You're not going to find it in the next car you drive off the lot, but a Ford engineer has developed a fairly novel approach to making a manual transmission a bit easier to adjust to: a vibrating shifter knob. As he explains in the video after the break, Zach Nelson first turned to an Xbox 360 controller for the necessary vibrating mechanism, which he then stuffed into a 3D-printed knob along with an Arduino controller and an LED display.
When fully assembled, the knob is able to communicate with the vehicle's on-board diagnostic system using Ford's open source OpenXC software platform, and vibrate to let you know when you need to shift gears. As Wired notes, the knob can even be used by more experienced drivers to pinpoint exactly when to shift to get either the most performance or the best fuel economy. We also expect a booming business in custom shifter designs to start any minute now.