Augmented reality, where real images are superimposed with virtual animations, could provide car drivers with highly relevant information about their immediate environment in the near future.
Applications being developed for cars include driver-visible heads-up displays (HUDs), wearable tech and the windscreen as an interactive display. Information from a phone contact list to diagnostics from car sensors could be made usable and easy to access through various routes such as gaze tracking, gesture recognition and speech.
The displays used for AR applications could either be wearable or integrated in the car. AR glasses provide additional information about the world we see so for example, switching between different scenarios regardless of the driver’s location could enable them to find a car park using projected maps.
However, it could be argued that wearables are distracting, making a case for car-integrated technologies such as windscreen-based AR or HUDs which provide information without the need for drivers to take their eyes off the road. With video-based AR systems, the vehicle’s forward-facing camera has an additional layer of information laid over it.
The car can provide drivers and passengers with additional, complex information using AI-based technologies which collect information through speech, gaze-tracking, or gesture-based interaction, plus cabin surveillance systems or advanced sensor functions.
Obviously, the interface significantly influences the choice of feasible applications and user-experience. Technologies such as the smart windscreen from Saint-Gobain Sekurit use the entire windshield as a transparent display of targeted, intelligent content without compromising visibility.
In the future, AR technologies will allow the windscreen to be used for infotainment – such as finding places to eat; convenience – using the windscreen to interact with on-board systems or online content while still having eyes on the road and safety – using AR in combination with eye-tracking technologies and sensor fusion to direct attention to hazards, other vehicles or pedestrians.
AR applications for cars and drivers are constantly developing. The focus should be on benefitting drivers and passengers through a driving experience that is entertaining, informative and safe.