More vehicles today are equipped with some standard high tech options, such as voice control, automatic braking, automated highway driving or even “night vision”, to help detect pedestrians in the dark.
But electronics company Samsung came up with a unique solution that may one day help drivers to better and more safety navigate. The company applied for a patent for a pair of virtual reality glasses that projects turn-by-turn navigation directly onto the lenses for the wearer.
The glasses work like the head-up-display (HUD) in some vehicles that displays information, such as the current speed, directly on the windshield in front of the driver. Instead of projecting the information onto the windshield, it can be sent to a pair of virtual reality glasses that the driver wears while they are navigating a route.
In addition to overlaying turn-by-turn driving directions in the glasses, features such as nearby fuel stations (including prices), restaurants or other points of interest can be viewed in virtual reality while wearing the glasses.
Samsung’s AR glasses sync with a mapping app on a smartphone, or the vehicle’s built-in GPS. The concept is similar to the VR walking directions option while using the mobile version of Google Maps.
The automotive industry accounts for the largest investments in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies and their use in vehicles is expected to only increase.
The Samsung VR eyeglasses can sync to a vehicle’s forward-facing camera or navigation app. (Photo: Samsung)
The global market for automotive AR & VR solutions is expected to reach about $673 billion USD by 2025 according to Statista, with a compound annual growth rate of 175% by 2025.
The concept of using VR technology to navigate is not new. In 2017, Swiss company WayRayunveiled the first ever holographic navigation system for cars, which the company called “Navion.” It’s an augmented reality navigation system that allows the driver to see navigation information and images that appear to be laid out on the road ahead using holographic projections.
There is no additional eyewear or headwear needed for WayRay’s system to work.
In January of 2017, WayRay announced a strategic collaboration with Harman, the car audio giant that was acquired by Samsung two months later in March. German automaker Porsche led a $80 million investment in WayRay in 2018.
Currently, VR technology that’s projected onto the windshield only utilizes a small projection area. To extend the capabilities of HUDs, solutions are in the works that turn the entire windshield into a giant virtual lens. Samsung’s VR technology may be able to do that with just a pair of glasses.