Case study:

Mississippi State University builds EcoCAR 2 UI with Storyboard.


Category: Case study
Vertical: Automotive
Est. read time: 3 min

Mississippi State University EcoCAR 2

The client:

Tasked with the challenge to design and develop a stunning, media-rich user interface for the center stack of a Chevy Malibu for the EcoCAR 2 Competition, Mississippi State University turns to Crank Software for its embedded user interface tools and expertise.

“Storyboard was so quick to learn how to use. The first time we used it, we were able to import a Photoshop PSD file into Storyboard, create buttons, and deploy the application to a board. Everything worked on the first try. When we had questions, Crank's support was amazing. Everyone responded immediately to our questions. Couldn’t beat the support we received.”
Hagan Walker

MSU EcoCAR 2 Electrical Team Lead

The challenge:

Custom HMI Crank Storyboard

Take a car and make it friendlier to the environment, but retain the safety, performance and styling levels that customers have come to expect. This was the mission of MSU students privileged to participate in the EcoCAR 2 challenge, a three-year collegiate engineering competition that provides university students hands-on experience with re-engineering a car to improve it’s environmental impact.

As part of the redesign, the MSU team was also tasked with modernizing the center stack with a new infotainment system. In-car human machine interfaces (HMIs) have become increasingly prevalent in modern vehicles, and designing and developing them are made easier with intelligent and intuitive software tools and hardware. The students were given a Freescale and the necessary electronics and screen to develop and deploy a media-rich infotainment system.


The solution:

Use Crank Storyboard Suite to design the user interface

Mississippi State University (MSU) had chosen Linux as the operating system for their center stack. While they were exploring UI options, their research led them to try Crank Storyboard as their UI framework due to the ease-of-use of the tools, ability to import artwork from Photoshop, and elegance in deployment to multiple targets. They downloaded the 30 day trial version of Storyboard and enlisted the help of fifteen students to participate in the evaluation. They wanted to put it through some stringent tests to ensure it would meet their requirements for working with media, navigation, and system status information. After only three days of testing, the MSU engineering team was so confident in Storyboard's capabilities and features that they chose it to be the tool to help them realize their design vision for the center stack.


The EcoCAR 2 team, a UI of the product's HMI touch screen, and a view of the touch screen from the inside of the car


The payoff

The award-winning results

MSU used a vehicle platform prototyping board from Freescale running Yocto Linux. Using Crank Storyboard, they built a technologically advanced center stack, which now artfully displays GPS, air control, radio, MP3, and major systems’ status on an impressive 13-inch touch screen. Communication between the infotainment system and the car allows users to interact with a 3D animation of the car on the screen to get diagnostic information and control vehicle systems. For example, tapping a window on the car animation rolls down the corresponding window of the car.

As a result of all their hard work and collaboration, MSU won the Freescale Innovation Award in the EcoCAR 2 competition for delivering an impressive center stack modification, the fit and finish of the GUI, and the integrated mobile applications.

This exciting project showcases how an innovative and talented design team armed with Crank Storyboard is an award-winning combination.

Where do you start?

How much is ineffective UI design and development costing you? Join thousands of developers and designers using Crank to create rich, UI applications for multi-market embedded devices.