Webinos: How to talk to your car

2012-10-10 09:45

MUNICH, Germany - A world without social networks is becoming hard to imagine; apps and emails, web and voice are now intrinsic parts of our digital lifestyle.

Every device allows web services, whether it’s a smartphone, the home PC, the TV or an in-car head unit. However, until now, they couldn't talk to each other to exchange information in that way.


This is where the EU-funded Project Webinos comes in; it intends to develop and standardise an open-source web and browser-based application platform to enable unrestricted and combined use of assorted consumer electronic (CE) devices. 30 partners from the automotive, IT and telecommunications industries, as well as several research institutes, have made it a common goal.

The research project, funded by the European Commission, was launched in September 2010 and will run until August 2013. An  automotive prototype was on show at the “Communication World” IT trade fair in Munich over October 9-10, 2012.

Cloud computing, the use of computing resources delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet), provided the inspiration for the webinos project. The World Wide Web already provides an example of how documents and information can be successfully exchanged across the boundaries between different devices with the help of open-source standards.

Webinos applies the same approach to applications. By creating purpose-designed browser add-ons and defining suitable communication standards, webinos demonstrates how the browser can increasingly evolve into a shared web application platform.


22 service components have been developed to access device functions. These cover both universal functions and the specifics of the smartphone, PC, TV and vehicle devices addressed in webinos.

For the in-vehicle integration the Vehicle API (which allows access to the vehicle-specific data), the Geolocation API (can be used to obtain data on speed and GPS location) and the Device Orientation API (that comprises data on both lateral and linear acceleration) are the most relevant components.

A wealth of data can be made available with just these three packages: parking sensor information, average speed and fuel consumption, as well as light and windscreen wiper settings, and relay information on the current gear.

Customers could use webinos-enabled applications to call up their vehicle’s current fuel level on their smartphone or TV, for instance. Conversely, the technology also makes it possible for them to access their smartphone or PC media library from the comfort of their car.

In the research prototype on show at the Communication World fair, the complete trip data computer display appears in the browser with HTML5 and the webinos add-ons. Thanks to the new interfaces in webinos, the park distance control function can also be visualised in the browser.
Users are able to manage their personal points of interest for a trip with the help of the “webinos travel” web applications. The trip can be planned on the smartphone, tablet or home PC. On the day of departure, the planned stop-off points are then ready to be selected in the vehicle, or can be sent from the smartphone directly to the satnav as the journey’s destination.