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Students experiment with interactive window glass for GM

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0800

General Motors is thinking long term for its back-seat entertainment. It worked with students from the Future Lab at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel to develop apps that run on a car's rear side windows.

The project, called Windows of Opportunity, was inspired by studies that say passengers often feel disconnected from their environments. GM asked the students to design interactive displays for children that would stimulate awareness, nurture curiosity and encourage a connection with the outside world.

The students had free reign on the project, without worrying about cost or scale. GM says it has no immediate plans to put the displays in production vehicles.

The students produced a full-scale functional prototype of a rear seat and window. They used motion and optical sensors developed by EyeClick to turn the window glass into an iPad-like multitouch and gesture-sensitive surface.

The first app called Otto projects an animated character over passing scenery that responds to the car's performance, weather and landscape. With Otto, according to GM, passengers can learn about their environment in playful ways.

Foofu allows passengers to create, explore and discover by finger drawing on fake window steam.

Spindow is a link to other people's interactive windows around the globe in real time. The future could see kids talking to each other and joining in on multiplayer games.

Pond is an app that lets passengers stream and share music with other cars on the road, download tracks and share messages with other passengers on the road.

GM says that if interactive windows were put into automotive production they would use electrically charged smart glass that is capable of various states of translucence and transparency and can reflect projected images.

"Projects like this 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 at the GM Advanced Technical Center in Israel.

By Jake Lingeman