Smart Cars on Steroids: A Colossal Car Company and a Tech Giant Team Up
Everything is smart these days: phones, T.V.s, and now cars.
Toyota and Microsoft are teaming up to create a new kind of vehicle — one that can learn what you love to eat, where you drive, and even how much you weigh. A new data analytics company, spun off from Toyota and in partnership with Microsoft, wants to bring internet-connected services to your vehicle without overwhelming you with technology.
The new company, Toyota Connect, uses Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, to run numbers and help develop new products for you, the driver. It also wants to create apps for commercial entities too. For example, businesses with car fleets and car dealers might benefit from this technology.
The new services could reduce the number of accidents on the road, which is good news for Fort Worth car accident attorney, tatelawoffices.com, who sees far too many car accidents as a result of poor driving habits and distracted driving.
One such service is a steering wheel that monitors a driver’s heartbeat, and a seat that doubles as a scale. Vehicle to vehicle technology allows cars to communicate with one another to observe and avoid hazards. A virtual assistant will use predictive analytics to determine where the driver is headed and the best route to avoid traffic. It can also suggest favorite foods and where to get them along the route.
Other products may focus on safety and connecting the vehicle to smart devices in the house. Still other technologies would connect to infrastructures designed to ease traffic congestion and find free or low-cost parking options.
Toyota Connect, which is based in Plano Texas, will build on the car manufacturer’s existing partnership with Microsoft to flesh out its brand of connected car services. It will basically become the data science center for the entire company and integrate with its robotics and artificial intelligence research.
Zack Hicks, president and CEO of Toyota Connect, will keep his title of chief information officer at Toyota Motor North America.
Neither Microsoft nor Toyota disclosed when their products might appear in their vehicles. But, wherever they do appear, they will most certainly be rolled out in North America first before expanding into other markets. This, according to Microsoft.
This collaboration highlights a recent trend among automakers who want to do more with the data they’re collecting from drivers. They’ve put a lot of money into research and development to catch up to the functionality inherent in smartphones.
Adding more technology doesn’t always translate into more sales, however. At the same time, it’s not enough for a vehicle to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Consumers are expecting vehicles to come equipped with apps and hardware that allows them to pair devices with their smartphone.
The most valuable technology is intuitive and easy to use.
And, Toyota is hoping that putting all this money into their vehicles can bring together all the many aspects of a person’s life and make it easier — especially for those with a long commute.
Megan Nicholson has always worked in the auto industry, and has seen big changes over recent years as new technology comes onto the market. She writes about these changes, and the latest car tech to hit the headlines in her articles.