Get Ready for VR in Your Car

For now, though, don’t VR and drive

Key Takeaways

  • A new virtual reality platform called holoride is designed to let you play games and provide information during car rides.
  • Holoride uses real-time vehicle and map data and the vehicle’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect data to a VR headset.
  • The upcoming game Cloudbreaker is designed to be played inside a car using VR.
Businessman wearing VR glasses driving a car

Westend61 / Getty Images

Virtual reality (VR) could soon entertain you during long car journeys. 

Holoride is a new platform that promises to turn commutes into VR experiences. Users will be thrust into a VR environment that reflects their surroundings, the developer claims. It's part of a growing interest in bringing virtual information to everyday life, also called augmented reality (AR). 

"Future advances in AR in cars would be exciting to see," Jack McCauley, former co-founder of virtual reality company Oculus, told Lifewire in an email interview. "For instance, if you're driving in a foreign country and road signs in English appear on your windshield, that could be very helpful."

No More Counting Exit Signs

While many companies are making strides in the VR and gaming spaces, holoride is currently the only solution that enables VR experiences in moving cars, Nils Wollny, CEO of holoride, told Lifewire in an email interview. Holoride uses real-time vehicle and map data and the vehicle's Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect data to a VR headset.

For example, when traveling to a European capital, riders could experience the surroundings and history in a city tour.

"Not only can holoriders have fun during their journey, but they can learn too," Wollny said. "In-car VR will offer passengers the best possible outlet to make sure their transit time is much more than just getting from point A to point B."

The holoride platform allows VR content to immediately adapt to the route, the driving dynamics, and the environment, according to Wollny. Synchronizing the physical and virtual worlds increases immersion and reduces motion sickness symptoms, he added.

"People around the globe spend billions of hours in transit each day," Wollny said. "However, the passenger experience has historically been viewed as—and still is—quite mundane. Existing entertainment options, such as watching movies or playing games on mobile devices, are usually more enjoyable at home and regularly lead to motion sickness when used in the car."

VR games for car rides are being developed using the holoride technology. Schell Games' upcoming title, Cloudbreaker, is designed to be played inside a car. It transports players to the ruins of the Cloudscape and allows them to battle enemies known as the automata in third-person. When you're in-game, lines at the bottom of the screen represent driving along the road.

"Cloudbreaker is the first experience we've created using the Holoride Elastic SDK, and we are thrilled with it," Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, said in the news release. "In-car entertainment is going to be a key part of what is thrilling about the metaverse, and playing Cloudbreaker feels like a glimpse into the future."

Augmenting Your Ride

Despite the claims of VR game makers like Schell, McCauley said he doubts users want to be sucked into VR while riding in cars.

"VR on its own can be very isolating, and people could get bored," he added. "People like to watch people play video games and interact with each other."

woman wearing a holoride headset and experiencing VR games

holoride

But McCauley said that augmented reality, which mixes the real and virtual worlds, could help with navigation and safety. For example, you tell your car you're hungry for pizza, then directional signs appear on your windshield and show you where to go and how far away it is. 

"Having it higher up on the windshield prevents you from looking further down at your navigation display," he added. 

Virtual signage on your windshield could even possibly replace some of the physical signage in the world, and that would benefit the environment, too, McCauley said. 

"Future advances in AR in cars would be exciting to see."

Wollny said he envisions a future where users will travel the metaverse during their daily car journeys. For example, immersive educational content could provide a virtual field trip that takes you back in time to when a historical event took place.

"In-car VR will help people make the most of their travel time, whether to inform, educate, enable productivity, or simply be happier," Wollny said.

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