Back in 2002, Honda began offering factory-installed DVD entertainment systems in its Odyssey minivans. Since then, as an article at Cars.com points out, the systems have quickly spread to "both the front and rear of sedans, wagons, and SUVs." They have been expanded to provide integrated access to your radio, music, navigation, onboard automatic diagnostic systems and even satellite TV.
I know from my own family's experience, taking a long road trip with such an entertainment system in the car is much more pleasant than taking one without it.
According to a short but intriguing article at the Sydney Morning Herald,the next features on the horizon for these entertainment systems are interactive holographic games for children.
The Morning Herald story states that researchers at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's (RMIT) recently established Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEELab) are developing a system that will allow three-dimensional images to be projected into a vehicle's backseat and be controlled by a passenger using gestures via technology like that found in Microsoft's Kinect system. The projected images will eliminate the need for 3-D glasses, the newspaper says.
The article goes on to state that the system is being developed so that it "can teach young passengers about their surroundings as they drive along" or "become a mobile tour guide or provide a virtual office-like environment."
The director of GEELab, Dr. Steffen Walz, is quoted in the story as saying that they are planning to build a prototype soon, which apparently the German automobile manufacturer Audi is helping to sponsor. Dr. Walz believes that this type technology will be available in about five years time for use in cars, although I would expect it to be a bit longer before any system as described is offered as optional equipment.
Dr. Walz presented the ideas at the Audi Urban Future Summit held in Frankfurt last week.
Anyone familiar with the technology care to hazard a guess on how much such an entertainment system might retail for in, say, a minivan? And what downsides—other than kids arguing even more over what to watch/play—there might be with such a system?
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.