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BMW reveals mixed reality driving glasses and ‘teleparking’ at CES 2024

German car maker brings both kit and caboodle to annual tech fest

Published: 09 Jan 2024

BMW has showcased its latest tech innovations in Vegas, including some funky glasses you can wear that plunge you into a glorious world of 'mixed' virtual reality. No, these glasses aren't powerful enough to make an XM handsome, but they can overlay real-time, head-up display data, which is cool, if a little terrifying.

The 'Air 2' glasses were designed in collaboration with Xreal. Using one Sony-made micro-OLED panel in the shape of suitably fashionable glasses, these augmented reality specs display navigation and hazards, as well as entertainment content and menus (we’ll come onto that in a bit). There are speakers built into the arms using directional audio to give voice guidance. For its part, BMW has integrated the Alexa assistant.

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BMW's been working on this stuff since 2008. Indeed, it introduced its collaborative efforts with Facebook-owner Meta’s Reality Labs incubator last year, with these ConnectedRide glasses.

But it’s been tough going by the sounds of things. BMW cites the difficulty of getting "displayed images to remain securely embedded in the environment even in challenging driving situations, such as when turning, driving over large bumps or accelerating" to explain why all of this is just coming to fruition now.

Working with Meta and Xreal has finally helped BMW pave the way for putting head-up display info right before your very eyes, quite literally. Peter Lehnert, VP of research, new technologies and innovations at BMW, said: “Thanks to the recent research collaborations with Meta Reality Labs and Xreal, we have made considerable progress in our preparations for integrating external XR devices into our driving experience in production models. We are proud to be leading the way here and are well prepared to offer our customers breathtaking XR experiences in the future."

BMW's banking on these glasses going big time over the next few years, as the price of the hardware comes down and more affordable products hit the market.

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Spectacle of, er, spectacles aside, BMW’s collaborative efforts have also gone into developing its remote parking tech; remotely operated valet parking. If you’re picturing a guy at a computer doing the legwork so you don’t have to, you’d be, er, spot on.

This time the German carmaker has worked with Valeo, an automotive supplier of all sorts. Together, they’ve been looking for ways to overcome complex environments where fully autonomous vehicles might struggle to make decisions.

Unlike the current feature, where pressing a button on the key fob or digital app enables you to move the car a tiny distance to get parked, a man at a desk elsewhere in the country (possibly the world, depending on the regional legislation) – known as a teleoperator – does the driving instead.

The two say this is "the joint development of next-gen automated L4 solutions" so drivers can drop their cars off and the car can go and find its own parking space. Or, in this case, the teleoperator can. But this isn’t that new. We’ve already seen remotely piloted vehicles in Milton Keynes.

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BMW and Mini customers can also look forward to more telly choices through the OS’s Video App and a wider choice of gaming options... now with proper controllers - wow.

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