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Augmented reality #AR heads-up displays for cars are finally a real thing – SPONSOR: Imagine AR $ $IPNFF $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:51 AM on Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

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Augmented reality heads-up displays for cars are finally a real thing

By: Jonathan M. Gitlin

When Audi briefed Ars on its newest electric car, the part that most piqued our interest was the news that the Q4 e-tron Sportback will feature an augmented reality heads-up display. As we explained in that article, Audi didn’t feel like elaborating much on the new technology. Perhaps it wishes it had, as it’s going to be beaten to the punch by its deadly rival Mercedes-Benz. When the 2021 S-Class debuts in September, the brand’s flagship sedan will offer an AR HUD, among other tech upgrades.

The automaker has even been forthcoming with some technical info on this latest driver assist. It uses a digital mirror device from Texas Instruments—perhaps no surprise given that TI has been developing automotive AR tech for a while now. The DMD has a resolution of 1.3 megapixels (or megamirrors, to be strictly accurate) and projects onto a 10˚ horizontal, 5˚ vertical aperture HUD, with the image appearing 33 feet (10m) away. (Mercedes-Benz says it’s the equivalent of a 77-inch monitor.)

Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz hasn’t shared any still images of the AR HUD in action, and there were only a few seconds of video in the b-roll that the company provided. But the automaker did helpfully tweet out a longer video this morning, which we’ve embedded below, as it really is the best way to see how the system works. (If the embedded tweet isn’t showing up for you, you can view it here.)

Ready for the next level of displays? The augmented reality head-up display (AR-HUD) of the new #SClass provides loads of #augmentedreality content for #drivingassistance systems and navigation information. #MercedesBenz #MBUX

— Daimler AG (@Daimler) July 10, 2020

As you can see, it fuses various sensor inputs from the vehicle like the forward-looking radar as well as optical sensors to alert or inform the driver. That information could be the distance to a car you’re following, or markers delineating the edge of the road in low-light situations, or navigation help via directional arrows that work a bit like the optimal racing line overlay in games like Forza.

I’ll admit it: I’m excited that this tech is finally making its way into production and I’m eager to try it out, although some in the automotive UX world are not entirely convinced that a limited field-of-view HUD is the right way to implement this idea versus a full AR windshield.

That tech was considered unworkable a few years ago, and early practical demos of AR driver assists used goggles instead. But by CES in 2019 there were already static demos from companies like Saint-Gobain Sekurit and the aforementioned TI. A successful implementation will require restraint on the part of the UX designers, with AR elements being used sparingly to avoid information overload that could actually be even more distracting to drivers. But given that the problem of distracted driving is partly a problem of where a driver is looking, AR has the potential to save lives.


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