Can a car double up as a video game controller? BMW has the answer
BMW is working on a mixed reality headset for its vehicles, and the system has first been integrated into a 2023 BMW M2. The VR headset has been combined with the vehicle to create a game that combines gaming visuals with real-world physics. The creation is called ///M Mixed Reality, and it works by first placing a driver in a real car. Though the technology has first been placed in the M2, conceptually it can work in any vehicle.
For this technology to work, the driver first gets a VR headset, which has cameras attached to the exterior. Through it, the driver can see the real world, though it can likely be combined with augmented reality additions. The car is then placed in a big empty parking space and the real-world visuals are edited out; the game then comes into its own.
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A demonstration of the video game involving the BMW M2 with a YouTube personality and sim racer Jimmy Broadbent shows that the visuals can be seen onscreen are completely divorced from reality and, instead, look like a cyberpunk Mario Kart track.
The virtual world has an autocross course built, through which Broadbent has to navigate and set a fast time. Helping him are BMW M coins that reduce his time, and obstructing him are virtual blockades that discourage him from using one half of the track. “It felt like a theme-park ride. It felt like I was sitting on a rollercoaster that I was in control of, which is always a little bit scary," he said.
On a big enough pad of concrete, where one can simulate any number of real racetracks in mixed reality, the BMW M2 can be a fun toy to have. “Anyone who asks what virtual experiences in the automotive sector might look like in future: That is the answer," said Frank van Meel, CEO of M GmbH.