The problem with most virtual reality experiences is that there’s a disconnect between the action you see on the screen and your movement (or more likely, stasis) in the real world. Omni-directional treadmills like the Inifnadeck and immersive experiences like The Void successfully map what you see to how you move, but until now there hasn’t been a universally accessible approach to stitching a visual virtual world to a kinetic, physical one. holoride, the just announced start-up backed by Audi, is developing a platform to allow VR content creators to build experiences for passengers that are reactive to the movement of a car. Any car. Ahead of its formal announcement here at CES, we got a sneak peek of the technology last night—hurtling through space on a mini-mission with Guardians of the Galaxy’s Rocket (the raccoon) and the Avengers’ Iron Man while actually in the back seat of an e-tron on a race track. It was delightful, thrilling and shockingly seamless.
Created in partnership with Marvel Studios and Disney Games and Interactive Experiences, “Marvel’s Avengers: Rocket’s Rescue Run” was a five minute prototype where you simply fly through space and shoot at asteroids, but doing so with the e-tron as your spaceship. The demo ran on a closed course with a professional driver and each acceleration, turn, stop and go was rendered perfectly in an Occulus headset. The seamless connection between what you’re seeing and hearing in the headset and feeling from the motion of the car made for a truly immersive experience. Given holoride’s integration with the car’s performance data and navigation system, the content potential for this platform is limitless and goes way beyond gaming. Imagine driving through a city and seeing it 50 years in the past or watching a non-linear mystery film where segments are revealed based on the locations you’re driven to.
Four years in the making thus far, holoride predicts their SDK will be ready for content creators in about a year and commercial availability by 2022. The project started internally among a few Audi engineers but has spun off as a separate company with Audi as a minority share holder in order to make it as appealing as possible to content partners, headset manufacturers and other automotive brands. The platform will be open and agnostic from both headset makers and auto manufacturers. Consumers will buy content from the content creators who will pay a fee to be on the holoride platform and, in turn, holoride will pay the vehicle manufacturers to access the real-time driving dynamic and navigation data.