BMW’s New Augmented Reality Tech is Nice, But There’s a Catch

Published on January 8, 2024 in CES by Guillaume Rivard

BMW didn’t come to CES 2024 in Las Vegas this week to show a new vehicle, but the company is announcing a handful of technologies designed to make life easier and more pleasant for drivers and their passengers.

Some of them will be available in select models and markets only, such as the ability to play video games or watch TV on the centre display. There’s also a remote-controlled valet parking pilot and a BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant made smarter with the help of Amazon Alexa’s Large Language Model capabilities.

Also featured at CES is an augmented reality (AR) technology that aims to enrich the driving experience both for the driver and the front passenger. However, unlike a standard head-up display or a screen-based system, this one requires you to wear XREAL Air 2 augmented reality glasses.

Connected to the car’s infotainment system, the glasses make it possible to see navigation instructions, hazard alerts, information on points of interest and, depending on where you sit, entertainment content. For example, it can warn you about a low battery charge and highlight a nearby public charger.

Photo: BMW

Despite the failed experiment that was Google Glass (terminated in 2023), BMW believes that AR and mixed reality (MR) devices will steadily gain in popularity in the coming years as a supplement to the displays installed in cars. They might very well, but we’re still concerned about the driving distractions they can create (obviously not for the front passenger).

The German automaker says it’s open to collaborating with other partners to achieve the goal of creating an industry standard for the integration and use of AR/MR devices in vehicles. That would certainly be a good thing.

In the meantime, and because you probably won’t be physically attending CES in Las Vegas this week to check out the aforementioned glasses, you can turn to the all-new BMW 5 Series and i5 to experience their AR-backed navigation feature. Also, don't miss the following review of the all-electric i7, which is loaded with tech and gadgets including the BMW Theater Screen.

Watch: 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 Review

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