While all the foibles and legalities of autonomy means self-driving cars are a little way off yet, tech to help human drivers is still on a roll.
The next big thing in that field? Augmented Reality (AR): the blend of informational computer graphics and the real world.
One company beating a path towards AR in cars is WayRay, which has just announced it’s raised $80m in a new round of funding. Investors for this round include car manufacturers Hyundai and Porsche.
WayRay has been working on AR since 2012. It’s been developing a holographic projector system that it says it can install in almost any vehicle. While some manufacturers are using a head-up display system for AR, WayRay’s projection system is smaller and has a wider field of view.
AR has a number of useful applications in the automotive field. At its most basic, an AR system could overlay navigation information within the driver’s sightline.
That not only means drivers would no longer have to take their eyes off the road to glance at a multimedia screen, it’d confirm the accuracy of navigation instructions. No more big rigs stuck down country lanes…
For those of us who love a good blast around a race track, AR can help too. Want to know the racing line? AR will display it for you. WayRay’s system could even display your own fastest lap as a ghost car. How very Gran Turismo…
Of course it’s not just the automotive sphere that can benefit from AR. One of WayRay’s development paths is smart glass in homes and businesses. This use of AR could highlight local businesses, traffic on distant roads, incoming weather or even map out the night sky. AR could display any information you can think of right in front of you.
Lutz Meschke, member of the executive board for finance and IT at Porsche, commented:
“The WayRay team has unique expertise with a solid background in space engineering, hardware and software development. Their innovative ideas and products have great potential. We are convinced that on this basis we’ll be able to offer our clients customized Porsche solutions. That is why we have made this strategic investment decision.”
Dr. Youngcho Chi, executive vice-president of Hyundai Motor Group added:
“The Hyundai–WayRay collaboration will help us establish a brand new eco-system that harnesses AR technology to enhance not only navigation systems but establish an AR platform for smart cities and smart buildings, which are Hyundai Motor Group’s new business interests, in the long term, providing innovative customer experiences to our drivers.”