Volvo Wants To Develop Future Cars Using Augmented Reality

Volvo, together with Finnish tech firm Varjo, a maker of high-end augmented reality headsets, has unveiled the world’s first mixed-reality application designed for car development.

The two companies have made it possible for somebody to drive a real car while wearing an augmented reality headset, seamlessly adding virtual elements that seem real to not just the driver, but the car’s sensors too. Their latest invention is called the Varjo XR-1, and it’s pretty impressive.

“With this mixed-reality approach, we can start evaluating designs and technologies while they are literally still on the drawing board,” said Volvo CTO, Henrik Green. “Instead of the usual static way of evaluating new products and ideas, we can test concepts on the road immediately. This approach offers considerable potential cost savings by identifiying priorities and clearing bottlenecks much earlier in the design and development process.”

The XR-1 also boasts highly accurate eye-tracking technology, making it easy to assess how drivers use a new functionality and whether or not they are distracted by the new features.

“From the very beginning, our vision has been to create a product that can seamlessly merge the real and the virtual together,” said Niko Eiden, founder and CEO of Varjo. “The incredibly advanced ways in which Volvo Cars uses the XR-1 show that Varjo’s technology enables things that have been previously impossible. Together with Volvo we have started a new era in professional mixed reality.”

Volvo will demonstrate the Varjo XR-1 headset at the Augmented Reality World Expo in Santa Clara, California, while a patent has already been filed for the technology.

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