Nissan’s Smiling Car

Nissan's smiling car

With all the hubbub going on in Detroit regarding the North American International Auto Show, we noticed that a certain piece of technology seems to have been missed in all the excitement. I’m not talking about the latest electric car or retractable hardtop, but a feature that could truly change cars forever.

Cars that smile.

I don’t just mean cars that look like they are smiling, like the front of the new MAZDA3. I mean cars that can actually grin and show emotion, cars that look like they belong in a Pixar film instead of on the road.

The folks over at CrunchGear report that Nissan teamed up with the Nippon Design Center and created a form of polyurethane fiber capable of changing shape. Combined with the same animatronics used by movie studios, we suddenly have a model of a car that can actually smile at other cars.

The purpose here is to convey a driver’s emotion while on the road, taking the whole, “a car is an extension of the driver” theory to a whole new level.

The video below says communicating in this way is more effective than using a horn, since horns have negative connotations. Imagine how you’d feel trying to ease out of a parking lot onto a busy arterial, only to have a car stop, let you in, and then smile at you. I think I’d feel pretty darn good.

The thing is, it’s usually not the happy drivers we need to watch out for. It’s the angry ones. If smiling cars ever hit the streets, it won’t be long before we also have frowning cars and cars with extended middle fingers. That technology only looks like trouble to me!

What emotion would you want your car to convey while you drive? Happiness? Anger? Impatience?

-tgriffith

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