Most of us would probably be happy with a car that goes hard, handles, looks great and doesn’t cost you your life-savings to own and run. But Nissan and Toyota reckon they can go one better with their city car concepts at the Tokyo show, which actively set out to improve your mood.
Toyota’s RiN (left), which resembles an elegant garden shed, has grass-like carpet and seats shaped to keep your posture upright is, according to its creators, designed to ‘bring out your inner beauty, so that when you arrive you’ll feel even healthier than when you left’.
RiN’s steering control – a U-shaped stick, rather than a wheel – uses biofeedback to detect your mood and ‘bring you back into balance’, using visual displays within the instrument cluster that act as a ‘mood trainer,’ an oxygen level conditioner and humidifier, green glass that makes the world outside seem a brighter place and a beige and green colour scheme that allegedly promotes a healthier physical feeling. Though probably not as effectively as a jam-free run to work.
Nissan’s method for the Pivo2 electric city car (right) is a little more direct, and starts with the smiling visage of the car itself, the mood continued inside via a big-eyed robotic pet that sits on the dashboard. It looks like a particularly earnest plastic owl. This so-called robotic agent has the power to detect your mood by reading your facial expressions, and can determine whether you’re angry, sad, sleepy or in good cheer. If your mood is heading towards the foul, it plays you your favourite music (which could make things worse if the timing’s wrong, one suspects) and engaging in light robotic banter. And if you’re falling asleep, your seat-belt gets tugged.
Nissan reckons most of these technologies are a decade away, and Toyota isn’t saying, but would you like a car that doubles as an electronic psychological companion?