We’ve been waiting for the day that we would see Augmented Reality displays as standard on all cars. Let’s face it we all love a good concept car – they’re exciting, strange and a glimpse at what the future could look like. True they don’t often translate into reality in their full mind boggling form, but for now they are quite something to look at. However, even in the mad world of concept cars, BMW has outdone itself.
With the company marking its 100th anniversary this year it has just produced the Vision Next 100 concept car at its HQ in Munich. It looks amazing from the outside, but that’s nothing as to what lies beneath.
Let’s take that exterior first – it is sleek as a fish and looks like the kind of thing they’d be driving around in a Star Trek film. Even so there are still some elements of classic BMW there such as the recognisable kidney grille. But that’s about it – other than that this car is lightyears ahead of today’s automobile.
The windscreen is transformed into an augmented reality display which replaces the entire dashboard. It has around 800 triangles embedded in the dash called Alive Geometry which can use a driver’s movements to communicate directly.
There is also a self-driving option which other concept cars have followed. When you feel like taking control you can – but the car has a great deal of stuff to help you out. Its AR display will help you out by displaying an optimal driving line on the windshield. That’s the mode which BMW calls ‘Boost’, but if you switch it into ‘Easy’ mode the car starts to take over. The steering wheel will react and the position of the seat will change making it easier for the driver and passenger to communicate. That AR windshield can also be used for in-car entertainment – great for long journeys.
But one of the most eye-catching features is something called simply the companion. It’s something which raises fears of artificial intelligence taking us over – just as in the movies. The Companion is an object similar to a gemstone that enables the car to learn about its owner over time. It will eventually be able to perform routine tasks and offer advice. It will also be able to signal to pedestrians when it is safe to cross the road when it’s in autonomous mode.
Of course none of this is anywhere close to being ready for production. It is simply BMW’s attempt to show some of the technology which it thinks will feature during the next 100 years of its existence – and of course to catch our attention by producing something undeniably cool. These will indeed be a crucial few decades in the car industry with the arrival of things such as self-driving, Uber and car sharing. This is BMW’s first line of defence against these market disruptions. Whether these will translate fully into reality is far from certain, but for now it sure is fun to dream.
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