How Augmented Reality Changes Today’s Automotive Industry

28 Oct, 2019

Having over 28 years of IT market experience, Infopulse provides in-depth expertise in automotive software development that includes navigation, augmented reality and computer vision, connected car, HMI, ADAS, cybersecurity, blockchain, and other solutions. OEMs and Tier 1 companies choose Infopulse to strengthen their technological capabilities, achieve faster time-to-market, reach a wider talent pool, and gain new competitive edge by embracing innovations. Today, Infopulse shares their insights on how augmented reality is revolutionizing the automotive industry.

Morton Heilig, a pioneer of virtual reality would be amused to know that in the nearest future people would be using their phones to chase the streets in search of their small virtual companions. Unanimous enthusiasm around Pokemon Go, live masks and filters of MSQRD and the Snapchat lens – augmented reality has been a toy in our hands for quite a while. Due to the similarity of VR and AR, the latter is commonly thought to be a preeminent element of the entertainment industry. However, AR may be implemented in a wide range of spheres like education, retail, design, modeling, repair and maintenance, as well as street view mapping. Most importantly, today augmented reality may be used to swiftly advance the development of the automotive industry. 

AR adoption has versatile forms, and each of them enhances different vehicle parts, for example:

  • The inner compartment may be improved with Holographic AR navigational technologies that will make the driving experience easy and convenient.
  • Mobile Augmented Technical Assistance application may be used to promptly repair the outside parts of the car.
  • AR may have a positive impact on vehicle manufacturing. Tesla has recently developed an AR-based system that automates the model setup and configuration, as well as calibration settings and quality checkups, which results in fast and accurate vehicle production. 

In general, the overwhelming majority of modern entrepreneurs recognize the potential benefits of leveraging AR into their business. According to “A Spotlight of Industrial Innovation”, the VR & AR market is forecasted to grow up to $202 billion by 2022. Furthermore, 86% of the questioned business owners from different branches seriously consider beginning to implement AR solutions for their enterprises.

Judging by the amounts of investments into AR, the automotive industry will allegedly override other business sectors by 2020. See the table below:

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Augmented reality, alongside with IoT and Computer Vision are the core aspects of cutting-edge navigation solutions and advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS). These technologies combined may improve the driver’s safety and make a valuable contribution to the development of automotive connectivity ecosystems. Moreover, AR will soon become an integral part of autonomous driving features that will create a radically new driving experience.

Lately, at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2019, Nissan has presented its innovative Invisible-to-Visible technology (I2V). This technology creates a 360-degree virtual space around the car that provides real-time information about the road to the driver, thus making manual navigation system much safer and comfortable. Additionally, the driver support system and the onboard AI assists the driver in concentrating his attention on the road. The AI is combined with the Cloud data and external sensors that are capable to analyze global data on infrastructure and transport, monitor traffic situations that are far ahead, and even find the nearest free parking spots.

The Difference Between Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality 

There are three different types of extended reality that differ by the extent of the user’s immersion. They can be used in succession or simultaneously to cover a broad spectrum of business purposes.

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  • Augmented reality is the process of laying digital objects into an already existing environment to provide a partial immersion into the virtual world.
  • Virtual reality changes the real world into the virtual environment and provides a full-scale immersion. 
  • Mixed reality adds virtual objects (holograms) into our physical environment so that the user can interact with these objects by using holographic devices. 

AR Hardware Use Cases in Automotive Industry 

Augmented reality hardware does not only include smartphones and headsets but has a wide range of other devices that are compatible with it. Sensors and cameras scan the surrounding environment and collect data about it. AR may use Simultaneous Localization & Mapping to analyze the user’s distance to certain objects. Mounted projects are able to send the gathered data into the surface of the AR headset, smart glasses, lenses, and mirrors that reflect light to the camera and properly align the image. Most importantly, AR devices have high processing power and include such features as GPU, CPU, RAM, flash memory, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, and GPS microchips. So how can all of the above-mentioned devices be implemented to improve the automotive industry?

 

AR Head-Up Display

AR HUD allows displaying augmented road signs, warnings and real-time route navigation above the vehicle’s windshield to help the driver stay focused. Today, such HUDs are available in different car models (e.g., Chevrolet Camaro, Toyota Camry, Lexus LS 500, Mazda 6, etc.). Currently, automakers are trying to catch up with the autonomous driving prediction technologies and AR HUDs already include complex driving assistance systems to exclude traffic casualties. The Global Automotive HUD Market Analysis & Trends predicts that HUD adoption by different automotive brands is expected to steadily grow over the next 10 years. The growth of HUD adoption is directly interrelated with the spreading of semi-autonomous vehicles that will need to be equipped with advanced head-up displays.

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Mobile Phones & Tablets

Our devices already have enough power to deliver AR imaging of high precision. Some automotive manufacturers use AR applications to create visually vivid manuals for their clients. Hyundai has created a virtual hands-on guide for its customers so that they could get familiar with the features of the car easier, and handle small repairs without the need to visit a car care center. The digital manual will also show the oil levels, descriptions of different switches, a map of lights and a pictorial index with articles and video explanations.

Augmented Reality Glasses    

AR glasses are an extension of a smartphone displaying the digital information in front of the user’s eyes. The most famous models of glasses today are Google Glass,  Vuzix BladeODG’s R7/R8/R9Solos for cyclistsMagic Leap augmented reality goggles, etc. Today these glasses offer activity tracking notifications, voice assistance, and necessary navigation alerts when the user is driving. Although AR glasses are currently in the novice stage of development and are mainly used in the entertainment industry, the technology is still leaping forward. Tech giants like Sony and Samsung have already received patents on the development of AR contact lenses that include a tiny camera, an antenna, a display, and small sensors that spot the user’s blinks and allow interacting with the displayed virtual objects on the lenses.

The Usage of Virtual Reality in Automotive Industry 

Even with modern advancements, VR hardware is still too bulky and costly for mass use, which is why entrepreneurs are willing to invest more funds into augmented reality. According to the Digi Capital report, business owners will invest approximately $30 billion into VR, and AR is likely to receive $90 billion of investments by 2020. The use of virtual reality in the automotive industry is restrained to just a few cases, the majority of which are test-driving experience. VR is constantly used at a pre-sale stage to lure potential customers to buy a new car, and collect firsthand feedback about the model.

The Use of Mixed Reality in Automotive Industry 

Mixed reality is the combination of AR & VR that blends the digital world with the real world and allows interacting with holographic objects. This technology is quite useful for automotive designers and engineers because it allows achieving a precise visual representation of the car model. Mixed reality has the potential to replace the usual vehicle clay model with a visual 3D representation, which designers can interact with in real-time.

The most significant feature is that mixed reality excludes the needs to create a physical vehicle prototype, by allowing visualizing and fusing different car elements together. Due to this, mixed reality helps to speed up the development process and create a vehicle prototype faster. A stunning example of such technology is Ford’s New Age Design Studio that uses Microsoft HoloLens to overlay new digitalized concepts on top of the physical asset.

Mixed Reality and Haptic Feedback 

Haptic feedback is an evolving technology that is still being developed and tested. The idea is that it allows the user to touch the mixed reality hologram and feel their texture in motion. There are two types of haptic feedback:

  • Kinesthetic haptics that influences the user’s senses with motion, vibration or force. This kind of feedback is already available in the gaming industry, although the human-robot interaction reports state that force-based haptics is not too effective in recreating a realistic virtual reality experience. 
  • Cutaneous haptics influences our skin with a complex of slight vibrations and makes us believe that we actually touch something real. 

For the automotive industry, haptic feedback may completely change the approach to trade process, replacing a standard dealership center with a comprehensive VR showroom for making a test drive of any vehicle at any time.

Augmented, Virtual and Mixed reality have the potential to be implemented in other exciting use cases and are currently integrating into every part of the vehicle lifecycle – concept development, manufacturing, testing, pre-sale, and usage. With the ongoing automotive industry development, augmented reality will certainly be an essential part of every vehicle of the future. 

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