Toyota's 'Window to the World' offers a taste of driving technology to come

If looking out the window of a car never seems quite enough amusement for your family, technology could soon be providing a solution to help.

Toyota has unveiled a new system designed with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design which turns car windows into interactive screens designed to encourage "a sense of play, exploration and learning" for children.

The 'Window to the World' concept uses augmented reality to turn the pane of glass into a display which appears to interact with the environment outside, providing information about objects as they pass.

Because the screen is touch sensitive, kids can also draw objects, which then appear to move with the movement of the car to "integrate" with the outside world.

Pick a landmark in the distance, and Window to the World is able to work out how far away it is, while auto translation (a feature already used by some apps such as Google Goggles) can replace existing text on a sign with a different language on the screen in realtime.

Perhaps the coolest functionality is the ability to "capture" a viewpoint through the car window, selecting an element to learn more about it.

The project, which was on show in June, uses augmented reality technology which has already been around for a couple of years, but the functionality of which as applied to transport is only just becoming clear.

Last week, Wikitude announced the US version of its augmented reality iPhone app, a program which overlays driving routes on top of the camera's image to give a "realistic" version of the route ahead.

In the future, if the work of automakers such as Toyota, Ford and BMW comes to fruition, drivers can expect windshields to act in a similar manner, able to overlay digital information for practical, rather than educational or entertainment purposes.

See Window to the World in action:  http://vimeo.com/25547151

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