#293: Smileage

It’s a common observation that the fronts of road vehicles resemble faces (see also this particular ‘visual metaphor’). Even manufacturers now take this into account when designing cars to have certain ‘personalities’ -distinctly cute or aggressive: one particular Mitsubishi 4×4 is a dead ringer for a Star Wars stormtrooper.

Once you buy a car though, its expression is fixed forever. If you are naturally mild mannered, then driving a grim-faced, predatory car will send out subliminal signals to other road users that will be inappropriate (sure they will pull in out of your way on the motorway, but you may wait a long time to be waived into a traffic queue).


Today’s invention is a collection of small, variable-geometry, body-coloured ‘windows’ which can be attached to your vehicle to modify the personality of your car. This would involve alteration of the geometry of the eyes (headlights ) and mouth (grille) by automated, sliding shutters.

People are hypersensitive to even tiny changes in facial geometry and this would allow the whole expression to be altered according to a driver’s mood. Feeling under pressure and in a hurry?…set the shutters to ‘I’m fierce, out of my way’. If you want to appear non-aggressive, law-abiding and helpful, that too can be arranged.

Cars would thus take on many aspects of the emotional communications which people employ…and of course this might involve an element of deception.

Comments are closed.