Augmented reality and cars: what does the future hold for us?
Augmented Reality and Cars
Let’s get the definitions down first. Virtual Reality (VR) is a term that has been around for years. It’s a completely artificial environment generated by a computer. Picture someone playing a modern videogame and you’ve got the idea. Augmented Reality (AR) is different. AR is like an overlay that one sees “on top” of ordinary reality. Take the PokemonGo game where you run around “catching” Pokemon with your smart phone. That’s a good example of AR.
Needless to say, Augmented Reality could be a very powerful technology in transportation. The first group to realize this was the aviation industry, in particular the military aircraft industry. A problem that needed to be solved was that military pilots can get flooded with data when they fly. This certainly was the case in combat situations. A really good solution to this involved AR and a device called a “Heads-up Display. ” Mounted so images could be projected on the windshield, the pilot could view data without taking their eyes off the path ahead. This data could be flight-oriented (heads, speed, altitude, etc.), aircraft-oriented (gas level, engine performance, etc.) or ordinance-oriented (position of bombing targeting, etc.). The first heads-up displays were installed in aircraft in the 1970s.
Although what they do isn’t nearly as mission critical as military aircraft, the automobile industry saw the advantages to drivers seeing data on their windshield too. General Motors was the first to adopt the technology. Oldsmobile offered a heads-up display on the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It included a glowing green speed readout and turn-indicator arrows. Subsequent systems added color and more vehicle data such as tachometer readouts and infotainment settings.
Other cars followed. In the 2000 Cadillac DeVille, General Motors installed a heads-up display that displayed the image from a thermal-imaging night-vision camera. The object of the system was to increase a driver’s perception in the darkness or in poor weather. It was a modest success. In 2014, Jaguar engineers created the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen concept, which projected a “ghost car” on the windshield glass, allowing drivers mimic lane changes and turns instead of listening to GPS directions. Recently Mitsubishi’s Emirai concept car keeps track of head movements, as well as facial expressions and heart rate, to decide what extra information to show you— such as “You look a little sleepy; there’s a rest stop 12 miles ahead.”
The real promise of AR we are told by Century 3 Kia of West Mifflin, a local Kia dealer in West Mifflin, PA, is in the Dynamic Content Systems that are being developed now. These dynamic contents systems will display relevant data in real time. Here are a few examples. In the heads-up display, the driver could see arrows that point to the direction that a GPS system determines you should go. You could receive alerts about roads closures, speed limits, and traffic conditions all updated continuously. Plus, smart phone notifications could be displayed and you could react to them by using voice recognition technology. This would allow the driver to keep their eyes on the road yet easily interact with their smartphone.
As you can see, Augmented Reality offers substantial benefits to the motorist. Hang tight as we should see a great deal of it in just a few model years.