Jaguar develops virtual windscreen

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The future of motoring is looking more and more like a computer game. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at this virtual windscreen concept from Jaguar Land Rover.

Only a day after it told the world it was developing a self-learning car that taps into your smartphone’s diary to remind you of meetings, and phone calls, etc, Jaguar Land Rover has announced it’s working on offering drivers an “enhanced ‘virtual’ view of the road” via a windscreen that doubles as a display. Huh?

Called the ‘Jaguar Virtual Windscreen’ concept it turns the vehicle’s windscreen into a head-up display so that a driver’s eyes never need to leave the road. “High-quality hazard, speed and navigation icons could all be projected onto the screen together,” Jaguar Land Rover said in a press release.

According to one of Jaguar Land Rover’s head boffins, Dr Wolfgang Epple (aka director of Research and Technology): “We are working on research projects that will give the driver better information to enhance the driving experience. By presenting the highest quality imagery possible, a driver need only look at a display once.

“Showing virtual images that allow the driver to accurately judge speed and distance will enable better decision-making and offer real benefits for every-day driving on the road, or the track.”

And it gets a whole lot better. See, the brand, once known for it’s luxurious off-roaders, is also building a gesture-oriented computer system. Based on E-Field Sensing (their words, not mine) it’s a lot more accurate than a smartphone’s screen.

“A smartphone today detects the proximity of a user’s finger from 5mm. The Jaguar Land Rover system increases the range of the sensing field to around 15cm which means the system can be used to accurately track a user’s hand and any gestures it makes inside the car.

“Gesture control has already become an accepted form of controlling anything from TV sets to games consoles. The next logical step is to control selected in-car features. We have identified which functions still need to be controlled by physical buttons and which could be controlled by gesture and carefully calibrated motion sensors,” said Dr Epple.

“The system is currently being tested on a number of features including sunblinds, rear wipers and satellite navigation maps. It has the potential to be on-sale within the next few years.”

If I’m honest, this sure sounds like a whole lot of fun, but I’m not sure just how distraction-free driving around in a car with pictures on the windscreen will be… and imagine having to wave your hand around inside the cabin just to turn on the windscreen wipers. I mean, c’mon, is it really that hard, or distracting to just use the stalk on the steering column to turn on the wipers? See you in the comments.

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