December 14, 2017

Samsung Italia recently unveiled a concept that it calls the “Smart Windshield,” a digital display planted directly on a motorist’s windshield. Some have found the concept somewhat interesting and provocative, while others are certain that it will cause more accidents and confusion than it solves.

The tech is pretty simple and does not constitute any type of technology to which we’re not all pretty much accustomed to. It’s all based in a smartphone app which can be paired to a petite projector which then displays the information from the app on a small screen located on the dash of the motor scooter.

The gadget is meant to be used for help with GPS navigation because it can offer turn-by-turn directions that glow in large type where the rider can easily see without taking his or her eyes too far off the road. It’s easily better than trying to use Google Maps on your phone while driving or even attempting to use a headstock-mounted Galaxy phone or dashboard mounted GPS device.

That said, the GPS navigation is only likely to be the secondary use of the display. Because Samsung’s Smart Windshield was engineered with the intention of fixing the issue of distracted driving among Italian youth, the gadget would also alert motorcyclists of calls, texts, messages, browser alerts, incoming emails, and other notifications that seem, to the common-sense observer, to be somewhat detrimental to Samsung’s supposed original goal.

Apparently the app could be programmed to reply with standard messages to alert the messaging party that the motorcyclist is driving, operating off the concept that the constantly-connected generation of drivers will be less tempted to completely take their eyes off the wheel (and direct them to their phones) if they have some way to remain connected marginally at least when they get some kind of notification. Samsung is really just trying to keep kids from pulling out their phones while they’re driving.

So far Samsung’s first prototype has been fitted to the Yamaha Tricity, with the screen placed directly in front of the driver. The actual viewing screen is actually somewhat low and right where the dashboard should be, however, making the setup not even the head-up display that it was meant to be in order to avoid the issues of distracted drivers looking away from the road. The psychology behind that choice is that at least distracted drivers won’t be taking their hands off the steering wheels or handle bars, even if their eyes don’t remain glued to the road.

Apparently Samsung’s development of the Smart Windshield is part of a larger effort taken by the company to exemplify how technology can “help solve real challenges facing society,” and the project itself aims to address issues like concussions in sports, youth unemployment, and distracted driving by social-media-obsessed millennials.

The Smart Windshield is a valiant effort, but perhaps Samsung would be better of putting their efforts into the development of augmented reality windshields (which are already being shown at car and tech shows) or electric cars than a projector-based technology that’s not likely to catch on.

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