Audi dimensions – traversing worlds
Crossing boundaries is the strength of the Audi activesphere concept – and this also applies to the interface between the car, the user, and the environment. For the first time, the new system combines physical reality and the digital sphere to create a new world: the Audi dimensions.
The centerpiece of the new system is innovative mixed reality headsets – available individually for each driver and passenger. Users also have access to a comprehensive digital ecosystem while they’re in the Audi activesphere.
In the early days, VR goggles were limited to depicting a virtual reality without any real-world elements. However, technology evolved into augmented reality, whereby the real world is superimposed with virtual content. Mixed reality is now able to depict virtual content with spatial reference to the real world in three dimensions. There’s no doubt about it: in the future, mixed reality will take the possibilities of AR head-up displays to a whole new level in terms of flexibility, precision, and displayable content.
The Audi activesphere concept is the first to use a pioneering generation of this technology, which in turn adds the dimension of interaction to the dimension of superimposed real and digital worlds. With unprecedented optical precision, highest resolution, and excellent contrast, the system brings control surfaces and displays, invisible to the unaided eye, into the user’s field of vision while behind the steering wheel.
In other words, the user can view virtual content, which is initially for information only. If the user focuses with his or her eyes on the information, thus signaling interest, the system displays more detailed information. Content becomes an active and interactive element as soon as the user is focused and engages, i.e., with gestures.
The hand can then intuitively follow the user’s gaze to control car functions, while the user interface (the virtual display in the headset) reacts to changes in real time like a conventional instrument. A particularly user-friendly feature, the virtual control moves towards the user so that he or she can interact comfortably with the user interface, regardless of sitting position.
The tidy, spacious interior of the Audi activesphere no longer has to take a back seat to the function of keyboards and scale batteries, as was always the case in classic car cockpits. Only when users need an element does it appear, and it can be operated just as intuitively as it would in the real world. Important: The diverse functions of the car are now not organized in the typical way they are today in a car with screens and physical function. But they are instead located logically directly in front of the elements they are related to. Just two examples: the AC control hoovers in front of the airvent, the entertainment and sound interactive panel hoovers over the speaker.
However, the possibilities of this technology are by no means exhausted. In off-road mode, for example, high-resolution 3D topography graphics can be projected onto the real landscape and information on navigation and the destination can be displayed. Traffic safety information, i.e., alerts for traffic jams or slippery roads, can also be used here.
Depending on their needs and tasks, passengers and drivers are provided with very individual content in their respective mixed reality headset. With the driver concentrating on steering while active behind the wheel, passengers can begin looking into and even preparing activities at the destination.
Yet, at the same time they can also control the temperature and air supply for their seating area with the air conditioning, as well as browse the music selection of the sound system, which each occupant can use individually. Because the headsets are precisely designed to match the geometry of the activesphere interior, they can even project virtual index cards onto the center console to visualize access to web content. Since the sensors of the mixed reality headsets measure the interior with millimeter precision, virtual content can be superimposed according to personal requirements and even used for individual interaction.
The connection between the headset users and the car, along with its ecosystem, offers countless possibilities, even when outside the car. For example, while navigation routes or vehicle maintenance can be prepared today from your living room on a laptop or tablet, in the future mixed reality technology and the headset will be the only hardware required.
Conversely, the activesphere passenger can take his or her headset out of the car and onto the ski slope to help navigate the bike trail or to find the ideal descent when skiing downhill.
Information about the car itself, the battery range, and the nearest charging stations can also be accessed inside and outside the vehicle. And when needed, there are also advance warnings such as of low tire pressure as well as a weather forecast function as a criterion for selecting a route.