If you remember this scene from Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol, then you do not need explanations that go with what Augmented Reality in Automotive IOT is.
For the uninitiated, Augmented Reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. A rather humble example of this technology is the display of scores and related data in a sports match that enhances the perception of the viewer.
Recent Augmented Reality devices in the market that use IoT
Some of the familiar AR products include Google Glass and Sony SmartEyeGlass, which like many other hi-tech gadgets of the day, uses Internet of Things for their operation. In the above case, a privately held company called the CrowdOptic Inc., holds the patented solution for these wearable marvels. CrowdOptic is best known for their mobile technology that gathers and analyzes data from smartphone cameras, based on where they are pointed, to identify areas of high interest. Numerous technologies are being developed to bring AR into Virtual Retinal Displays and contact lenses.
While these techs will make sense only to the tech buff out there, a more appealing concept to the common man in the field of AR is being implemented in the automotive sector. Make no mistake, there is a ton of applications out there to make AR a breathing component in the automotive world. Imagine having to test drive a car, see its interiors, feel the exhaust notes and even the cornering capabilities of the said automobile, all from the comfort of your couch. Welcome to Automotive Augmented Reality.
The various avatars that AR takes in the automotive sector
The days of going through a 100-plus page bulky manual that came with your car for every time your car runs into some trouble are long past. With German automaker Volkswagen’s luxury brand announcing that they will replace their manual with an AR app-named the eKurzinfo, the days of having a virtual mechanic diagnose our cars isn’t much further in the foreseeable future. The better part of the news? Audi has them coming even in their base models such as the A1 and the A3.
So an app to replace the good ol’ manual. “Big Deal!”, you say? Well here’s what it can do. Suppose you have a problem with the coolant chamber or the engine oil chamber of your car, but you have no idea where the chambers are, underneath all the mechanical cluster you see when you pop the hood. Here’s where AR kicks in. Point the smartphone you have toward the engine, and with an “et voilà” the app scans the engine bay and displays with a 3D overlaid image of where your search term lies. Even display the parameters. No kidding.
Not familiar with the interior of the car? Point the device at the knob or device or any lever that you see, the app displays the details and the instructions of “How to use” of the said item of interest. In other words, you could carry the car mechanic with you wherever, contained within your smartphone. Furthermore, it helps technicians get a first hand idea about the car’s conditions in case of roadside assistance. The collateral advantage being reduction of usage of paper is an environmental plus too.
Car makers are now focusing on things that are quite dynamic in place of just point and learn- enhancement of safety and driving experience. AR displays such as Heads-Up Displays (HUD) transform car’s windscreen into a computer screen that can display navigation, live traffic feeds, weather updates, landmarks and places of interest. Couple this with safety technologies like Volvo’s Intellisafe, we can have AR systems that can warn of potential collisions or mishaps, directly in the line of view of the driver. In addition, infotainment systems like audio playback, connecting phone calls can be coupled to the AR HUD display and can be interacted with gesture or voice control.
So what does IoT have to do with AR in cars?
The answer is simple really. Real-time applications need data. A lot of them. Augmented Reality apps used libraries stored in local storage devices to access, analyze and display data. This meant a serious short coming in the spectrum in which these apps could perform reliably. With the advent of Internet of Things, data storage, analyzing capabilities are no more a bar for AR apps to limit their operating range. Live traffic feeds, weather updates, navigation, point and learn- all owe their existence to IoT.
Simply, if a car has latest AR system enabled, then it is cloud connected. These cars are known as connected cars. In addition to managing internal functions of the car, IoT enables cars to interact with the physical world too- with other cars, traffic lights, fuel pumps and the like. In a report (2014) by McKinsey & Company, more than a quarter of car buyers said that Internet connectivity is more important than features such as engine power and fuel efficiency. 4G has been already implemented by automakers in some of their newest models and with WiFi hotspots enabled around the city, IoT can be extensively relied upon to make enhanced driving experiences possible.