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Mini Is Making Augmented Reality Glasses For Driving

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Google Glass may be shelved for the foreseeable future, but British Motor Corp., maker of the Mini, is producing some futuristic glasses of its own.

Unfortunately for the BMW subsidiary, the glasses look every bit as ugly as Google's specs.

Mini will unveil its augmented vision glasses at the Shanghai Auto Show later in April. The glasses project a host of relevant information into the driver's field of vision, allowing him to keep his eyes on the road.

According to Mini, the glasses will offer a long list of functions from navigation instructions to X-ray viewing. Firstly there's a head-up display, which will project dashboard data like speed and fuel consumption as well as SMS messages into the driver's view. The navigation function will work much like Google Maps but will also project directional arrows onto the road in front of the driver to reduce confusion.

The glasses include an augmented parking aid, which projects the images from a camera housed in the driver's far side mirror into the eyewear to help the driver judge the distance accurately.

Probably the most interesting feature, however, is the X-ray view. The glasses will improve a driver's view by displaying a virtual view through parts of the vehicle (such as A-pillars and doors) so he can see areas of the road or objects that would otherwise have been obstructed by the internals of the car.

"Mini Augmented Vision gives an insight into how intelligent connectivity between a Mini car and eyewear into which relevant content is projected might work in the future," said Dr. Jörg Preißinger, the project manager of Mini Augmented Vision, at BMW research and technology.

Mini is calling the device a prototype so there are no details of when or if the technology would be available to the general public. The design of the goggles themselves, which admittedly look a bit clunky, was done by BMW's Designworks design house. Mini says the system was developed with "several Qualcomm companies" to create an interlinked system.

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