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TOYOTA AND MICROSOFT TELEMATICS PROJECTS

Monday, June 13th, 2011
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Toyota and Microsoft plan to participate in a $12 million investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a TMC subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers. They plan to implement telematics

telematics

telematics

applications using Windows Azure platform technology, which includes Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure, starting with TMC’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.

Telematics refers to automobile systems that integrate computing, wireless communications, and GPS for sending and receiving information that provide a variety of emergency and navigational services to motorists. Telematics devices allow a driver to interact with his vehicle in his own voice to browse the Internet, send and receive e-mails, receive live traffic updates, listen to satellite radio, and perform various other activities. In emergency situations the telematics system sends a message to an operator. Within seconds, after confirming the safety of the passengers, the operator sends help. The GPS unit tells the operator where to send the police and ambulance. The best part is that all these things can be done hands-free.

Toyota’s goal is to have a complete global cloud platform positioned by 2015 that will provide affordable and advanced telematics services to Toyota automotive customers around the world. Trials are being conducted in Japan through the Toyota Smart Center pilot program, with plans to link people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption. Toyota believes that as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles become more popular, such systems will rely more on telematics services for achieving efficient energy management.

Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota has stated that the new partnership between Microsoft and Toyota is an important step in developing greater future mobility and energy management for consumers around the world to develop a new link between vehicles, people and smart center energy-management systems.

TOYOTA’S MOBILE APP i-STRATEGY

Monday, March 14th, 2011
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Toyota Mobile app i-Strategy

Toyota has turned to a business philosophy known as kaizen, or fanatical focus on continuous improvement for the company’s  aggressive mobile app i-strategy.

Toyota wanted to build a mobile shopping app that would let consumers window shop among its 16 types of vehicles with more than 130 color options, find nearby dealers, and even take pictures of a vehicle identification number, or VIN, to get specific information about a car.

Toyota decided to deliver a mobile shopping app tuned for the iPhone, but then followed up with an Android app two weeks later and a BlackBerry app two weeks after that. Then Toyota added the VIN-photo feature to all three platforms. Today, Toyota is working on a tablet app that takes advantage of the iPad 2’s camera.

Companies looking to tap into the power of mobile apps often think they either have to develop a native app for a single platform or a vanilla app for multiple platforms. A native app leverages all of a platforms strengths yet risks the future if the platform falters. A vanilla app can run on and add features across platforms yet usually doesn’t offer a compelling user experience.

So how did Toyota get the best of both worlds?

A Mobile App Conundrum…
In the early days of smartphones, there was only one clear choice for app developer: iPhones. But the emergence of Android devices and all of its OS flavors has cast a harsh light on the issue. A recent Nielsen survey found that Android is the most popular smartphone operating system in the United States, surpassing both iPhone and BlackBerry; mobile app developers can no longer ignore the Android platform.

The pendulum is swinging toward multi-platform apps and even browser-based Web services on tablets, given that tablets’ big browsers render Web sites well. (Toyota decided against pinning its tablet strategy on Web services, because its Web site uses a lot of Flash, which isn’t supported on the iPad Safari browser.)

Among tablets, the iPad will no doubt increase its lead with iPad 2 shipping last week. According to results of a ChangeWave Research survey released last week, 82 percent of future tablet buyers say they’ll be purchasing an iPad. But iPad’s dominance is far from certain given the more than 80 Android tablets coming to market this year. Will they follow in the footsteps of Android smartphones?

Toyota believes it has found a way to sidestep the native platform vs. multiplatform dilemma: Build for Apple iOS using tools that make it easy to port to Android and BlackBerry. Toyota uses top advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi to design the front-end of the iPhone and iPad apps, and Kony Solutions for the back-end ties into Toyota’s database.

While Kony supports multiple platforms under the “write once, run anywhere” mantra, Bjorn Hildahl, director of product management at Kony, says his company employs more than 100 research-and-development employees dedicated to various platforms (including Android OS flavors) in order to deliver the native user experience.

“We make sure it feels and looks like, say, an iOS app,” Hildahl says. “We take all the native widgets, such as a day picker or scroll wheel, and expose it to the Kony APIs.”

If a new device comes out on a platform Kony supports, Kony promises to support the device in 30 days or less. For a new OS version, it’s 90 days or less. “You don’t have to worry about who’s going to win in the mobile platform arena,” Hildahl says.

The iPhone is really the standard bearer for smartphones and Toyota will design specifically for the iPhone. Android is the same functionality and somewhat of the same user interface. As long as the innovation leader continues to innovate, the thinking goes, it makes sense to follow the leader. It also helps that the majority of potential Toyota customers use Apple mobile devices.

YOUR NEXT TOYOTA A VIRTUAL ROLLING WI-FI SMARTPHONE ON WHEELS

Monday, November 29th, 2010
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Your Next Toyota May Be A Virtual Rolling WI-Fi Smart Phone Thanks To Up-Coming Technology!

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Alcatel-Lucent, through a consortium called the ng Connect Program, launched the LTE Connected Car concept to demonstrate in-vehicle broadband connectivity based on 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile access technology. It said the LTE Connected Car, which is based on an operating system from QNX Software, enables a variety of mobile applications and services not possible with current wireless technologies.

The firm described its concept vehicle as “a virtual smartphone on wheels.” It said it combined an LTE broadband radio link, which brings cloud-based multimedia services into the car, with an in-vehicle WiFi environment that supports integration with traditional home-based services. Combined, these capabilities enable this networked concept vehicle to offer a wide range of navigation, personal security, vehicle wellness, and infotainment services to drivers and passengers.

The LTE Connected Car offers independently operated touchscreens and software that provide access to multiple applications and forms of content. The prototype system supports the creation of interactive connected experiences that can be tailored to the individual preferences and requirements of drivers and passengers. 

Applications and content include:

  • Video on demand – an endless catalog of video content, including movies, recorded TV programs and user-generated content. New content can be rented or purchased in-car for media playback there or paused and finished at home.
  • Gaming – multi-player games played within the vehicle, in other cars or with players anywhere in the world.
  • Audio Library –an endless music catalog is accessible from the cloud.
  • Home control – direct connection from the concept car to home automation and security systems to manage climate control systems, lighting, etc.  or monitor home or business IP security cameras with streaming video feeds.
  • Enhanced communications services – calls and messaging services with a hands-free experience and access to social networks available to anyone in the car.
  • eCommerce – Web browsing and access to one of the concept’s many applications to buy right from the car.
  • Wi-Fi hotspot –in-car Wi-Fi network for full utilization of all Wi-Fi enabled in-car devices and connectivity to the cloud via LTE.
  • Advanced Navigation – the convenience of immediate, real-time GPS updates with point-of-interest overlay and integrated location-based services.
  • Enhanced safety, convenience and security – always-on LTE connectivity for real-time traffic, weather and road condition alerts to help improve driver safety in addition to the convenience of proactive vehicle health monitoring including maintenance scheduling, security monitoring and theft protection.
  • Road and vehicle monitoring – The concept vehicle becomes the sensor; a single platform for the collection and interactivity of vehicle status, location and road conditions that can be shared with other drivers.

Firms collaborating on the LTE Connected Car, in addition to Alcatel-Lucent and QNX Software Systems, are  Atlantic Records, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., chumby, and Kabillion.

TOYOTA TOUCH TRACER,HOT SAFETY, CONVENIENCE FEATURE

Friday, September 10th, 2010
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We can all Agree that anything that prevents a driver from looking away from the road is a big plus, and that’s why Toyota steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise controls that make it easy toToyotaPriusSteeringWheel change the radio station or pump up the volume without fumbling around with the middle console have become staple features for many Toyota models.

Still, auto engineers have observed that drivers often look down even when using steering-wheel buttons. Toyota has developed Touch Tracer technology that helps keep eyes looking at the road and it works well.

So what is Toyota Touch Tracer technology? When a steering-wheel mounted control is activated, a holographic image appears over the speedometer. Two blue circles appear, mimicking the shape of the controls on the steering wheel and highlighting the button being pushed in orange. Once the adjustment is complete, the circles fade away.

It’s a very simple concept but the execution is brilliant.

In testing, I was able to see with my peripheral vision what I had pushed, and even in instances where I had selected the wrong button, I was able to make the correction without taking my eyes off the road.

Currently, the feature is only available on the Toyota Prius, although Lexus offers a similar option called Remote Touch. This feature may be added to the rest of the Toyota line in the near future.

TOYOTA AVALON ILLUSTRATES WIRELESS STANDARD Qi

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
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Check out the Toyota Avalon Interior with functional spots for two phones…, 2010-01-09fultonpage A cool display by Fulton Innovation demonstrating the industry standard angle eCoupled called Qi.

Qi’s going to be backed by some really big names including Motorola, Nokia, RIM, Energizer, Duracell, Samsung, and Phillips along with others.

The goal of Qi is for all kinds of wireless technology to seamlessly play together,,, And what a great way to present the concept by using a Toyota !