A heavy Walkman, uncomfortable foam earphones, landscapes passing by: that’s what the backseat sadness of my childhood looked like. What I wouldn’t have done to have a spaceship land in the cornfield, so I could play with. It was childish fantasy at the time, but with holoride, it could soon become a reality. Audi has developed a new VR experience for a car’s backseat. The new virtual reality format was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas.
Virtual reality in your car: a test drive with holoride
Audi is venturing into new, virtual worlds with the start-up holoride. With the virtual reality glasses on, Audi blog author Andreas Wittke climbs to the pinnacle of backseat entertainment. The special feature: the glasses process data from the car in real time. For real now?
Blast into the virtual world with Audi, Disney, and Marvel’s Avengers
Disney Games and Interactive Experiences were both aboard the CES. Working together with Audi, the developers had produced the demo experience “Marvel’s Avengers: Rocket’s Rescue Run” exclusively for the exhibition. The test users were excited– and so was I. With the VR glasses on, I commandeered a spaceship and fought off countless adversaries. The special feature: the technology matches the virtual content in real-time with the movements of the car.
"When Audi called us with the idea of creating a demo for their technology, we were excited about the possibility of bringing our characters and stories to life in a futuristic car environment."
The backseat experience nearly blows me away. I immediately forget everything around me: the car, the speed, the environment. In combination with the barely audible driving noise of the Audi e-tron, I am completely immersed in the simulation. My goal is not to arrive somewhere, but to save the galaxy.
The driving maneuvers of the real car are fluidly transposed into the virtual world – that’s exciting and surprising, because I don’t know whether the spaceship will fly to the left next, accelerate or even stop. The haptic feedback I get from the real driving movements makes the virtual experience even more impressive, intense, and realistic. When the ride is over, the mission is over. I wonder: how does this even work?
A lot of data + intelligent algorithms = breathtaking virtual reality experience for cars
The virtual reality glasses are connected to the car. By means of intelligent algorithms, the virtual world is synchronized with the driving behavior of the car: If the car turns left, the spaceship in the game flies to the left. If the driver accelerates in reality, the spaceship also accelerates.
The developers use data points derived from autonomous driving algorithms. These provide information about the position, speed, control, braking, and acceleration behavior. The system also evaluates data from the navigation system and adjusts the length of the game to the expected driving time. “This is why we’re calling this new entertainment format ‘Elastic Content,'” explains Nils Wollny, Digital Business Director of Audi and, as of February 1 this year, CEO of holoride.
A great side effect from the real-time rendering and movement: travel sickness – generated from reading or watching movies – are pretty much eliminated. Anyway, I’m feeling great after the drive.
VR Content: the journey continues
The possibilities for applying virtual reality applications in the car are almost limitless. “From interactive experiences such as games to a historic city trip—anything is possible. With the further development of the Car-to-X infrastructure, digitally unexpected obstacles could appear when, say, the car stops at a traffic light,” explains Wollny. I imagine a monster jumping in front of my virtual ship.
Explorative and educational content could be another field, for example a journey through the human body. Series and films like “Once Upon a Time… the life” or “Innerspace” could be offered.
Nils Wollny, Digital Business Director of Audi
We have reached the end of an era of purely linear entertainment formats in the car – and with virtual experiences much more realistic than ever before.
Open VR Concept: holoride ready for usage in three years
The subsidiary Audi Electronics Venture has engineered and driven the VR experience over the past three years. In order to quickly establish the new format in the market, Audi has co-founded the start-up holoride, creating a completely new digital business model.
The independent start-up follows an open approach: the technology should be available to all car manufacturers and content producers. Within the next three years, holoride wants to bring the digital application to the market with customary stand-alone VR glasses.
With this development, the future concept from the Audi “25th Hour” project has added another exciting member – this time without autonomous driving but with elite backseat entertainment. Kids and teens will be thrilled – even if the chunkiness of today’s VR glasses is slightly reminiscent of the old Walkman.
Audi turns the car into a virtual reality experience platform at CES
Audi is redefining in-car entertainment at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In the future, backseat passengers will be able to experience movies, video games, and interactive content even more realistically using virtual reality glasses. The premium brand is presenting a technology that adopts virtual content to the movements of a vehicle in real time: If the car drives through a right turn, the spaceship in the experience does the same, for example. Through a subsidiary, Audi Electronics Venture GmbH, Audi has co-founded a start-up company, holoride GmbH, which will commercialize this new form of entertai...Read more
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