Jaguar Engineers the Urban Windscreen, a Smarter Windshield

Cockpit-based automotive technology is really beginning to make strides.  It seems like it took forever for automakers to give us a simple headphone port to plug our devices into.  Now Jaguar engineers are taking augmented reality, heads-up displays and cloud technology to new levels.  They call it the 360-degree Virtual Urban Windscreen.  Here’s how Jaguar describes it:

A screen would be embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car and would take a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars.

 

Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles would be visible all around the car – and by combining the transparent pillars with an advanced high quality Heads-Up display, the movement of other road users could be highlighted to the driver with an on-screen halo moving across the car’s virtual windscreen.

 

When the driver indicates to change direction, when they move their head to look over their shoulder during an overtake manoeuvre, or as the vehicle approaches a junction, the system would automatically make the left or right-hand side pillars transparent.

 

You may already be aware of “heads-up displays”, or HUDs.  The term was made popular by flight geeks.  A HUD displays critical information onto the windscreen of an aircraft.  For airplanes that do Mach 3, or have a tendency to engage people who shoot at it, the HUD allows the pilot to view information without having to look away to the instrument panel.

For drivers, HUDs began popping up in the 1980s and 1990s.  They were kind of a one-trick pony, in that they literally only beamed your speed onto the windshield.

Augmented reality, or AR, is a technology that has great promise.  In my experience, it hasn’t worked all that well at a practical level.  Don’t use me as a guide for technology that performs flawlessly.  Technology hates me more times than it wants to get along with me.

I’ve got AR on a few apps.  My AR golf rangefinder is difficult to center, leaving me wondering if that tree is actually 230 yards from the tee.  My AR app that is supposed to tell me information about different stores and restaurants on a particular street works in fits and starts.  The AR apps in the HECN App Store and those that I’ve reviewed work better than anything else I’ve been exposed to.  I’d put myself at 60-75% impressed with AR apps.

Here’s how Jaguar uses AR in the 360-degree Urban Windscreen:

The full potential for the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen would be delivered by connecting the virtual windscreen to the Cloud. By connecting the car to roadside infrastructure and businesses in the urban landscape, the Virtual Urban Windscreen could present information ranging from petrol station prices to the number of parking spaces available, so drivers won’t have to look for this information themselves.

 

Which is why I really like what Jaguar is doing with HUD and AR.  Watch the entire 2:08 video above.  If they can get it to reliably work for daily driving and navigation, they’ve revolutionized the industry.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Our ultimate aim is to reduce road accidents and enhance the urban driving experience. The Jaguar Land Rover research team is developing this technology to improve visibility and to give the driver with the right information at the right time. If we can keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments.”

 

Jag’s “Follow Me Ghost Car” technology could change the way we use navigation.  If you’ve ever played “Gran Turismo” or other popular racing games, you’ll know about the Ghost Car.  In gaming, the Ghost Car is an on-screen manifestation of your previous lap, or maybe your best lap.  You can follow it and see how you previously navigated the track.  Or you can try to beat it.

How can this translate to real life?  No matter the screen size or type, we instinctively sneak a look at it when using turn-by-turn directions.  It’s human.  With Ghost Car technology, you see a Ghost Car navigate ahead of you and simply follow it.  You hear the directions, and follow the Ghost Car in front of you.  No peeking away, because it’s already in front.  Brilliant.

The 360-degree Urban Windscreen could be a huge step forward in automotive and Connected Car technology.  Say you come to a stop and some basic info about the shops and eateries around you pops up.  You see name, hours, phone, and maybe a special.  Maybe you see information on parking garages–rates, how full, etc.  Maybe you see your text messages, and can use voice commands to reply.  Maybe this becomes the “black box” recorder for insurance uses.  The opportunities to leverage this, if successful, are endless.


 

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Sebastian James

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