WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As cars eventually die, and autonomous vehicles become pods on wheels, we’ll need to find new ways to entertain ourselves and the kids.
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As car companies, like Audi and Toyota, among others, prepare for the death of the car as we start seeing the emergence of fully autonomous vehicles which are, to all intents and purposes, just empty pods on wheels this week Audi announced that after a year’s worth of development their spin-out company Holoride is launching to the general public under the umbrella of a collaboration with Ford and Universal Pictures. And as for what makes this company special? Well they’re focused on a unique twist on Virtual Reality (VR) – unique in-car VR experiences that are in perfect sync with the cars motion and the environment it’s driving through.
In fact, it’s so in sync that recently journalists called it the best roller coaster-like experience you can have in a car. And that’s an interesting concept. VR in cars might sound like a bit of a conflicted or risky proposition, but it actually makes a lot of sense once you understand more about Holoride’s approach which you can see in the video below.
The company has previously shown off underwater adventures, as well as a Marvel Avengers-themed story, but the one it’s launching for the public is a “Bride of Frankenstein.” Per the news release describing the adventure, users have virtual monsters and obstacles to overcome, and all of it is mapped to the ride you take inside a new 2020 model year Ford Explorer SUV.
The narrative is created by Universal Monsters, the sub-brand of Universal focused on its stable of cinematic ghouls, and Holoride takes in driving data, including speed of the vehicle and steering info to match the VR experience to the actual trip the rider is on.
The Ford partnership is one of the reasons Audi spun out this particularly venture, as it stated when it announced the move that it was hoping to get Holoride in the backseat of vehicles from all automakers.
This first public service offering should provide crucial insight for the Holoride team regarding its eventual commercialization and deployment plans for the technology. VR in cars still seems like a niche use case, but it’s possible it’s the niche that helps VR find some kind of footing among more general population users who aren’t likely to own their own headset at home. And let’s face it, anything that can stop the kids from saying “Are we there yet?” and change it to “Do we really have to get out now?” would be welcome.