General Motors might have the answer to cure backseat boredom

Majority of us have had our fair share of being a passenger on long road trips. Whether it’s heading up to the in-laws for the holidays, or embarking on a family trip to Wally World, it’s inevitable that one can run out of options to help temporarily relieve backseat boredom.

Now though, General Motors thinks they have the answer. In their eyes, there’s only so much that backseat infotainment systems—a la small TV screens with DVD players and auxiliary inputs—can do. Their solution: windows that actively display images as if it were a computer screen with fully functional interactivity.

“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’s 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 said that there are no immediate plans to introduce this technology into production vehicles…yet. But some of the ideas they’re exploring involve several kinds of new apps.

First, there’s Otto, which is an animated character that responds to real-time car performance and environmental variables. The idea is that an animated character floats over passing scenery on the window and users could then learn about their environment while also playing with the character.

Then there’s Foofu, where passengers can turn windows into drawing boards without having to expose everyone to deep huffs of morning breath.

Next is Spindow. That allows users to peek into other users’ windows around the globe in real time.

And lastly, there’s Pond, which allows passengers to stream and share music with other cars on the road—the irony that this comes out when the US Congress is in the middle of hearings for Internet piracy. Passengers can also interact with the other users through the app’s messaging system.

The apps were designed and developed by students at Israel’s oldest institute of higher education, Bezalel.

 – By: Chris Chin