Toyota’s latest third space concept car wants to be your friend



  • 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, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Among other things Matthew keeps busy helping the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of smartphones, and what comes beyond, the world’s largest chip makers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines, and is helping Europe’s largest energy companies re-invent energy generation, transmission and retail.

Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who has been featured on the BBC, Discovery and other outlets. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them envision the future and helps them transform their industries, products and go to market strategies, and shows them how the combination of new, democratised, powerful emerging technologies are helping accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change.

Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.


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