Who drives is very busy, who accompanies him in the front seats, if he does not interact with who is behind the wheel, at least he has the whole visual panorama of the front of the car. But those who travel in the rear seats are not only passive passengers, but because of the same situation of having only the side windows to see the outside from their position, they tend to consider it tedious to be in a car for too long. And since it is almost always children or teenagers, boredom is even greater.
As if that weren’t enough, there are two extra variables that coincide to make the ride in the back seats of a car less pleasant. The first is that acceleration and braking movements feel much stronger, something that many drivers do not know because they never go in that area of the passenger compartment. The second is that in the face of that boredom, it is almost instantaneous to take a cell phone to connect with the outside world or to play. Both situations in many cases accelerate the effect of discomfort that often ends in dizziness.
Audi took note of this situation for some time, and started working with a Virtual Reality specialist company called Holoride, which it owns because it collaborated in its creation. Together, they managed to develop an Extended Reality system to equip their cars of the future, created themed environments on board, which can be accessed by simply putting on a pair of virtual reality glasses. The future has come, because from next June, the first in Europe, and quickly in the US, Japan and China, the system will be available for Audi models that have modular MIB 3 infotainment system, and the latest updated software in those markets.
Extended Reality, they explain from Holoride, includes much more than sight and hearing, as it is common to know about Virtual Reality. With this technology, movement becomes the star of entertainment, since the game is connected to the car, and for this reason, every movement of the vehicle on its way, is reproduced as a movement in Extended Reality. Thus, the car is the perfect field to apply it.
The scenario will be able to change between many options, and in all of them the movement of the car will be the one that generates the development of the chosen game. The alternatives are varied. You can travel through time or enter a cartoon, you can go through a jungle full of dinosaurs or fight in space as crew members of an intergalactic ship. In all cases, there are also challenges to getting and participating in active entertainment. A push button will allow you to get points, either for collecting prizes, shooting enemies, defending against predatory animals, or achieving missions on an expedition.
The system was first introduced at CES in Las Vegas in 2019, where Holoride created a game based on the Marvel universe and in collaboration with Disney Games and Interactive Experiences. Then, last year, at the Munich Motor Show, during the IAA Mobility, visitors to the exhibition were the first to experience demonstrations in a car. At the recent Salzburg Festival, the Extended Reality system was once again presented with a journey through time from the rear seats of an Audi e-tron through different eras of the Austrian city in search of nothing less than the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
One of the biggest challenges for the creators of the system is to check that people in the rear seats do not suffer from dizziness when putting on their Virtual Reality glasses and headphones. After three years of experimentation and adjustments, they say they have changed a paradigm. If before people could get dizzy because they didn’t match what they came with what their body felt, now, with the movement of the car and in the same sense of movement in Extended Reality, that should disappear.
The verdict of users is missing. But they have hardly dared to launch the product massively without the certainty of a completely different experience from what is known, which will make trips in the rear seats much more entertaining.
Perhaps at some time, with the massive arrival of this type of entertainment solutions to more brands and models of cars, the famous question that the guys ask when they have just passed a few kilometers from a trip will change the direction, and asking “how long to go” will become part of a desire because it still it’s a long time before the destination. If so, technology will have won a battle that already seemed lost.