dashboard controls use augmented reality to display data.

Every day our real world is looking more like our idea of the future. Technology is increasingly changing and improving different aspects of our lives, including cars. Now, augmented reality is sparking some major innovations in the automotive industry.

As progress slows on the development of self-driving vehicles that are ready for mainstream use, augmented reality is proving to be a rich source of innovation. Automobile manufacturers are finding new ways to implement the technology and car owners are increasingly demanding aftermarket devices that utilize augmented reality features. Let’s take a closer look at what it is and how this new tech is changing the car market.

What Is Augmented Reality?

As the name implies, AR is a way of enhancing actual information. By layering data on top of a view, augmented reality provides a computer-generated perceptual experience. Information is relayed to users through superimposed sounds, images, or text. Augmented Reality has been used recently to create interactive mobile apps, wearable devices like Google Glass, and navigational equipment.

How AR Is Affecting the Automotive Industry

Just as automated systems and artificial intelligence have pushed the envelope in automotive design and engineering, augmented reality is fueling innovation in the industry. This progress can be seen in advanced navigation systems, safety features, and the process for purchasing new cars.

Advanced Navigation Systems

Starting in the 1980s the technology, which would come to be known as HUD, was developed for use by fighter pilots. Heads-up display devices provide navigation data needed to fly the airplane safely while maintaining visibility outside of the cockpit. The pilot can check the speed, altitude, and direction via the illuminated green information shown by the HUD projector within his or her line of sight through the windshield.

This technology has since been introduced to the car industry. Though very basic HUD systems were used in vehicles in the years that followed, it wasn’t until about 2010 when the technology was useful and reliable enough to be utilized by mainstream drivers. In the last 10 years, demand for HUD devices – both factory and after-market – has increased greatly. HUD systems continue to be optional in economy car models, but have become a nearly standard feature in luxury cars. In 2020, auto industry experts predict that 9% of new vehicles will be ordered with these systems.

Why do more and more drivers want this type of augmented reality in their cars? Predictably, the number one motivation is safety. Heads-up displays deliver direction, speed, and gas level directly into the driver’s line of vision. This allows the driver to understand this information without having to look down at dashboard controls, a dash screen, or at a mobile phone. Augmented reality makes it possible for a driver to follow a map directions projected on (or near) the windshield without needing to worry about distances or orientation. Essentially, it helps keep the driver’s eyes on the road.

Watch this video to see what its like to be behind the wheel of a car equipped with an advanced augmented reality display. It shows how further development will result in systems that display turn-by-turn directions, detect pedestrians and cyclists, and prevent accidents.

HUDs can also alert drivers to hazards on the street and dangerous conditions. Land-guidance information can even help drivers navigate when the weather is bad and visibility is poor. Some truck and SUV models are equipped with cameras that can be viewed over the dash, using the HUD, to help navigate while pulling a trailer.

Automotive engineers aren’t stopping there, though. They are currently working to develop 3D HUD technology which could provide a deeper field of vision and decrease driver distractions. Eye-tracking technology is currently being tested to improve the function of augmented reality safety features. In the future, we also expect to see HUD devices that integrate with automatic braking systems, collision avoidance systems (CAS), and other driver assistance features.

Find out which new car models come with a heads-up display.

Enhanced Safety Features

Advanced safety systems that benefit from augmented reality are already available for today’s motorist. There are mobile apps that assist car owners in diagnosing a problem with their vehicle. AR data is layered over the visual field providing targeted information that would otherwise be buried in the owner’s manual.

The Hyundai Virtual Guide is one example that can help you do maintenance jobs, like changing the oil on your car. The innovative I-Mechanic app utilizes computer vision 3D-tracking software to provide car owners with specific instructions on how to do routine mechanic work on their vehicle.

More Informed Car Buying Process

Shopping online or flipping through a catalog will never be the same as visiting the showroom. Now, even the showroom experience can be more immersive and informational. Salespeople are beginning to use AR applications to show customers options and new features available on any car model they are considering. Augmented reality shows the customer how they work and offers a fully guided tour from the drivers’ seat. A buyer can see how the engine works and check out the safety features using an app.

The Future of Technology in the Automotive Industry

As we look forward to a new year, we are also looking towards the horizon of car making innovation. Scientists and engineers are continuing to develop autonomous cars and transportation vehicles, ensuring they are safe and ready to share the road with other vehicles. As motorists demand cars that are increasingly secure, we imagine that self-driving and augmented reality systems will soon be available on all new cars sold.

Get more information here: New Car Technology on the Horizon to Decrease Collisions and Amazing Apps for Drivers.


At Badell’s, we want to help our clients avoid car crashes, but when accidents strike, we are ready to repair your car properly and get it back to you in a timely manner. Contact our body shops in Aston and Malvern, Pennsylvania or use our easy online estimate form.

The entire staff at Badell’s Collision wishes you a safe and happy new year!

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