The Impact of Augmented Reality on Telematics

The Impact of Augmented Reality on Telematics

Imagine looking at a car through a pair of glasses and seeing not just the car but the car’s model, technical specifications, and velocity, too. Imagine looking at your cell phone’s camera view and seeing not just the scene in front of you but an overlay of info boxes and point-to-point directions as well. Sound impossible? Well, it’s already here, thanks to augmented reality (AR), in which computer-generated imagery is superimposed over actual images in real-time.

Dozens of companies are experimenting with AR in hopes of creating instantaneous facial recognition, virtual billboards, three-dimensional video games, and more. AR is set to have a significant impact on telematics, too. Austrian company Mobilizy has already introduced the WIKITUDE Drive, the technology that overlays info boxes and point-to-point directions over a cell phone’s camera view. With the application in hand, neither pedestrians nor drivers need maps or traditional GPS gadgets.

“In the next few years we will see a rise of new displays that will lead to completely new ways of interaction,” says Philipp Breuss-Schneeweis, founder of Mobilizy. “The way we navigate in our daily lives will have an impact on our habits of navigation in cars.” WIKITUDE Drive is already available as an application on the iPhone and the Google Android; Mobilizy began, in fact, as an entry in Google’s Android Developer Challenge. The company also has released the Wikitude World Browser, a virtual travel guide projected over real-world images, and, which allows users to geotag specific points of interest. (For more information on geotagging, read ‘What geotagging means for telematics’.

Beyond navigation, AR also has the potential to influence the way agencies advertise cars and the way mechanics fix them. Virtual cars driving on real streets, or being summoned into three-dimensions from a conceptual two-dimensional drawing, feature in a slew of recent ads. (For YouTube videos of a BMW ad, click here; []; for Toyota, click here; [] and for MINI, click here. []) BMW has advertised its “innovative service” via a mechanic who dons a pair of AR glasses that, in turn, project step-by-step instructions on how to proceed over his view of the engine. (See the ad here. [])

Is AR still a revolutionary app or just a gimmick? We won’t have to wait much longer to find out. “Much of the necessary technology components or elements [for tangible AR applications] are out there,” says Robert Rice, chairman of the AR Consortium, which was formed last summer to iron out AR standards and compatible content issues. “They may not be perfect or fully mature, but they are far beyond the theoretical. There are a growing number of tangible applications available, but the challenge is getting beyond the marketing gimmicks that have been popular this year and creating practical applications and engaging content. Expect a lot of great things for 2010 and explosive growth by 2011.”

In addition to chairing the AR Consortium, Rice is CEO of Neogence, an AR company striving to create a unified mobile AR network that makes it easy for developers from all fields, including telematics, to make interoperable AR applications. “In five or ten years, [augmented reality] will have had an impact on nearly every industry and area of daily life,” Rice believes. “Specific industries like manufacturing, training, supply chain, transportation, visualization, and so on will all benefit in many ways. We can look forward and predict some of them based on our understanding of AR now, but I think we are only getting a glimpse of what the future will hold. We are seeing the birth of a new industry, and the waters are uncharted.”

By Andrew Tolve

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