Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: Belia Mayeno Saavedra
Picture this: you're driving and the jerk in the next lane over cuts you off without using his turn signal. You slam on your brakes and call him a few names that probably would have gotten your mouth washed out with soap back in the day. Guess what? He's not only stressing you out, he's killing the whole entire planet.
Ok, not really. But maybe a little bit though. See, when you get road rage and start accelerating more quickly and braking suddenly, you create disproportionately high levels of carbon emission as opposed to when you drive calmly and make speed transitions smoothly. So your carbon footprint gets that much bigger every time you freak out during rush hour. To address this problem, a team of students from Inha University in Korea created this contraption, called "R U Gentle?" It uses embedded computer technology made to outfit your car. It works by appealing to different senses to Calm. The. Hell. Down.
When you slam on the brakes, or accelerate too quickly, the computer kicks in with a variety of mechanisms designed to soothe you and remind you not to get crazy.
You know how you freak out road-rage style and your family member or boo puts a hand on your shoulder and tells you to chill? Well, this is kinda like that. We love how the little mitt looks like the Hamburger Helper mascot.
It's like getting a rubdown from Mickey Mouse's disembodied arm.
Rapid acceleration causes this aroma machine to release calming scents into the air. For demonstration purposes, it was lavender. But you could personalize it with any essential oil that inspires you to relax. If there were such a thing as beef burrito scented oil, that's what I would use. Burritos always make me move slower.
If the embedded mic picks up loud voices, or even those huffy-puff frustrated sighs, the speakers kick in with messages pre-recorded by your family and friends. This one plays "Calm down, baby!" The girl whose voice is used told us she was thinking of her boyfriend cussing during Iuncheon rush hour when she read the text.
Finally, a screen designed to attach to your dashboard displays pictures of family and friends for an emotional appeal. If you think about it, the mother and child in the picture could theoretically be seated in the car with the driver when the photo pops up. But maybe seeing a picture of them in a happier moment could have more effect than looking at the baby's actual screaming face or the passenger rolling her eyes and telling you to slow down. So the photo is almost reminding you why you love the loved ones in your car. It's like, so meta, dudes.
Team "R U Gentle?" entered their invention in The Imagine Cup 2010, a worldwide tech innovation competition sponsored by Microsoft (the company covered the costs of our trip to the Imagine Cup). The Korean team made it to the finals, but ultimately didn't win their category. But that doesn't mean their creative and fun invention won't ever reach the mass market. We just learned that Nissan plans to release cars that will spray Vitamin C moisturizing mist into the air, and that only reduces wrinkles and not your carbon footprint.
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