It’s a fact of life: commuting sucks. And this isn’t just hyperbole. Research links commuting to issues ranging from loneliness to obesity and one study even found that it increases the likelihood of divorce by as much as 40%.
In her project “History Travels With You,” Dutch designer Ilse Heesterbeek hopes to make the commute a little less crappy by turning the soul-sucking slog of public transportation into a fantastical history lesson. In Heesterbeek’s proposed design, a public bus is equipped with a transparent touch-screen smart window where text, graphics, video fragments, and interactive buttons offer riders a chance to learn what happened on the streets that they are driving through.
You could be staring out the bus window, mulling over your grocery list, when suddenly, a sepia-tinted herd of cows appears on the sidewalk. Whoa! Or maybe knights in shining armor climb out of a painting recreating what this drab street looked like hundreds of years ago. A hot air balloon might descend from the heavens and present a black-and-white map of the bus route in 1959, while a man pushing a wheelbarrow of coal runs alongside the bus. These images are animated so that they coincide with your moving reality, coming to life just as you pass key spots in the city.
“The design gives bus passengers the opportunity to see the contrasts or similarities between the history of a place and the current situation of the location itself, and to discover links themselves,” Heesterbeek says of the project, which was her thesis at Eindhoven Design Academy,
The concept encourages you to take on the mindset of being tourist in your own city she says: “Not to long nostalgically for the past, but to take the stories with you in your journey, and to understand and read the environment as it now appears, so that you feel more connected with this environment.”
Just imagine feeling connected with your environment while commuting instead of wanting to escape it as fast as humanly possible.