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Audi reveals virtual reality for backseat passengers…too far?

Audi has demonstrated the integration of virtual reality for backseat passengers at the Consumer Electronics Show but has it gone too far?

Wasn’t that long ago that those in the backseat had nothing more to do than count windmills and that rear seat ventilation was as simple as opening a window. Overnight Audi demonstrated the use of virtual reality goggles for those travelling in the backseat of an Audi e-tron.

But it gets better. Or worse. See, the tech is designed to adapt content to suit the movement of the vehicle. “If for example, the car drives through a right turn, the spaceship in the experience does the same,” Audi said in a statement.

The company has co-founded a start-up company, holoride GmbH to commercialise “this new form of entertainment” the system will be open source which the brand hopes will lead to faster development and a greater uptake.

To demonstrate the system, Audi partnered with Marvel Studios, Disney Games and Interactive Experiences to create ‘Marvel’s Avengers: Rocket’s Rescue Run’. The idea is that the vehicle becomes the ship in the game which is being piloted through an asteroid field by Rocket, a character from the Guardians of the Galaxy universe. “If the car turns a tight corner, the player curves around an opposing spaceship in virtual reality. If the Audi e-tron accelerates, the ship in the experience does the same”.

“Creative minds will use our platform to come up with fascinating worlds that turn the journey from A to B into a real adventure,” said Nils Wollny, Head of Digital Business at Audi, and future CEO of holoride. 

“We can only develop this new entertainment segment by adopting a co-operative, open approach for vehicle, device and content producers.” 

In a statement, Audi said, “From arcade games, underwater adventures and space exploration to educational trips through historical cities or the human bloodstream, there are almost no limits to what is possible. holoride will provide a software development kit that serves as the interface to the vehicle data and transfers those into virtual realities, allowing developers to create worlds that can be experienced in-car with all of the senses. Since the visual experience and the user’s actual perception are synchronised, conventional movies, series or presentations can also be viewed with a significantly reduced chance of motion sickness”.

Audi expects to bring the technology to market within three years. Parents be warned.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober