Toyota drivers getting the whole Kitt and caboodle

May 25, 2011
Autos

Toyota electric car owners could soon be friending their cars, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg! Lord help me, I can’t see any other way around it. I have sat and thought of the pros and cons. I have debated both sides of the issue, and I’m afraid it has come to this. […]

Toyota electric car owners could soon be friending their cars, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg!

Lord help me, I can’t see any other way around it. I have sat and thought of the pros and cons. I have debated both sides of the issue, and I’m afraid it has come to this.

I want to friend my car.

I even want to tweet back and forth with it.

This is not some weird tech fantasy born out of jealousy for the sweet relationship Kitt had with his owner, David Hasselhoff. I have plenty of real life friends. Really, I swear. No, this is something greater. This just feels like the future. At least it does if I understand it correctly.

Beginning 2012 in Japan, thanks to a joint partnership with software company Salesforce.com, Toyota electric car owners will be able to register their vehicle with a private social networking website called Toyota Friend. They’ll also be able to interact with their car via Facebook and Twitter. What exactly they’ll have the power to do is a little bit murkier depending on the story you read.

VentureBeat makes it sound a little too ordinary. They suggest owners will be able to communicate with Toyota to exchange diagnostic information about the car. This, apparently, would include driving habits (Yikes!), and information on the car’s performance and battery level (Meh.) It sounds to me like your car would have a Facebook page but instead of interests and favorite bands, it might note that you took it in for service six months ago and performance was a little iffy because you seem to jam on your brakes a bit much.

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But maybe I’m reading too little into the service. CNN gives the idea a bit more oomph. The money quote from Kraig Swensrud, a senior VP of marketing at Salesforce.com, saying that the car and owner can “talk” to each other, is everything I want to hear.

The idea that the car could let you know a brake pad has worn down, or the shocks are a little buggy, or something like that, without you having to bring the car in for service. That is my expectation.

I want to tweet my car something like, “Do you need to see the doctor?” and have it give me a truthful answer.

Given that Toyota Friend isn’t rolling out in Japan until next year, there’s no telling when it will debut in the US, but I am still excited. The future has failed us so many times before. We have no Jetson’s flying cars, much less anything resembling a Kitt car. Maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something big. Or maybe I can just share Twitter hashtag jokes with my car. That’s fine, too.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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