Opera Software has released a report on bringing the Web to in-vehicle computer systems, entitled “Web on wheels”.

In this study, Opera takes a look at its partnership with Ford Motor Company to bring in-dash Web browsing to Ford trucks and vans. While Ford is the company’s first browser-to-car deployment, Opera predicts a growing need for remote access to the office while on-the-road.

According to market analysis firm Strategy Analytics, almost 90 percent of vehicles produced in North America and Europe will have some form of wireless connectivity in 2016. “The rapid market adoption of Bluetooth, 3G, GPS and smartphones will drive huge growth in the demand for connected infotainment in the vehicle”, says Jo Blight, Director, Global Automotive Practice. “Our surveys show email, maps, navigation, music and radio are the top priorities for consumers, but it will be in HMI and software where the automotive competitive battles are set to be won and lost.”

Ford required an on-board, full-featured browser that could be integrated and deployed in multiple vehicles. With the growing requirements of professional mobility, vehicle makers are looking to deliver traffic, weather, news, e-mail and more to drivers, seamlessly and safely.

“Web on wheels” report highlights:

• Web technology enables and streamlines the existing features and functions of a car, as well as making new and unique features possible.
• In-vehicle Web technology is 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.
• In the automotive sector, having a no-tolerance-for-error mentality, integration and seamless interoperability are of the greatest importance.
• Using a traditional PC while driving is not safe without specific modifications for in-car usability and safety. While the experience can create an approximation 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 “connected vehicle” concept and all it offers is one more way for carmakers to compete for scarcer automobile buyers and to differentiate their offerings in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
• The nature of the Opera browser allows automakers to adapt Opera technology to give their customers a customized Web experience using Web-standards-based interactive applications – the features drivers need most.