The 'Willie' bus is a futuristic concept conjured up by designer Tad Orlowski that completely replaces the walls of the bus with large transparent LCD screens. "The innovative feature that distinguishes 'Willie' from other conventional buses is the design of the side elevations, which are made of transparent LCD screens," explains Orlowski's website, which goes on to say that the concept "utilizes new trends in technology to transform city landscapes and provide an added element to getting around town."
Judging by the amount of Red Bull cars you see aimlessly driving around cities and other examples, such as the "Hot Babes" billboard car of Las Vegas, then there is obviously some benefits to mobile advertisement. The LCD-covered bus, with its silly sounding name, will offer the ability to display "advertisements or film clipsor provide passengers with additional information and entertainment such as route plans, weather reports, press and TV coverage as well as tourist information."
Advertisements already offer risk with the distraction they bring and playing videos in areas where the target audience will be at the wheel of a vehicle certainly raises some safety issues. The concept does however stand as a starting point to the future designs of transportation and communications.
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The transparent screens, which allow those inside to still peer out, cover the whole wall of the bus and are fronted on an organic frame. No material selection is stated however this again raises questions towards how protective this wall design is when compared to traditional bus frames. The concept is certainly more focused on the design features than engineering technicalities.
Another thing worth pondering is the energy usage required to power such a large surface area of LCD screen. Whilst it may be quite a futuristic appearing concept, its green credentials also need to considered as the world's focus is changing.
Despite these unanswered questions, the Willie bus did receive interest from a number of European cities but due to the large regulatory and technological obstacles facing the design, all parties decided not to pursue it. The concept seems all in all a bit too extravagant and smaller invisible LCD screens seems a more logical starting point.
While it has yet to receive any commercial success, it has offered a step forward into conjuring up new ideas for interactive advertisements and may spark new ideas towards replacing the static billboards we see on buses these days.