CES 2019 is part car show, part tech extravaganza. And Honda ( HMC ) is leading the charge with a new prototype featuring commerce, rewards, infotainment, and other services accessible via your vehicle’s touchscreen display.
Dream Drive, which is in beta for Apple ( AAPL ) CarPlay-equipped Hondas, allows you to do everything from book a restaurant reservation and reserve a parking spot to order your favorite takeout on GrubHub ( GRUB ).
Better still, a secondary app for passengers allows you to collect points for basically just sitting in the car that can then be traded in for gift cards for major retailers and restaurants including Applebee’s and Gamestop ( GME ).
I got to check out Dream Drive, and it’s a fairly straightforward setup that should make spending time in the car a little more enjoyable.
Dreaming on the dash
To access the Dream Drive app from your dashboard, you’ll have to download an app onto your iPhone, then connect the handset to your vehicle. From there, you can switch to Apple CarPlay, and you’ll see an icon for Dream Drive on your car’s touchscreen.
The app itself features a scrollable list of items for making restaurant reservations via Yelp, reserving parking spaces via Arrive, and ordering your favorite takeout through GrubHub. A built-in payment system lets you complete transactions from your dashboard.
When you step out of your vehicle, you can open the Dream Drive app to present proof of your reservations or orders to parking attendants and restaurants. To ensure you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to order a triple bacon cheeseburger on GrubHub, Honda has made the entire reservation and purchase process accessible via voice controls.
Interestingly, Honda also gives you the ability to pay for gas from within your vehicle, so you only have to fill up your tank and take off without having to futz with the credit card scanner.
Honda isn’t the first company to offer this kind of solution. GM ( GM ) has a similar feature with its GM Marketplace app. Honda’s solution, though, operates through Apple’s CarPlay, while GM’s is only accessible via the automaker’s infotainment offering.
Earning while you drive
Dream Drive isn’t just an app for your infotainment system, though. There’s also a passenger portion of the app accessible via your iPhone or iPad. Called Day Dream Passenger, the offering is designed to keep the kids entertained in the backseat, while earning you in-app points that you can then trade in for real-world gift cards. The company says you’ll earn points while riding in your Honda vehicle, by viewing movie trailers and even while playing augmented reality games.
You’ll need a few thousand points to score a gift card, and collecting them takes time. What’s more, your car will recognize when you’re driving, since you’ll have to connect your iPhone or iPad to the vehicle’s Wi-Fi — so don’t expect to turn on your car, watch a few movie trailers in the driveway, and get a gift card.
Honda is working with a surprising number of diverse companies on the gift card end of things. I saw offerings from Adidas, Amazon, Applebee’s, Cabela’s, Dunkin, Gamestop, and a slew of others.
So why go through all of the trouble to offer users gift cards just for being passengers in Honda vehicles? Because, according to company representatives, doing so builds on customer satisfaction, which means owners and their passengers will be more likely to purchase a Honda vehicle in the future. Think of it as a long-term investment.
Dream Drive is still in beta, so it will take some time for it to make it into your vehicle. And by that time it will likely be a bit different from the experience here at CES. The company also says it’s working on an Android version. So fear not Google fans.
If Dream Drive takes off, though, it will certainly make for a more rewarding driving experience. See what I did there?
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