BMW showcased its M2 Coupe paired with its M Mixed Reality technology platform at the Web Summit 2022 event in Lisbon, Portugal. Virtual reality and mixed reality technologies help power the platform, as the virtual and physical worlds collide.
Using the MR platform allows participants to wear a Varjo XR-3 VR headset to control the M2 on a virtual race track – while physically standing in empty terrain. The immersive in-car experience allows drivers to see their hands, the steering wheel and the car’s dashboard directly ahead. The coupe essentially becomes the controller, with BMW thanking gaming partners like Epic.
The movement of the driver’s head is tracked by a dash-mounted camera facing the interior of the car. People who tested the system said it was able to track with very little lag because the headset is connected to a computer in the trunk.
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The mixed reality system captures any movement made by the M2 and then it is used in the MR system. Drivers can physically see what they’re doing, with the headset able to analyze the movement of the car and what the driver is doing – this should help reduce instances of motion sickness.
Here is what Franciscus van Meel, CEO of BMW M, said in a statement: “We won’t just bring digital services into the vehicle. The vehicle will merge with users’ physical and virtual worlds. They may want to drive vehicles they own in real life in the latest racing game.”
The M2 has a six-cylinder engine that delivers 460 horsepower and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The coupe takes 4.1 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph – and a manual transmission model is available.
It’s no secret that modern vehicles are full of computer chips and software, all designed to help drivers and passengers. Something like mixed reality has become something engineers can use to help develop next-gen vehicles that traditional engineering tools can’t. Although the VR headset alone costs over $6,500, so don’t expect to see it rolling out at your local BMW dealer anytime soon.