The Tesla Model S – Touch-Screen User Experience is Powered by Roundarch’s Merapi Project

By: Dave Meeker

It is a exciting time in the world of Web technology and User Experience design.

With every passing week at Roundarch, It becomes more clear to me that consumers are embracing these changes and that companies that provide products and services to those consumers are listening. We’ve reached a point where the Internet has begun to shift from that tool we use while sitting at our desks to our primary conduit of communication, regardless of the type of screen we happen to be sitting in front of or what type of device we decide to use.

The advances we’ve recently seen range from the widespread acceptance of social media, micro-blogging, and geographically-centered information to a wide range of consumer electronics that push and pull information to and from online sources. These devices include set-top television boxes, wireless photo frames and other consumer electronic right down to the cars that we drive.

As a company that has focused on the development of Web technologies for the last 10 years, Roundarch has been able to keep pace with these changes. Our strategy, user experience and technology teams are constantly working with clients to help them adapt to these changes, providing connected experiences that enrich lives, optimize business processes, and create experiences that are relevant, interesting and meaningful to their users.

We do this by experimentation, shaking out the things that don’t have the impact we desire, and focusing on the things that we believe are truly innovative and that will help further our efforts of invention. Naturally, in the process of experimentation, there is both failure and success. Failures lead to us being challenged to succeed. Small bits of success help to generate more ideas, eventually merging together to create truly great innovation.

Applying Roundarch Innovation to the Tesla Model S

On tonight’s “Late Show with David Letterman”, the world will get a nice look at the the Tesla Model S.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you are probably already aware that Tesla Motors has announced the development of their new, all-electric, zero-emission, sport sedan that will enter into production starting in late 2011.


Tesla Model S

“It will likely be the first fully drivable car to appear on Late Show with David Letterman,” according to a statement by Elon Musk, Tesla Motors chairman, product architect and CEO. “I’ll be on the show along with the car, and I am looking forward to a lively conversation with Dave, a fellow sports-car aficionado and Tesla fan.”

Merapi, a technology produced by Roundarch, connects the Model S prototype’s sophisticated on-board computer system with peripheral hardware, resulting in a car that is primarily controlled by an intuitive, responsive, 17” touch-screen control panel that is embedded in this revolutionary vehicle’s cockpit dashboard.

One of the features of the Tesla Model S that has been getting a lot of buzz in online conversations and in the media is the giant, haptic-enabled, touch-screen that constitutes the Tesla Model S dashboard and vehicle controls. (See Photos: Tech Crunch – Wired) / (See Video: YouTube)

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that the Tesla Model S is a prototype. There are going to be a ton of changes to the user experience of the vehicle as the company works towards the goal of mass production. What you see today is by no means what will be delivered to consumers when the car hits the street. That final product will be much cooler than what has been able to be put together in the prototype vehicle.

One thing is clear though, Elon Musk and the whole team at Tesla is serious about innovation and, like Roundarch, aren’t afraid to experiment with ideas. This is especially true when thinking about the user experience of the in-dash systems, and it has been thrilling for Roundarch to be involved in the development of the Model S prototype.

Thanks to Merapi, the Tesla Model S show car offers users the ability to interact with vehicle hardware systems by engaging with the car’s cockpit control center, including a touch screen consisting of HD radio integration, quick GPS navigation, streaming audio and other Internet and cloud-based data and information.

I’d like to thank the folks at Tesla Motors for giving us the opportunity to be involved, and for recognizing Roundarch’s Merapi Project as an important part of the Model S prototype technology. I’d also like to thank Roundarch for believing in the potential of Merapi, and giving Adam Flater (Roundarch’s Technology Evangelist and Lead Architect on the Merapi Project) and I the opportunity to push forward with the development of Merapi, turning it from an idea into a full framework that enables the connection between the Web, desktop and other hardware & software platforms and technologies.

For those of you reading this that don’t understand what Roundarch’s Merapi technology is or does, I encourage you to check out our Merapi Project Web site at

In short, Roundarch’s Merapi is a revolutionary solution for bridging traditional desktop and Web technologies, closing the gap between what has traditionally been a separation of the two.


Merapi’s key advantages include:

  • Access to hardware devices: Browser-based technologies (Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, AJAX) previously did not have native access to hardware other than microphone and Web cam.
  • Access to existing APIs: Merapi makes existing open source and commercial software accessible from the browser or from run-time engines such as Adobe AIR without the need for a server.
  • Improved core performance of an application.
  • Accelerated software development times for complex Web/desktop integrated applications.

We’ve been working hard on a few things related to Merapi, all of which we will be going into more detail on in the coming month:

  • Merapi – Open Source Release: After a year of development, testing and refinement, we will be releasing an open source version of Merapi that will enable developers to connect the Adobe AIR platform to applications written in the Java programming language.
  • The Merapi Platform – We’ve settled on a product roadmap that will take Merapi from a platform-specific solution to a platform in itself. Look out for some of the amazing things we will be showing off at upcoming conferences. While we will always embrace the Adobe platform and Java, the market has helped push our thinking of what Merapi is, and we will be supporting Microsoft .NET, Silverlight, AJAX and other Web & desktop technologies.

For more information about Merapi, check out:

You can also contact me – Dave Meeker, Director of Emerging Technology, Roundarch

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