Cars are evolving, they’re no longer modes of transportation, they’re lounges and homes on wheels, and Toyota’s Yui wants to be your friend.


Toyota recently revealed a new concept vehicle with a virtual companion named Yui built in and while, in the past a concept car would have simply been flashier or more out there than previous versions, we are now beginning to see the first real signs that cars are changing. No longer just people carriers they’re evolving. They’re becoming warmer, they’re becoming a home away from home, dedicated to entertainment, relaxation and wellness – and they want to be your co-pilot, travel guide and friend. Make no bones about this though – while I see the potential in this type of technology I still think it’s rough around the edges, but nonetheless I think it shows great promise.


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That’s right, Toyota wants your car to become part of your family, and this family member comes with a built in massager – try saying that about your kids…

“The interface begins with the visual representation of Yui, designed to communicate across cultures to a global audience,” Toyota says, “with Yui’s home centered on the dashboard, Concept-i’s interior emanates around the driver and passenger side and throughout the vehicle in sweeping lines, with interior shapes designed to enhance Yui’s ability to use light, sound and even touch to communicate critical information.”



So what will Yui, and the Concept-i, mean for the future of vehicle ownership and driving? Toyota says the vehicle is about making driving a more “warm and friendly” experience. It’s part of a broader trend in the automotive world to turn the inside of your car into a so-called “third space,” a place where we will spend the majority of our time outside of home and the office.

Think of Yui as Siri or Alexa in the car, but embedded into the vehicle’s architecture. The artificial intelligence that’s powering Yui will also communicate to the world when the Concept-i is engaged in autonomous driving.


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Yui appears on exterior door panels to greet driver and passengers as they approach the vehicle, and the rear of the vehicle shows messages to communicate about upcoming turns or warn about a potential hazard, while the front of the vehicle communicates whether the Concept-i is in automated or manual drive.

And the headlights… they blink. It’s like an oversized, mobile Tamagotchi, and it’s all very Japanese-y.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.


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