Toyota’s GPS App Lets Kids Drive From the Backseat

The ToyToyota "Backseat Driver" app lets kids in the backseat take a virtual drive, linked by GPS to the parent's actual driving route. Along with social capabilities and game-play functions, the technology generates happy-happy, idealized animated representations of the mundane scenery and landmarks gliding past outside. Check out the clip below of a drive through Tokyo. At roughly the 1-minute mark, note the single tree on the approach to the Ferris wheel—not the dozens of leafy representations brought to cartoonish life by the handset display. The real urban route being traversed features lots of utilitarian pavement and overpasses, while the app for some reason shows roads lined with colored pencils and rainbows—rainbows everywhere! Heck, if Godzilla showed up and began stomping on hapless salarymen, the app would show a smiley Barney-saur picking posies by the roadside. Most odd, at one point, the app seems to depict a drive through the clouds into heaven, as if the car crashed and everyone aboard had died. One YouTube commenter wryly observes, "Those people [in the ads] look virtual too." Another wag, referring to the little girl in the video, adds: "It's mindwashing. When I was her age I used to play with a fucking stick." Sigh, didn't we all? Besides, the app won't keep youngsters docile for long. Kids will poke their parents every three minutes to show them the on-screen graphics and use the handsets to whack their siblings repeatedly in the face. On a long car trip with kids, that reality's virtually guaranteed.