With a partnership initially announced in 2021, Meta and BMW have been keeping busy in their quest to innovate the experience of being behind the wheel. Together, the two have made strides in their research to integrate AR and VR technology into the car.
Bringing a new type of reality into an automobile isn’t as easy as just slapping on an Oculus headset. The main problem Meta and BMW were facing was an industry-wide unresolved issue where the inside and outside-of-the-car motion tracking systems weren’t matching up in a moving environment. This means that VR headsets weren’t able to provide stable virtual content when a car turns or accelerates.
To tackle these challenges, Meta’s Reality Labs teamed up with BMW Group, pulling data from the Project Aria research glasses as well as BMW’s car sensor system. Now with an improved tracking system that eliminates the stability issue, Meta transferred the technology onto its Quest Pro headset, where virtual objects could be binded into the car, even when it is running. The next step for Meta and BMW is now to tackle the car’s positioning, which is constantly in motion, to the world around it
Vice President of Research Science at Meta’s Reality Labs Research Richard Newcombe stated “The technology has the potential to transform how we can safely interact with our environment while travelling, and as we progress into reliable world-locked content on the road to AR glasses”. He goes on to say that VR and AR could be used to “see things like markers for landmarks, restaurants, places of interest” as well as having “gaming, entertainment, productivity, and even meditation capabilities”.
Claus Dorrer, the Head of BMW Group Technology Office USA in Mountain View explains that this combined technology could help in many ways “from assisting the driver in locating their car in a crowded parking lot to alerting them to hazards on the road and surfacing important information about the vehicle’s condition”.
While it is still “too early to tell exactly how or when this technology will make it into customers’ hands”, the exciting opportunities and possibilities to come with VR, AR and XR-intergrated driving are exciting enough to keep the research and engineering going.
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