The automotive industry recognizes that most people are both connected and mobile and do not
want to sacrifice connectivity when they get into their cars. Automotive manufacturers can take ad-
vantage of Web technologies and the vast possibilities offered by Web innovations to meet consumer
needs and the technical challenges posed by meeting these needs.
Ultimately the consumer demands a user-friendly and safe way to meet his/her mobile connectivity
needs while on the road. Auto manufacturers face the challenge of harnessing the potential of the
Web and determining what drivers most need and want while also deciding what the driving experi-
ence should include (advanced safety features, infotainment, or connected, real-time diagnostics that
benefit the driver but are not necessarily end-user selling points).
Now, thanks in part to Opera Software’s cross-platform, cross-device flexibility, the Opera browser is
bringing the full Web and all of its possibilities to in-vehicle computer systems. Selected by the Ford
Motor Company to be the default browser in its broadband-capable, in-dash computers system
(within the Ford Work Solutions technology package for Ford trucks and vans), Opera demonstrated
its ability to meet Ford’s need for an on-board, full-featured browser and opened the door to being
integrated and deployed in other in-vehicle systems as a browser or as a presentation layer/user-
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Web technology and the in-vehicle experience
Web technology can interact with the driving experience on two levels. The first level enables and streamlines the existing features and
functions of a car. The aim is to organize these features in a way similar to or compatible with the Web or new information technologies,
i.e. instead of pressing a button on the dashboard to make something happen (and creating a new button for every new function),
there will be a screen, a browser and a menu structure. Web technology can help automakers develop a better, more useful HMI and
above all create an HMI most people find familiar, i.e. almost everyone can use a Web browser.
The second level of interactivity is the way in which the Web can practically add features that could not exist without it, which thus
enhance the driving experience or “life on board”. What do drivers need and what can carmakers feasibly implement taking reliability,
safety and security features into consideration?
Many people use multiple mobile devices and demand the ability to synchronize, save and enrich this collection of data across
devices. This continues to hold true, and adds convenience to the lives of device users, when a user gets behind the wheel of a
vehicle. In addition to being able to sync data and information, these user-drivers want immediate, up-to-date information about traffic,
weather, news, email communications, GPS/navigational functions and perhaps other more advanced processes like interacting with
appliances in their home. Fundamentally the kinds of information user-drivers seek is either general (weather or sports scores, etc.)
or customized/personalized (specific to the individual user or location specific, pertaining to where s/he is going – directions, places
of interest, etc.). Drivers will want these features to function seamlessly, without delays or software crashes, simulating at-home Web
connectivity and offering different multimedia options for drivers and passengers while on the road.
In-vehicle Web technology is also being leveraged to provide “professional mobility” both for individuals and more importantly for small
and large businesses alike. The addition of an integrated, in-car computer will give users remote access to their offices or work-related
information (i.e. invoices, inventories, documents). Companies can use Web technology within their automotive fleets to monitor driving
habits, track vehicles, monitor maintenance, dispatch and much more.
Challenges to creation and implementation
Auto manufacturers are challenged by finding a balance between implementing feasible features and taking into account safety,
usability and integration issues while creating a safe and easy-to-use HMI. Automakers aim to remain cutting edge and competitive
by augmenting their offerings with more complex and numerous features and functions, thus the human machine interface (HMI)
is becoming more and more critical. It is impossible and unsafe in an automobile to add features that create a complicated array
of controls and interfaces. Adding 20 new features could involve putting 20 new buttons on the dashboard, or trying to consoli-
date those features into five new buttons. Preferably, the entire organization of the HMI could be altered to create just one central
command – a screen, a menu and some kind of interactive UI and voice or device-activated controls. Taking advantage of Web-
browser/presentation-engine technology is one way to streamline this.
While general impediments to feasibility exist in several forms (e.g. overcoming geographical coverage of wireless broadband prob-
lems, or the potential for sudden regulatory change against the use of multimedia devices while driving), one issue is pervasive in
the development of software for use in these multimedia systems. In the automotive industry, development time and specifications
are considerably longer and more rigorous than in the software or electronics industries. All in-vehicle software and devices are
subjected to extensive, stringent testing, made to endure very hard material conditions. In a car, where safety is the paramount con-
sideration, a driver cannot afford for any software to crash, require a reboot or need extra response time. Bugs of this type cannot
be part of a car, e.g. the driver cannot be required to provide or confirm information when the operating system determines what
action to take following an accident. Safety needs dramatically impact the design of the UI in a vehicle , far beyond simply disabling
some features and functions, such as Web browsing for the driver while the vehicle is moving. The considerations of quality and
reliability are held to a much higher standard within the auto industry as well, and proven solutions that can help carmakers weigh
safety considerations with customer satisfaction are needed.
In the automotive sector, having a no-tolerance-for-error mentality, integration and seamless interoperability are of the greatest
importance. As more features are added, this need for full integration of systems and functions becomes critical. The traditional au-
tomotive commands (climate control, radio, safety warnings, navigation) will have to blend into the new devices in order to simplify
the driver’s options. The more complex the set of controls, the more difficult and dangerous it is to operate the car; it is both logisti-
cally and aesthetically unpleasant to have multiple sets of controls in the same car. Additionally, serious consideration is required
in selecting an automotive-grade system that performs well with regard to system start-up time, application launch time and error
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handling within an integrated, in-vehicle, Web-enabled computer. Having open, customizable technology available enables simpler
interconnectivity solutions, eliminates the need for organizing a tangle of incompatible software programs and allows for early har-
monization of the platform, technical specifications and design.
To meet the varied demands, the obvious answer of putting a PC in the car and some type of broadband wireless connection with a
standard Web browser is too simple. Using a traditional PC while driving is not safe without specific modification for in-car usability
and safety; the full PC experience is not necessarily the aim. The driver needs the convenience of keeping his/her constant con-
nection to the world open while in the car (which could be a significant part of each day), but the experience will not be exactly the
same as at home or in the office because the road is a hostile and dangerous environment. While the experience can create an ap-
proximation of the full home or office Web experience and should be comfortable and useful for the driver, a driver may not actually
need the full array of functions s/he has when not on-the-go; the priorities of the mobile Web user, in fact, might be quite different.
This constitutes another challenge – determining what is needed, what can be implemented and the opportunity costs in making
these choices. Taking into consideration that (as of December 2008) a vehicle in the United States is typically owned and driven for
about a decade, the technology employed must be easily upgradable (changes in technology happen with much more rapid turno-
ver than people replace their cars; some variation exists in terms of the replacement of light trucks and general trucks, which are
often part of work fleets and likely to be replaced more often1). Indeed a challenge for the industry will be in convincing individuals
and companies of the advantages of investing in a vehicle that includes an integrated computer system. A user-driver can certainly
connect multiple standalone devices to his/her car, but a full, embedded and integrated solution would enable this user-driver to
leverage a whole host of advantages from access to full Web technology. Imagine, for example, car telemetry and more advanced
GPS functions. Integrated Web services from a car will not only create a demand for new services but will by necessity require the
interconnectivity of the automobile, the in-vehicle computer and the Web. One near-future possibility that illustrates how valuable
this can be includes the intelligent roadside-assistance concept—the interconnectivity described will allow a vehicle to be located
and diagnosed remotely.
Some of these decisions can be simplified and the mobile/in-car Web experience enhanced with the right technology backing the
functions (the UI and architecture of the system infrastructure being key along with wireless connectivity issues/availability). Flexible
solutions, such as an open platform to build on, make this possible.
The competitive offer
Enhancing the behind-the-wheel experience
The “connected vehicle” concept and all it offers is one more way for carmakers to compete for scarcer auto buyers and to differ-
entiate their offering in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Broadly speaking, two categories of Internet-based features predominate: those that are purely entertainment-related and those
that serve actual driving and navigation (and to some extent time management). These categories can be expanded upon and
enriched but will ultimately be the core functions that require the most intensive and immediate development and flexibility. Ad-
ditionally, different categories of user-driver exist, i.e. the driver who seeks a more infotainment experience (essentially something
very different from the PC experience and very specific to the media/device being employed) and the driver (or company) who uses
the vehicle extensively for work purposes and seeks a kind of mobile workplace (more PC-like in nature). (In a vehicle, as with any
device, it should be emphasized that the user experience will not necessarily mimic the same experience or use as a traditional
“browsing” experience, nor should it be expected to.) The landscape of mobile and in-car Web technology changes rapidly; the
architecture of its software will by necessity be open, flexible and adaptable for new developments, updates and build-ons.
Typically, as a start, a driver may want to:
• access his/her email (through TTS (text-to-speech) for an audible reading of messages and through voice recognition to dictate
• access typical Web information such as news, sports results, information about weather, events, stock exchange (again
through voice command and feedback)
• access information related to navigation and driving, e.g. route planning or directions enhanced with vocal commands (VDE =
voice destination entry, i.e. a single phrase stated, “I want to go to Lake Washington Boulevard in Kirkland, Washington”)
and be able to stop by an Indian restaurant after having retrieved its opening hours and having asked the system to dial its
phone number and make a reservation. (On the navigation/driving level, the POI (points of interest) will obviously be better
online than in onboard media such as a DVD because it will allow for constant, real-time updates)
http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_25.html, accessed 13 May 2009
4 | Web on wheels white paper Opera Turbo Whitepaper | 4
• be entertained with Web radio (competitors to satellite radio, etc.) and perhaps even be able to buy music that was just aired (if
an electronic payment method is available/set up)
• have emergency notifications enabled (in the event of an accident, the authorities or other individuals will automatically be notified)
• potentially have two-way interaction, e.g. automatic performance/mechanical diagnostics could be performed on a car, and the
car could send its information to the Web and on to a car dealership or service garage
The same kinds of use cases apply for companies or self-employed individuals who require mobile access to business features (or
whose productivity will benefit from this increased mobility and ease of access).
For companies and the self-employed, a connected vehicle can, in addition to the aforementioned functionality, provide:
• in-vehicle, built-in virtual work environment (a true mobile office) without concern for resource loss (for example, laptops brought
to job sites being damaged/lost/stolen)
• remote access to essential information and applications, such as sales information, contact databases, job-site plans, inventory
lists, calendars, etc.
• a fully integrated PC-like experience with a full Web browser and extensive add-on capabilities, e.g. using wireless peripherals,
such as printers and keyboards
In considering the dual need for convenience and safety, carmakers will have to find a way to deliver all of this functionality in a
format that will be least distracting for the driver (both the visual aspect of screen placement, size, resolution and the interactive
aspect of how the driver communicates his/her intentions to the computer). The aforementioned technical solutions will converge
to create a Web-connected vehicle experience but will all need to come together under one stable, easy-to-customize UI/browser
that permits all the functions the automaker has specified.
Automotive companies will clearly need to build strategic partnerships with solution providers within various industries to meet the
challenges and reap the potential benefits of providing Web-based services for their automotive products. In developing the ideal
Web-enabled car, automakers will need to focus on solutions that are usable, upgradable and adaptable. This includes the need to
offer Web technology in a fully Web-integrated vehicle. Opera Software’s presentation (UI) engine/browser is ideally suited to meet-
ing the Web-based aspects of the auto industry’s challenges.
The nature of the Opera browser allows automakers to adapt Opera technology to give their customers a customized Web experi-
ence using Web standards-based interactive applications – the features drivers need most.
The Opera browser offers an open, customizable product that offers faster performance, security and flexibility. The solutions and
functions appear simple while seamlessly masking the complex transition from one application to another – straightforward enough
to operate in a car, offering interactivity that is only possible through Web connectivity (between car/Web system and driver as well
as between Web applications or programs), possible two-way integration (communication between the car and outside services),
updatability in real-time (traffic or weather information; not static like a DVD-map program), making the driving experience safer,
more secure and always connected.
The kind of proven stability and reliability that Opera solutions provide is crucial to the development of in-car Web technology, given
the risk-averse nature of the automotive business model. Opera delivers a solution that is both stable and dynamic, giving the user
options and exceptional control of the browser offering. Beyond just full Web browsing capabilities and a configurable/customizable
user interface, Opera’s cross-platform, cross-device flexibility integrates with the specifications set forth by automakers.
Anticipating a future in which integrated connectivity is a standard feature of the latest vehicles on the market, Opera Software
offers the cross-platform, cross-device flexibility to build on existing navigational/location-based and entertainment services to
support enhanced functionality. Opera’s powerful browser technology brings the full Internet and dynamic Web applications to the
automotive sector. Opera reliably renders Web standards-based interactive applications, including those used in control telematics,
navigation systems and location-based services. Opera provides the flexibility for manufacturers to deliver Internet-enabled PNDs
and in-built systems now while building next-generation functionality to deploy via reliable Opera technology.
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The en route Web
Opera’s flexible but standards-compliant browser can be easily adapted for use on both portable and embedded devices in auto-
mobiles. Updates and upgrades to interactive functions and information (maps, location-based services) are simplified with Opera’s
Need for speed
With connectivity speed being one of the biggest issues facing
Web use in cars, Opera’s OBML-transcoding solution provides
a faster, smoother experience for end users.
Web applications offer immediate, value-added, personalized
services for increasingly demanding end users, who want to be
able to access Web functions quickly without having to access
the full browser. This can have great relevance in a vehicle in
terms of offering immediate access to a dedicated service that
is useful and relevant to a driver.
Cross-device, cross-platform convenience
Web technology and standards coupled with device and platform agnosticism allow for syncing of applications, such as e-mail,
personal calendars, among other applications, across different devices. Also, an end user can start a project or use an application
on one device (a mobile phone, for example) and pick up where s/he left off in the car or another device.
Security and safety
Opera’s long-standing commitment to security couples well with both security and safety protocols in the automotive sector.
Web-based applications are fully customizable, enabling manufacturers to implement specific components, e.g. when HMI issues
potentially involve regulatory and safety factors, an automaker might develop a UI with a greater emphasis on safety features (as a
very basic example, not allowing a driver to browse while the car is moving).
Opera on board: Practical implementation
Opera’s standing as an innovative business partner and solid industry leader with a reputation for openness, creativity and per-
formance lend credibility to the solutions offered. The dynamic nature of mobile, Web-based technology for automobiles (and the
automobile industry as a whole) overlaps the dynamic nature of Opera’s aim to help partners bring new products to market rapidly
without sacrificing quality. Like the automotive industry, Opera strives for complete customer satisfaction, offering superior products
and features that outstrip the competition.
Opera on board: Ford Work Solutions technology
• April 2009: Ford Motor Company selects Opera browser to deploy
full Web to its Ford Work Solutions technology package
• Available on Ford F-150, Super Duty, E-Series and Transit Connect
trucks and vans
• World’s first broadband-capable, in-dash computer system
• Enables the “mobile office” concept on Ford trucks and vans
• Part of the larger Ford Work Solutions collection of factory-installed,
affordable technologies, e.g. full Internet connectivity, tool/inventory
tracking, remote computer access, fleet management telematics and
security to support Ford customers with mobile office and business
• For more information, visit www.fordworksolutions.com
(To see Opera in action on the in-dash computer, click on the “In-Dash
Computer” link and then press “play” on the video (Opera, 1min, 38sec)
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