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Augmented reality makes for a transparent car

Drivers can see directly through doors and seats.

Digital car display screen.
Credit: Thinkstock

For a while now, augmented reality has appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough into the real world, with prototypes and experiments showing massive potential for very specific use cases. Adding to that list is a new example that shows an impressive safety application for drivers.

A recent IEEE Spectrum report details a system that uses augmented reality to create the illusion of a transparent car, allowing drivers to see people and objects in the road that might be lingering in blind spots.

Created by professors Susumo Tachi and Masahiko Inami and PhD candidate Yuji Uema at the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio Univeristy in Japan, the system involves cameras fitted on the outside of the car that feed video to projectors located on the inside. The video is projected onto a system of mirrors, which display the live feed from the outside of the car onto the interior of the seats and doors to provide a view of the space directly on the other side. So when drivers look backward while driving in reverse, for example, it would appear as if the entire rear of the car is one giant windshield, showing all objects or people behind the rear bumper.

The IEEE report says the project has already been tested, and the video below shows it in action.

The entire report is worth a read, explaining why the system needed to incorporate a projection system and how they designed it to work in different areas of the car’s interior.

Augmented reality, which has massive potential in areas like healthcare, will add to a growing set of technologies that are being adapted for vehicle safety.

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