Augmented Reality Technology
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Someday, augmented-Reality technology could change the way we drive

By Brandon Gorrell

If you own a Chevrolet Volt, you’re already experiencing game-changing advanced technology. Its two interactive color LCD screens let you monitor information and give you efficiency feedback based on your driving style. You can even set up your Volt to make the most of charging times. If rates are lower at certain times of the day or night your Volt can be scheduled to charge when the price is right.* If you take advantage of OnStar RemoteLink**, a mobile app that shows the battery level and charge mode of your Volt—120V or 240V—right on your smartphone, you can also remotely verify that your Volt is plugged in, schedule a future charging time and receive charge alerts.

Much like your Volt, augmented reality—a live view of your environment with elements enhanced by computer-generated input—will undoubtedly revolutionize the way we interact with the world, and even the way we drive.

There are already products like Google Glass on the horizon— essentially a wearable smartphone that looks like a pair of glasses, with a smart display imposed on the user’s field of vision that can record video, take pictures, send texts and more, all controlled by voice command.

So it isn’t that much of a leap to consider: What if augmented reality was used in cars? What if, say, the windshield had voice-command smart displays? There’s a whole range of opportunities for an augmented-reality windshield—both functional and fun—that could truly take our driving experience in a totally new direction.

An article on Business Inquirer suggests that augmented reality could greatly increase driving safety as well, with graphics that illuminate a driver’s difficult-to-see surroundings, such as curb edges, pedestrians and erratic drivers up ahead.

Perhaps the most practical way it could transform the experience would be to eliminate two of the most standard of all car features: the dashboard and the rear-view mirror. Think about it. The features of the dashboard—speedometer, gas gauge, RPMs, time of day—all could easily be generated by a smart windshield. And safely in a corner could be a display of what the rear-view mirror shows you.

Augmented-reality windshields could also provide most of the features your smartphone provides. Just take what Chevy owners can already do with Chevrolet MyLink’s*** 7” diagonal touch-screen, and with Siri Eyes Free**** (now available on the Sonic and the Spark), and transfer it to the augmented-reality windshield. Drivers could use voice commands to make calls, send texts, take and share pictures and video, with pertinent information displayed on their windshield. Same goes for GPS navigation.

But “smart” windshields aren’t just business; there’s plenty they could do to make your drive a more enjoyable experience. For example, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal speculated that an augmented-reality windshield could note interesting facts about cities and landmarks your car is approaching. Additionally, the car’s stereo system and climate control could be initiated via voice command and displayed on the windshield.

With so many possibilities at hand for a vehicle enhanced by augmented reality, it seems likely that the two technologies will someday collide. It’s only a matter of time.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Brandon Gorrell is an editor at Thought Catalog. Follow him on Twitter: @brandongorrell.

*Electricity costs vary, so check with your provider for your rates and to determine the best time to charge your Volt.

**Download it now from the App Store or Google Play. To further connect your Volt through OnStar®, go to MyVolt.com. Requires Android, iPhone or certain Blackberry platforms and active OnStar subscription.

***MyLink functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices. MyLink on Spark and Sonic does not include functionality such as enhanced voice recognition, Gracenote and CD player.

****Requires available Chevrolet MyLink and compatible iPhone running iOS 6. Software update may be required. See your dealer for more information.