GM Brings Sci-Fi Closer to Reality With WOO

WOO Smart Windows Platform by GM
Photo property of GM, used with permission

For kids, riding in the back seat of a car is boring. We have all heard “when are we going to be there?” or “Mom, tell her to stop singing”. Enter WOO, the Windows of Opportunity project. With WOO, General Motors Research and Development paired researchers with students from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel to create fun, innovative car windows.

GM’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) lab group manager, Tom Seder, used to design display systems for Boeing planes before joining GM. It is exciting to see the influence he is having on future automobile human machine interfaces, especially after partnering with such creative college students on WOO.

The Windows of Opportunity project involves advanced window technology that responds to vehicle speed and location through various embedded sensors. Bezalel students developed apps that used motion and optical sensor technology developed by EyeClick to turn standard window glass into a multi-touch and gesture sensitive surface. Imagine something like an iPad interface on a window surface!

The students created some fun apps that would definitely entertain children in the back seat. Here are some of the cool apps Belazel students created for the WOO project:

  • Otto, an animated character projected over passing scenery, 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 users with 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 music tracks, and shares messages with other passengers on the road.

GM is certainly dreaming outside the automobile box with WOO, and has made significant steps toward bringing the ideas of science fiction closer to reality. Although not yet slated for production, interactive windows would likely use electronically charged “smart glass” technology capable of variable states of translucence and transparency, and reflect projected images (like in the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol).  The possibilities are exciting!