BMW’s appearance at the Lisbon Web Summit last week (1st-4th November 2022) saw the Bavarian car giant unveil a unique driving experience for selected guests and influencers.
Using its proprietary ///M Mixed Reality technology, BMW combined driving and virtual reality to create a gaming experience where the car was the controller.
BMW hooked up some of its high-performance M2s with an Unreal Engine-powered videogame plus VR headsets. The aim of the game was to collect coins and negotiate barriers, setting as fast a time as possible on a fully virtual track. Thankfully, in reality, the circuit was a spacious, obstacle-free car park.
Drivers saw portions of both real and virtual worlds while in the car, with the steering wheel and hand controls visible at all times. Naturally, drivers could feel all the G-forces of driving a real car, with an accurate field of view ensuring a visual sensation of speed.
“Anyone who asks what virtual experiences in the automotive sector might look like in future: That is the answer. People must be able to experience this new feeling — and with ///M Mixed Reality, we offer them a suitable solution for this,” said Frank van Meel, CEO BMW M GmbH.
This isn’t the first time BMW has used virtual reality, however, as one its Chinese manufacturing plants – codenamed iFactory Lydia – was entirely designed and simulated in VR ahead of construction.
Although the track used at the Lisbon Web Summit was relatively short and featureless, BMW’s ///M Mixed Reality technology makes us imagine its future applications. Could BMW dealerships enable customer test drives without the vehicle leaving the showroom, for example?
Or could you drive around a mixed-reality interpretation of Monte Carlo, while actually being in Hull?
We’d love to see it… Over to you, BMW.
What do you think of BMW’s ///M Mixed Reality experience showcased at the Lisbon Web Summit? Let us know in the comments below.