Virtual windscreen

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Virtual windscreen could be next for grey nomads
Will the future ‘Big Lap’ tell us how fast we did the last one?

Driving around Australia in a big rig can be a challenging experience and, with cam­els, cattle and road trains to contend with, you don’t want to take your eyes off the road. Well, thanks to an invention from Jaguar, there’ll be no need to … even for a for a split second.

The British car maker is de­veloping a ‘virtual windscreen concept’ that will display high quality virtual hazard, speed and navigation icons on the screen so you don’t have to look down at the dashboard as you drive.

For professionals on a race circuit, the benefits will in­clude virtual racing lines and brake guidance projected onto the windscreen, ‘ghost car’ racing – where your previous lap is ‘ghosted’ so they can better your times – and virtual cones for driver training. However, for the average Big Lap motorist, there are also clear benefits for having all the relevant information at ‘eyeline’.

“Showing virtual images that allow the driver to accurately judge speed and distance will enable better decision-making and offer real benefits for everyday driving on the road or the track,” Dr Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar research and technology director told the Top Gear TV show.

Jaguar’s concept also extends to replacing rear view and external mirrors with cameras and virtual displays. This system would incorpo­rate a 3D instrument cluster for better depth perception of­fering drivers a clearer picture of their surroundings.

The final piece of Jaguar’s futuristic vision is for motor­ists to have access to gesture-based controls instead of having to search for buttons on the dash.

Apparently, the ‘e-field’ sens­ing can detect the proximity of a user’s hand up to around 15cm and thus track their gestures.

As a point of comparison, a smartphone recognises a user’s finger from 5mm away. The idea is that drivers will be able to simply wave at the gesture-sensor to operate particular functions such as maybe sunblinds, rear windscreen wipers, or maps.

“Gesture control has become an accepted form of control­ling anything from TV sets to games consoles,” explains Jaguar’s Dr Epple. “The system is currently being tested on a number of features including sunblinds, rear wipers and sat nav maps.” Apparently, the technology has the potential to be on sale within the next few years.

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