Driving the New BMW M2 in a Mixed Reality World

Driving the New BMW M2 in a Mixed Reality World

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BMW has just helped create its own Metaverse, so to speak, which is infinitely more interesting and exciting than just playing The Sims with your Facebook friends. The BMW M2 Mixed Reality is one of the weirdest, most interesting and exciting things I’ve ever seen in VR. And we experienced it all from the driver’s seat.

We traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, for the Web Summit 2022, and there, BMW invited us to test their ///M Mixed Reality. The project uses many high-end technologies, including a VR headset from Varjo and a Smart Track device from AR-Tracking. The elevator pitch for this is that you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a BMW M2, while wearing a VR headset, and you’re actually driving the car. But instead of the real world you’re in, you see a virtual reality world.

Combine digital and analog

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BMW_Mixed Reality

In this new video, you can experience the BMW M2 with a VR headset, on a virtual race track, but in an empty physical parking lot. What we saw through the headset was a digital, futuristic race track, like something out of an arcade game. We drove through it, collected Roundel tokens on the track like it was a Bavarian Mario Kart and had to stop at a digital box. In reality, we were driving and even sliding the real BMW M2, with a safety engineer in the passenger seat. So we were kind of immersed in a virtual world physically driving the new G87 M2.

The experience is quite surreal and you are definitely completely immersed in this VR world. The 4K graphics are impressive and the technology is equally exciting. The VR headset adjusts its video quality by tracking where your eyes are looking and there’s virtually no noticeable lag. Of course, that’s partly because there’s a consumer-grade gaming PC sitting in the trunk with very short cables connected to the VR headset and Smart Tracking devices.

Premium VR Headset

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BMW_Mixed Reality

Varjo is the company that makes the helmet, but Art is the company that makes the tracking bar, which tracks the movements of the driver’s head. There are countless sensors and GPS tracking, so the system knows exactly what the car is doing, where it is going and where it is, so it can keep you driving safely on one track at a time. digital and physical.

A BMW engineer told us that the mixed reality system basically uses all of the car’s “motion” data. So any movement created by the new M2 is captured and used by the MR system.

The driver sees his own real hands, the real steering wheel and the real dashboard in front of him. However, the passenger side, from behind the A-pillar, and the rear of the cabin are all digital for the driver’s VR-covered eyes. And to prevent the driver from getting motion sickness, the headset takes into account all the movements of the car, as well as the driver’s inputs, so that the driver can see what he is doing physically, otherwise he will get sick.

BMW_Mixed Reality

Unique Use Cases

What’s the point of all this? Well, for starters, it’s just cool. But there are some interesting apps for blending the digital and physical worlds behind the wheel of a car. Imagine testing a car at a dealership for the first time. If they can find an empty parking lot large enough, they can allow the driver to wear this VR headset and test drive the car on a virtual version of real race tracks, for example. It could be a way to experience real track driving, without actually being on the track.

The whole system runs off a high-end gaming PC in the trunk with an NVIDIA 3090 GPU. The headset alone is $6500 and the rest of the system is a lot more expensive, so this isn’t like you’re going to see it at your local BMW dealer anytime soon. However, it’s a fascinating, if a bit scary, piece of technology that could have some interesting applications in the future.

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