Holoride, a VR ‘start-up’ spun out of German luxury car manufacturer Audi as an independent company this week showcased its first ‘in-car Virtual Reality experience’. Readers will be relieved to hear that the VR experience developed by Holoride in partnership with Ford and Universal Pictures is for passengers rather than drivers. The technology allows VR game developers to tap into the real time movements of the vehicle passengers wearing a headset are travelling in.
Holoride takes data gathered by the sensors of a modern car with self-driving capabilities, including GPS data, the route fixed in a navigator, steering angle and g-forces and creates a virtual environment. So when a car accelerates or turns a corner, that is mirrored in the passengers’ virtual environment, which could be a scenario in which they are in space, underwater or a fantasy world. Matching up the in-game VR experience with the car’s movements is designed to combat the car sickness that can be felt by some passengers, especially when reading or engaging with a mobile device, such as playing games on a tablet.
Founded as a side project of Audi in 2016, Holoride has shown significant potential and has entered into VR games development partnerships with high profile content creators including Disney, Stuttgart-based Mackevision and Schell Games.
A special demonstration scheduled for Monday allowsthe public to sign up and be picked up in a 2020 Ford Explorer to test out the new VR game, based on the classic 1935 Bride of Frankenstein film. Gaming market observers and analysts have been impressed with what they have seen so far of Holoride’s initial production. Some go so far as to suggest Holoride’sVR experiences could finally see the technology gain some traction after several years of hype but limited consumer take-up.
Schell Games CEO Jesse Schell said his own view is that the first Hololense game has the potential to be “the best video game you’ve ever played combined with a theme park ride”.
Mr Schell has been convinced that something he initially anticipated would be a “cute gimmick” is actually the real deal as an entertainment experience. He tried out a simulation that converted a car’s movements into a VR experience of flying a spaceship, and reviewed it as “kind of an amazing and shocking feeling.”
The company is heading off criticism that new technology such as Holoride’s simulations will increase an already worrying amount of ‘screen time’ with the potential education benefits its VR experiences could offer during what is usually ‘dead time’ travelling. Holoride also has a partnership with The Discovery Channel and last month staged a demonstration in Frankfurt showing how car movement through slow traffic could be used to facilitate a deep sea exploration journey or drone flight across a futuristic city experience. Rewind chief exec Sol Rogers was quoted in the Financial Times as commenting:
“You could be driving through historic moments in time. There’s a huge opportunity outside of the entertainment space and in the enterprise space to show future visions, future cities or future developments.”
Holoride hopes that within a couple of years its technology could be commonly available as a perk offered to users of ride hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.