While the "Board of Awesomeness" might sound more like a college group project or a trivia night name than a team of professionals, Toyota does in fact have a research and design group that is more than happy to identify themselves with the moniker!
What does the board do? They're working together with Microsoft to develop hand gesture technology, where one can control features of a device by waving or moving their hands. According to Jim Lentz, President of Toyota Motor Sales, "Imagine a dashboard where there are no buttons to push… no screens to tap… and your eyes can remain focused on the road. That’s exactly what Toyota is working on.”
He made the statement while speaking at the 2012 LA Auto Show about the future of safety and technology. It makes sense too, considering voice recognition technology isn't perfect when it comes to understanding the different accents and dialects we all have. The combination of voice plus hand gestures working in tandem could prove to be very useful for future car related technology. The end goal is to increase driver safety while reducing distractions.
The Board of Awesomeness team members currently have a skateboard that can change speeds by raising or lowering one's hands. It almost looks like an accessory you'd buy for a Nintendo Wii, doesn't it?
Some of the technology that they're working on is helping to influence another project in Japan as well. Currently, you can get an Entune infotainment system equipped into most newer Toyota vehicles, but they're hoping to take the hands-free concepts of Entune one step further by giving your car the ability to recognize you. Imagine walking up to your car, having it scan your face, and unlock the doors or trunk for you! Then when you sit down behind the wheel, your car greets you with a friendly "Hello". That's the vision of the SMART Insect, a concept vehicle which Lentz also spoke about.
What kind of motion or hand gesture technology would you like to see in a future Toyota vehicle?