Here’s a welcome new app for anyone who has ever endured a long and arduous car ride with small children.
Back in the days before the introduction of the in-car DVD player - when car journeys with kids meant dealing with travel sickness, feet being kicked into your lower back from behind and endless shouts of “are we there yet?” - distractions for kids generally involved playing some form of game , such as I Spy or ‘how many red cars can you spot?’.
Now, with an influx of in-car entertainment, kids are generally quieter, but often just passive absorbers of media. Their experiences – whether its zoned out to yet another episode of iCarly or deep within the realms of Pokémon Black on their Nintendo DS - having no bearing on the journey itself.
Toyota’s new ‘Backseat Driver’ app challenges this notion of in-car entertainment, harking back to simple social activities between parent and child, turning the normally dull adult journey into a moment of shared playtime.
Utilising GPS the mobile app enables children to drive the same route as their parent – albeit a far more colourful one – collecting points for making correct turns and reaching landmark destinations as they go. As the player builds up points these can be used to customise their vehicle.
There is a rather odd Twitter integration built into the app that aims to promote player's journeys through social media, which seems to imply that pre-school children are active micro-bloggers. That aside, its a smart use of GPS-enabled tech which helps to facilitate family unity – and therein the ideal family car - through social gaming.
The Toy Toyota app, which is free to download, is part of the brand’s ongoing initiatives to promote its hybrid Prius vehicle.