Remember those Terminator films where the red lenses in his eyes would highlight the people or objects that he was looking at? That was Augmented Reality.
Augmented reality (AR) is defined by Wikipedia as
“A live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data.”
BMW already produces vehicles with a head up windshield (head up) display which projects information in the driver’s line of sight using mirrors, so he or she can keep their eyes on the road. They have used this to display information such as speed, speed limits, navigation and more.
There is also a satellite navigation app for iPhones called Hudway, which uses the reflection of your iPhone on your dash as a head up display attempt, providing you with information such as your speed, when to slow down and when the next sharp bend is coming up. Perfect for driving along unfamiliar roads.
So this is available now, but what does the future hold? Augmented reality in cars would take this to the next level. Transparent display technology will be able to point out objects and highlight them on your windscreen, displaying further information. This will be used in navigation purposes such as highlighting the lane you need to stay in and even the building that is your destination (making navigation very user friendly). It could also be used for sightseeing – informing you about your surroundings, and could even work from a safety point of view letting you know when you are approaching the car ahead too quickly.
GM have demonstrated how their technology could work, highlighting edges of the road in poor weather conditions, animals at the side of the road, using infra-red sensors, visible cameras, radar and night vision that look out forward onto the road as well as visual cameras that track the direction the driver’s face is looking in. The main reason for all of this is so that the driver’s eyes can stay on the road rather than switching between other instruments or other mounted navigation systems around the dashboard. This will hopefully result in an increase in safety on the roads from fewer accidents, as well as a more relaxing drive all-round.
These enhanced vision systems are already used in many airliner cockpits around the world today. Now it is simply a case of translating and mapping out the information onto the roads to bring the technology to the masses on their daily drives.
With the possibility that the internet could end up on windscreens will this end up being the new form of texting while driving? Will push notifications show up? With all these extra distractions will this technology help or hinder the progression of road safety?
Read more on the future of driving.