TECHNOLOGY

Meet your digital co-driver

Nissan introduces digital avatars as part of clever augmented-reality tech

08 January 2019 - 12:39 By Phuti Mpyane
Nissan's Invisible-to-Visible system merges the real and virtual worlds in a bid to improve safety. The system shows the driver potential hazards behind buildings or around corners, and guidance is given in an interactive, human-like way, such as through avatars that appear inside the car. Picture: SUPPLIED
Nissan's Invisible-to-Visible system merges the real and virtual worlds in a bid to improve safety. The system shows the driver potential hazards behind buildings or around corners, and guidance is given in an interactive, human-like way, such as through avatars that appear inside the car. Picture: SUPPLIED

By merging both real and virtual worlds through a highly connected-car experience, Invisible-to-Visible, or I2V, is Nissan’s vision of more integration of vehicles and the surroundings.

Using information and imagery from sensors outside and inside the vehicle merged with data from the cloud, the augmented-reality system is claimed to track a vehicle’s immediate surroundings, showing the driver what lies ahead and even showing what’s behind a building or around corners. Guidance is given in an interactive, human-like way, such as through avatars that appear inside the car.

“By helping you see the invisible, I2V enhances your confidence and makes driving more enjoyable,” said Tetsuro Ueda, an expert leader at the Nissan Research Center. “The interactive features create an experience that’s tailored to your interests and driving style so that anyone can enjoy using it in their own way.”

The technology hinges on full vehicle connectivity, from data received by real-time traffic monitoring to V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) connections to geographical updates on weather, traffic congestion, obstructions and data projected by buildings to assist in finding empty parking slots.

Nissan’s various vehicle systems integrate this mash up of information to find the best routes, recommend diversions in the case of arising delays or risks to enhance safety and efficient travel plans. Then Nissan cabins zing things up a bit with avatars that ‘sit’ next to you and are visible only through special augmented-reality eye wear.

They narrate all of this information to you, as well as advising you on things you are yet to see with the naked eye, such as pedestrians. The assistant, which can be in any digital form you desire, also interacts with passengers and panders to their whims, such as finding a spot to have a coffee break.    

Because I2V can also connect with other devices from everywhere, Nissan says you can also port your friend or sweetheart to appear inside the car as a 3D avatar as well to provide company.  Additionally, the system is claimed to be able to search within the Metaverse for a knowledgeable local guide who can communicate with people in the vehicle in real time.

Other fascinating inventions by this system include the projection of cheerful images of the environment inside the car. For instance when driving in the rain, sunnier scenery can be called up to brighten the cabin's confines and your mood.

The clincher of this tech, where drivers with sportier hearts are concerned, is the ability to beam in an avatar of a professional driver to give personal instructions, in real time, on how to drive the car safely and professionally. It uses a car video game inspired ‘chase car’ with driving lines displayed in your field of view to follow. Optionally, the driving instructor avatar can be seated next you while the barking orders.

Visitors to CES can experience I2V at Nissan’s display. The show runs from January 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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