From the same automaker responsible for bringing us the Scion iQ comes this: a car, we think. It’s called the Smart INSECT Concept, short for “Information Network Social Electric City Transporter,” and it debuts today at CEATEC, or Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, an annual trade show in Japan.
The Smart INSECT Concept is based on Toyota Motor Corporation’s COMS EV, an ultra-compact, single-passenger, “next-generation, communications-linked concept model that uses information technology services to support its driver’s lifestyle and activities.” Those are words and they follow logical, English sentence structure, but they appear to mean something else, because social lifestyle and activity no longer necessitates only “getting from here to there.”
According to Toyota, the Smart INSECT Concept has six main functions; note that “driving” is not listed:
- The Smart INSECT’s front-mounted motion sensors use facial-recognition technology to detect and authenticate a driver registered with the vehicle when he or she approaches.
- The vehicle communicates with the driver by flashing the front lights and greeting the driver via the instrument panel monitor, for example, with “Hello” and other displayed phrases and spoken responses.
- The motion sensors detect the driver’s movements, opening the door according to the movement of the driver’s hand.
- A “virtual agent” at the Toyota Smart Center recognizes the driver’s voice and, through communication with the driver, predicts his or her intentions, setting the destination and operating various functions of the vehicle, such as the fog lamps and audio system.
- Smartphone navigation and content can be operated by voice command via the virtual agent.
- Through the virtual agent and voice commands, the driver can, for example, check and operate the locks and air conditioners of his or her home from within the vehicle.
Ladies and gentlemen, as near as we can tell, the Smart INSECT Concept is probably the next iPhone. It no longer fits in your pocket, YOU fit in its pocket. Like a cocoon. Oh, and in case you were wondering: “The name aims to convey an image of a small insect that flies around on large wings, in the same way as the vehicle freely navigates through and uses an information network.”