When I heard about this on the RIA Weekly podcast, while I drove to the office this morning, I couldn’t suppress a whoop: Tesla has deployed Adobe AIR in combination with the open source technology Merapi (Roundarch) inside their Model S super car. It doesn’t get any cooler than that!
Merapi is a technology that allows Adobe AIR developers to interact with local computing resources and devices that normally cannot be accessed from the security sandbox an AIR application is embedded in. It should be seen as a bridge between Java and Adobe AIR. Merapi allows you to build components for controlling and monitoring peripheral devices (such as a car’s electronics) in Java and passing data from these components to an Adobe AIR application, and vice versa.
The Tesla Model S boasts an incredible 17 inch touch screen displaying a full screen Adobe AIR application that integrates climate control, audio systems, navigation system and other dashboard functions. Of course, integrated, touch screen controlled dashboard systems are already becoming mainstream, but Tesla is taking this a whole lot further. Their dashboard system can also access the web, allowing for a whole new range of cloud services rendered to you while you are on the go.
Most of us will probably not be able to afford the Model S (I know I won’t, let alone be allowed by my wife), but it really is just a matter of time for this sort of technologies to become mainstream. I really admire how Tesla invests in crucial innovations such as zero emission car engines and now also, the mobile web. Like the iPhone, the Model S’ dashboard system is definitely setting a new trend – the iPodification of the car if you will – and could become an important catalyst for a new range of mobile applications.
Finally, marvel at the utter coolness of the Tesla “iCar” in the video below. Tesla should really consider renaming the Model S to iCar, don’t you think? I am sure Steve Jobs would have proposed that name if Apple would have built this car (wink wink).

Mark Nankman is a UX Architect and Web 2.0 thought leader at Capgemini. His public brain waves can be followed on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mnankman