Hot on the heels of the world's first HTML 5 smartphone -- the ZTE One -- comes what could well be the world's first HTML5 in-car device.
At the Mobile World Congress Tuesday, Fujitsu Ten revealed that it is developing a next-generation infotaiment system that uses the open web standard. Marketed under its ‘ECLIPSE' brand, the company is already demonstrating a prototype version that it hopes will work seamlessly with the next generation of mobile devices. The terminal can provide augmented reality navigation by drawing images from a vehicle's forward-facing camera and overlaying them with graphics and route information as well as offering smartphone functionality such as voice calls, email, music playback and even image library access.
But why is HTML5 important? Currently, carmakers that want to provide in-car infotainment and connected features either have to succumb to the might of Google's Android or Apple's iOS operating systems and create interfaces that can mirror the apps found on the leading smartphones, or, like Ford, develop their own bespoke systems and attract their own development community prepared to build apps and services for it. As more companies with a serious web presence start adopting HTML5 as the coding language for their sites and services, the world wide web will have a unifying language that doesn't require plug-ins like Flash and can deliver content that is ‘native' on any device from any manufacturer or ecosystem as long as it has an internet browser. Widespread use of the coding language, championed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Apple among others, would mean that accessing online content on a tablet or smartphone would be the same as for a PC -- i.e., no apps required.
A subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Ten was formed in partnership with Toyota and Denso and has been developing in-car electronic equipment since 1972. Toyota's backing in this endeavor shows that automakers are taking the issue of interoperability and the future operating systems of smartphones and tablets very seriously.