Flash an emoji at other drivers with MotorMood

A gadget now raising funds on Kickstarter seeks to make driving more social with a different kind of instant message.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

Here's a new way to "flash" other drivers. MotorMood

I'm from New York. So when I heard about a new invention that would let me flash an emoji from my car to other drivers on the road I immediately started thinking about how satisfying it would be to light up an angry face or even a certain finger when I was being tailgated in traffic.

Fortunately, the people who have invented MotorMood are from Southern California, so their invention is a lot nicer. It's basically a light-up smiley face emoji that you attach to your back window with a reusable adhesive mount. A remote control then slides onto your sun visor and when you press it, the smiley face lights up. The emoji, which lights up for six seconds at a pop, uses four AA batteries, and the remote uses a coin cell. The makers say the batteries should last for about six months before needing to be replaced.

So MotorMood is used to basically smile at other drivers on the road -- not flip them off.

While the New Yorker in me at first thought the idea was kind of pointless, the more I read about it and watched the video accompanying the Kickstarter campaign that's trying to bring MotorMood to life, the more I saw the point. The goal is to "make the road a happier place" rather than to foment more angry hotheads. Hmm, what a concept.

As the video explains, you can use the emoticon to thank other drivers -- for letting you into traffic, for turning down their bright lights when they're behind you, or even for tapping on their horn to remind you the light has turned green. "It's a simple but powerful way to make driving a little more human, and a lot more fun," says Kina De Santis, MotorMood's director of marketing.

Other than swapping out colors, you won't be able to change the MotorMood emoji in its first iteration. That could change in the future as 28-year-old co-founder and president, Jesse Kramer explained to Entrepreneur. He said that themed faceplates and licensed characters might come next -- but never negative emojis. (Although you do have to wonder how long it will be till someone hijacks this idea and starts cranking out light-up signs with red-faced and poo emojis. You didn't hear that from me.)

At only $19 (about £12, AU$25), one of the best parts of MotorMood is certainly the price. For that amount, you get one light-up emoticon, the remote and batteries. If you want to add a different-color faceplate, you can just add $5 (about £3, AU$6.50) to your pledge.

Right now, the team has raised over $30,000 of its $130,500 goal which, they say, is the minimum amount needed for a manufacturing run. There is still over a month left in the campaign, so the goal certainly seems achievable.

MotorMoods are expected to ship in December.