There are a lot of ways to use video inside, and outside, of a car.
We've covered automotive video applications before but I never realized just how many different places you can use video in a car.
Let's start with the easiest, and most popular, application: entertainment. We've all done a double-take at the eerie sight of a minivan tooling down the road in the evening with two twin movies playing on the passenger headrests. It's a bit disconcerting at first to see SpongeBob SquarePants playing right there in the next lane, but I'm sure we'll get used to it soon enough.
I've even seen a sedan with four video screens, one on the back of all four seats. So tell me, what's the purpose of the two rear screens, which are visible only from outside the car?
Some municipalities are considering "blue movie" laws that prohibit playing R- or X-rated content inside a vehicle on the basis that those movies are visible to others.
Then there's video for safety. Video-based lane-departure warning systems are well into development and not far away from deployment. These systems use one or more CCD or CMOS cameras to monitor lane markings, curbs, signs, and so forth and determine if you're wandering outside of your lane. These systems all rely on the turn signal lever to distinguish intentional lane changes from accidental ones. If nothing else, maybe they'll train drivers to use their turn signals!
Video-based collision-avoidance systems are also in the works. These look for rapidly approaching obstacles dead ahead. If you're closing in on the car ahead too quickly, they'll either warn the driver, engage the brakes, or adjust the steering -- maybe all three.
There's plenty more, but I'll cover those next week.