Mini's Augmented Reality Goggles Let You "See Through" Your Car Door

By Tom Pritchard on at

Driving goggles aren't really a thing anymore, and unless you look like James May then chances are you look rather daft wearing them. Of course driving goggles are redundant these days, but Mini wants to bring them back with the added bonus of augmented reality.

Mini believes that AR goggles are the best way to deliver helpful information to drivers, and according to Wired they've actually done quite a good job of accomplishing that. Obviously augmented reality heads-up-displays in cars are nothing new, but this is the first time that someone has taken it away from the windscreen and put all the information in front of the driver's eyes.

The most important thing of note, unlike something like Microsoft's Hololens, Mini's goggles are not bulky and ridiculous to look at. Obviously they do look a little bit daft, but Mini claims that its customers value style and performance above all else so you can be sure it's worked hard to make the goggles as stylish and fashionable as they possibly can. That means you've got aviator-shaped polycarbonate lenses over downward-facing 720p displays. The nose bridge is adjustable for maximum comfort, and they are compatible with prescription lenses.

But what about the features? Well for starters the goggles negate the need for other screens on your dashboard, providing you with turn-by-turn directions and showing you how fast you're going. What's really interesting is that they also come with an 'x-ray vision' of sorts, which feeds you a stream of video from cameras on the car's exterior and ensures you have a better view of what's going on around your car. With a pair of these you'll have no excuse if you accidentally back over your neighbour's cat.

The goggles are still in the prototype stage right now, and Wired noted that there was a small amount of lag when the wearer moves their head. Mini claims that they could go into production in the next few months, but there doesn't seem to be any indication of how much they'll cost or whether they'll work with older Mini models.

Until then it's great to see that AR is making serious progress, and how it could help to enhance our driving experience. I'd just like to know if they can be hooked up to your phone to display notifications and call info -- though that's probably a distraction that should only be activated once you've switched the engine off. [Wired]