By Drew Johnson
Rear-seat entertainment systems have steadily improved over the last few years, but General Motors has developed a new technology that could revolutionize the entire industry.
Most rear-seat entertainment systems include a couple of screens and a DVD player, but General Motors has developed a new system that transforms a vehicle’s rear-windows into a virtual playground.
Developed through a partnership between General Motors Research and Development and the FUTURE LAB at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel, the new system – dubbed the Windows of Opportunity Project, or WOO for short – uses a vehicle’s rear windows as interactive displays. Students at Bezalel developed four different apps for the system, including Otto – an animated character that goes along for the ride – and Spindow, which lets the user see out of another user’s window anywhere in the world in real-time.
“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.”
GM says WOO wasn’t developed with mass production in mind, but notes it could be made into a reality through the use of “ smart glass” technology. Smart glass is becoming common place in other industries, but has yet to make its debut in cars – outside of movies like Mission Impossible.