Toyota recently unveiled a new concept car at CEATEC 2012, Japan’s largest consumer electronics show. The INSECT is a single passenger EV but might better be thought of as a very capable smartphone on wheels. The concept car facilitates and integrates very practical applications such as the ability to recommend a restaurant or turn on your home air conditioning system in anticipation of your arrival. By utilizing Microsoft’s Kinect technology, facial and body movements will prompt a greeting by flashing the front lights and opening the door as you approach. Current battery technology limits this car from moving beyond a concept, but it certainly provides a great starting point for discussion about the future of consumer electronics in vehicles.
Traditionally, consumers compare power, carrying capacity and fuel efficiency within a given price range. By creating this concept, Toyota may have recognized a consumer flashpoint. As people spend more time in their cars, their need to be connected while in their vehicles will grow and the weight placed on a car’s integration of mobile devices may significantly increase. In fact, the average British motorist now spends three full years of their life driving. That is an astounding amount of time spent behind the wheel.
By 2016, it is predicted that roughly 50 percent of new vehicles sold globally will be connected to the internet. There are of course a number of challenges to consider.
- Currently there is no single industry standard system for integrating mobile devices into a vehicle.
- Should manufacturers strive for internet in the car or car in the internet by integrating the car into the cloud?
- How can consumer electronics be incorporated ergonomically and without compromising driver safety?
Learn about these and other issues at the 6th International Conference on Consumer Electronics 4 Vehicles, 28-30 January in Stuttgart, Germany.
For more information about Toyota’s INSECT click here
Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ