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Augmented reality might be a word you’re much more familiar with when you’re ready to shop for a new car, but in case the idea is completely foreign, here’s what it means and why.
Audi is taking the chance at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off the new bells and whistles added to the 2013 A3. While a lot of the new stuff is boring, there are some gems to be found that prove Audi is taking the same steps as Mercedes-Benz to keep the tech crowd happy.
For starters, the new A3 has something called a phone box. What makes it so cool is how it works: just drop your smart phone into what would otherwise just look like part of the center console and voila, you’re done. Putting your phone into the cellular Shangri La, instantly imbues it with a much larger antenna, thanks to Audi using a flat planar antenna to connect the phone with the car’s external antenna. Still sort of ho-hum, we know. The company is working on introducing wireless device charging to the phone box, but it’s not ready yet.
It’s alright if you weren’t impressed by that, this next thing will wow you. Audi tinkered with their heads-up display system to tweak out some new features that we have to admit are pretty sweet. Previous HUDs, not exclusive to Audi, would show you relevant information like your speed, gas level etc., but that wasn’t enough. The egg heads managed to outdo themselves this time by marrying the navigation system with the HUD to create an experience where things appear at seemingly different distances. Translation: there will be turn arrows telling you where to go, just like a video game. Best of all, those arrows are going to look like they’re actually sitting on the upcoming turn.
The same system can also alert drivers to pedestrians stepping into the street, how far they are from the vehicle and even the direction the potential manslaughter victim is travelling in relation to the car. Still not impressed? There’s more: in hilly terrain an arrow will tell you which direction the road travels outside your field of vision. Best of all, Audi is already trying to one-up themselves. They say future versions of the technology will allow the driver to toggle between private HUD viewing, or sharing it with the passengers, selectable by seat.
Other new features include a super-thin pop-up infotainment screen, an Nvidia chip to improve the graphical interface and a new “touch wheel” similar to present day laptop controls to control it all. The air conditioning controls are also better, but who cares? There’s way cooler stuff to play with.