Smartphone on Four Wheels: Fun Vii

Toyota has unveiled the Fun Vii. It’s a fun concept car that has brought in a new twist into the conservative auto industry. Vii stands for Vehicle Fun Interactive Internet.”  Though media is a very impotrant part of our culture today, being inspired  by these social media concepts that define the very world that we live in is nothing new. But apply these concepts on a car and you have some zing. The  Tokyo Motor Show 2011, which is just  around  the corner, has given its theme as    “Mobility can change the world” that was used as an inspiration by  Toyota for the Vii.

Toyota  based its car on a smartphone for this project, which has allowed them to make radical changes on our normal perceptions of a “car”. So it still runs on four wheels and all that, but there are these few cosmetic changes that will affect our perceptions. For example,  consider  the touch-screen door.

Ready for more? No more one-color only for your car. With the Vii, you can customize the car’s exterior aka the wallpaper.

The Vii brings the network inside your car. You will be able to communicate with everything from location services for instructions to other  smart phones  (the ones  without  four wheels) using the Vii’s inbuilt assistant. For example, you can turn on the air conditioning before you enter the car.  How cool is that?

It could have been just another electric car produced by just another very fuel-efficient company. Toyota’s hybrid cars have been a hit all over the world for their fuel-efficiency, cost, and reliability. The Vii is an example of how we can look at a standard a bit differently. Though, there are no official plans from Toyota about the launch of the Vii, the public reaction to their concept car will be a likely litmus test to determine just how soon the Vii will hit our roads. That day is one that I do look forward to with much anticipation.

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Toyota To Launch Facebook Like Social Network For Its Customers

Toyota  Motor Corp. and and San Francisco-based is setting up a social networking service called “Toyota Friend”, similar to Facebook and Twitter. The new service allow users to exchange real time updates with Toyota drivers, connect with local dealers and remotely obtain information about their hybrid vehicles, such as battery usage. It is expected to debut in Japan before it rolls out globally in 2012.

“This represents a concrete step towards creating a more mobile society,” Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at a press conference in Tokyo. “Toyota can learn a lot from an entrepreneurial firm like”

The new service primarily relies on third party smartphones and other mobile devices sold separately from its cars. The network will be powered by enterprise social network’s Chatter and Toyota’s telematics platform.

Toyota is investing 442 million yen ($5.5 million) in Toyota Media Service, Microsoft Corp., aiming to bring Internet services to Toyota vehicles, is investing 335 million yen ($4.1 million) and will be investing 223 million yen ($2.8 million) in the project.