Willie bus concept plasters public transport with LCD billboards


December 17, 2013

The Willie concept shows important route info to travelers

The Willie concept shows important route info to travelers

Image Gallery (7 images)

Anyone that's been to Las Vegas and caught a glimpse of the "Hot Babes" billboard circling around the city knows that vehicle advertising can be effective ... at least at grabbing your attention. A new bus concept by designer Tad Orlowski puts a more modern spin on the idea, integrating large LCDs on the broad sides of the bus. The screens can display a variety of information, including paid advertising, bus information and TV coverage.

Over the past few years, Toyota has applied an external display design to several of its concept cars, including the Fun-Vii and the FV2. Daimler also envisioned such a concept recently.

We had the opportunity to play around with the Fun-Vii at the North American International Auto Show this year and enjoyed the way you could essentially restyle the exterior with patterns, colors, words and more with a couple of pokes and swipes of a touchscreen.

While the passenger car and three-wheeler concepts are interesting, the technology has much more potential for a large vehicle like a bus. Not only does the bus have far more room for displays, its extra size gives designers more flexibility in integrating displays in such a way that increases their visibility and/or decreases the likelihood of them being smashed to pieces.

Orlowski's Willie design focuses more on the former, using the vast majority of the bus's body as display space. The transparent LCDs replace traditional body panels and are mounted to an organic skeletal structure underneath. Because the displays are transparent, passengers can still enjoy views outside.

Orlowski envisions bus schedule and route information, advertising, movie trailers, weather updates, tourism information and more being displayed on the screens at any given moment. The displays can continually be updated to serve different information and advertising as needed. Orlowski even mentions the possibility of incorporating touchscreen functions.

Most of the video and renderings show the Willie functioning as one large, coordinated display, but the sketch below shows it operating multiple displays. One section of the bus shows stop information while the other has advertising.

Orlowski received interest from a couple of European cities early on in the design process, but due to the large regulatory and technological obstacles facing the design, all parties decided not to pursue it. For the moment, the Willie remains a conversation starter about the future of transportation and communications.

It may not look exactly like the Willie, but we can easily imagine that full-motion display advertising could one day replace the static advertising that buses wear now.

Source: Willie Bus via Car Design News

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

I think a static image might be better than a moving one. If they decide to change it, it would be just a matter of changing the image instead of having to take off the wrap and putting on a new one, this would mean less time at the garage and more time advertising on the road.

Perhaps it could be used as events and other similar events where one could display static and moving ads.


Well there you go. More adds !! And on moving vehicles no doubt, just to make it a little more confusing for vehicle orientation or movement in a crowded city of similar stationary adds..

But it has given me food for thought about a possible useful app to develop on Google Glass (other then displaying more transparent adds)

See if this idea takes off. 1. "App that places a black polygon over any adds you see, anywhere." 2. "App that recognizes audio from adds and uses noise cancellation to dumb then down" Brilliant !!

Might have to update your 'add' definition daily/weekly to stave off the changes, but its like anything. Might save some of us from running to the hills and reverting to an agrarian lifestyle.


Another potential use for this technology - faux invisibility! Arrange some cameras facing outward on each side of the vehicle, with the image from the camera facing left appearing on the right LCD panel and vice versa for the other side. Then when one approaches the bus from the left the will see whatever it is behind the bus rather than the bus itself, especially at first glance.

More opportunity for accidents! More chances for ambulance chasing lawyers! It's a win-win!


video screens like this have been seen on China vehicles for about 3 years now.

Darus Zehrbach

How transparent are they, I wonder? Probably not all that, if the windscreen is left without ads.

In the city where I live the local bus company sometimes plasters the side of the buses with ads, using a dotted pattern to cover the side and rear windows. The idea is that passengers are still able to see out, however vision is badly compromised, especially in poor light -wonder how many people have missed their stop because of it?.

It is bad enough that bus companies rip off their customers with exorbitant fares (and in our case, buses that frequently break down) without having yet more bloody adverts shoved in our faces.


@ BigWarpGuy

Or how about using the entire side of the bus as a turn-signal?


I wonder if there is a threshold of ad viewing one can reach and then be driven by too many advertisements?

Nelson Chick
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