Duelling ads

Wag the dog

A few months ago, I blogged about how to make cars more expressive — by making brake-lights communicate more information, or by allowing the car to make facial expressions.

Now the Japanese artist Hachiya Kazuhiko has produced an even stranger idea: Giving a car a tail. Inspired by the expressiveness of dog’s tails, he installed a robotic proboscus on the back of that minivan you see above. It actually seems like a kind of a neat idea, because a tail is a nice bit of ambient information: Unlike a sign, you don’t have to stare at it directly to get data from it, so it’s less likely to distract other drivers than a pixelboard sign on the back of your car. All in all, it seems like a witty bit of design — safer, more organic, and simpler.

Until you watch the video of the thing in action and realize: Holy moses that thing looks creepy. It’s like some sort of ghastly alien finger grafted onto the back of a car. I almost shrieked when I first saw it move. Yiiiii. Yeah, I can just imagine the conversations in the car-sales-lots of the future. “Great, so, would you like your Ford Taurus to have a killer mutant appendage, or just stock equipment?”

(Thanks to Near Near Future for this one!)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson