Hummer Video Madness

I’ve always been a fan of wretched excess. I like it when people spend money; it’s good for the economy and often good for the spirit. But even I think that the Hummer is a step too far: huge, heavy, wasteful, hard-to-park … hard to climb into if your back is sore.

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As part of IN3’s Pervasive Video study, I came across a passel of companies that make the Hummer even more wretchedly excessive by adding TV screens inside the car. There’s a 3 inch monitor that mounts near the rear view mirror and hooks up to a camera hidden in the back bumper. This way you can see who you’re backing over. I wonder if there’s a hidden microphone too so you can hear their screams. There’s also a thermal imaging camera that hides in your grillwork and projects to a heads-up display in front of the steering wheel to give you night vision.

OK, navigation aids: so far so good. For your spolied brat kids in the back seat, there’s a DVD player that sits between the bucket seats, and you can also buy video monitors built into each of the headrests, as many as six of them in a fully-tricked out machine.

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The scariest idea, though, is a visor-mounted monitor for the front seat. The manufacturer’s installation manual makes the point that many states don’t allow video screens that are viewable by the driver while the car is moving — the monitor is designed for the passenger-side visor — but my faith in human weakness tells me it’s bad enough to be driving with nine different video screens going at the same time. This tenth TV in the front seat just seems like a bad idea in a six thousand pound mechanical beast driven, no doubt, by some smug idiot on a cell phone.