Posted in electronic imaging and displays

GM develops “augmented reality” windshield

This is one of those technologies where it seems like a good idea at first, and then you reeeaalllly start to think about it…

A new “enhanced vision system” from General Motors could help drivers by highlighting landmarks, obstacles and road edges on the windshield in real-time. Such a system can point out to drivers potential hazards, such as a running animal, even in foggy or dark conditions, GM says.

Head-up displays (HUDs) are already used to project some information–like a car’s speed or directions–directly in front of the driver, through the windshield, or even through a side view mirror. These sorts of displays have started appearing in high-end cars, and typically work by projecting light to create an image on part of the windshield.

To turn the entire windshield into a transparent display, GM uses a special type of glass coated with red-emitting and blue-emitting phosphors–a clear synthetic material that glows when it is excited by ultraviolet light. The phosphor display, created by SuperImaging, is activated by tiny, ultraviolet lasers bouncing off mirrors bundled near the windshield. Three cameras track a driver’s head and eyes to determine where she is looking.

One of my first thoughts is that some dumb kid inexperienced driver might think it would be okay to watch a movie while driving. C’mon, you know people are going to start hacking into their cars’ augmented reality systems so they can watch films on their windshields like big screen T.V.’s. We can just hope the car isn’t moving at the same time.

In fairness, a GM spokesperson addresses this concern in the article,

“We definitely don’t want the virtual image that’s on the display to complete with the external world; we just want to augment it,” says Thomas Seder, the lab group manager for the Human Machine Interface group at GM.

They also say the technology isn’t going to show up in commercial cars for at least another 10 years or so, so we’ll see how this manifests itself.

Read the full article and watch a video of how this works.

(Sourced from MIT Technology Review)



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.