Toyota has introduced a concept car with touchscreen doors, digitally customizable exterior and interior, collision-avoidance tech, car-to-car networking, and more – and for reasons known only to the marketing mind, they call it the Fun-Vii. "We thought it would be fun to put a smartphone on four wheels," said Toyota president …
Ah well, it's a concept car. Interesting to look back in 15 years and see what features from it have actually ended up in production models. I sometimes compare cars now to the concepts that were bandied around in the early 90s and find, strangely, that the only feature they managed to actually predict was the weird bumpy shape a lot of headlights have now.
Interfaces designed for looks, not function
It is unwise to forget that concept cars are mostly really expensive trade show gadgets. So indeed, the cross-over with a smartphone is apt on many levels. It isn't especially useful, though. I like the augmented reality, but a hologram popping up is no more than a nuisance. Rather spend that computing power on having the thing learn to steer itself, leaving me to interact with my fellow passengers instead. But maybe the modern car dweller will find talking to people directly rather than via some cloud-based social medium especially offensive, who knows.
To dig up an old quote about Brian Kernighan's car: its only instrument is a big question mark on the dashboard, which lights when something goes wrong. "The experienced driver," Dr Kernighan is quoted as saying, "will know what's wrong." This, of course is more than a little silly, even though programs like ed were indeed that bad. Unix was (and is) very terse when things go well, but does usually give fairly precise information about what is going wrong, even if the viewpoint tends to the system centric and as such appears inaccurate, even warped, to those not well-versed in it. This could and probably should be improved, but mere verboseness doesn't cut the mustard, as certain systems notorious for producing pop-ups with lenghty messages that nobody ever reads, not even when they later turn out to've been actually important for once.
The point I'd like to make, using above illustration as extreme antithese, is that very little of what this concept car's interface does has to do with getting from a to b, but everything with appearance to the point of terminal distraction.
On that note I'd be far more interested in some sort of "3d printed" design with an open source software based controller so as to experiment with innovative interfaces. There might be a couple things I'd like to try. Those will be solidly from a functionality perspective, as I'm usually too dull to come up with good, sensible uses of flashy graphics and other distractions. I'm not surprised to see that people focusing on MovieOS type flashyness don't come up with truly useful new car dashboards.
Smartphone type functions and such might be very useful, even in a car, but only after the car has shown to be good at providing people moving utility, and that it carefully separates that from anything related to connectivity. If it doesn't, well, we've already had the first BSOD-related car crashes (and yes that was a redmondian blessing, to a Jaguar I believe) and now we can have cloud-based road trip interference, too. Experience has shown that "embedded" software tends to be less than very well secured, whether that's water plants or car control. Maybe, while at it, the enterprising remote car jacker will replace princess Leia with, oh, darth vader or something. Through the mobile car cloud. Isn't that fun?
See/Read concept car reviews much ?
" Rather spend that computing power on having the thing learn to steer itself, leaving me to interact with my fellow passengers instead"
If you look closely at the picture at the bottom of the article, the steering wheel has retracted in to itself, and says "AUTO DRIVE" across the centre, suggesting that exactly what it is (conceptually) doing.
"...its only instrument is a big question mark on the dashboard, which lights when something goes wrong."
They've already built that, it's called a Prius. No temp gauge, oil lamp, charge warning lamp, etc ad infinitum. Just a big triangle with an exclamation mark in it that lights up meaning "something's wrong". Fortunately, it also has the necessary prerequisite for adopting that approach. It almost never happens.
Actually I'm quite surprised that more cars haven't gone this way. These days, even when a specific warning lamp lights, it's still necessary to plug in the diagnostics to find out what the actual fault is anyway. Modern cars are way too complex for a dozen lamps to provide more than a hint of where the problem actually is.
What's wrong with...
...fancy new cars actually telling you what's wrong with them? They have the power and most quite easily have the display space too, so if it can show a warning lamp, why can't it display, "Spark plug warning!"?
...want, WANT! :)
Interesting looking car
what does the battery pack trailer look like?
The battery pack trailer, which was manufactured by Sony, exploded in a fireball after the show when Anonymous hacked into the onboard wireless and made the door screens briefly display the message "car shows are for wankers".
After the horrific explosion there was silicone strewn all over the place (both from computers and fake breasts).
Don't be silly...
...this car actually has a massive satellite in orbit that uses solar power to then microwave power down to th vehicle. This has the added bonus of frying any birds that deign to shit on it's glossy exterior.
This could work if the Princess Leia was a touch interface.
interior appearance can also be customized "To match the mood of the moment."
"Are we there yet?" [boredom brown with grey... highlights]
"I want to go to the toilet!" [desperation yellow]
"I feel sick" [bile green, mucus mauve with a lumpy texture]
"Turn left... No! the Other left... Back there!!" [imperative indigo, confusion cream, angry orange]
squeeeal... smash [panic purple, blood red, fade to black]
I think I'll walk.
"............smartphone on four wheels,.........."?
It's appearance suggests to me the fugliest gamer mouse that I have ever seen.
exterior display a fun idea.
but lets be honest, what will it really be used for in the real world? advertising.
your morning commute, sponsered by <morning hygene product>
your evening commute, sponsered by <takeaway food vendor>
and if these are kept uptodate remotley, the obligitory hack where each car is covered in pr0n.
nice idea, execution needs work for real world.
This "car" looks like a showcase of how NOT to put technology in a vehicle. It is simply a terrible idea to put all that customization at the mercy of wireless updates.
And, dare I say, it is probably a terrible idea to put all that customization into the hands of the general public. Garish interior "decorating" displaying your bad taste is fine in you own home where I will never see it. Outlandish ideas in garish colors on your car is displaying your bad taste - or a hacker's idea of a joke - for the world to see, and I am interested in neither.
Or display your location on google maps...
..thus showing everyone in the vicinity where you are.
That would be useful.
And of course would never ever be allowed in a million years by any sane government in the world. The ability to change your car's colour at the swish of a finger? Reminds me of the start of Cannonball Run II where the water-based paint job of the Lamborghini is washed off to reveal a different colour beneath in an effort to confuse the pursuing po-lice.
not to mention that the slightest prang will cost thousands to repair.... and I don't think crash-safety authorities will be too impressed by what will be, essentially, a glass body
I want a desk like the car's console! But alas I'm stuck with a 19" screen. Hurry up and invent one apple/microsoft.
whoever thought that one up needs a kick straight up the cnut.
crappy paint, rusty metal and body filler any day for me.
My car crashed!
Smartphone of four wheels.
I take it that a bluetooth headset is de rigeur?
Picking that up and holding it up to your ear could be tricky......
Why do so many visions of the future have us wearing jumpsuit-like garments?
Paris because I can't see her wearing that.
Car to car networking
What could go wrong?
Someone told me recently about a vehicle livery system that appears off and near invisible normally; press a button and the side of your car has illuminated striping.
IIRc it was a factory fitted $200,000 extra sold as a gimmick.
Those doors reminded me of it.
How long before it's wearing a porno skin?
This looks like a mouse on wheels...
Need I say more?
Couple of cameras and you could have a sort of stealth car
- Rogue Nokia splinter cell drops its Jolla phone A-BOMB
- Geek's Guide to Britain BT Tower is just a relic? Wrong: It relays 18,000hrs of telly daily
- Product Round-up Smartwatch face off: Pebble, MetaWatch and new hi-tech timepieces
- Review: Sony Xperia SP
- Geek's Guide to Britain The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex