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Could Mini's AR concept break the Google Glass stigma?

Even though Google's augmented reality project Glass kind of failed, the general idea of augmented reality devices didn't die.

In fact, it's alive and kicking, and I was fairly surprised to hear that the carmaker Mini also has its fingers dipped firmly into the AR world. Now that I think of it, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised, as augmented reality and driving fast vehicles should, in theory, go hand in hand.

Verge's Nathan Ingraham recently got a chance to try the Mini Augmented Vision system at the company’s downtown San Francisco dealership, and even though he was impressed with the technology, he feels we’re still not there yet.

Of course, the technology is a prototype built for research and not something they’ll be shipping to consumers any time soon, but they did make it clear an updated version could be available at some point in the future.

The prototype consists of a pair of glasses, equipped with twin 720p displays (one for each eye), a Snapdragon 805 processor, networking gear and a camera, all contained inside the headset.

The AR demonstration included three phases: “While the goggles are primarily designed as driving tools, Mini demonstrated them as something you can wear on all legs of a journey — getting to your car, actually driving to a destination, and then the "final leg" of walking to where you’re going,” he says.

The graphics were sufficient, and the user interface was simple and effective.

The glasses display points of interest as you drive past buildings and can customise this to show you petrol stations, or any other particular thing that you may be looking for. This is all done without obscuring your vision, or overwhelming you with data.

“Ultimately, this isn’t a system I could see myself using in its current incarnation. There’s the social stigma left in the wake of Google Glass, and the value proposition simply isn’t that strong yet — not to mention the concerns I have about augmented reality graphics interfering with my driving focus,” he says, adding that for now, he’s happy just to look at his speedometer the old-fashioned way.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.