Audi enters XR era
Nils Wollny, CEO and co-founder of Holoride, pointed out that time spent in transit is often wasted. To help tackle this problem Audi, starting this June, will be the first automaker to offer the tech specialist's XR experiences through its infotainment systems.
Audi, which has a stake in Holoride, will use the supplier's combination of motion-synchronized car and location-aware data with XR content in real-time to offer deeper levels of immersion in entertainment, educational, gaming and well-being content.
"As today's vehicles become more advanced, it opens up new opportunities to create more immersive, engaging transportation experiences for passengers," said Wollny, who was named an Automotive News Europe Rising Star in 2020.
Durach said BMW is in frequent contact with AR/XR players from the consumer electronics industry, including startups and large technology companies, to identify the most promising opportunities for customers.
"Because of the ongoing developments in automated driving, augmented reality will play an increasingly important role in the context of the human-machine interface," he said.
He believes AR can help strengthen trust between the user and the vehicle while providing additional information in real time.
"AR is a real added value for our customers to make their driving experience more exciting and also safer," he said.
More tech, higher costs
Gartner analyst Pedro Pacheco said that while technologies such as AR, VR, or XR have possible applications in the auto industry, the big question is how consumers will respond to these premium options.
"Automakers already sell rear seat entertainment units, which are expensive. If you bring in VR gear, that's going to be more expensive, because obviously automakers want to charge a premium," he said. "Once you raise the price, the experience needs to be really good."
Pacheco said if customers don't really see the benefit, the automaker's big investment could go to waste.
"This is the big challenge," he said.
Wollny said many people now know the full range of benefits that VR can provide.
"As a result, we're starting to see both individuals and businesses embrace the technology to enrich many areas of our lives, including time spent in our vehicles," Wollny said. "Passengers are expecting experiences that deliver better infotainment solutions in cars."
He added that as the industry looks to a future where autonomous vehicles are the norm, people will need even more options to fill their time in the car.
Avoiding motion sickness
However, Wollny stressed that connecting three major industries -- automotive, entertainment and XR tech -- has been a Herculean task.
"Making this feel seamless and simple for passengers was one of our major challenges," he said.
In particular, synchronizing the motion of the car with the content the passenger is seeing has been of major importance throughout the development of the technology.
"People often experience motion sickness when consuming visual content in the car, but we have worked to help to reduce these symptoms," he said.
The reaction to the motion and location of a moving vehicle in real-time enables a revolutionary new content category that is unique to cars -- Holoride calls this "elastic content" since it adapts to the individual ride.
"Working closely with content creators helping to bring this new type of experience to cars is something that keeps us excited," Wollny said. "As autonomous vehicles become more advanced, we'll see the continued development of immersive technologies in vehicles. That includes AR, VR, XR and everything in between."