It is rather incredible when you think about the technology available to us these days. In the car industry, advances in technology have saved countless lives, from the simple yet effective seatbelt, to more advanced systems such as Antilock Stability Control. And now, Mini has revealed the possible next addition to our arsenal of safety equipment.
Augmented reality is something that has been around for a while, albeit, still very much in the development stage. However, over at Mini it seems that it is becoming something that could become the norm in our everyday lives. It comes in the form of “Mini Augmented Vision”, essentially a drivers’ version of Google Glass. The Driver simple puts the device on, and their situational awareness is instantly enriched.
The device has numerous useful functions that hopefully will lead to safer roads. Probably the most impressive function is the ability to ‘see through’ the pillars and doors of the car, thus eliminating poor visibility or weak spots common to most cars.
For those who find parallel parking, or any parking for that matter, difficult to deal with, Mini has come up with a solution to make the experience a little less daunting. A camera is mounted on the side mirror, which allows the driver to park with absolute precision by attaining an ‘outsiders’ perspective of their park.
Taking your eyes off the road, even for a split-second to check the speedo, can be dangerous, which leads me to another awesome feature, the placement of the speed limit and the speed being travelled on the Head-Up Display, which stay at a fixed point above the steering wheel even when the user moves their head, which prevents this information from blocking the user from the outside world.
Navigation is also a function of the device, and the user will find navigation arrows ‘physically’ placed on the road to show them where to go, exactly like a street racing game. Pretty cool stuff!
When we finish a long day at work and have to pop in to the shops for some groceries, it can be pretty frustrating when you can’t find a spot to park. You’ve got important TV shows to watch and so you want to be in and out as quick as possible, but you spend ages circling the lot looking for a spot, and when you finally find one you overshoot it and the person behind you nabs it! Incredibly, the device helps spot free car spaces for you, and when combined with the park-assist features mentioned before, you’ll easily slot in.
Now creating such great situational awareness would simply go to waste if the driver still got distracted, by, lets say, a text message. So, once again, Mini has thought of a way to keep your attention primarily on the road by designing the device to read messages to you at your discretion.
In addition to being able to use these glasses in the car, users are meant to be able to use them while out and about on foot. Essentially it acts as an augmented navigation system, with directional markers placed in the field of view to allow people to navigate as they would if they were controlling a character in a video game.
The features list is pretty long, so I congratulate you for getting this far. Lets carry on. The device has a function where it will direct users to their car, and then once they hop in, it’ll continue to direct you to your final destination.
While using the device on foot, you are supposedly able to look at event posters or advertisements, and opt for the device to take you there. If you decide to drive, the device will automatically input the data into your car so that you don’t have to go through the tantalizing process of entering addresses through the navigation system. Quite handy if you’re in a rush or just too lazy to do it yourself.
To put into words how impressive this thing is proves quite a challenge, so I would recommend watching the video. Even if the final product doesn’t quite match it completely, the concepts behind the product are exciting, and hopefully we’ll find out more at the Auto Shanghai show later this year.
As cool as this device is…..it is terribly hard to ignore the elephant in the room. The device look ridiculous. Like really ridiculous. If you wore one of these in public it would be fair for people to assume you just landed your WWI biplane after a jolly good dogfight and were just popping in for a cup of tea. See what I mean.
But I shouldn’t hate on the device, it is a great idea and a step in the right direction. I have no doubt that with time the system is likely to be improved and refined, and hopefully downsized so that it looks a bit subtler and not as brandish.
Pictures and information sourced from: