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GM shows how interactive car windows could be fun for passengers

Consumer Reports News: January 18, 2012 03:08 PM

How do you fight boredom if you're stuck in the back seat during a long road trip? Surf the Web on your smart phone? Stare at the scenery and wonder what you're whizzing by? Researchers at General Motors, along with students at the Future Lab at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel, think there are ways to merge the two.

GM's Windows of Opportunity (WOO) Project asked the Israeli students to "conceptualize new ways to help rear seat passengers, particularly children, have a richer experience on the road." And what they came up with is quite stunning.

Using existing—albeit expensive—technology, the futurists created a prototype entertainment and information system that uses touch- and gesture-sensitive rear door windows. The system ties into the car's information systems—speed and location via GPS, for example—and the wireless Web. Four experimental "apps" displayed on the special window keep the back seat passenger entertained and informed.

According to the press release, the apps include:

  • Otto, an animated character projected over passing scenery that responds to real-time car performance, weather, and landscape. With Otto, passengers can learn about their environment in fun, playful ways.
  • Foofu, which allows passengers to create and explore by drawing on the window with a finger.
  • Spindow, a social media like app that connects riders with others passengers around the globe in real time.
  • Pond, an app that allows passengers to stream and share music with other cars on the road, download favorite tracks, and share messages with other passengers on the road.

The Bezalel Academy students demonstrate the prototype system in a video (see below), but there are no immediate plans to put such interactive displays in production vehicles, said GM's press release.

GM Explores Windows of Opportunity [General Motors press release]

Paul Eng

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