Audi-Backed Startup Holoride is Bringing VR to the Car

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Audi-Backed Startup Holoride is Bringing VR to the Car

LAS VEGAS — There’s a use case for virtual reality that remains untapped: the automobile. “VR in the car” – where passengers amuse themselves with virtual reality (VR) headsets instead of phones or iPads – sounds like a good idea on paper, but the tech is notorious for inflicting motion sickness on many wearers, even when they’re standing still. Throw in a moving car and you’re practically guaranteed to need a (non-virtual) barf bag.

There’s a way to solve this problem, and a startup spun out from Audi has done it. Holoride, launching in the U.S. at CES 2023, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the car’s motion in real time, combining that with the head movements of the wearer to smooth out the experience and ensure any barf bags stay in the seat-back pocket. For testing the product at CES 2023, we can confirm that it works.

Audi-Backed Startup Holoride is Bringing VR to the Car

I got a chance to try out Holoride at CES. Riding in the backseat, we were able to play TITLE TK, a game where your character flies through the air with relatively complex movements, punching and shooting at various drones to shatter them to smithereens. As the car made a series of turns in the Las Vegas traffic, the movement within the game mimicked the car’s motion in perfect synchronicity, keeping the action right in front of me. As a result, I barely noticed.

It wasn’t perfect, however. When I stopped playing games and instead fired up Netflix to watch Seinfeld, the app initially thought I was facing the rear of the car. That was quickly fixable with an easy re-centering of the user interface (very common in VR), but as we drove the orientation of the app kept drifting to one side or the other, requiring me to keep hitting the recenter button every minute or so. That would get tiresome after anything longer than a television clip. Nonetheless, I liked the Holoride video experience since it meant I didn’t have to crane my neck over a phone.

“We have developed a tech stack that picks up the car data in real time,” explains Wollny “You don’t get motion sick… because you see this moving in your peripheral view the whole time.”

Audi-Backed Startup Holoride is Bringing VR to the Car

Holoride’s aftermarket device mounts on a windshield and wirelessly connects to a VR headset in the car to fuse the car motion with the VR experience. (Pete Pachal/CoinDesk)

Holoride needs to fully understand the car’s motion to work. The tech can be built directly into a car’s systems, though it’s only available on select Audi models so far. But the product launching at CES is an aftermarket solution: a short black cylinder gadget about the size of a hockey puck that you mount on your windshield. That puck then connects wirelessly with the headset to work its motion-fusion magic.

Holoride is based on the HTC Vive VR platform and it works with the Vive Flow headset, which connects with the puck (or car system) wirelessly. If you’ve already got a Vive Flow, you can buy the puck for just $199, but the company expects it will sell more packages with the headset included, which sells for $799 (the Vive Flow typically retails for $499 on its own). You’ll also need a subscription to the Holoride platform, which costs $20 a month or $180 yearly.

That’s because Wollny says Holoride’s target customer isn’t necessarily a metaverse enthusiast, but rather a busy parent looking for a different experience for their kids in the back seat on long drives.

“Primarily we focus on families at the moment – teenagers on backseats,” he says. “With our tokens, whether you are a parent, whether you’re a kid, you can benefit from this. That’s our core focus.”

Time will tell whether that amounts to a robust market. But if it does, the company is prepped to meet it: With a metaverse platform, a Web3 token and a gadget that actually works, Holoride is poised to take over VR in the car – as long as customers are willing to come along for the ride.

Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.

Source: ethereum.today

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