I've even seen bluetooth OBD interfaces so you could make the whole process wireless if you wanted.The app could be licensed and married to an ecu with a single use key input into the app to prevent piracy/sharing. It could also be universal so If someone has an STI and a GTR they'd just need a code for each car and be able to use the same device on both. New features (005 ->006) could be sold as in app updates. Any new map options/software revisions can be pushed via the app store so everyone can always have the most up to date versions. Pro tuners could be listed in a directory and logs could be sent directly from the device to the tuners email via wifi. Maps/tunes would be synced in itunes so even if a user breaks their ipad/iphone they can just reload it onto their new phone/ipad/etc.
 

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Very practical to do all that, but flashing needs special care due to bandwidth, reliability, power source, latency, multitasking, interrupts (phone call in the middle, disconnections), security, piracy. Most existing OBD interfaces are too generic/slow to be used for flashing, with a few exceptions that end up costing as much as AP hardware.
 

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Yeah, bluetooth idea is good but if connection was cutoff in the middle of changing maps, or if your phone battery dies, you risk having our car not being able to start and will have to buy a new ecu...
having the AP is safer and more dependable...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Very practical to do all that, but flashing needs special care due to bandwidth, reliability, power source, latency, multitasking, interrupts (phone call in the middle, disconnections), security, piracy. Most existing OBD interfaces are too generic/slow to be used for flashing, with a few exceptions that end up costing as much as AP hardware.
Most phones can multitask very easily programs can still operate in the background while calls are ongoing, but if it might be an issue have it not flash unless the phone/ipad/whatever is in airplane mode. Dock connectors have plenty of bandwith, a bad phone upgrade could brick your phone I've never had that happen because of a bad cable, I don't think flashing an ECU would be any more resource intensive than upgrading your phones OS. As for piracy the program would still marry your ecu and would require a code or in app purchase to do so, a billion people could pirate the app but without the ability to use any of the functions without the code its useless to them.
 

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It would take a while to breakdown all the details behind what I summarised, but I wouldn't trust a cell phone running iOS or Android to flash my ECU based on my experience of using up to date versions of these devices and experiencing their latency and bugs. They are not mission critical, much like a PC running Windows. There are far too many things to interfere compared to even a modest microcontroller running no "operating system" but just running tried and tested code in tight loops. Upgrading your phone OS is something that is envisaged by the manufacturer to do in the field, by the end user. Flashing your ECU is not and needs more care (you can't hold a functional version of the old flash and new flash at the same time but a device is needed that responds to a protocol in real time to stream data without latency which could make it fail), only designed to be done on the manufacturing line and by an accredited technician with a known locked down device (Consult). The GTR ECU has a recovery mode for a failed flash, but it is not completely fool proof, and the last thing I want is a multitasking device missing the ECU's required response time for the next block because a Facebook widget is busy, less still receiving a call. The EMI from a cell phone is enough to interfere with ECU flashing, even without a call.

Having spent a few days recovering GTR ECUs, and having seen about 15 other ECUs fail during flashing, I'm more for locked down. There is a big difference between a powerful multimedia phone doing lots of things and a mission critical flash protocol that if it fails will need recovery and have a reasonable chance of an immobilised vehicle. ECUs require different thinking. Latency and response time are all, you have to have that spark and fuel sequencing ready, interrupt driven with accurate hardware timers. A bit of realtime editing of RAM with a failsafe is a different kettle of fish. Datalogging or adjustments similarly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Alright well you seem way more knowledgeable than I am, I just thought it would be neat if it was doable, I wasn't sure of all the technical specifics. Thanks for the explanations!
 
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