If you were to make a car that responded to your voice and could literally sense your presence and your movements, what kind technology would you choose to make that happen? For Toyota, the answer was apparently to incorporate a platform that was initially geared toward video games.
Oh how the tides have changed. It used to be cars were the inspiration for video games, but now it is the other way around. The Toyota Smart Insect prototype uses Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect technology to enable drivers to open car doors and complete basic operations simply by speaking the requests out loud.
The vehicle has a speaker on the hood and “dialogue monitors” installed to aid in the voice recognition process. The other half of Kinect’s technology is its ability to detect motion. The Smart Insect uses this to sense when the driver is approaching the car, triggering the built-in displays to present welcome messages.
Motion controls are also used almost as an artificial intelligence component; if the vehicle believes you are about to reach for the door, it can open it for you. That’s the kind of thing that can get sticky if the software messes up, though.
Nevertheless, this smart car concept really goes all out. The car is completely electric and it charges via a standard 100-volt AC outlet. It can also connect to smartphone apps to adjust things like air conditioning and door locks. Basically, it is a demonstration of the kinds of features that are theoretically possible today, but will probably take years to ever truly be integrated into a mass market vehicle.