Augmented reality -- a live view of your environment with elements enhanced by computer-generated input -- will undoubtedly revolutionize the way we interact with the world, and even the way we drive.
Chevrolet Volt owners are already experiencing game-changing advanced technology (via two interactive color LCD screens that monitor and provide efficiency feedback based on one's driving style), but there are already products like Google Glass on the cusp of mass-market adoption -- essentially a wearable smartphone that looks like a pair of glasses, with a smart display imposed on the user's field of vision that can record video, take pictures, send texts and more, all controlled by voice command.
So it isn't that much of a leap to consider: What if augmented reality was used in cars? What if, say, the windshield had voice-command smart displays? There's a whole range of opportunities for an augmented-reality windshield -- both functional and fun -- that could truly take our driving experience in a totally new direction.
An article on Business Inquirer suggests that augmented reality could greatly increase driving safety as well, with graphics that illuminate a driver's difficult-to-see surroundings, such as curb edges, pedestrians and erratic drivers up ahead.
Perhaps the most practical way it could transform the experience would be to eliminate two of the most standard of all car features: the dashboard and the rear-view mirror.
Think about it. The features of the dashboard -- speedometer, gas gauge, RPMs, time of day -- all could easily be generated by a smart windshield. And safely in a corner could be a display of what the rear-view mirror shows you.
Augmented-reality windshields could also provide most of the features your smartphone provides. Just take what Chevy owners can already do with Chevrolet MyLink's* 7" diagonal touch-screen, and with Siri Eyes Free** (now available on the Sonic, Cruze, Equinox, and the Spark), and transfer it to the augmented-reality windshield. Drivers could use voice commands to make calls, send texts, take and share pictures and video, with pertinent information displayed on their windshield. Same goes for GPS navigation.
But "smart" windshields aren't just business; there's plenty they could do to make your drive a more enjoyable experience. For example, an article in the Wall Street Journal speculated that an augmented-reality windshield could note interesting facts about cities and landmarks your car is approaching. Additionally, the car's stereo system and climate control could be initiated via voice command and displayed on the windshield.
With so many possibilities at hand for a vehicle enhanced by augmented reality, it seems likely that the two technologies will someday collide. It's only a matter of time.
Read more from Chevy Culture here.
The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.
*MyLink functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices. MyLink on Spark and Sonic does not include functionality such as enhanced voice recognition, Gracenote and CD player.
**Requires available Chevrolet MyLink and compatible iPhone running iOS 6. Software update may be required. See your dealer for more information.