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Augmented reality (AR) isn’t new but it definitely continues to gain momentum and is becoming a driving force in the way we engage with our content rich world. An AR experience is appealing to most age demographics because it enables us to interact in fresh and engaging ways with a variety of mediums. So no surprise that ABI Research estimates the market for augmented reality in the US will reach $350 million in 2014. That’s up from only $6 million in 2008!

I have explained in past blog posts what AR is in detail, see the below list of blog links to learn more. To recap for those who are new to the concept Wikipedia defines augmented reality (AR) as a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Here is an example of AR solutions that have been generating a lot of buzz and excitement J

At CES this year Mercedes Benz unveiled their experimental networked applications with augmented-reality and gesture-controlled features. Of course Mercedes is not the only automaker exploring how to make the car smarter and most are experimenting with voice controlled features because obviously there are safety concerns with these approaches.

“Cars are becoming platforms to participate in the digital world in a fully networked sense, just like your tablets can and your phones can,” said Venkatesh Prasad, a senior technical leader with Ford Motor Co.’s innovation division. “It’s our job to take those computing services people are used to at 0 mph and make them available at 70 mph.”

For example, icons flash on your car windshield, hologram style, as your car approaches restaurants, stores, historic landmarks or the homes of friends. Point at them, and the icons open to show real-time information such as when that building was built, concert schedules at a local theater, or reservation options at a restaurant. Wave your hand again, and you’ve made a restaurant reservation. Or take Mercedes’ messaging app which will create a menu of text options based on your location and your car’s speed — “I’m stuck in traffic,” or “I’m just north of San Jose” — and display them on the screen. So if you are late to a meeting you can choose from the options  and push a button to post the one that fits, instead of having to manually type the words.

These systems are not road ready yet and most automakers are looking beyond to making the road safer by working on systems that would allow vehicles to talk to each other about road conditions, weather and traffic issues. These systems will also focus on driver safety and welfare for example monitoring glucose levels for a diabetic driver, pollen levels for an allergy prone driver, or the driver’s face for alertness to prevent accidents cause by a driver falling asleep.

I look forward to technology making the roads safer for all of us. I am glad to see the automakers are focusing on how to enable technology that has a clear benefit to the passengers but is balanced against keeping safety foremost in importance.

Want to learn more about AR, below are a list of blogs I have written previously on AR:

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