Where Google Glass managed to just drive people away, BMW thinks augmented reality could really help drivers.
The company on Sunday is showing off Mini Augmented Vision — a set of prototype glasses that pair with a Mini (owned by BMW) to give drivers a heads-up look at directions and hidden obstacles as well as offering a means of hands-free texting and music control. Combined with cameras on the car’s exterior, the glasses could even give the driver a sort of X-ray vision, allowing her, for example, to see “through” the car to the curb when trying to park.
The high-tech specs, which look like an oversized pair of aviator sunglasses, work with the Mini’s existing connected car system, both of which are being shown at this week’s Shanghai Auto Show. Within the frames sits an array of technology, including the guts of a modern smartphone, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS sensors along with a Qualcomm processor and Android operating system.
At a demo in San Francisco, BMW showed a working prototype as part of a simulated drive in the car. But things are still at the demo stage — the tech equivalent of a concept car.
There is no timeframe for when the unit could become reality.
While some are pushing for fully autonomous cars, BMW is focusing a lot of energy on technologies that make driving safer while keeping human hands on the wheel.
“People who love to drive, that’s our customer,” said Mini product planning manager Patrick McKenna.
BMW worked with Qualcomm, whose Vuforia technology has in the past been used largely with phones and tablets.
Without mentioning Google Glass by name, Qualcomm VP Jay Wright noted that previous versions of augmented reality glasses didn’t really solve a problem and left something to be desired on the fashion front.
“The industry has struggled to come up with really compelling consumer apps we can deliver on,” Wright said. “I hope this can be a turning point for the category.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.