In-car infotainment and driving blur with Honda's 'Dream Drive'
A DC comic comes to life in the backseat.
A DC comic comes to life in the backseat.
Image: Honda

Honda wants to turn time spent in the car into an opportunity to shop, play, and get things done —even if you're in the driver's seat. Honda calls this in-car experience the "Dream Drive."

In a Honda Odyssey minivan, John Moon, managing director of strategic partnerships at Honda Innovations, showed off the new concept platform in the car's infotainment system for drivers and passengers. 

First on the driver side is a custom-made Honda app for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Moon said 2 million Honda cars already have the phone-connected infotainment systems in them. So this is a way to offer a customized "Honda" experience on those screens.

The app, made in collaboration with car AI platform ConnectedTravel, is mostly focused on voice search that helps users find parking, gas stations, make reservations, or order food. Partnerships with Grubhub, Atom Tickets, Chevron, iHeartRadio, Parkopedia, Phillips 66, and Yelp feed into the app.

It's a very similar interface to Apple's CarPlay, focusing on a combination of touch and voice. "Voice is perfect mode for the car, but we think a merge of both works much better," Moon said as he asked the system to "Find parking in Las Vegas." Parking garages came up through the Arrive parking platform and he pushed a "Reserve" button on the first listing. That pulled up a payment screen where credit card info was plugged in and once he reserved a spot a digital pass was then available on his phone.

The Honda-made system was not initially supposed to be redundant with apps and services already available on your phone and infotainment system, but since it is, Honda is integrating a rewards program to encourage more use of the platform. For every game you play or food delivery you order from Dream Drive, you earn Honda points or coins, which are then redeemable for real-life rewards at places like AMC movie theaters, Airbnb rentals, or CVS drug stores.

The console screen displays the app.

The console screen displays the app.

Image: bridget bennett / mashable

Parking pass acquired.

Parking pass acquired.

Image: Bridget bennett / mashable

"Brought-in tech" (aka tablets and smartphones) are an expected part of the passenger experience at this point — especially with kids, so Moon's team developed a complementary service that works with the built-in tech hardwired into the car. You can even control the car's climate settings from the Honda app.

A connected tablet brings outside tech into the car experience.

A connected tablet brings outside tech into the car experience.

Image: BRIDGET BENNETT / MASHABLE

Mixed-reality games from Octonauts and Lego have an AR feel and know you're in the car. You move along with the car ride as part of the game. Moon says eventually a building like the Stratosphere could "become" a giant palm tree or an underwater coral reef.

Honda has animated comics, movies, and other media options on the app from partnerships with DC, Entercom/Radio.com, the LEGO Group, Silvergate Media and the Octonauts team, and Univision Music. It's working to make the games and videos optimized for a car experience, but Honda's not getting into film or video game production any time soon, Moon assured.

Playing with a Lego game on the go.

Playing with a Lego game on the go.

Image: BRIDGET BENNETT / MASHABLE

All of this is building up for an inevitable autonomous car experience. "This might be the only way you interact with the car because the car is autonomous," Moon said about the connected app. The  Dream Drive in-car platform isn't here yet, but it's coming together as more media and business partners get involved.

Until then, the Grubhub app on your smartphone will need to be your method to order food delivery. Darn.

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