Everyone is riding the virtual reality wave, even Toyota's new car.
The Japanese car manufacturer will be showcasing its new 2017 Prius Prime during TechCrunch's Disrupt SF 16, an event held for startup debuts. However, instead of the conventional rotating platforms, Toyota will allow people to take the new car for a drive — a virtual one.
Enlisting the services of neofuturistic concept artist Sydney Jay Mead, better known as Syd Mead, Toyota produced a virtual world that is filled with futuristic urban structures, vehicles and various landscapes. People can navigate through the simulated world using an HTC Vive VR headset. With the aid of a hydraulically driven mechanical bucket seat, the "4D" VR experience, which Toyota named as "The Impossible Quest," gets closer to the real-world conditions of driving a car.
Note that Syd Mead's projects are featured on films such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, Elysium and TRON.
"It's actually really convincing when paired with the movements from the seat," writes TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington. "You actually have to buckle up when you use it, which I thought was just something to encourage safety in a cutesy way, but which actually is designed to prevent people potentially being thrown from the bucket seat."
"You're behind the wheel of the new Prius Prime and must safely deliver a mysterious stranger and his even more mysterious package to his destination, all while outrunning and outmaneuvering a cadre of villains who are in pursuit," says Engadget's Andrew Tarantola who also got to try out The Impossible Quest. "The experience has the user navigating an ever changing cityscape."
Tarantola adds that to further enhance the experience, Toyota blasts the driver with air and water vapors at select moments. Successfully dropping the villains and arriving at the designated location, the passenger will show the driver that package's contents.
Complimenting VR driving experience is something akin to the Google's Tilt Brush, a program that lets users draw in 3D space. Originally, the Toyota planned to use Tilt Brush since it comes bundled the HTC Vive. However, with Tilt Brush's limitations in exporting finished pieces, Toyota employed Saatchi & Saatchi, a global communications and advertising agency, to create similar software.
So what's so important about exporting the artwork created by users that Toyota needed a whole new one designed? It becomes the content of the mysterious package that the passenger is holding. Hence, the driver gets to see his own creation. Yep.