No, it’s not a laptop computer, but new interactive window technology that General Motors is exploring with the help of researchers and students at Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. The “windows” in question are those in the rear of family vehicles.
The idea is an intriguing one: to provide new ways of informing and entertaining backseat passengers, especially children, during extended trips. GM calls the project “Windows of Opportunity,” or WOO.
GM's Windows of Opportunity project.Enlarge Photo
It’s important to point out that GM has no immediate plans to put any of this into production vehicles, but there may come a time when it will make sense.
Our sister publication MotorAuthority has all the details on WOO and how it works, so definitely go there to check it out. Needless to say, we’re fascinated by Otto and Foofu and Pond and Spindow.
After all, today’s 20-something buyers, the so-called Millennials, grew up more familiar with computers than their parents. A recent Gartner study found that younger consumers are obsessed with technology. Their younger siblings live in a world where tablets and smartphones are the go-to medium for everything from entertainment to news to information and communication. Even school textbooks via iBook may soon be the preferred educational route.
Think of how much time children spend in the traditional family people movers like the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country and the like, as well as SUVs such as the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and crossovers like the Ford Explorer and Flex, Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and others.
Any parent who’s transported assorted offspring, the family pet, and various and sundry games, juice boxes, snacks and gear on trips of any great length knows that it’s not always easy to maintain peace and quiet in the second and third rows. And finding enough outlets for all those portable devices sometimes creates a problem as well.
Why not utilize existing real estate in the vehicle, the backseat windows, for purposes other than just looking out at the passing landscape? Imagine all kinds of games, interactive lesson plans, movies, and instant chat, all played out using the high-tech equipped interactive windows of the future?
While there are many hurdles that have to be overcome before any such design project like the one GM is involved in could become a reality and show up on family cars, things like safety considerations, build complexity, pricing threshold and more, but such an idea isn’t totally unrealistic, is it?
Maybe this will never fly, but it’s good to know that designers are going beyond the normal constraints and literally thinking out of the box.
When and it interactive windows do come to pass, please make the activity invisible to drivers and passengers in other passing vehicles. No need to wonder what in the world that little kid is drawing on the window to the point where an accident ensues.
Of course, there’ll still be the inevitable fights over who gets the window seat.