• GM's new system provides entertainment and education for rear passengers
  • Designed by researchers and students at Israel's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

While many automakers offer rear seat DVD players and headrest-mounted TV screens, new technology from General Motors takes rear entertainment a step further. According to the automaker, a new concept technology projects images on to the vehicle's rear windows, allowing passengers to view and interact with the full-color displays.

Officially dubbed Windows of Opportunity, the concept was inspired by psychological studies indicating that car passengers often feel disconnected from their environment. General Motors tasked students and researchers from the FUTURE LAB at Israel's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design to help remedy that problem, encouraging the group to conceptualize new ways to help rear seat passengers, particularly children, improve their experience on the road. The result, says General Motors, could provide rear passengers with entertainment, education and even a stronger connection with the outside world.

"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 research and development lab group manager for human-machine interface. Seder also noted that the advanced windows "could augment real-world views with interactive enhancements to provide entertainment and educational value."

Although General Motors has no immediate plans to implement its Windows of Opportunity technology, students and researchers at the Bezalel Academy designed the system around a series of apps that could be easily understood by many of today's consumers. One app, dubbed Foofu, allows passengers to create finger drawings in window steam, while an app called Pond lets passengers share music with other road users. Other apps include Otto, an animated character who responds to real-time car performance, and Spindow, which lets users peek into car windows from around the globe.

General Motors says that if the technology ever does see production, it would likely use electronically charged "smart glass," which can reflect projected images and change transparency. While increasingly utilized in architecture and design settings, smart glass has seen only limited use in vehicles such as the Ferrari 575M Superamerica supercar and ultra-luxurious Maybach 62S sedan.

What it means to you: Windows of Opportunity further shows how cars and technology are developing together.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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