It seems nothing is safe from the often mindless, but occasionally quite useful stream of consciousness that is Twitter. First the social network invaded our computers, then our smart phones -- and in a few years Denso wants it to hop into our cars.
The Japanese electronics firm has developed a simulator that previews its Resonance 2021 information, entertainment and guidance technology. This enables drivers to receive tweets based on events or services occurring in their local area and plots them on its sat-nav.
The whole thing is controlled by a voice-sensitive 'conductor'. You simply speak aloud your request (such as "doughnuts", or "jam tarts") and the conductor trawls through the Twitterverse looking for content that relates to that request.
Relevant tweets showing product offers, events and services are then displayed on the car's sat-nav for you to drive to -- a potentially useful trick when travelling in unfamiliar places or while on holiday.
Resonance 2021 also incorporates features that are more relevant to driving around areas you're more familiar with. It has a Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication system that allows it to talk to other similarly equipped cars, traffic lights and so on. This lets it discover whether there may be a significant amount of traffic or an accident on your route.
If you're worried about being distracted by all this information being thrown at you, don't fret -- Resonance 2021 has a couple of handy safety tricks up its virtual sleeve. As well as watching out for tweets, the conductor also watches the road ahead, using millimetre-wave radar, sonar sensors and the aforementioned vehicle-to-vehicle communications setup, to assess the risk of a potential collision between your vehicle and another.
Should it detect an imminent crash, it'll automatically take control of the steering wheel to divert the car away from that impact. Here's hoping there's some sort of mechanism to prevent it steering your car away from a potentially innocuous crash into one that's more serious, say, involving a small child.
We tried Denso's Resonance 2021 system in one of the company's cockpit simulators and found the Twitter-based services rather distracting, but with the system intended for release by 2012, we're sure there's plenty of time to iron out any kinks.
Click through our photo gallery above to see the system in closer detail.