Toyota is now experimenting with augmented reality in its cars, as the potential for the technology continues to evolve.
Toyota is working with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design to develop its “Windows to the World” project. The technology effectively turns the car windows into a transparent screen that allows passengers to interact virtually with the world outside the vehicle.
Using Toyota’s “Windows to the World” technology, passengers can trace an outside object like a tree with their fingers; then when the car moves away from the tree the trace scrolls off the window and into the distance along with it.
Using another of the program’s features, a backseat passenger can pinch the window to zoom in on animals in a distant field, for instance. The apps also work interchangeably with each other, as the child in the demo demonstrates by tracing over a sheep she zoomed in on while the car was stopped.
With “Windows to the World,” a Toyota vehicle can also identify objects audibly, triggered by a finger tap on the window. The window then displays a number representing the distance of the outside object is from the vehicle.
Toyota’s project isn’t the only one of its kind to use technology powered by augmented reality. Last year, Quest Visual released an app called Word Lens, which allows users to hold their phones up to real-life objects that featured text and have that text immediately translated to another language.
Apple has also shown interest in augmented reality technology. Earlier this month, the company filed two patents revolving around the ability to populate live videos and pictures from iPhone and iPads with digital information.
With Apple’s patent, people may potentially hold up their devices to something like a city skyline and Apple could display real-time information on the device about what users are looking at.
But the Word Lens app shows augmented reality being used on a small scale, and Apple’s efforts seem to be a long time from public release. While Toyota has not announced when its “Windows to the World” project will be available to the public, its working demo demonstrates some of the true potential of augmented reality, expanding its use beyond mobile and into larger settings.
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