Mini drivers may get augmented reality glasses

Mini reveals it will demonstrate an augmented reality vision system for its vehicles at the Auto Shanghai show in China

Mini owners in the future may be able to use wearable augmented reality technology to help them perform tasks such as navigation or reverse parking.

The firm’s owner, BMW, has announced it is to show off a wearable device, similar to Google Glass, at the upcoming Auto Shanghai show, which will take place in China towards the end of April 2015.

The automaker has been working alongside Qualcomm to create the augmented reality eyewear concept which, according to project manager Jörg Preissinger, will have a “characteristic Mini design”.

Preissinger said the Mini Augmented Vision project will provide insight into how intelligent connectivity between a vehicle and a wearable device into which relevant content can be projected could function in the future.

“This prototype with its customised, interactive functions succeeds in fusing augmented reality with the brand’s trademark sense of lifestyle,” he said.

The eyewear will show drivers relevant information directly in their field of vision but, claimed Preissinger, would not conceal other road users, “thereby serving to increase safety and comfort while driving”.

Before entering the Mini of the future, the driver will be able to select their destination and transfer it to the vehicle, as well as using the device to navigate themselves to their car, should they have forgotten where they parked it.

Read more about wearable displays

Once on the move, a heads-up display will show the user information they would usually have to take their eyes off the road to see such as current speed, fuel and so on, as well as information such as local speed limits.

Meanwhile, said Mini, contact-analogue navigation arrows will appear on the road, as well as display of useful information along the route, such as open parking spaces.

It will also connect to a smartphone to provide message notifications and read any text messages received aloud.

An X-ray view setting will provide a virtual view through parts of the vehicle such as pillars, to help external areas remain visible and reduce blind spots.

Finally, an augmented parking feature will project images from a camera housed in the passenger-side mirror to the eyewear, helping the driver tell how far they are away from the kerb.  

“We are proud to have helped develop a breakthrough augmented reality interface between eyewear and the automobile,” commented Qualcomm Connected Experiences vice-president Jay Wright.

“Mini Augmented Vision offers a compelling example of what’s possible today, and what we can expect in the future.”

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