Cruising the Augmented City: Mercedes-Benz Presenting Prototype as World Premiere at InsideAR 2013

written by Anett Gläsel-Maslov in Miscellaneous on 26. Sep '13

augmented reality, 
Comand APS, 
Daimler AG, 
In-Vehicle Infotainment, 
Markus Hammori, 

It’s only two weeks left until we will rock the Olympiapark in Munich with this year’s InsideAR!

The widespread announcement of the Google Glass AR-demo that Metaio CEO, Dr. Thomas Alt, will showcase in his welcome keynote not enough? Still not convinced why you should come to the world’s biggest augmented reality conference?

There is something really cool that will help you to make your decision quite easy: Mercedes-Benz will be presenting a prototype as a public world premiere at this year’s InsideAR and you should come over to be part of it!

Screen Mockup (Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

Screen Mockup (Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

Comfort and Safety are two important pillars of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Augmented Reality can help strengthen both aspects when put to use inside an In-Vehicle Infotainment system; however, first some obstacles have to be overcome.  Mercedes-Benz will come to InsideAR to present a world premiere: The first fully-functional prototype of an In-Vehicle Infotainment System using augmented reality.  In his keynote Markus Hammori, Manager HMI Architecture and Instrument Cluster at Daimler AG, will explain why augmented reality and cars work great together and why in fact now is the time to implement those systems. Then the prototype vehicle used at Mercedes-Benz to verify AR use cases is introduced and Markus Hammori explains why some ideas might look great when shown in a fixed-based exhibition prototype, but fall to pieces as soon as they are tested on the road. After a short glimpse into the technology of the prototype vehicle, Markus Hammori will explain why augmented video at the moment can provide a richer experience than a AR in a head-up-display.

Markus Hammori representing Mercedes-Benz at InsideAR 2013

Hammori Markus

At Daimler Group Research and Advanced Engineering Telematics Markus and his team develop new architecture concepts for the next generation of In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). Scanning for new technologies that help to make the user interface in the car even more intuitive is part of the task – and AR definitely fits this bill. He believes strongly that Augmented Reality can help make the user interface in cars easier to understand and thus safer and more comfortable to use.

What was your main target working on this experimental trial?

Markus Hammori: In this first step of our project we wanted to build a prototype showing augmented video in the car using widely available hardware. The ultimate goal was to assess on the one hand which use cases will work and give a benefit to our customers and on the other gather information on the target architecture for implementing this technology. At the moment we are building a technology demonstrator putting to use all sensor data available to current Mercedes-Benz models.

How long did it take from the very first idea to realize the In-Vehicle Infotainment navigation system? 

Markus Hammori: At Mercedes-Benz Group Research we always monitor innovative Technologies. When it became clear in 2011 that AR could become a key innovation for In-vehicle HMI we decided to have a deeper look at it.

In 2012 our team at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America developed the “Dice” (Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience) study and showed it at CES 2012. The concept is to represent information from the environment to the driver on the windshield visually and create a network. The study gives an outlook on how telematics and infotainment systems in the car of the future might look like.

Markus Hammori: After this visionary approach we wanted to show what is possible today. We started in our department with a small team and built a straightforward prototype. Today there is even an additional team whose members work exclusively on our goal of bringing AR into the next Mercedes-Benz models. But we still have a few things to do until then. There are still some tricky obstructions such as street canyons with insufficient GPS reception or high speed maneuvers with a car, which mark big challenges to us.

What will Mercedes-Benz be showcasing at InsideAR 2013?

Markus Hammori: At InsideAR we’ll show an In-Vehicle Infotainment System featuring augmented video with use cases for drivers as well as for co-drivers. The system will give a glimpse of how AR may be integrated in future Mercedes-Benz COMAND systems.

Screen Prototype (Image Courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

Of course we are also working on use cases for head-up displays; however, for several reasons we think that at the moment augmented video is the better option. Two short reasons: First the field of view of the current and also the next generation of HUD will only allow augmenting a relatively small area when you aim for contact precise augmentation. More important however we will want to reduce the information shown on the HUD to top priority information e.g. speed, navigation and driver assistance in order to keep the distraction for the driver as low as possible. When aiming at a broader AR experience and especially for reaching the passengers we therefore need to look at the other display areas. Thanks to our split-view display we are also able to show the co-driver a different picture on the central screen than the driver. In vehicles with rear seat entertainment we thus can provide each passenger with an individual view.

On the 1st of October we’ll have a pre-pitch for a handful of journalists already, but what we’ll show at InsideAR is the first public world premiere. Mercedes-Benz is the first OEM showing this very new generation of In-Vehicle Infotainment inside a car. We’ll have our Mercedes-Benz prototype vehicle standing outside of the Kleine Olympiahalle showing our In-Vehicle Infotainment and are happy to discuss your opinion on our current project-state

Why do you think AR makes sense for In-Vehicle Infotainment?

Markus Hammori: The technology helps us tremendously to provide drivers quickly with the right information they need in a certain situation.  It is simply much faster to be presented with the name of the street you are currently looking at or the number of the house that you are just passing compared to zooming into your navigation map until you find that information.

Protoype (Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

Protoype (Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

And speed in this case means less distraction and therefore more safety and comfort.

Also we want to provide new entertainment use cases to the co-drivers. That starts with touristic information such as panorama images or geo caches. We want to offer a motivation to stop for sightseeing or just to explore new areas while driving around.

Nevertheless, the technology still needs a final touch until we can offer it in on any Mercedes-Benz vehicle. Currently, we are looking for content providers and hope to meet some potential partners at InsideAR 2013! We know from previous years that Inside AR gathers Augmented Reality experts from around the world. It is therefore the perfect place for us to show our use case prototype, and we look forward to great discussions and possibilities for cooperation.

Thank you for the opportunity to give us an insight view before InsideAR already starts! 

Register for your tickets on our InsideAR webpage!


Anett Gläsel-Maslov

Anett Gläsel-Maslov
Senior Manager PR & Social Media EMEA at Metaio in Munich. /// Anett came to Metaio with the vision to bring the fascination of Augmented Reality to everyone. As a PR Manager it could be possible - first thought, still her incentive every day. What really amazes her is the possibility of the AR technology to change lives. In an entertaining but much more in a really helpful way: The day when Augmented Reality will be an established and intelligent assistance for medical treatments and a reliable source and companion for our daily routine, will be the day when she will sit down and has to define another ‘Mission Possible’ for herself.

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