You’re on your grueling trek home from a long day at work and are, yet again, met with miles of standstill traffic. You realize construction is pushing the cars into your lane and, despite your frustration, you kindly let a car merge. Suddenly, a blue emoticon, smiling brightly, illuminates out of the car's back window as if to signal “thank you” from the driver. Amazingly, you’re a little less annoyed.
That’s the idea behind MotorMood, a simple yet potentially game-changing invention to lighten up the tensions and stress that come with driving. Available in blue, pink and green, MotorMood is accessible with just the touch of a button and can serve as a signal to tailgating drivers.
“We are creating light-up emoticon faces for your car that allow you to say thanks to other drivers on the road,” said the company's marketing director, Kina De Santis. “It’s a simple and powerful way to make driving a little more human and a lot more fun.”
It’s also painless to set up. The emoticon face attaches to the inside of a vehicle’s rear window using removable adhesive clips, while the remote that triggers illumination slides under the driver’s sun visor for easy garage-button like access. The driver can then press the button atop his or her sun visor to trigger the emoticon to light up for six seconds, before it automatically becomes dull again.
The MotorMood is $19, plus $5 for each additional color piece desired. MotorMood is a Kickstarter project which has already received pledges of just under $50,000, but the site says the project will only be funded if at least $130,500 is pledged by the end of July. The company needs to see that the interest is worth outsourcing to its plastic injection molding facilities in China.
The company is incentivizing consumers to pledge money toward MotorMood by offering VIP experiences to those who give a certain amount of money. If users pledge $10,000, they’re put up in a hotel for three nights and taken to Disneyland, Universal Studios and the San Diego Zoo. For $1,000, a backer gets a trip to Disneyland and two nights in a hotel.
MotorMood originated after the company president, Jesse Kramer, was fed up with his Los Angeles commutes. It occurred to Kramer that if more people said "thank you," then drivers would feel encouraged to drive more politely, the company's Kickstarter page says. Studies have supported Kramer’s theory with a University of Bristol report demonstrating that aggression and anger are reduced in teens who are exposed to happy faces. Another study from Flinders University in Australia suggested “the pattern of brain activity triggered by looking at an emoticon smiley face is now the same as when someone sees a real smiling human face."
MotorMood has also suggested that the traditional smiley emoticon is not where the company will stop. Once it reaches the goal of $200,000 funded, the business will introduce a winky face so drivers can flirt with each other on the road. There’s also a “mystery reward” if the company gathers $250,000.
“What we’re offering today is just the first step,” said Vice President Alex Sewell. “Our goal is to make driving more social, safe and fun through a universal car to car messaging and identity platform.”
Image credit: MotorMood, Kickstarter
Based in Washington, DC, Grant works as a program assistant at SEEP Network, an international development nonprofit. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. Grant is passionate about humanitarianism and finding sustainable approaches to international development. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.