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Friday, November 08, 2013, 08:43 am PT (11:43 am ET)

Toyota's 'dream' 4Runner SUV controlled by Apple iPads

A California fabricator unveiled a customized Toyota 4Runner controlled by a fleet of iPads during a Toyota-sponsored competition at the 2013 SEMA aftermarket parts trade show in Las Vegas.

Dashboard-mounted iPad

An iPad in the dashboard controls functions like windows and door locks | Source: USA Today


The SUV, dubbed the "Ultimate Dream Ski 4Runner," was designed in conjunction with X Games-winning freestyle skier Simon Durmont. According to a report from USA Today, nearly every interior feature of the vehicle can be controlled from one of five iPads, from the volume of the audio system to opening and closing the windows.

The iPads also help actuate accessibility features, like a set of retractable running boards and an innovative enclosed ski rack system that sits atop the 4Runner's roof rails. At the tap of an iPad-based virtual button, the rack opens to reveal the skis and lowers them down to a more manageable position.

Jon Tondro of Herbst Smith Fabrication, team leader on the project, called the components "James Bond-like."



Apple's iOS devices have been used by the automotive industry in innovative and unexpected ways since the unveiling of the original iPhone in 2007. Volkswagen and stablemate Audi, for instance, have recently shown prototypes for iPad-based augmented reality repair and maintenance systems.

Cupertino is also making a first-party push into consumers' vehicles, expanding on the already popular iPod and iPhone integration. In 2012, the company unveiled Siri Eyes Free, which would bring a dedicated steering wheel button that would enable drivers to use the Siri personal digital assistant through the car's audio system.

At this year's Worldwide Developer's Conference, Apple went even further with iOS in the Car, bringing iOS features like navigation and iMessages to dashboard-mounted touch screens. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the company's automative strategy "very, very important" and "a key focus" for Apple.