A Brilliant Ford System Could Make Augmented Reality the Next Big Thing in Cars

Ford wants AR content to be available for all car occupants 6 photos
Photo: USPTO
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Augmented reality content is gaining traction in the automotive industry, but Ford has now developed a way that would bring it to all vehicle occupants.
Most carmakers are trying to use AR images and content specifically to improve the driving experience. The most common implementation comes down to providing navigation using AR integration.

As such, the route guidance is no longer displayed on the dashboard screen, but projected in front of the driver’s eyes using AR systems. Augmented reality technology can flag certain objects on the road, measure the distance to them, warn of pedestrians who want to cross the street, and show navigation guidance.

All this content would be shown in front of the driver, turning the windshield into a smart panel that combines real images with digital content processed by an AR system.

Ford wants to push the whole system with a new technology that would provide all passengers in the car with the same content.

The idea is described in a patent called “integrated augmented reality system for sharing of augmented reality content between vehicle occupants.” The company says that while the AR is typically aimed at the driver, passengers can access the same content using a wide variety of methods.

In one case, Ford says the data available on the AR screen installed in the vehicle can become available for a passenger with a Microsoft HoloLens. At the same time, this would be possible with a mobile device connecting to the vehicle computer and provided with access to the streamed AR content.

Ford says the experience can be further enhanced by allowing vehicle occupants to personalize the content and sometimes customize the data shown on the screen. For example, during navigation, passengers would be able to add new stops.

Augmented reality is becoming more appealing for automakers, especially as vehicles adopt more advanced technology to improve the experience both while driving and in the cabin. AR systems can allow vehicle occupants to interact with the real world by letting them play games using realistic images projected on a digital screen.

Ford says the shared AR content can continue even when the driver steps outside the vehicle. The occupants would eventually be provided with the same images the driver sees even if they’re no longer in the car using the same sharing system connected to their devices.

Ford seems to make a big deal out of AR content, especially as this integration seems convenient thanks to the support for mobile devices. For now, however, this idea is just a patent, so there’s no guarantee it would ever make its way to production vehicles. It’s still a great way to get an early glimpse into how automakers see the future of cars.
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 Download: Ford's new patent (PDF)

About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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