Happy drivers wanted. Volkswagen's free Smileage app for Android, developed with Deutsch LA and Grow Interactive as part of Google's Art, Copy & Code initiative, is set for an early summer release, just in time for road trips. It syncs with systems in most cars (not just VWs) and facilitates all manner of information sharing, including routes, photos and comments. Digital bumper stickers and a variation of the Punch Buggy game (drivers receive virtual punches when they pass VWs) are included. Trip highlights are shared via Google+. The application of technology is impressively innovative, but the broader concept seems kind of forced and creepy. It's like keeping yourself under surveillance as you travel, blithely uploading data to Google as you go—but you're supposed to be happy about it, because this is social media and nothing beats sharing everything all the time. Are most long drives so freaking happy? A weekend trapped in a car with broken air conditioning, three bladder-challenged kids and a irritated spouse sounds more like Frownage. Maybe Bing and Chrysler can jump on that one.
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