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Auto Show:  2012 Detroit Auto Show

Take a Load Off with Fun Activities: Detroit Auto Show

author photo by Nick Chambers January 2012
  • Sit and listen to the killer sounds of the VW Beetle's optional Fender audio system while watching a rock video inside your own plush disco ball cocoon.
  • Imagine the future of connected safety as you sit inside Toyota's 3D technology simulator.
  • Experience "4D" as you stand in a dark room watching a 3D movie about Michelin tires while blowing air, a moving floor and mist fully immerse you in what you're watching.

The 2012 Detroit Auto Show is loaded with more new cars and concepts than the automotive world has seen in a while - undoubtedly a good sign the recovery is sticking. But with all those cars to look at in the expansive Cobo Hall, showgoers are faced with the potential for some sore and tired doggies at the end of the day.

While comfortable seats and quiet hiding places are generally plentiful around the venue, we sought out some of the most interesting of the bunch - places where you can take a load off, enjoy yourself and learn something at the same time.

Over at the VW booth don't miss the human-size disco ball experience. With room for only one person inside the ball, you're guaranteed to get some alone time. A plush seat and great sound immerse you as you spin the disco ball to engage a three-panel video display, leaving nothing but your feet dangling outside. Given that the inside of the ball has been well isolated from the outside world, the hectic nature of the auto show melts away - if only just for a few minutes.

Toyota has brought a "Future Safety Technology" simulator to their booth with room enough for two people to sit and watch a vision of how a car might behave in the future. Pedestrians are outlined by a heads-up display and potential collision objects are constantly tracked by the car. It's a fanciful and educational look at what might be, but you're mostly here for the quiet seat anyway, right?

Michelin has also set up a dark room with "respite" written all over it, but there are no seats inside this one. Instead you stand in front of a 3D screen while videos explaining how Michelin tires can save you money at the pump and help you get out of tough binds play in front of you. But these movies come with a twist: In what Michelin is calling "4D," not only are the images playing out in 3D, you are also blown upon by simulated wind, misted upon by simulated rain, and shaken around by a moving floor.

What it means to you: While it's tempting to walk until you drop at the Detroit Auto Show, take a moment to rest your tired feet or drop your overflowing goody bag at one of the more interesting side experiences that the manufacturers have dreamed up.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Take a Load Off with Fun Activities: Detroit Auto Show - Autotrader