Gaming elements are changing the game for road safety IRL (In Real Life).

Volvo wants nobody to get hurt or to die in any of their new cars, Automotive News reports. To help make this a reality, the Swedish multinational automobile manufacturing company partnered with a Finnish start-up called, Varjo, who makes headsets for gaming. Varjo uses Mixed Reality (MR) to help design safer cars.

Mixed Reality combines augmented reality and virtual reality. The difference is that “augmented reality enhances the real world”, Popular Mechanics explains, “virtual reality offers an escape from it.”

Augmented reality uses a device like a mobile phone’s video camera to add a layer over the real scene before you. You can often interact with these digital elements against the real world even though they aren’t ‘there’.

Virtual reality uses a device like a headset to create an entirely imaginary scene that you are totally immersed in. It hides the real world, and its own reality takes over completely.

“The Volvo Varjo collaboration enables us to be the world’s first car company to be able to drive with a mixed reality headset on the real road,” says Timmy Ghiurau, Senior Unity Developer at Volvo.

In a world-first, the mixed reality car and safety development strategy will immerse Volvo researchers and designers in real situations with imaginary elements. How will it help? Mixed Reality situations offer more variations on the data that already exists and allows that data to be tested in different situations and settings, both virtual and actual.

For example, “you can experiment with new dashboard layouts while driving an existing car because what you see blends perfectly into reality,” Niko Eiden, CEO of Varjo, comments. “We have also integrated eye tracking. So, for example, if a warning light is blinking in the right-hand side corner of the dashboard, we can immediately test how quickly the driver is reacting. That means we can automate a lot of the testing processes that were previously much more difficult to measure.”

For you, the driver, it could mean safer cars sooner. Thank you, digital!


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