Cars are smarter than they used to be. Bluetooth, power windows and Aux cables have long since replaced VHS players, window cranks and giant 1980s-style car phones. So why do drivers still stick their hands out their windows and wave to signal thanks in traffic?
MotorMood, a Kickstarter project from a Los Angeles startup team, wants to replace all that hand waving with a light-up emoji to “make the road a happier place.”
The happy face emojis, which currently come in blue, green or pink, are placed on the car’s back windshield and activated for six seconds with the push of a button mounted on the dashboard. The campaign has currently raised more than US$42,000 of its $130,500 goal with a month remaining, and if successful, the company plans to release the $19 product by this year’s holiday season.
Emojis have become one of the most ubiquitous forms of communication. MotorMood’s cofounder Alex Sewell said he believes humans are inherently drawn to images over text, and he pointed to a study in the journal Social Neuroscience showing the relationship between emoticons and emotional response. “There’s an indescribable emotional response you get when you see a 🙂 versus the word ‘smiley,’ ” said Sewell.
The startup plans to add additional happy faces with varying degrees of expressiveness and other positive emotions, such as gratitude and contrition. Sewell said it’s also working on licensing characters from brands (such as Disney), and is developing a 2.0 version that will let people download and customize their own displays as well as receive input on how they’re driving. Stretch fundraising goals beyond $130,500 include a black-and-white emoji, as well as a winky face to send a flirty 😉 to the driver behind you.
What consumers won’t see are angry faces or more aggressive or hostile emojis. Sewell said the team initially planned to introduce a red angry-face emoji, but ultimately decided against it to keep the MotorMood brand positive. No road rage emojis in the offering.
Would you use a MotorMood? Take a look at the company’s idealistic vision for how emojis would make the road a friendlier, less stressful place in the video below: