Mini has released a print ad in Germany that takes advantage of augmented reality technology to give you a virtual model of the new Mini convertable. When you go to the special Mini website you can launch an applet that ties into your webcam and looks for the print ad. Hold the ad up and you get a 3D model of the car. Unfortunately, the application is Windows/IE only right now, but if you’re on a Windows machine you can print out a PDF of the ad and try it out yourself.
My friend Henry also pointed me to this article on artoolkit for the iPhone, which gives developers the ability to roll out this sort of interactive media on the handheld. It would be amazing if applied to print ads in the city, with 3D models and even video trailers for movies being overlayed. Nearby WiFi access points could be installed or leased to provide bandwidth (perhaps the AR application used could automatically connect to WiFi hotspots with certain names).
BMW recently unveiled their new GINA concept car. They’ve taken the body panels of the car, typically sheet metal, plastic, or fiberglass, and replaced them with a stretchable cloth. Beneath the cloth there are a series of structural supports that can be moved around, changing the form of the car. These days, the rigidness, safety, and ride quality of a car is mostly affected by the structure of the vehicle, while the skin is mostly aesthetic. In this video, Chris Bangle (Director of Design at BMW) talks through some of the philosophies behind the study, and explains the implications it may have for BMW as a company moving forward. We won’t see it on the road any time soon, but GINA may represent a shift in focus at BMW toward non-traditional solutions to very traditional problems.
I’ve been using the Belkin Auto Kit for my iPod for a while now. The kit offers power while also pulling line-level audio from the unit’s dock connector. I rout this audio to rear auxiliary inputs on my Pioneer DEH-P6800MP. It’s a really great setup, as I get power and audio with one plug, and it’s a direct connection so I don’t have to mess with a FM transmitter (which is pretty worthless in the city I live in).
Unfortunately, I can’t take a call with the Belkin unit plugged in. If I try to answer, sound only comes out of the phone’s speakers (not the car’s sound system) and the call is horribly distorted. This has me really wanting a product that doesn’t seem to exist.
I’d like a car audio cable that charges, pulls line-out audio from the dock connector, and also routes call audio through the car’s sound system. The unit would have a mic built into the dock connector with noise-canceling circuitry used in current hands-free car kits. Or even better would be a mic on the end of a cord that could be routed up the A pillar to be closer to the driver.
I know that there are plenty of Bluetooth systems out there, but it seems like such a cheap addition to existing wired-audio kits to add the same functionality without spending hundreds of dollars and dealing with pairing / interference issues.
If anyone knows of such a product that already exists, please point me in the right direction. Otherwise, I’d love to see Belkin update their existing Auto Kit to provide hands-free functionality for the iPhone, or for another company to step up.