The correct placement of AR technology should be in the car

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that enables the interaction between the virtual world on the screen and the real world scene.

In 2016, with the fire of the game Pokémon GO, AR also gradually entered the public eye with Pokémon.

▲ Picture from: The New York Times

If it is just an ordinary Pokémon game, it is hard to imagine that the repetitive and monotonous Pokémon GO will become a phenomenal mobile game.

The charm of it is that the Pokémon on the phone screen can lie on the lawn with you and accompany you on real-world "fantasy adventures".

And what Pokémon fan would refuse to experience Ash's life?

▲ Picture from: Pokémon GO

It can be said that the popularity of Pokémon GO has made the world see the potential of AR.

Unlike VR, which is 100% virtual, AR, which can "place" virtual images in the physical world, can enhance the user's perception of the physical world. Because of this, AR is more widely used in life.

Put AR on glasses

▲ Picture from: Google

At the beginning of AR's birth, people's imagination of it usually came from a pair of glasses.

In 2014, Google officially launched Google Glass in the United States, priced at $1,500.

Like Pokémon GO, Google Glass relies on AR technology to realize the instant interaction between the virtual screen and the physical world. Users can read the required information through the polarized mirror in the upper right corner.

▲ Picture from: TIME

Despite its high price, poor battery life and various privacy issues, many people still see Google Glass as the future of mobile devices, and its unique product form seems to satisfy all people's fantasies about future wearable devices .

Where Google Glass really shines is in the business world.

Google has launched Google Glass EE (Enterprise Edition) for enterprise users, this product has longer battery life, shorter charging time, and the processor has also been upgraded.

▲A factory worker in Minnesota uses Google Glass EE on an assembly line. Picture from: MPRnews

International logistics company DHL has been using Google Glass in their warehouses since 2015. DHL has said that the AR device can inform employees of the fastest way to get the products they need, and can also be used to track inventory, making average operations more efficient. 15%.

In the long run, considerable efficiency gains have significantly reduced the company's operating costs.

▲ Picture from: DHL

Not just DHL, but companies like Boeing, General Electric (GE), Amazon, AGCO and others are using Google Glass to increase the productivity of their employees.

Put AR in your phone

In 2016, with the emergence of a large number of VR/AR devices, the shortcomings and hidden concerns of their content gradually emerged, and AR, an emerging technology, seemed to have become a thing of the past.

In 2017, however, Apple pulled it back.

▲ Picture from: Apple

At WWDC that year, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, held an iPhone 7 and placed a cup of coffee, a lamp, and a vase on the table in front of him. Of course, they are all virtual.

Apple has opened the ARKit enhanced display development platform to developers, which has greatly lowered the development threshold for AR applications. More importantly, consumers no longer need special AR devices, but only need an iPhone to get good AR experience.

▲IKEA Place

In September of the same year, IKEA launched IKEA Place, an AR application developed based on ARKit, through which users can effortlessly move sofas, beds and other furniture to various locations in the home to check whether the layout and color matching are reasonable.

This app is a great tool for consumers.

Michael Valdsgaard, head of IKEA's global digital business, said that IKEA has been looking forward to such an AR application for a long time.

"We've been waiting for a technology like 'Apple ARKit' for a long time," Valdesgard said.

▲ Tim Cook, picture from: CNBC

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a 2017 earnings call that AR will go mainstream.

While we're only scratching the surface of the iceberg, it will forever change the way we use technology.

As Cook said, there are still many possibilities for AR. After several years of exploration, AR has been widely used in various industries, including education, retail, sports and health, etc.

However, although the application scope of AR technology is wide, most of them are limited to simple content presentation, and very few really touch the pain points of users.

AR should be put in the car best

In terms of practicality, AR-HUD has to be counted as one.

As the "third space" of human beings, cars, to a certain extent, AR technology and HUD systems are naturally matched.

HUD (Head Up Display) was first used in the aviation and military field and is a configuration for safety. It can project important information such as speed and navigation to the driver, reducing the frequency of the driver looking down at the instrument.

Since its birth in 1980, HUD has become more and more clear and practical, and the information that can be displayed has become more and more abundant, but many people think that HUD is a "high-tech gimmick".

▲The information provided by the HUD on the 1988 GM Oldsmobile Cutlass is very limited. Picture from: General Motors

Among them, what really turns the HUD into a real car demand and gets rid of the controversy is the addition of navigation information.

As we become more and more reliant on navigation, driving and looking down at the navigation is becoming an extremely unsafe behavior—

When the speed is 120km/h, looking down at the navigation for 1 second is equivalent to driving blindly for 33m, and the urban roads with more complicated road conditions make it more dangerous to look down at the navigation.

▲Navigation information displayed by conventional HUD

Obviously, a HUD with navigation information is a good solution. However, due to the limitations of the physical level, the navigation information displayed by ordinary HUDs is usually relatively simple: arrow + distance, and you're done.

The introduction of AR has greatly improved the practicability of the HUD. The AR-HUD projected directly onto the front windshield can not only clearly present navigation information to the driver in combination with the road conditions, but some models also have following target recognition, collision warning, etc. Features.

Feifan + Huawei = best partner

AR-HUD is an extremely sophisticated optoelectronic system . It needs to integrate the driving information collected by the ADAS system, supplemented by excellent human-computer interaction design, and project the information onto the front windshield.

Therefore, AR-HUD is also good and bad. In this field, the "best partners" should be Feifan Motors and Huawei, two brands that are outstanding in their respective fields .

▲The imaging principle of AR-HUD

Recently, we noticed that Feifan Motors announced the smart cockpit of the flagship model Feifan R7.

In addition to having the largest triple screen among Chinese brand models, the Huawei Vision-enhanced AR-HUD head-up system , which was mass-produced by Feifan R7 in the world, is also quite interesting. It can be regarded as an excellent example of interpreting the combination of AR technology and HUD.

For the performance of this set of AR-HUD, we can judge from the following aspects:

  • Resolution
  • Maximum FOV (Field of View)
  • VID (Virtual Image Distance)
  • brightness
  • Contrast

The first is resolution, which is easy to understand. Like the screens of mobile phones and computers, the higher the resolution, the more delicate the display effect will be. The resolution of the head-up display is usually related to the optomechanical type. There are three common optomechanical types: TFT-LCD, DLP, and LCoS.

TFT-LCD head-up display optomechanical, which we can see on Audi e-tron and Volkswagen ID. series. The principle is that the LCD is illuminated by a backlight source, and the polarization state of the light source of the pixel is driven by the TFT to change, thereby presenting different brightness and darkness.

▲The AR-HUD of Audi Q4 e-tron adopts TFT solution

I believe everyone can see from the three words "most common" that this type of opto-mechanical technology is mature and the cost is low . Of course, there are some disadvantages, such as low resolution, limited brightness and contrast, and difficult thermal management.

DLP refers to digital light processing technology. Its digital micromirror chip (DMD) will digitally process the signal first, and then project it. Each pixel is precisely controlled by a micromirror.

▲The mechanical structure of the DLP optomechanical is very complex

Compared with TFT-LCD optomechanics, DLP has good brightness and contrast , and has significant advantages in temperature control. It can effectively solve the problem of sunlight backflow. It can be found in luxury models such as Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS. Its shortcomings The mechanical stability is poor, and it is difficult to support 2K resolution .

▲ The AR-HUD of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class adopts the DLP scheme

It is precisely because of these shortcomings that the DLP solution is often criticized in actual use, so the LCoS opto-mechanical technology was born.

LCoS opto-mechanical is a new generation of optoelectronic processing and display technology , and its principle is relatively complex.

In short, LCoS can also achieve pixel-level phase control, but LCoS does not contain mechanical devices, so it has high stability.

The AR-HUD system of Feifan R7 uses Huawei's ODP optical engine with LCoS solution.

It has more than two million reflective pixel units and can achieve the industry's highest resolution of 1920*730 on the Feifan R7.

In terms of brightness and contrast, this system can achieve a high contrast ratio of 1200:1 and an ultra-high brightness of 12,000nits, which effectively solves the situation where the content of the driver cannot be seen clearly due to the strong light inversion, and even interferes with the driver's vision.

Even in extreme scenes such as noon and snow, it can provide drivers with a clear and bright picture.

In the case of sudden changes in the brightness of entering and exiting tunnels that we often encounter, it will automatically adjust the brightness of the image according to the change in the intensity of the external ambient light to ensure that the image is displayed clearly, so as to reduce the short-term discomfort that may occur to the driver's eyes and improve the driving safety.

Next, let's talk about the maximum FOV, which is the field of view.

This is actually not difficult to understand. Taking the eye as the vertex, the angle formed by the two sides of the virtual image is the field of view. It is divided into a horizontal field of view and a vertical field of view. The larger the field of view, the larger the display area of ​​the HUD. bigger. (Does it feel like taking a physics class?)

The vision-enhanced AR-HUD head-up system of Feifan R7 has an ultra-wide viewing angle of 13°*5° (it is understood that this is also the largest field of view of mass-produced models in the world), which can form a picture located 7.5 meters away.

To put it more intuitively, the projected image can cover 3 lanes.

▲The AR-HUD of Feifan R7 can cover 3 lanes

The larger the display area, the more information that can be presented to the driver, which fundamentally improves the practical value of the HUD.

In addition to the conventional driving information such as lane guidance and following time distance, Feifan R7 can also be combined with the ADAS system to provide important safety assistance information such as lane departure warning and obstacle collision warning.

In addition to the conventional driving information such as lane guidance and following time distance, the AR can superimpose POI (Point of Interest) information on the map with the real scene. Feifan R7 can also display charging stations, scenic spots, parking lots, restaurants, Shopping malls and other places further expand the application scenarios, which greatly facilitates self-driving travel.

Not only that, this AR-HUD also hits the pain point directly, achieving all-weather adaptation, even in bad weather such as rain and snow, it can still accurately display the vehicle or pedestrian ahead.

The AR-HUD system of Feifan R7 also has entertainment functions, which can provide a parking head-up video and audio experience, making waiting fun.

In addition to hardware empowerment, the traditional HUD solves the problems of low brightness and resolution, small viewing angle, and limited display information. The AR-HUD of Feifan R7 is also supported by powerful AR algorithms.

For AR-HUD, the excellent algorithm can make the driving information guidance screen more stable and coordinated. Even if you drive for a long time, you will not be dizzy. More timely, saving you from the pain of missing the intersection.

On the whole, just as its positioning of "Extremely Intelligent High-end Pure Electric SUV", the Feifan R7 equipped with Huawei AR-HUD makes the HUD no longer tasteless in terms of display effects and application scenarios, and practically brings users A more forward-looking, advanced and intelligent high-value experience has come.

It is worth mentioning that from the in-depth cooperation between Feifan and Huawei, it can be seen that SAIC is determined to develop smart cars. The next stage of AR-HUD may be towards larger format, higher definition, naked eye. 3D and other directions.

write at the end

In 2022, the AR devices around us have been changed from generation to generation, and the popularity of smartphone AR applications has been around for a while. Seize the dominance of the AR ecosystem.

But whether it's AR glasses or AR headsets, they obviously need time to prove themselves.

In addition to technical problems that need to be overcome, the more important thing is to use the scene mining to improve its necessity. This not only requires the efforts of technology manufacturers, but also requires patience to wait for the gradual transformation of public perception in technological progress.

Before that, as an important carrier of our mobile smart lifestyle, the combination of AR and HUD is showing more and more practical value and necessity, thus becoming our important partner in the "third space".

In other words, as the title says, the car is the most correct place for AR at the moment.

The author is a bit busy, so I will write the introduction later.

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