Tech in Action: The windows on the bus help kids open up

High-tech windows help Hyundai make a long bus ride more fun for deaf children.
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As anyone who grew up in a rural area knows, the morning school bus ride into town could sometimes be very long, boring and lonely. Imagine how much lonelier that ride can be for children who also happen to be deaf.

A new campaign for Hyundai by agency Innocean tells the story of Seokhun, a young boy who has to travel two hours by bus every morning to get to Sungshim School, a school for deaf children. The automaker found a way to install some technology into one of its own school buses to make that ride a little less lonely.

The bus is outfitted with internet-connected windows that have a built-in touch screen. They digitally “fog up,” like they would when it was cold, allowing kids to draw on them no matter what the weather is like.

During a ride shown in the video, a cartoon turtle appears on the fogged-up window next to Seokhun, engaging him in a conversation and asking him questions that he answers by writing on the window. Beyond that, the turtle also gets Seokhun to send messages to his schoolmates on the bus through the connected windows and gives the kids tasks to pass the time, like writing a message and taking a photo to send to their parents.

The whole endeavour is meant to make the long bus ride more bearable for the kids by encouraging them to connect with each other, breaking them out of the isolation they might feel in their day-to-day lives.

The “Chatty School Bus” idea came out of Hyundai’s R&D Idea Festival, and the windows were donated to the school to be used on an ongoing basis.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a school bus has been used to deploy technology that captures the imaginations of children.