Within the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show, at the end of June, Toyota displayed the fourth episode in its Camatte series of exploratory concept vehicles. This year’s story was called Hajime (begin) and was a miniature copy of the car design process. It enabled children (and adults) to create their own vehicle concepts on a dedicated tablet and then drive their designs and themselves around a model town, all in augmented reality. Gizmag went along to experience the Camatte Vision for real.

Playful Journey

At Gizmag, we have been following the playful journey of the Camatte project for the past 3 years, with its goal of exploring the wonder of automobiles. With each passing year, it has blurred the line between a toy and a Toyota.

The story began in 2012, with three basic body designs, called the Sora, Daichi and Takumi. All of them had large swapable panels on a common electric powered chassis. This was followed in 2013 by two more designs, called the 57s and 57 sport. Both of these featured smaller sized panels and produced even more body variations, again on a common electric powered drive-able chassis. For 2014, in the Camatte Design Lab, all of the front panels were given a coating of LEDs, enabling them to duplicate children's designs, in both color and shape.

Reawakening the childhood dreams

And for this year’s story, the Camatte Vision aimed to reawaken the childhood dreams of the parents and share them with their children. Although the theme was a retro toy car play set, there was only one real Camatte vehicle on the stand at the Toy Show to play with. It had off-road style (swapable) bodywork, and still retained the Camatte signature center driving position with adjustable pedals and a child sized seat. Flanking this were two seats for the parents or instructor to sit close behind and keep an eye on proceedings.

Camatte Hajime specifications

  • Length: 3,020 mm (119 in)
  • Width: 1,320 mm (52 in)
  • Height: 1,240 mm (49 in)
  • Wheelbase: 1,800 mm (71 in)
  • Seating capacity: 3
  • Powertrain: Electric motor

The Creation process

Gizmag was lucky enough to be guided through the creation process by Kota Nezu, one of the main designers on the project and one of the originators of the Camatte concepts. He also has an extensive back catalog of creations from his time at Toyota, as well as having his own design company.

We started the creation process by me sitting in the real car. A photo was then taken with the dedicated tablet and my image was transferred onto a 3D model, again within the tablet. Next, I had a choice of 13 basic body styles, ranging from a firetruck to a hot-dog van and even a limo. And then there was a rainbow pallet of 12 colors to chose from, including white and black.

My own unique vehicle was now designed and then the building magic started. As the tablet was pointed at a white scale model of the Camatte, my design was slowly rendered in augmented reality.

After this, we moved to the driving area, a real model toy town. Then, pointing the tablet's camera at the real-world model town, we waited for AR me and my virtual design to appear out of the factory onscreen and drive down the road. For children, they would also see their parents or family sitting in the other two seats.

As the car drove along the road in augmented reality, I could move the tablet in any direction and position. However, my car was always driving along the road toward the finish area. Although, only my car was shown on my tablet, Kota Nezu explained that other cars driving along could also be shown.

To end the experience and be a lasting reminder of the event, a printed paper kit was given to me, it even had me in the driving seat, but only the new off-road Camatte design was available.

Camatte Vision proved popular

On the public days of the Tokyo Toy Show, the Toyota Camatte Vision proved a popular attraction for both children and adults alike. It was a great way of bringing the design process to the public in a very accessible way. In fact, it is a similar process to the augmented reality that enables adults to see their chosen configured car, in a real showroom.

Through the years, Toyota has been steadily making progress on its mission of understanding what children see in cars. So now it feels more able to better design cars for the new generation. Though the Tokyo Toy Show has now ended, this blurring of the lines between a toy and a Toyota can still be experienced at a permanent show at Mega Web in Tokyo. Here, children can get into the driving seat of previous Camatte vehicles for a real hands on experience.

"Who knows what 2016 will bring to the Camatte Series, as the story is currently being written", said Sumie Teraoka, the project leader. The Camatte Vision will become clearer if you take a look at the video below.

Source: Toyota

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