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

She implanted an RFID tag in her arm to operate a Tesla Model 3

A new way to never lose your keys again

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A software engineer who goes by the name Amie DD on YouTube wanted to do an ultimate Tesla Model 3 hack — one that involves implanting an RFID tag in her own body so she could unlock and operate her vehicle with just a wave of her arm.

She released a short documentary on her thought process and how she began the project. According to her, she’s not new to playing with RFID tags and implanting them in her body. So when she got her new Model 3 and found out it uses RFID to unlock and start the vehicle, she immediately came up with the idea.


To make this possible, Amie DD reached out to a body modification place capable of performing such procedures. You may watch the implant process here but be warned that it’s a bit graphic and shows blood.

She didn’t actually show in her video that it actually works but she told The Verge that it does. Amie DD even tweeted Elon Musk jokingly (probably) that she could run Musk’s Body Hacking Division.

It may sound cool and all — and props to her for having the courage to do something like that — but as for me, I think I’m okay with using standard keys right now.

 

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Automotive

Jaguar wants Oxford Dictionary to update the definition of ‘car’

Literally redefining what a car is

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Jaguar is calling for the Oxford English Dictionary and OxfordDictionaries.com to update their official online definition of the word ‘car’.

The need for action is because Jaguar’s I-PACE, the company’s all-electric performance SUV, recently won the 2019 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. However, technically, the zero-emission vehicle doesn’t fall under the ‘car’ category if we’re going by its official meaning.


If you check online, Oxford English Dictionary — the principal historical dictionary of the English language — defines a car as, “a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, esp. for private, commercial, or leisure use.”

Meanwhile, the current definition of a car on OxfordDictionaries.com, a collection of dictionary websites produced by Oxford University Press, is: “a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.”

Now, being widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language, it just seems fitting to update the meaning of ‘car’. Jaguar has already submitted a formal application to both groups and have the definitions updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles.

While these groups review the application, Jaguar is encouraging people to support the movement and share their thoughts on how the word should be defined. For those interested, you may use #RedefineTheCar along with your posts.

 

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Automotive

The 2019 Chevrolet Spark is a fun ride for everyone!

Does the job without the fuss

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Who says only the boys can have all the fun driving and testing out cars? Watch as I take the 2019 Chevrolet Spark around the city and explore its features and capabilities.

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