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Audi Discusses New 3D Heads-Up Displays At CES

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On: Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 3:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Audi Discusses New 3D Heads-Up Displays At CES

When I first eyed a headline about Audi incorporating 3D displays, I was completely taken aback. Just imagine putting on your 3D glasses just so you could see roads and directions on your navigation system in 3D—sounded like yet another technological recipe for disaster. Plus, 3D technology still seems as though it could fail at any minute, so I was perplexed as to why an automaker would choose to incorporate it so early.

Luckily, Audi's system is more level-headed than I feared and may prove to be useful, if executed correctly. The 3D heads-up display that Ingolstadt detailed at the Consumer Electronics Show last week could provide some intriguing benefits.

Rather than operating on the LCD screen in your car, Audi's system would superimpose images onto your windshield. That may sound a little odd—scary even, but the images would be designed to provide direct benefits to driving. One example cited was imposing arrows onto actual streets that lie ahead. The arrows would provide a visual cue identifying the street where you need to turn. The heads-up display would also show standards like speed and mileage.

While superimposing images, even helpful ones, may seem like a distraction, Audi chief Rupert Stadler explained: "We found that if things are presented more realistically, they require less driver attention and limit driver distraction."

So, theoretically at least, such a system could prove to be less of a distraction than looking down at your LCD screen.
3D HUDs aren't the only wild tech feature in Audi's future; the company also spent some time talking about virtual cockpits. The cabins of the future would incorporate all-digital displays and instruments, rather than physical ones. Audi has partnered with Nvidia, whose Tegra 2 computer chip (or perhaps a future chip) would provide the engine to make such cockpits possible.

Nvidia CEO Jenson Huang was at CES for Audi's presentation and explained a little about what a virtual cockpit would entail: "We can simulate any material. We can simulate metal. We can simulate aluminum or wood. But in this particular one (pointing to a projected image) we’re simulating glass. And you can notice all the various reflections, refractions, shadows and lighting."


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