I am a perpetual driver. I drive for work and I even drive for travel most of the time. But there is a huge part of me that wishes I could be a passenger. I wish someone else would drive me around, so I could just put my feet up and literally enjoy the ride. The other reason that I would like this as an option is that there is now technology available for passengers, that never existed when I didn’t have my driver’s license. Like what, you ask? Holoride, for example. Holoride has been developed by Audi in collaboration with Disney and it was first demo’d at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
What it does is allow people to wear virtual reality goggles in order to play a vide game as they are driven around a racetrack. As a kid, I used to love playing Super Mario Kart, because I felt like I was driving. Then, when I was able to drive, I wondered if I could drop banana peels behind my car to get bad drivers off the road. This isn’t exactly that., but it does kind of make me feel like my childhood fantasies of driving, combined with my reality of video games might be a possibility.
In this case, as the Audi SUV accelerates hard to 140 km/h the passengers in the back seat are immersed in the virtual cockpit of a spaceship as it blasts off. Rocket, the raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy happens to be your co-pilot. The great thing is that if you move your head, you will get to see all around the cockpit. Rocket will tell you some things to do. What’s great about this is that if the car turns left, so does your spaceship. The motion of the virtual world actually syncs up to that of the real world.
One of the reasons I like the idea of this is the balance between virtual reality, and actual reality. Maybe it’s not a balance. Synergy is likely a better word. With any technology, I always wonder if this is something that would get used. Especially in its current state. Is this something that would be used widely? Or is this just having fun with technology now, in the hopes that someday it will become something more tangible?
I mean, this is something that is very interesting and I think it has the ability to go somewhere. Think about it from the perspective of using a ride-hailing company like Lyft or Uber. The market for passengers to be entertained while in the Lyft or Uber is currently untapped. Could a company like Holoride give passengers a way to be less bored?
I think the short answer is yes. The demo at CES included Marvel’s Agengers: Rocket Rescue Run, which was created by Disney. Imagine the possibility with what this could mean for a company like Disney? It’s estimated that 50 million trips are made daily by people using Lyft and Uber, which adds up to 18 billion trips annually. So how could this not be a winner?
Starting in February, Audi will spin Holoride off as an independent startup, but retain a minority stake in the company. Who knows where this will lead in the next couple of years, but I’m excited at the propsects.