Windows of Opportunity, a GM technology for interactive car windows

GM Rear Window Apps

General Motors wants to entertain you as you are seated in the back-seat of your car. They claim the fun is nolonger in DVDs pitched to the seats, or playing Game Boys. The new technology they recently introduced will make you want to keep your windows shut all through the journey, or even travel more. Note, backseat only. The General Motors Research and Development together with FUTURE LAB at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel put up this technology called Windows of Opportunity (WOO) that makes backseat windows interactive. This was inspired by psychology 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.

This is not yet coming to production cars, hence the Bezalel students will go on to venture further without concern that they are building for the mass market.

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.