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How Augmented Reality is Revolutionizing Driving and Navigation


Credit: vector pouch / freepik


The Jetsons predicted that we’d be driving flying cars by now. Technology has moved at the speed of light over the last few years but not that fast! However there have been some very exciting developments in the automobile and transportation industries that use augmented reality (AR).


Heads Up Displays (HUDs)


Some car companies are incorporating Heads Up Displays (HUDs) on the drivers’ windshield. These smart displays can give AR warnings of upcoming road conditions, the drivers speed, turn-by-turn directions and more. The cool part about these displays, made by Hudway, Continental and Red Shield, for example, is that some of these devices can be acquired after-market and work with most windshields and a simple 12V charge. Windshield repair companies like Safelite are beginning to accommodate these smart windshields in their repair offerings.


HUDs can easily be tailored to work with other technology add-ons like cameras and AI for safety and parking assistance. They sync with the user’s phone and can be customized to help drivers stay focused on the road ahead of them. BMW is one of the many car companies integrating this technology into their cars and have advanced capabilities like using AI to warn of live road incidents like sudden changes in the road. Panasonic revealed its HUD prototype at CES 2021 and it looks very cool!



 

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Navigation


If you’ve ever been in a new city, you’ve probably used your phone’s navigation to help you get around. If you’ve been in the part of the city with tall buildings, you might’ve lost your signal, making your navigation lag. Think about how many wrong turns you’ve made or how much time you wasted by looking down at your phone. Not to mention the dangerous situations you may have been in by being lost or distracted trying to find your way.


Google Maps has solved that problem by using visual positioning in AR, street view and “a little bit of machine learning”. It recognizes buildings instead of always relying on direction orientation and a strong signal. This feature, called “Live View”, is built within Google Maps so no need to download a separate app. See how to use it here. Anything that’s been cataloged by Google Street View is calculated in its instructions. Google built this with safety in mind and has notifications to tell users to stop using their navigation and focus on their physical environment.



A navigation company similar to Google Maps, Sygic, also embeds augmented reality into their GPS app. AR development companies like Agilie offer services similar to what Google Maps does as guided AR tours. They build landmark-based augmented maps to help users navigate around cities on behalf of clients and can include museums, landmarks, emergency routes, shopping, logistics, educational and industrial facilities and of course advertising. One of their clients is ARCity (owned by Blippar) which is available in over 300 cities. The apps use AR technology in 3 modes: augmented reality navigator, augmented maps and urban visual positioning.



Repairs


Building cars in 3D spaces and in the real world are actually pretty similar. Many companies are using AR to enhance the manufacturing process. There’s a 3D object and it has to be made and assembled a certain way in order to work. So it makes sense to be able to do repairs too. In 2020, Mercedes Benz adopted Hololens 2 technology and began doing repairs with the AR glasses as guidance.

These repairs happen at the dealer so there is no need to send them to a special facility. They are fixing cars at a faster rate and safer. Technicians are able to put the headset on anytime and receive real-time guidance from specialists around the world, making shipping out and long repair turnaround times a thing of the past.



Toyota is also using the Hololens 2 to inspect paint thickness which takes 2 people an entire day by cutting paper and measuring it on the physical car. Using the Hololens, this is done by one person in 2 hours. They also use it to gauge if factory machinery needs to be repaired, replaced or if it fits within safety regulations.



Bosch is integrating augmented reality for mechanic shops by creating intuitive and intelligent technology that gives all relevant information in the users field of view in real time. This cuts down on false information and misdiagnoses. It maps where changes need to be made on the actual car and mechanics are guided through the repairs with accuracy. It makes repairs faster with less room for error. Machine learning repurposes footage from its mechanics and doubles as training material.



The potential of AR for driving and navigation is endless. So far it’s proven to save time, money, labor and possibly lives. echo3D seamlessly allows these companies to manage and stream large and detailed 3D content from the cloud to any device and make real-time updates to their AR apps without requiring users to install new updates.


 
echo3D (www.echo3D.co; Techstars 19’) is a cloud platform for 3D/AR/VR that provides tools and network infrastructure to help developers & companies quickly build and deploy 3D apps, games, and content.