Automotive

Audi’s Holoride is a VR experience like no other

Back seat car rides will never be the same again

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It had been a long day, but I could still barely contain my excitement as a fancy car whizzed me down the interstate to a race track on the outskirts of Las Vegas, one chilly evening before the start of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. 

While the in-seat back massage made me wish the ride was longer, I also couldn’t wait to get there. Tonight would be my first time in an e-Tron, Audi’s new fully electric SUV, and my first taste of what Audi calls the future of mobility, one with entertainment content at its center.

It’s an interesting proposition, one I’m more than willing to chew on. With self-driving vehicles on the horizon, tonight, instead of getting behind the wheel, I take a back seat, put on a VR headset, and trade my current reality for one that promises to be more exhilarating.

Called “Rocket’s Rescue Run,” it’s the first title in a collaboration between Marvel and Disney and Audi’s new spin off venture Holoride, that aims to make VR entertainment a mainstay in cars of the future.

As the e-tron’s driver steps on the accelerator, in my alternate universe my ship surges through space. I’m joined by my sidekick Rocket Raccoon, and together we team up to help Iron Man take down a mob of Thanos’ space goons.

I’ve had many VR experiences before, but none like this. As soon as the SUV pulls away, the whole experience makes perfect sense. Every twist, every sharp turn, every bit of acceleration or sudden brake is matched by the same sensation in the game. For the entire 5-minute ride, my body is tricked into believing this reality. Not an easy feat for an utterly nitpicky tech journalist, I can only begin to imagine how big of a technical challenge it was to pull off.

I wield my laser gun like a pro, take down an evil mothership, and celebrate our victory with fireworks. The experience ends, and the e-tron stops. Reluctantly, I take off my headset. It feels like I’ve just been on a theme park ride, but from the privacy of my own car — well, not really, but I wish — and without standing in an hour-long line. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that during my adventure the e-tron reached speeds of up to 90mph. We’ve navigated plenty of sharp turns, too, but I don’t feel so woozy.

Supposedly matching the car’s movements to the virtual reality experience helps in mitigating nausea. As I get out, I thank my driver, but also can’t help but imagine a world that’s driver-optional.

At CES, we saw Audi’s vision of the future, a concept car called the Aicon, with an interior that resembles more of a lounge than a current automobile. As with Holoride, the development of Aicon represents a shift in the idea of mobility, one that’s ushered in by a focus on passengers instead of drivers. Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles. If no one is driving, what else are we to do?

Anything you want to, apparently. Cars are now seen as multi-purpose spaces, just another room that we occupy as we travel from place to place: be it a relaxation pod, a meeting room, or your own private cinema.

The team behind Holoride is most invested in the latter, creating entertainment experiences that are just long enough to fill the entire duration of your trip. They’re calling it “elastic content,” VR games and adventures that automatically adjust to congestion and shortcuts, so that you’re never left without something to occupy you.

Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles.”

Soon, Holoride plans to open its technology to more car manufacturers, content creators, and game developers. The goal is for a wide range of immersive experiences, customized to events in the real world like traffic jams or stop lights, and for those experiences to be available in more car brands. Apart from games, like the one I played, the company is also planning movies, interactive features, and educational tours. Indeed, the type of content you could enjoy is limited only by the imagination.

A few minutes later, I find myself getting another back massage inside another chauffeured Audi A8, making our way back into downtown Las Vegas. These days, when I do travel by car, the experience is similar to this, albeit less fancy. I’m bored, maybe antsy or impatient, in the back seat, with only my phone and social media to distract me. I hadn’t given it much thought till today, but in a world where one constantly thirsts for something to capture one’s attention, I can certainly see how “content will be a major driving force for the mobility experience of the future.”

The day is almost over and I am exhausted. I recline my chair, close my eyes, and enjoy the back massage for a few minutes more. I dream I am back in the e-tron, and wonder when this future will arrive, what it would be like if the next Avengers movie was interactive, and most importantly, what it would be like to watch it from the back seat of a fully autonomous Audi.

Automotive

Honda Philippines launches the New Honda Civic Type R

Honda’s ultimate racing machine just got even better!

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Not everyone buys cars for the same reason. And not all cars are created equal. Some cars are for transport, while some are also for going from point A to point B, but with a whole lotta fun! For racing-bred folks, a VTEC kicking in would definitely put-up smiles.

On the July 27, 2021, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. proudly announced the launch of the New Honda Civic Type R in the country. It boasts a refreshed sporty look that is still quintessentially Civic.

What’s new?

The New Honda Civic Type R features an updated symmetrical design while retaining some of characteristics that gave its predecessor a distinctive look. It now comes equipped with a new front grille design with a thinner grille beam that allows a larger air intake.

Honda knew that if you are going to drive around a Civic Type R, you’d want to squeeze every bit of potential out of it. So, they made improvements on the suspension and brake systems for a more responsive handling. An updated radiator core helps decrease temperature during high-demand driving situations.

Another awesome new feature is the Active Sound Control (ASC), that enhances the cabin sound with engine noise through the audio systems when driving in Sport and +R modes. You’re in a performance car, loud noise is a must (winks).

Driver-assistive functions

Along with the standard safety features such as airbags, Anti-Lock Braking System and more, the New Civic Type R is installed with Honda SENSING for a safer mobility. A monocular camera works in conjunction with wave millimeter radar to monitor and assess the road conditions ahead. Honda’s driver-assistive features include: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).

The 2.0 liter VTEC TURBO engine supplies a maximum power output of 310 PS and 400 Nm at peak of torque. Its 6-speed manual transmission is equipped with a ‘rev match control’ system that enables the vehicle to sustain maximum power while changing gears.

Pricing and availability

The New Civic Type R will be available in three colors: Championship White, Racing Blue and Sonic Gray with a price tag of Php 3,210,000.00.

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Automotive

I Took A Ride On a Self-Driving Tractor!

Just like your smartphone, AI powers tractors through the fields

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Unusual in the GadgetMatch YouTube channel is a visit to a big warehouse full of farming vehicles, windmills, and corn fields. But Michael Josh’s visit at John Deere’s booth last CES 2020 and hosting session in CES 2021 made him gain interest in smart farming equipment.

But do you know what do tractors and smartphones have in common? John Deere’s farming machines are in a way like farming robots. Just like smartphones, they also leverage the power of data and AI — or also known as Artificial Intelligence.

But what makes John Deere’s farming vehicles stand out from the rest? Find out more in our latest video!

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Automotive

VanMoof X3 Review: The Tesla of E-Bikes?

Time to ride the future

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In a bustling city full of cars, bikes not only offer an easy passage from several location points, they also reduce your overall carbon footprint.

But what if someone makes bikes even smarter? Dutch-based VanMoof makes the perfect city bike that sports the right balance of high tech and coolness factor. And comes as part of a complete ecosystem that’s sure to make any city biker happy.

This is our review of the VanMoof X3 — which also applies to the VanMoof S3 if you’re planning on buying one.

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