Augmented reality apps like Pokemon Go and have captured imaginations and headlines, but the really useful role for AR is likely to break out in cars from , BMW and first. It's a trend that could transform our vision of AR from the goofy to the essential, moving the conversation away from face-worn gear like and .
What is AR?
A quick refresher to correct some common misconceptions:
- AR is essentially a layer of data over reality, not to be confused with creating an entirely different world
- AR typically uses visuals, but can also use touch and sound.
- AR typically adds to what you see but can also subtract, getting things out of the way.
This is one of the most powerful paths for AR in cars because they so often suffer from obstructed visibility.option.
It uses a camera view from the back of the trailer superimposed over your actual view via the dashboard screen to make the trailer you're pulling vanish. Going the other direction, Land Rover is pioneering a similar
Jaguar showed an early version of transparent pillar augmented reality back in 2014, but it has yet to come to market. The hangup may be with the technology to upholster the pillars in OLED, as opposed to the cameras. and carmakers tend not to adopt new tech until it's bulletproof.
Making maps understandable
Screens have revolutionized maps, but a lot of people still can't read one. AR can deliver navigation that requires zero comprehension of distances, angles or north orientation.
If you've seen those Fidelity TV commercials that have you "follow the green line," you get the idea of where car navigation is going. with the latest A Class and GLE laying nav instructions over objects in a live camera view.
Street names, turn instructions and building addresses all pop up as the next turn is approaching. In the future this will move from a dashboard screen to the windshield as Mercedes has demonstrated with its DICE concept of full screen head-up augmented reality on the road.
WayRay, a provider of technology to carmakers, recently rolled out a wide-screen laser holography projector that allows the creation of full screen AR.
The cure for the boring drive
A more speculative use of a common source of nervousness about autonomous vehicles. When underway, the world outside is augmented to be a virtual Gotham, curing the tedium of the same old drive every day. The augmentation is so rich it borders on being virtual reality, though without the face-worn goggles that are such an impediment to VR's usage.in the form of a Batman experience for self-driving cars. Stay with me now; I agree it's a little silly, but it does point to something important. A virtual butler Alfred is presented to create confidence that there is "someone" in charge of the machine, addressing
AR before you buy
Carmakers are embracing AR as a way to get you engaged with their cars before you even see them. The Mission E AR app from Porsche and Audi's Quattro Coaster AR app are both clever, game-style ways to get you to engage with these brands before you set foot in a showroom or auto show booth.
BMW offers an AR car configurator that I find particularly prescient: Pick your car, colors and options, walk around the car, get in it, and have all of that take place in your own driveway or garage. The future of car sales should start with AR delivering a car to you for the first look.