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When you were a child setting off on a long car journey, if you were anything like me then there wasn’t much that would excite you more than condensation on the windows. There was hours of doodling fun on those things, and if there had ever been a ‘sketching on the windows with your finger’ art gallery then I’m sure a lot of us would have been confident of a mention.

It seems though that nowadays even these car journeys are getting old fashioned, as Toyota announce that they’ll be trialling augmented reality windows in their cars.

Augmented Reality Windows

The idea is the brainchild of Toyota’s Europe Kansei1 Design Division and the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, who have called their project ‘Windows to the World’.

Though thus far it is just a concept, the team have suggested five possible uses for the device, and we can be fairly confident that we’ll see this list expanding as time progresses. The first function has been termed ‘Drawing in Motion’ – which, unsurprisingly, allows the user to draw on the window while the car is in motion (who’d have thought it?). What’s clever about this though is that the images become locked to the scenery – so if you drew a bird looking like it’s perched on a tree outside, it would scroll off the window when the car moves and only appear again if you stopped outside that same tree.

More practical functions include the zoom and distance features. In a very similar manner to zooming in on a smartphone, users could ‘pinch’ the window to zoom in to distant objects to get a closer look, and could also obtain readouts of how far away objects and landmarks are – sounds a bit like a safety tool meeting Sat Nav.

In a slightly similar manner, the window could also translate text and pronounce the words using the car speakers. This could be a particularly helpful function if attempting to follow signs in a foreign country, or having to stop and ask for directions in another language.

Finally, the team announced the somewhat indulgent ‘Virtual Constellations’ feature, which would find itself most at home working with the car’s roof window. As the name may suggest, the idea is that the windows could help passengers to identify particular star constellations in the sky and display information about each.

When Will We See It?

Neither arm of the team has announced a release date for the product – nor have they actually explained how the technology would work. That said though, they have assured us that two working prototypes are already in existence and were recently on display in the ‘Our Future Mobility Now’ exhibition in Brussels.

There’s been no word on prices as of yet (and especially no word on how much it would cost to fix a smashed one), but that won’t stop me getting excited about it. It might only be a concept, but there can be no doubt that augmented reality will become a bigger and bigger part of our lives, so I see no reason why this couldn’t be a reality soon.

Rob writes for varifocal lenses experts Direct Sight.