Skip to main content

I played VR games in a moving car and didn't get sick

What if you could get in a car, put on some VR goggles, and be immersed in a virtual world that's perfectly in sync with the outside world? No motion sickness – just a vast alternate universe ripe for games and entertainment. 

That's what holoride promises, and we had a chance to experience it at MWC and SXSW recently. Before we dive into what Holoride looks and feels like, let's discuss the tech behind it. 

The VR headset hits the road

In Barcelona, Holoride used a Cupra Born EV (basically Seat's version of the Volkswagen ID.3) for the demo, while in Austin, it used several Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback EVs. 

In both cases, the cars were set up with Holoride's developer kit, an HTC Vive Flow VR headset, and an old HTC U12+ smartphone. For our demo, we sat in the Cupra Born's back seat, buckled up, donned the VR headset, and grabbed the phone.

Since the HTC Vive Flow doesn't come with controllers, the U12+ phone was being used as a simple controller. In the future, you'll just use your own phone with Holoride, and maybe even bring your own VR headset, if you have one – though it might be easier to keep VR headsets in the car. 

We wouldn't be surprised if some vehicles start getting bundled with VR headsets (or at least feature VR headset storage) in the next few years.

A VR headset connected to a smartphone, lying on the back seats of a car

(Image credit: TechRadar / Myriam Joire)

At MWC, Holoride revealed the HTC Vive Flow is the first Holoride-ready VR headset, while at SXSW, the company announced that Audi will ship the first Holoride-ready cars (A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q5, Q7, Q8, e-tron, e-tron Sportback, and e-tron GT) starting June 2022 in the US and Europe (UK and Germany). 

Basically, any vehicle with VW Group's third-generation Modular Infotainment Toolkit (MIB 3) will eventually be compatible.

For cars without built-in support, there's the Holoride's developer kit, a hockey-puck sized device which attaches to the front windshield with a suction cup and plugs into a USB port for power. 

It features GPS, accelerometers, a gyroscope, a compass, and other sensors that accurately capture the vehicle's data (position, motion, velocity, and acceleration) – plus Bluetooth connectivity to interface with the VR headset and smartphone.

A Holoride connector stuck onto the inside of a windshield

(Image credit: TechRadar / Myriam Joire)

Obviously, in Holoride-ready cars, all of these sensors and the Bluetooth connectivity are built right into the vehicle, for a seamless integration resulting in more accurate data for the Holoride experience. 

In fact, most modern cars already incorporate the majority of the hardware needed to become Holoride ready, so we wouldn't be surprised if the company announces more partnerships with other vehicle manufacturers soon.

Two impressive VR experiences

The first Holoride tech demo we tried was a simple, cartoonish game called BeatRider. You're riding on top of a vehicle in a stylized desert-like virtual world. 

A cannon tracks your head position, with a reticle that randomly changes colors and always points to where you're looking. Bubbles of various colors appear all around you, and you must shoot only the bubbles matching the current reticle color by tapping the phone's screen.

You'd think that all this visual stimulation and head motion in a moving car would quickly result in motion sickness. But that isn't the case at all. 

The motion of the vehicle in the game is accurately synchronized with the motion of the car in the real world, so the virtual world around you delivers visual cues that match what our body is feeling. With such low latency, your brain doesn’t register a disconnect between the two.

Woman sitting in rear seat of car wearing a VR headset

(Image credit: TechRadar / Myriam Joire)

The second tech demo we tried was a virtual movie theater. You're sitting in a movie theater watching content on a big screen in front of you, but instead of the theater having walls and a ceiling you see a stylized night-time virtual world around you. 

Basically, the entire movie theater moves in sync with the car in the real world, and again, the virtual world around you provides enough peripheral visual cues to prevent motion sickness.

One benefit of this virtual movie theater is that you're looking at a larger virtual screen than anything practical with any infotainment system. A VR headset is likely more affordable, too. 

Ultimately, Holoride wants to support a wide variety of standalone VR headsets and a broad range of cars. To this end, the Holoride Elastic SDK abstracts hardware specifics, and lets developers focus on creating experiences using the Unity game engine.

A new kind of in-car entertainment

Woman sitting in rear seat of car wearing a VR headset

(Image credit: TechRadar / Myriam Joire)

In all, we were impressed with Holoride's tech demos – especially the low latency between the motion of the car in the real world and the motion of the vehicle in the virtual world, which significantly reduces the opportunity for motion sickness. 

As we slowly move towards a future where self-driving cars and even driverless vehicles become the norm, Holoride presents an opportunity for a radical new kind of immersive in-car entertainment. 

Having a virtual world that's hundreds of miles or kilometers in size opens up a whole new universe of VR experiences that simply aren't possible when wearing a VR headset within the confines of our homes. And that's what makes Holoride so appealing to developers as well as both VR headset and car manufacturers. 

To that end, the company's already partnered with content studios like Mackevision, Rewind, and Schell Games.

So, who knows? Perhaps in a few years your Uber ride might not be quite as boring, and your annual family road trip might be less stressful as you wear the latest generation of ultralight VR (or AR) headset and enjoy a whole new form of in-car entertainment. We're game!

Source: TechRadar

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Elon Musk sends yet another notice trying to terminate the Twitter deal

Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images Elon Musk has sent a third letter to Twitter attempting to terminate his $44 billion acquisition of the company . Musk’s legal team cited Twitter’s multimillion dollar severance payment to former security chief and whistleblower Peiter Zatko as a violation of the merger agreement and a reason to end the deal. The letter, dated September 9th, was sent to Twitter’s chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde, and was included in a filing Twitter made with the SEC on Friday (which you can read at the bottom of this article). Last month, Zatko made headlines by accusing Twitter of misleading investors about the number of bots on the service, failing to delete users’ data, and having poor security practices, among other things. Musk jumped on the accusations, citing them in his second termination letter and subpoenaing Zatko to testify in the lawsuit. Zatko was set to be deposed on Friday. Elon Musk sent his first letter of termination in July , say