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life (a la Google Glass). Qualcomm Vuforia vice-president Wright acknowledged that existing AR glasses have suffered some backlash in the consumer market. “Their market adoption has been limited thusfar because of fashion, privacy and battery life issues,” when those HMDs are used “for life.” But what about cars? “Barriers to market adoption will go down,” he said, “because drivers are mostly wearing them inside a car. Privacy or fashion won’t become big issues.” More important, the battery life requirement will be “much more modest, because drivers aren’t wearing those AR glasses all day long.” Swimming effect Both Qualcomm and MINI are pitching MINI Augmented Vision for safer driving. But they are also aware that its safety depends on whether digital content (to augment reality) can be perfectly aligned with the physical world and overlaid on the driver’s view without delay. The biggest issue with AR glasses is said to be the time it takes to register the user’s surroundings and the synthetic space. Geometric calibration between tracking and the headmounted display (HMD) is not instantaneous. Described by experts as a “swimming effect,” the delay can cause graphic objects to float freely in synthetic space, foiling the illusion that the synthetic objects are fixed in the environment. Put simply, moving your head confuses the head-mounted display. One way to minimize the swimming effect is to use predicted HMD positions, instead of measured ones. “The ideal hybrid solution to align the HMD’s perspectives would involve fusing data from sensors (such as accelerometers, gyros and an array of image sensors) with an optical tracking system,” Ori Inbar, co-founder and CEO of Augmented- Reality.org, explained. This appears to be precisely what Qualcomm is doing. Through the fusion of very quick processing carried out by Snapdragon 805 apps processor and Qualcomm’s Vuforia software platform, Wright said, “We can minimize ‘motion-tophoton’ processing time – down to ‘zero’ perceived latency.” AugmentedReality.org’s Inbar told us, “The combination of hardware and software advancements have helped perfect the augmented reality experience on smart glasses. In a fast head movement the graphics overlay on some smart glasses is delayed by no more than a fraction of a second.” Inbar, however, cautioned, “Our eyes-brain are very sensitive to this movement. So it’s still perceptible. But a clever user interface can avoid any potential safety hazards.” Inbar said he has seen demos performed in a car environment using VR goggles. “It’s a very cool and useful experience.” He added, “However, it does sound more challenging to provide the live camera feed from the car to the AR glasses. MINI Augmented Vision offers wider FOV. Especially when trying to avoid dynamic movements such as a pedestrian crossing the street.” AR glasses - pros and cons A pair of AR glasses can, in principle, be connected to different vehicles, according to MINI. That, however, assumes that non-MINI vehicles also use Qualcomm’s Vuforia mobile vision platform. IHS analyst Boyadjis pointed out the different life cycles of a vehicle and AR glasses could also become an issue. Boyadjis said, “The major disadvantage of MINI Augmented Vision is MINI is not a manufacturer of glasses. They make cars.” He explained, “Whenever an OEM tries to pair a vehicle (with a ~10-year lifespan) with a specific consumer electronic device (with a ~2-year lifespan) the user experience -- while great at the beginning -- is lost only a few years into the product life, unless BMW/MINI adopts a separate product development and maintenance team for its AR goggles.” Boyadjis, however, sees one big upside for AR glasses. “You can connect an AR experience outside the vehicle with one inside the vehicle in a completely seamless manner.” Inbar, meanwhile, sees the much broader field of view (FOV) as a huge advantage for AR glasses in cars, compared to windshield HUD. A conventional combiner HUD offers a FOV “only in front of the driver like in a pinhole experience,” he said. In contrast, “Smart glasses allow drivers to see augmented overlays in any direction they look.” Compared to the 4- to 6-degree FOV prevalent in currently available windshield HUDs, MINI Augmented Vision promises to deliver 26-degree FOV. Building blocks MINI Augmented Vision uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 processor for the glasses, and Qualcomm Vuforia mobile vision platform, designed to offer the technology used for determining position of the glasses inside the car. ODG (Osterhout Design Group), a leading manufacturer of AR eyewear, provided its optical and electronic technology, development and manufacturing support, according to MINI. Built into the upper section of the casing are: Snapdragon 805 processor, along with inertial sensors and two cameras – one camera is pointed forward, while another upward. These are used for determining “precision location” of glasses in the vehicle, according to Wright. Further, the glasses include two stereoscopic HD displays (720p) for three-dimensional vision as well as WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS technology. AR glasses for MINI. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe May 2015 23


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