This is one of those things that really excites me and really scares me at the same time. “How awesome!” becomes “You know what the kids are going to try writing on the window for other drivers to see…” to “What’s wrong with having kids pay attention to the actual scenery -or even “Let the kids be bored for heavens sake!” (I know the answer that some will tell me to that last statement is, “well, you obviously don’t have kids yet…”; but I learned a lot about my environment through long boring car rides – usually to look at crops – and now I absolutely love driving for hours on end, so things even out.) Let me know your thoughts on this, if you will, because I find it interesting.
Long car rides, typically of the road trip variety can often be exhausting in their monotony and isolation. We don’t often think of car rides as anything more than a means of reaching a destination. We become disassociated with the other people, cars and environments that are inevitably surrounding us.
GM’s new Windows of Opportunity project was begun to explore innovative ways to use interactive technologies to create a more interesting driving experience. The project, which was inspired by psychological studies that show passengers typically feel disconnected from their environments, uses smart glass to generate augmented reality digital layers over passing landscapes.
The company commissioned students from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel to explore unique ways to use the smart glass technology. They were given full creative control to develop different applications regardless of whether they would be produced. The apps are primarily games but help to cultivate a stronger relationship between their users and their environments.
Otto, for example, is capable of responding in real time to car performance, landscapes and weather. Real time interactivity with constantly changing environments then leads to a completely different and unexpected experiences during each trip. What’s more, it is as educational as it is engaging. Car trips become more about the actual trip itself as opposed to a simple journey from point A to point B.
The smart glass operates as a window into the real world giving us a fuller awareness of our surroundings. It is a means of exploiting technologies, that typically might be seen as disassociating us from the real world, to nurture a closer relationship with it.
Similarly, another app, Pond uses the smart glass to generate a veritable social network by connecting passengers of different cars to each other. People can share messages and music with each other between cars. It suggests a means of connecting with people who hitherto were in close proximity to each other yet were completely isolated from one another.
Driving in general has always has had the odd effect of surrounding us with people (on highways or high volume roads) or with various environments yet completely isolating us from them. Smart glass takes advantage of this isolation to connect us directly with those people and places that cars already bring us to.