Allow the driver of an autonomous vehicle to watch a movie, a dealer to sell automobiles from a batch of “virtual” cars, or an engineer to simulate the fitting of a new part: the industry automotive is taking a tantalizing taste of the metaverse at the massive CES tech show.
One gadget on display in Las Vegas is an in-vehicle TV system, developed by French parts maker Valeo, that doesn’t need a remote control.
To change channels, drivers or passengers wearing headphones simply wave their hand in the air, and sensors in the car detect movement.
For users who don’t like the feel of a full-face helmet, sensors on the exterior of a vehicle allow actual pedestrians or landscapes to be integrated into virtual reality (VR) images, said Ghaya Khemiri. , which leads 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 work a lot on electric and self-driving cars, and work a lot on sensors,” Khemiri said. “We asked ourselves what we could offer (with them) for the pleasure of users.”
The company’s system, still in prototype, would initially be intended for use by passengers or drivers on a break, for example when recharging their electric vehicle.
Once the vehicles become fully autonomous, the driver could eventually use it on the road.
Holoride, a start-up backed by car manufacturer Audi, is already marketing a virtual reality headset intended only for rear passengers.
The system lets users watch a movie or play a video game using a controller, and syncs VR content to car movement to prevent nausea.
A new version presented by Holoride at CES can work in any car.
German automaker BMW showed off a concept car for upcoming models on Wednesday that combines “the real and virtual worlds.”
The system presents a potential project involving augmented reality images projected onto the windshield – such as the speed or direction of the car – and could even turn the entire windshield into a screen for watching a movie.
“While a fully immersive and interconnected metaverse remains years away, mobility players can already capture real business value from the technologies designed to enable it,” says a report from consultancy McKinsey, released the day before. of the CES show, which ends on Sunday. .
One example: Italian automaker Fiat launched what it called a “metaverse store” in December where customers can search, configure and even buy a vehicle using an online wizard.
If technologies continue to improve — including “haptic” devices that simulate the feeling of touch — consumers could virtually “examine a very realistic replica of a vehicle, open its doors, feel its seats, accelerate on a highway — just like they do with a real car,” McKinsey said.
And if a vehicle breaks down, a technician could remotely guide a user through simple repairs.
The metaverse can play a role in designing new products or more easily testing them in different environments.
Alexandre Corjon, head of innovation for French parts maker Plastic Omnium, came to CES to explore ways his company could apply new technologies.
The metaverse, for example, could show a client how a recycled material might react in a specific form and “demonstrate to the designer the effect that would have” on the vehicle, he said. It could also show the superiority of a new product.
The group could also experiment with using the metaverse for their global leadership team meetings, which would save them having to hit the road in the first place.