We live in an exciting point in the history of automobiles. The day when land vehicles run exclusively on renewable energy and drive completely on their own may not come soon, but we have the privilege to witness the cars which are becoming not just more electric and autonomous, but also more “augmented.”
Augmented reality (AR) has not been high on the agenda of the global automotive industry. Its biggest players are focusing on other technologies to address more pressing matters.
Heads-up displays (HUDs), digital graphics that bring the dashboard to the windshield, are the most realistic AR-based in-car features average motorists can experience while on the road right now. Representing the first generation of AR technology, HUDs are integrated into just a handful of motor vehicle models on the market today. Nevertheless, their mass adoption is on the horizon.
By 2022, the AR/VR (virtual reality) market is projected to reach more than $26 billion. By 2025, over 11 million HUD systems, out of more or less 15 million units forecasted to be distributed, are expected to be embedded into vehicles.
While HUD systems are likely to become a standard car component sooner rather than later, the next breed of AR innovations is already being incubated. Below are some of the real-world AR auto applications we may see in the near future.
Windshields are not the only ones undergoing long overdue enhancements. Auto innovators are trying to use AR to identify blind-spot threats more quickly and bring them to the attention of the driver through video feeds in the rearview mirror.
Another concept gaining traction is “hybrid view” mirrors. With AR, the images captured by the rear and side view cameras are combined to form an unbroken panorama of a car’s surroundings.
These enhancements do not aim to eliminate the reflective glass. AR-powered rear-view mirrors of the future would still function like their predecessors in case something goes wrong with the technology.
Virtual Passenger-Seat Driving
Perhaps the most intriguing AR auto application to date is co-piloting and commute companionship. Nissan is perfecting its Invisible-to-Visible technology to put a digital co-driver beside an actual driver. Such an avatar could be the in-car virtual assistant in the age of autonomous vehicles.
An AR-driven app can lend users x-ray vision to inspect a motor vehicle’s inner workings. It can streamline the somewhat cumbersome auto diagnostics procedure in the event an automobile breaks down. The application can enable an ordinary individual to detect probable causes of failure in a sophisticated piece of machinery that is a car engine. As a result, guesswork can be minimized, and the process of trial and error can be shortened.
The practicality of AR auto applications is no longer debatable. Car dealers that adopted the technology early have already seen it move the needle in sales. It is only a matter of time before AR would start helping steer our driving behaviours in the right direction and save the lives of road users, much like other promising auto innovations hope to accomplish.