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Rinspeed BamBoo: Forward-Thinking Concept, Or Deathtrap For Generation Y?

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For weeks -- nay, months -- we've been puzzling over the Rinspeed BamBoo. That's not surprising; Swiss tuner Rinspeed is known for rolling out wacky, weird, and occasionally, idiotic concept vehicles. (Though they sometimes earn points for pushing the envelope.) But the BamBoo is different.

The one thing you can say about most Rinspeed models is that they stand out. The typical Rinspeed is a low-grade supercar-cum-Tardis. The BamBoo, however, is more of a Jeep Wrangler-cum-dune buggy, mated with a MINI Beachcomber. Some have argued -- perhaps a bit too generously -- that the BamBoo is meant to represent the essence of a car, its Platonic ideal, but most critics have simply found it boring. Sadly, its tech features are pretty lackluster, too.

Rinspeed & HARMAN

The BamBoo features a HARMAN infotainment system. Naturally, that system incorporates HARMAN's popular Aha Radio app, which not only works as an internet or satellite radio, but also tracks traffic and reads text messages, emails, tweets, and Facebook updates. The BamBoo also comes with a wifi router, so everyone in the car can stay connected to the web without relying on dodgy mobile networks.

Unfortunately, this doesn't represent anything radical or different from what every other automaker in the world is doing. Rinspeed and HARMAN have taken bits and pieces of other services, like OnStar, MyFord Touch, and countless apps, and jammed them together like a leftover casserole.

It's true that the BamBoo's theoretical target market -- Generation Y -- would be smitten with the model's social features, but Rinspeed and HARMAN have failed to address the real issue, which is how to keep drivers in sync with their social networks without endangering the lives of everyone else on the freeway. (Have a look at the first pic above. Note the driver, doodling on her tablet behind the wheel. Oprah would have a conniption fit.)

Bottom line

We're all for connectivity. Heck, even if we didn't like the ability to communicate with friends and family at the swipe of a button, we're smart enough to recognize that connectivity is the way of the future. Anyone who doesn't think cars are the next major base for social interaction is seriously off-course. (At least we hope so: otherwise, we built this site for nothing.) Sadly, however, the BamBoo features social technology simply for the sake of its bells and whistles. You could get most of the Bamboo's features with a couple of decent apps and a refurbished mobile router.

For an overview of the BamBoo, here's a video of hungry blonde people frolicking in its vicinity. Should you crave even more info, we've pasted a press release below.

* * * * *

HARMAN Automotive Connectivity and Advanced Audio Solutions Make the “BamBoo” Concept Car from Rinspeed a Social Networking Hub

GENEVA MOTOR SHOW, Geneva, Switzerland – HARMAN, the premium global audio and infotainment group (NYSE: HAR), is lending its most innovative connectivity and audio solutions to help create the world’s first social networking vehicle – the Rinspeed BamBoo electric concept car.

Reflecting consumer desires for both a greener and increasingly networked lifestyle, HARMAN is showcasing a range of connectivity solutions that balance safety, convenience, and driving enjoyment, along with HARMAN’s GreenEdge™ energy efficient audio solutions and HALOsonic™ technologies for electric vehicles during the Geneva Motor Show.

Using HARMAN’s next-generation, scalable infotainment platform as the core, a number of networking and connectivity options have been integrated into the system to bring the youthful and social concept vehicle to life. The infotainment head unit includes the full functionality of HARMAN’s Aha Radio technology, which uses intuitive voice technologies and its patent-pending predictive search technology to help reduce the distractions of accessing online and social media content. The Aha Radio application translates text-based digital content to voice and plays it back within the car, making driving safer and more comfortable. With Aha Radio, drivers and passengers can monitor traffic, hear Twitter and Facebook updates, play podcasts from their favorite channels, or listen to streaming music via the Internet or satellite.


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