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Audi puts VR in the backseat

How the car moves dictates how the game unfolds.
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The passenger seat of the car has gotten a bit more entertaining thanks to smartphones, tablets and video screens. But companies still think we can do more in our cars especially with autonomous vehicles right around the corner. Audi's been very bullish with coming up with ways to maximize our time in cars. "Content is a major driving force of the mobility of the future," said Audi's head of digital business Nils Wollny. So their latest venture is important. But it's also really fun.

Audi teamed up with Holoride (which it owns a minority stake in) to take advantage of the automaker's 10-year relationship with Marvel to create an immersive VR experience. But it's more than just hopping into a virtual environment while sitting in a car. The experience uses data from the car to inform the game -- much like Renault's crazy Symbioz concept.

The Rocket Rescue Run game they created has you flying through the cosmos saving Iron Man from an attack by Thanos in the far reaches of space with everyone's favorite talking raccoon. During the demo in an Audi E-Tron at the Las Vegas Speedway, the spaceship I virtually sat in reacted to the acceleration and cornering of the electrified SUV.

The E-Tron speeds up and so does the spaceship. If the SUV takes a hard left, so does my craft. My job is to shoot down enemy ships and eventually take down Thanos' mothercraft. I'm pretty sure the game is not canon, but it is fun. It's like a Disneyland ride but without the long wait.

Audi / Holoride VR

More importantly, it's not nauseating. Holoride made sure that the latency was so low that it wouldn't trigger vomiting in players. If you're sitting in the back of an EV doing 90 miles per hour and hitting sharp corners, the last thing you want is barf ruining the ride.

This is an early demo of the system and there are a lot of things that have to happen between now and three years from now when Holoride wants to put this on the market. For example, right now computer-connected Oculus headsets were used in the demo. In the future, they'll have to figure out a way to plug directly into the car's data.

Holoride will build an open platform that anyone for developers and won't be exclusive to Audi. Not only will it work with other automakers but it'll compensate them for access to their vehicle data.

"Basically, with Holoride every street pattern turns into a canvas for virtual worlds," said Wollny. While I'm not a huge fan of VR, if this does come to market, I might be sitting in the back seat enjoying some virtual worlds instead of scrolling through Twitter.

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