The automotive industry rages into the Metaverse at CES

French company Valeo demonstrates the use of a virtual reality headset at the 2023 CES technology show in Las Vegas, Nevada
French company Valeo demonstrates the use of a virtual reality headset at the 2023 CES technology show in Las Vegas, Nevada
AFP

Allowing the driver of an autonomous vehicle to watch a movie, a dealer to sell cars from a “virtual” car lot, or an engineer to simulate how a new part fits: the automotive industry gets a tantalizing taste of the metaverse at the huge CES technology show.

One gadget on display in Las Vegas is an in-car TV system, developed by French parts maker Valeo, that doesn’t need a remote control.

To change the channel, drivers or passengers with headsets make a simple swipe in the air with their hand, and sensors in the car register the movement.

For users who don’t like the feel of a full headset, sensors on a vehicle’s exterior make it possible to integrate actual pedestrians or landscapes into virtual reality (VR) images, said Ghaya Khemiri, who heads the Valeo project.

And if sensors detect that a person is feeling stressed, the system can offer soothing images to promote relaxation.

At Valeo, “we do a lot of work on electric and autonomous cars, and work a lot on sensors,” Khemiri said. “We had asked ourselves what we could offer (with them) for the enjoyment of users.”

The company’s system, still in prototype, would initially be intended for use by passengers, or drivers on breaks, for example when charging their electric vehicles.

When the vehicles become fully autonomous, the driver may be able to use it while on the road.

Holoride, a start-up backed by carmaker Audi, already sells a virtual reality headset intended exclusively for rear-seat passengers.

The system allows users to watch a movie or play a video game using a controller, synchronizing VR content to the movements of the car to prevent motion sickness.

A new version introduced by Holoride at CES can work in any car.

The German car manufacturer BMW presented on Wednesday a concept car for upcoming models that combines “the real and virtual world”.

The system shows a potential project involving augmented reality images projected onto the windshield – such as the car’s speed or direction – and can even transform the entire windshield into a screen to watch a movie.

“Although a fully immersive, connected metaverse is still years away, mobility stakeholders can already capture real business value from the technologies designed to enable it,” said a report by consulting firm McKinsey, published on the eve of the CES trade show, which ends Sunday . .

One example: Italian automaker Fiat launched in December what it called “a metaverse store” where customers can research, configure and even buy a vehicle using an online assistant.

If the technologies continue to improve — especially the “haptic” devices that simulate a sense of touch — consumers can virtually “examine a highly realistic replica of a vehicle, open the doors, feel the seats, accelerate onto a freeway — just as they would with a real car,” McKinsey said.

And if a vehicle breaks down, a technician can guide a user remotely to perform simple repairs.

The metaverse can play a role in designing new products or more easily testing them in different environments.

Alexandre Corjon, the chief innovation officer of French parts maker Plastic Omnium, came to CES to explore ways his company could use the new technologies.

For example, the Metaverse could make it possible to show a client how a recycled material might react in a particular form and “demonstrate to the designer what effect it would have” on the vehicle, he said. It can also show the superiority of a new product.

The group could also experiment with using the metaverse for meetings with the global leadership team – saving them the trouble of going on the road in the first place.

BMW said its Vision Dee software could project movies onto a windshield while an electric car is charging
BMW said its Vision Dee software could project movies onto a windshield while an electric car is charging
AFP

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