The empathetic car of the future will adjust to your emotional state, changing driving style and even color based on your mood. The FV2, one of five concepts Toyota announced Tuesday (to be shown at the Toyko Auto Show later this month), explores the idea of a human-to-car emotional connection that will go both ways.
There are primitive precursors to such motorized mood rings: Many high-end Mercedes-Benz and Lexus car can spot erratic behavior and suggest you take a break from driving. The 2014 Infiniti Q50 knows when you have failed to brake.
The FV2 uses image recognition technology to determine your state of mind. For example, agitation has a way of revealing itself in quick head movements, while a casual mood usually means you move slower and want to de-stress. Toyota also imagines this car could change body color to suit your mood--say, red for spirited driving, or blue for a Sunday jaunt.
The car can also analyze your prior driving routes and offer choices for your next destination. It'll know if you always stop at a specific pizza place on Friday nights--or maybe it'll steer you to a favorite sports bar on Monday nights.
This level of customization reflects a trend that's already being seen with phones like the made-to-order Moto X. Future cars, too, will be more personalized to suit our tastes--not just in colors, but in driving experience.
There's a physical connection, too. Instead of a steering wheel, the FV2 senses where you want to go when you shift your weight in the seat. GM offers the EN-V car in China today with a similar intent: There's a steering wheel, but it works more like a game controller.
Concept cars are showy, impractical, and often not even driveable. But they do serve as a proving ground for future vehicle technology. The Cadillac ELR, due early next year, started life as a concept car with the awkwardly-spelled moniker of Converj. Mercedes-Benz talked about unusual tech like "customizable scents in the car" years ago, and now it's a feature in the S-Class and upcoming C-Class. Based on the FV2, we may drive cars someday with only our minds--perhaps a good idea, unless you have a raging headache.