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Augmented reality hits the road

Jaguar Virtual Windscreen

(Jaguar Cars)

Jaguar is developing a ‘virtual windscreen concept'. In short, it is an excellent thing that allows you to pretend you are actually in Gran Turismo.

Sure, Jaguar highlights the practical, road-going aspects of this ‘virtual windscreen': high quality virtual imagery displaying hazard, speed and navigation icons onto the screen so you never have to take your eyes off the road.

But, "for performance drivers" on a race circuit, the benefits include virtual racing lines and brake guidance projected onto the windscreen, ‘ghost car' racing - where your previous lap is ‘ghosted' so you can better your times - and virtual cones for driver training

"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," explains Dr Wolfgang Epple, research and technology director at Jaguar.

Not only is Jag working on a videogame windscreen, but also a gesture control system so the driver need never again reach for a pesky button. It uses something called ‘e-field' sensing, based on ‘capacitive discharge touch screens'; it can detect the proximity of a user's hand up to around 15cm (a smartphone recognizes a user's finger from 5mm away), meaning it can track gestures. Just be careful what you gesture.

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

Then there's the tech that will soon replace rear view and external mirrors with virtual displays and cameras using a 3D instrument cluster for better depth perception.

Sounds exciting, no? Just remember though, the virtual windscreen isn't actually a videogame, and so crashing into a barrier and using other cars to slow yourself down on a track isn't advisable.

This story originally appeared on TopGear.com. 

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