Augmented reality could make driving a lot more interesting

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: June 12, 2012

Augmented reality. While I’ve wondered in the past what ever happened to augmented reality, it’s good to see that almost a year later, it’s starting to make a comeback. Not so much on its own, in the sense that I was talking about it last year. No, I still don’t hear a lot about specific applications that use the technology. Instead, we’re gearing up to see how Google can take on augmented reality, or AR, with the upcoming release of Google Project Glass.

In all honesty, I think the way that Google plans on releasing augmented reality into the world, on their own merits, is the way to go. Holding up the phone like you’re taking a picture, but swinging around in a circle as you try to locate something on your display, could look pretty strange to some people. It’s like playing a racing game on your iPad out in public, and turning the tablet to steer the vehicle. Some things just stick out, you know?

That’s not to say that it won’t look pretty strange to wear Google Glass out in public, especially right after its launch, but I think I can safely say that it would be the lesser of two “evils.”

Google’s hoping that Glass becomes pretty important, or at least I hope they are. (There’s nothing really wrong with just creating something for fun, though.) And if it does become important, then more people will wear it and we’ll see it in more places. But, seeing it as you walk down the sidewalk is one thing.

What happens when people start wearing it in the car? We’ve seen Apple’s vision for the future of using your phone in the car, and Siri plays a heavy role in it. I don’t think Google Goggles will revolutionize the way that we drive, but it could, couldn’t it? I mean, we’ve seen heads-up displays (HUDs) in cars already, but what if our goggles actually relayed that information instead of on the windshield?

The general argument that it would be pretty distracting to have that information displayed right on your eye (similar to that, anyway), instead of put up on the windshield. That’s probably true. But, if Google is going to seriously say that people won’t be distracted walking down the street and end up in the middle of the road, then perhaps there’s something to it.

There could also be settings in place that would limit the amount of information you receive while you’re driving. Specifically, while you have Google Glass on and you’re driving, then you can’t receive text messages, or any kind of text-based message. Calls are immediately routed to voice mail. The only information that’s primarily routed to Glass would be the speed, and perhaps tire information and other things of that nature.

This is all purely science-fiction, of course. I don’t think Glass is going to have this kind of functionality, especially not right out of the gate. But while I think augmented reality isn’t all that focused on the smartphone, I think it could have a place in the car. I envision a world where Glass tells us that an exit is coming up, by highlighting the information on Glass (or the windshield), and keeping the distance measured in real-time. Need to know where the closest gas station is? Boom, your Glass have it covered.

Crazy, I know, but I’m dreaming here, okay? If not Google Project Glass, then what kind of system would you use to incorporate augmented reality into the driving scene? Let me know in the comments below.

image via mobile commerce press