Driving is a great way to stave off fitness. But before we all get too fat to fit into cars, Toyota's whipped up a system that allows our cars to help us stay healthy.
One of Toyota's most recent published patents is all about putting health goals inside the vehicle. A user can input a predetermined health goal into the car, and it will suggest ways to meet that goal -- for example, parking farther away from a destination and completing the last leg on foot.
The system uses both a car and a smartphone. A person can use an app to set a health goal, and that goal can be checked against the car's navigation destination. If it's possible to alter the route slightly to suggest a method of meeting that health goal, provided it hasn't already been met, the car will offer up suggestions for doing so. Since it's just a suggestion, a user that's feeling particularly lazy has no obligation to actually complete that goal.
With all the attention being paid to Fitbits and other fitness-oriented wearables , this seems like a natural way to adapt that lifestyle angle into the car-ownership experience. Not everyone has the option of walking from home to work, but if an owner can fit in a bit of exercise along the way, it could save both time and effort at other points in the day.
Of course, there's no guarantee that this will ever reach production. Automakers apply for and receive patents all the time, even though there might be zero intent to actually put it in cars. It's simply insurance that prevents other automakers from stealing and implementing the idea first. In the future, should it seem like a good idea, Toyota could then make moves to actually put the system in its vehicles.