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Last Summer Toyota showed off its Window to the World technology created in partnership with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. It turned a rear window into an augmented-reality screen that would keep kids interested in something other than asking "Are we there yet?" Now General Motors has showed off a similar bit of kit called Windows of Opportunity, developed with the Bezalel School of Art and Design in Israel.

GM's Windows concept is aimed just as much at kids as adults. The team came up with four different apps that provided interactivity ranging from a virtual take on drawing on foggy windows to checking what was on other augmented windows on cars around the world. We're probably a long way from seeing something like this in production, but you know you can look forward to the day when your kid monitors your driving style from his child seat. Follow the jump for the full press release and a short video on GM's new tech.

Show full PR text
GM Explores Windows of Opportunity
University project envisions smart interactive windows for rear passengers

DETROIT – Got backseat boredom? DVD players and Game Boys are so five years ago, but a new concept in rear seat entertainment technology that uses the windows themselves could replace squirminess and snoozing with interactive scribbling, sweeping and pinching.

General Motors Research and Development put that challenge before researchers and students from the FUTURE LAB at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel. The task: Conceptualize new ways to help rear seat passengers, particularly children, have a richer experience on the road.

The Windows of Opportunity (WOO) Project was inspired by psychological studies indicating car passengers often feel disconnected from their environment, 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."

Since GM has no immediate plans to put interactive display windows into production vehicles, the R&D team gave free reign to the Bezalel students to create applications without concern whether they could be mass produced. Bezalel is Israel's oldest institute of higher education and one of the more prestigious schools of its kind in the world.

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, an app that allows passengers to create, explore and discover through finger drawing on window steam.
- Spindow, an app that provides its users a peek into other users' windows around the globe in real time.
- Pond, an app that allows passengers to stream and share music with other cars on the road, downloads favorite tracks, and share messages with other passengers on the road.

To demonstrate these apps, the students produced a full scale functional prototype of a rear passenger seat and side window. The students used motion and optical sensor technology developed by EyeClick to turn standard window glass into a multi-touch and gesture sensitive surface.

If such interactive windows were put into automotive production they likely would use electronically charged "smart glass" technology, which is capable of variable states of translucence and transparency, and can reflect projected images. Smart glass is increasingly used in architectural and display applications, but outside of movies like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is rarely seen in cars.

"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."

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      But who wants some kid dragging his/her greasy fingers all over their car windows?
      Robert Fahey
      • 3 Years Ago
      Soon we'll sound like old farts, reminiscing about family time at the dinner table, in the living room, pre-Internet, pre-cell phones, pre-video games -- and about unplugged family rides.
      • 3 Years Ago
      So kids, who have hands of milk, candy, chocolate, ketchup, dirt, etc will be motivated to constantly touch the windows from the minute they get into the car until exiting? HAHAHAHAHA Designers of this have no kids or has a personal car washer to wash windows everyday. Fail.
      David S.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looking forward to the day when we'll all be driving around with crudely drawn pictures of penises on our rear windshields.
        XJ Yamaha
        • 3 Years Ago
        @David S.
        Digital penises, not those low-brow dirt/dust ones. That's when we know technology has reached the next level.
      James Hancock
      • 3 Years Ago
      The front one is FAR MORE IMPORTANT! In mirror image too! "HEY DIPSHIT! You're not the only one on the highway! Pull over!" or "HEY DIPSHIT! Left Lane for passing only! PULL OVER!" or "Yes that's right DIPSHIT, I flashed my lights because you're obstructing traffic!" or "Don't get mad at me, you're the DIPSHIT blocking traffic!" or "Paved shoulder for pulling over to get out of the way DIPSHIT!" You get the idea. Unless there is a sign Americans don't have a clue what to do. And since the government won't enforce traffic obstruction laws we need some way to tell these morons to get over. (doing 1 mph faster on cruise control than the guy you're trying to pass because your cruise control isn't adaptive and heaven for bid you just match the speed of the guy in front of you, is NOT PASSING PEOPLE. Get out, get back in ASAP. Pretend there is oncoming traffic if you need motivation. A sign that I could communicate (especially on I90 from Buffalo to Albany!) with these idiots would be great. They don't see high beam flash during the day, and apparently don't have a clue what the left hand ticker means when I'm in the left lane already (get the **** over moron, the lane isn't for driving, it's for passing!) or are oblivious of what's in their mirror or have their mirrors incorrectly adjusted so they can't see my left blinker.... So a sign would be great!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Hancock
        Have you ever given thought to an anger management class?
          • 3 Years Ago
          Anger Management classes pi$$ me off /i saw that on a t-shirt
        James Hancock
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Hancock
        Better yet... how about a hack into their stereos so that I could tell them in person? That would be great!!!
      Robert Pellegrino
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think it will come to fruition for two reasons. 1) The glare at night will be an epic distraction for the driver and will hinder his or her ability to change lanes and look over their shoulder properly. 2) In addition, if there is some type of touch interface on the system, back seat riders will no longer sit properly in the seat, instead being twisted to look at the screen. This will create massive issues when they inevitably get rear-ended seriously hurt their backs because they were not properly entertained. Call me a traditionalist, but better integration into the back seats is a much better suggestion as it keeps the occupants in their seats. In addition, it seems like a cheaper alternate to putting some type of holographic projection system into a door so that people can use the glass. Besides, whatever happened to looking out the window and experiencing the world? I want to take a drive across the country just so I can look out the window and see these landscapes. Part of me weeps for the future of kids with hunched backs who will not know what to do when there is a power outage and their ipad dies.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not sure if they realize this but people don't actually sit in FRONT of the rear passenger windows of cars. They sit NEXT to them. Imagine sitting in a theater with the screen on your right or left or sitting at your desk at work in the same orientation and you'll start to understand how uncomfortable and annoying this technology would be to actually use.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can you look at pron with the thing?
      Randy Perkins
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great more distractions while driving 2 tons of vehicle down the road.
      • 3 Years Ago
      sounds like a more efficient way to cause road rage homicides.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yup, that's safe if you need to look over your shoulder to change lanes. And honestly why? Its dumb, If you're on a road trip, how about TALKING to your kids or entertaining them yourself, without giving them your tablets or smartphones. Its not that hard. I know that sounds corny, but who cares? not like anyone else can hear you.
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