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Toyota Wants You to Use Its Technology for Good

The latest corporate crowdsourcing experiment comes via Toyota, which this week launched its “Ideas for Good” initiative–an opportunity for consumers to repurpose the company’s automotive technology to benefit society

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The latest corporate crowdsourcing experiment comes to us from Toyota, which this week launched its “Ideas for Good” initiative–an opportunity for consumers to repurpose Toyota automotive technology to benefit society outside of the automotive space. In return, winners will get to choose from one of three Toyota cars (2011 Prius, 2011 Highlander Hybrid or 2011 Venza) and be part of an “Idea Design Session” event.

The campaign, which is being produced in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi LA, asks entrants to work with five Toyota technologies:

Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS) – An advanced injury-simulation software that measures more than the conventional crash test dummy can.

Hybrid Synergy Drive® (HSD) – HSD converts braking energy into electricity. The hybrid system helps lower emissions while raising mpg.

Solar Powered Ventilation System – The Toyota Prius offers this system that helps keep the interior air
temperature near the outside ambient temperature, when the vehicle is
parked in direct sun.

Touch Tracer Display – An advanced touch-activated display system that allows drivers to
control music, temperature and other features from the steering wheel
without taking their eyes off the road. Touch Tracer is the first
display system in the world to allow steering wheel controls to read out
on the instrument panel.

Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS) – Available on the Toyota Prius, this system utilizes ultrasonic
sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect open parking spaces and
helps guide the car into those spaces with only soft driver braking.

Some of these technologies are already being used outside Toyota. THUMS, for example, is being used by Wake Forest University to study the effects of tackles and hits on football players. It is also being used by NASCAR to analyze the effects of high-speed impacts.

The benefits of Toyota’s crowdsourcing experiment are twofold: the brand gains recognition for some of its more innovative technologies, and it gets to leverage the ideas of the crowd, to boot.

Toyota is far from the first company to dabble in online crowdsourcing. Pepsi’s multimillion dollar Refresh grant program has been wildly successful, and GE’s recent $200 million Ecomagination Challenge captured the attention of environmentally-aware Internet junkies. Toyota’s promise of a shiny new car will probably be enough to get a decent number of participants in its contest.

Have an idea for Toyota? Entrants can submit ideas now on the Ideas for Good website. Community voting begins in April 2011, and the winners will be announced in May 2011.

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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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