WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- Cars are evolving, they’re no longer modes of transportation, they’re lounges and homes on wheels, and Toyota’s Yui wants to be your friend
Toyota recently revealed a new concept vehicle with a virtual companion named Yui built in and while, in the past a concept car would have simply been flashier or more out there than previous versions, we are now beginning to see the first real signs that cars are changing. No longer just people carriers they’re evolving. They’re becoming warmer, they’re becoming a home away from home, dedicated to entertainment, relaxation and wellness – and they want to be your co-pilot, travel guide and friend. Make no bones about this though – while I see the potential in this type of technology I still think it’s rough around the edges, but nonetheless I think it shows great promise.
That’s right, Toyota wants your car to become part of your family, and this family member comes with a built in massager – try saying that about your kids…
“The interface begins with the visual representation of Yui, designed to communicate across cultures to a global audience,” Toyota says, “with Yui’s home centered on the dashboard, Concept-i’s interior emanates around the driver and passenger side and throughout the vehicle in sweeping lines, with interior shapes designed to enhance Yui’s ability to use light, sound and even touch to communicate critical information.”
So what will Yui, and the Concept-i, mean for the future of vehicle ownership and driving? Toyota says the vehicle is about making driving a more “warm and friendly” experience. It’s part of a broader trend in the automotive world to turn the inside of your car into a so-called “third space,” a place where we will spend the majority of our time outside of home and the office.
Think of Yui as Siri or Alexa in the car, but embedded into the vehicle’s architecture. The artificial intelligence that’s powering Yui will also communicate to the world when the Concept-i is engaged in autonomous driving.
Yui appears on exterior door panels to greet driver and passengers as they approach the vehicle, and the rear of the vehicle shows messages to communicate about upcoming turns or warn about a potential hazard, while the front of the vehicle communicates whether the Concept-i is in automated or manual drive.
And the headlights… they blink. It’s like an oversized, mobile Tamagotchi, and it’s all very Japanese-y.