Sony Corp. is offering to make Japanese drivers with the habit of singing in their cars into television stars. Albeit briefly.
The Japanese electronics giant is encouraging people to record themselves and their passengers singing along to the Tamio Okuno song "Easy Rider" through the upgraded Na-vu automated navigation system and entering their effort into a competition on YouTube. Dozens of auditions are already available on the site.
Sony's judges have already selected a first winner, who took home the cash equivalent of 10 years of domestic vacations. According to a study by the government, the average Japanese person takes a trip within the country 2.77 times a year and the cost is Y30,390 (€228.92), so Sony is providing the winner with Y842,999 (€6,350.18).
The company is also planning to use the best 18 performances in a series of television adverts that will air later this month, as well as a 60-second compilation of the top entries on prime-time TV on December 20.
A second round of online auditions in the country that came up with the concept of karaoke is scheduled to be judged in January with a similar prize at stake.
"We released the new navigation system in November but we really wanted to find a way to have people take part in the promotion and understand the concept of putting more fun into driving," Yuki Kobayashi, a spokeswoman for Sony, told Relaxnews.
Navigation systems come as standard in most Japanese vehicles now and the Na-vu has all the usual functions, such as maps and GPS functions, plus live updates on traffic flows and congested roads, but Sony has made it more user-friendly.
The system - which comes in three sizes and a wide range of colors, including shocking pink - can be taken out of the vehicle and even has modes to help pedestrians and cyclists find their way through cities.
The digital television function also enables the gadget to show TV shows and videos or play music, either in the car or when it is outside the vehicle. The device also interfaces with Sony Blu-Ray to play recorded programs.