20.01.12

GM entertains passengers with interactive windows

General Motors is transforming back seat car windows into interactive displays that allow passengers to play games, draw pictures and interact with other motorists or window users around the world. EyeClick motion and optical sensor technology was used to turn standard window glass into a multi-touch and gesture sensitive surface. The GM ‘Windows of Opportunity’ project follows ‘Window to the World’, a very similar concept that Toyota unveiled in the summer of 2012.

GM says that if the interactive windows were put into automotive production they would probably use electronically charged "smart glass" technology. This is capable of variable states of translucence and transparency, and can reflect projected images.

For the Windows of Opportunity (WOO) project, General Motors Research and Development presented researchers and students from the FUTURE LAB at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel with the task of conceptualising ways to enrich passenger experience. GM asked the Bezalel students to turn car windows into interactive displays capable of stimulating awareness, nurturing curiosity and encouraging a stronger connection with the world outside the vehicle.

"Traditionally, the use of interactive displays in cars has been limited to the driver and front passenger, but we see an opportunity to provide a technology interface designed specifically for rear seat passengers," said Tom Seder, GM R&D lab group manager for human-machine interface. "Advanced windows that are capable of responding to vehicle speed and location could augment real world views with interactive enhancements to provide entertainment and educational value."

Applications that were develop include an animated character called Otto that is projected over passing scenery and responds to data such as car speed, weather and landscape.

Foofu, allows passengers to draw with their finger on window steam and Spindow provides its users a peek into other users’ windows around the globe in real time.

Passengers can stream and share music with other cars on the road using an application called Pond, which also provides the capability to post messages to other passengers.

To demonstrate these apps, the students produced a full scale functional prototype of a rear passenger seat and side window.

"Projects like WOO are invaluable, because working with designers and scholars from outside of the automotive industry brings fresh perspective to vehicle technology development," said Omer Tsimhoni, lab group manager for human-machine interface, GM Advanced Technical Center in Israel. "WOO is just one of many projects underway at GM that could reinvent the passenger experience in years to come."