GM Explores Interactive Sidelites
January 20, 2012

General Motors (GM) Corp. currently is working with the FUTURE LAB at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel on a project it’s calling “Windows of Opportunity” to explore interactive rear sidelites.

According to GM, the Windows of Opportunity Project was inspired by psychological studies indicating that car passengers often feel disconnected from their environment. Based on this, GM asked the Bezalel students to develop a concept that would turn rear sidelites into “interactive displays capable of stimulating awareness, nurturing curiosity and encouraging a stronger connection with the world outside the vehicle.”

“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,” says Tom Seder, GM research and development 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 officials say they have no immediate plans to put interactive display windows into production vehicles, but asked the Bezelel students to explore the concept and create applications for such an interaction—even if they couldn’t be mass-produced.
Based on this, students created several concept apps, such as:

  • Otto, an animated character projected over passing scenery that responds to real-time car performance, weather and landscape;
  • Foofu, an app that allows passengers to create, explore and discover through finger drawing on window steam;
  • Spindow, an app that provides its users to look into other users’ windows around the world in real time; and
  • Pond, an app that allows passengers to stream and share music with other cars on the road, download songs, 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 sidelite. The students used motion and optical sensor technology developed by EyeClick to turn standard glass into a “multi-touch and gesture sensitive surface,” according to GM.

Company officials say that if the windows ever make it into production they likely will use smart glass technology, which is capable of variable states of translucence and transparency, and can reflect projected images.

View the video below for a look at the concept sidelites.


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