How augmented reality can change the way you drive

Head-up displays default to giving you more information and entertainment while driving. Augmented reality is ready to get ready for your favorite cars. Are you ready for an augmented reality driving experience?

BMW recently revealed its new i Vision Dee concept car, which lets drivers choose how much augmented reality (AR) they want to see as they hit the roads. The person behind the wheel can independently select driving information, data from their communication systems, an augmented reality project, or a completely virtual experience with darkened windows while driving. The new system is just one of many augmented reality systems that may soon be in a car near you.

“Developments in the automotive industry have come a long way from just an infotainment system,” Gregory Thomas, director of the University of Kansas Design Research Center, which studies augmented reality in cars, told Lifewire in an email interview. “Using much of the same technology, they’ve adapted it to be more useful to the driver.”

The future vision of augmented reality in cars

The BMW i Vision Dee, which stands for Digital Emotional Experience, uses the entire windshield as a screen, combining the functions of the dashboard, infotainment system and throwing augmented reality features.

The BMW model uses a dedicated slider to set the information the driver wants. The head-up display remains off until content is needed.

Oliver Zepsey, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said in the press release: “With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showing what is possible when integrating hardware and software. In this way, we can exploit the full potential of digitalization to turn the car into an intelligent companion. This is the future for car manufacturers – And also for BMW: the fusion of virtual experience with real driving pleasure.

The new BMW isn’t the first time automakers have tinkered with augmented reality. Mercedes, Kia, Cadillac, Volkswagen, Honda, and others have integrated AR into vehicles in some form, said Danny Parks, vice president of technology for mixed reality company Trigger X, in an email interview with Lifewire. He said the current systems are extensions of the head-up displays (HUDs) that have been available in cars for years.

You won’t need to buy a new car soon to get the AR experience. Auto accessory maker Harman recently announced AR displays as an aftermarket tool. The Ready Vision product is a family of augmented reality software products, HUD hardware and software designed to enhance driver safety and awareness.

Thomas said the difference between the i Vision Dee and other AR cars is the number of windows the BMW model can use to display information and make them opaque based on the driver’s preference.

Augmented reality driving
Image credit: BME

“That’s a little scary, depending on what they’re planning. It might be more appropriate for a racing app to have more important information, but for daily driving apps, the smaller the better.” “It’s useful to be able to zoom in for people with low vision.”

Parks had a more optimistic view of AR for cars, saying that AR in cars “has the potential to reduce distractions and improve safety by putting information where drivers can use it without distracting themselves from the road.”

Augmented reality driving may be the future

Parks predicted that augmented reality shows would become more interactive and entertainment-focused in the future.

“This could be possible in the near term with smart screens that replace windows, augmented reality glasses or virtual reality headsets (and self-driving vehicles),” he added. “Once riders and drivers can see digital content without distraction, we will be able to more fully connect the physical world with the digital information space.”

Despite the fun and informational potential, Thomas cautioned that augmented reality systems for cars have risks.

“Personalization for the driver is key here,” he added. “Cautionary messages are important, but I shy away from including phone and call information that quickly breaks down into texting and whatnot. This is distracted driving, and the second you look at it, you’re not focused on the road.”

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(Credit to Champion and featured image; Coneyl Jay/Getty Images)

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