Have USB key, will travel

7 September 2005

Mazda SassouAt the Frankfurt show later this month, Mazda will exhibit its Sassou concept, which will showcase some clever ideas calculated to appeal to the iPod generation. The car includes a USB-based ignition key, for example, as interior designer Mickael Loyer explained to WorldCarFans.com: "We conceived the Sassou as having its own hard disk drive, security code recognition and Mazda software for owners, including a navigation program that could be downloaded onto the vehicle’s USB stick key. The owner could download the music he wants to listen to that day, directions to [a new] pub or beach hang-out, using the USB stick key on his computer at home. When he inserts it into the Mazda Sassou interface slot, it would then automatically download onto the concept’s hard drive."
A nice innovation and - the potential for viruses aside - one that sounds like the kind of idea destined to catch on.
More unlikely but in many ways more interesting is an attempt at helping the driver with the increasingly complex job of controlling in-car systems, beyond plonking a touch-screen in the middle of the centre console. The Sassou offers subtle visual feedback throughout the vehicle, to supplement on-screen graphics:

The interface with the driver is intuitive, with [a] joystick used to navigate into the menus and to select main functions. When a function is selected, fluid light circuits illuminate a path to the selected feature; say the air vents, in either the instrument panel or the door trim."

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