Using VR in the car sounds like a great way to kill some time on long road trips, but there’s a few factors that may stop you from strapping a headset to your face while in the passenger’s seat—namely motion sickness, unexpected turning, and lack of compelling content. Audi wants to change this with a new technology unveiled at CES this week.
The carmaker has co-founded a start-up named holoride which is commercializing a platform that’ll integrate the car’s movement into VR content, letting backseat passengers view video, and play games and experiences using a VR headset. The platform is slated to be open, and available to all carmakers and content developers in the future, the company says.
Audi and holoride are demoing the VR implementation using an Avengers-themed experience called Marvel Avengers: Rocket’s Rescue Run, an in-car VR experience for backseat passengers built by Disney Games and Interactive Experiences.
“Wearing VR glasses, the passenger in an Audi e-tron is transported into a fantastical depiction of outer space: The Audi e-tron now functions as the ship manned by the Guardians of the Galaxy, as the passenger makes their way through an asteroid field together with Rocket, a character that will appear in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame in spring 2019. Every movement of the car is reflected in the experience in real time. If the car turns a tight corner, the player curves around an opposing spaceship in virtual reality. If the Audi e-tron accelerates, the ship in the experience does the same.”
The startup will provide a software development kit that they say “serves as the interface to the vehicle data and transfers those into virtual realities, allowing developers to create worlds that can be experienced in-car with all of the senses,” the company says in a press statement.
One of the advertised benefits to this system is less chance of motion sickness, which occurs when a VR user perceives motion that doesn’t match up with what they expect. Audi says the visual experience and the user’s actual perception are synchronized, making conventional movies, TV or presentations capable of being viewed with what they call “a significantly reduced chance of motion sickness.”
“Audi, Marvel and Disney Games and Interactive Experiences are celebrating Marvel Studios’ 10th anniversary with an Avengers experience that combines world class content and innovative technology,” said Mike Goslin, Vice President, Disney Games and Interactive Experiences. “While this CES demo was developed purely in the spirit of exploration and experimentation, we are constantly evaluating emerging technologies to enhance our stories and experiences.”
Audi’s co-founded startup holoride intends to launch its integrated VR system within the next three years using standard VR headsets for backseat passengers. The company maintains that the long-term roadmap could see things like traffic events becoming a part of the experience, i.e. if you stop at a traffic light you could encounter unexpected obstacles in a game or interrupt a learning program with a quick quiz.
A similar system has also been proposed by Apple of all companies, although the Cupertino-based tech giant admittedly has done anything public with its patent yet.