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World-first mixed-reality application for car development is created by Volvo and Varjo

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Volvo Cars and Finnish maker of high-end augmented-reality headsets, Varjo, have created the world’s first mixed-reality approach to evaluating prototypes, designs and active safety technologies in the automotive field.

The two companies have made it possible to drive a car whilst wearing a mixed-reality headset, seamlessly adding virtual elements or complete features that seem real to both the driver and the car’s sensors, for development purposes.  

The Varjo XR-1 headset provides photo-realistic mixed or virtual reality at a high-definition resolution.  

“With this mixed-reality approach, we can start evaluating designs and technologies while they are literally still on the drawing board,” said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. “Instead of the usual static way of evaluating new products and ideas, we can test concepts on the road immediately. This approach offers considerable potential cost savings by identifying priorities and clearing bottlenecks much earlier in the design and development process.”

The XR-1 also allows Volvo’s engineers to develop and evaluate active safety solutions much easier. Safety experts are able to drive real cars while wearing the XR-1 headset at Volvo’s research facilities in Sweden, testing virtual active safety systems imposed via augmented reality on the real-life environment.

Highly accurate eye-tracking technology embedded inside the XR-1 makes it easy to assess how drivers use a new functionality and whether they are distracted in any way. This technology-based approach to measuring distraction levels ensures that Volvo Cars can develop new features without causing additional distraction.

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