Our pals over at Make posted this article about Will O'Brien, and how he took an old iPhone, an Arduino, and a handful of electronic crap and made a remote starter for his Subaru Outback that lets him start his car with a text message. The link to his site gives a full schematic of how it was done, and he's made the software source code available to whomever wants it as well.
This is exactly the kind of thing I love to see, as it's a great reminder of what an incredible age we're living in, car tinkering-wise. Just look at Will here, for example: he had, laying around, an unused, pocket-sized, battery-powered computer that can communicate wirelessly with no trouble at all. A huge number of us have exactly the same thing, forgotten previous iPhone or Android phone models, languishing in drawers. We take for granted how powerful these little machines really are, and how car experimenters a decade or so ago would have happily parted with kidneys for something like them.
The Arduino's an amazing thing, too — for those not in the know, an Arduino is, essentially, a great, customizable interface between electronics and the real world. Starting one's car with a text message is a great example of what's possible.
Now, I'm not exactly sure how useful it really is, but who cares? Any remote starting application is really more about fun or scaring the piss out of people than anything else, so a start via SMS seems like a fine advancement of the art to me. Good job, Will.