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Your controller is the car.
BMW aims to educate the public about the role of mixed reality (MR) technology in regard to the future of passenger economy and entertainment. That said, this isn’t some boring classroom type of education or your average MR gaming experience using a handheld controller.
Your controller is BMW’s all-new high-performance $86,000 M4 Competition Coupé. Yes, an actual car. And get ready to rock, because you’ll have to put the pedal to the metal and speed around on an actual racetrack while wearing a mixed reality headset.
Although it might seem risque to be driving a car while wearing an immersive device, the experience isn’t designed for ordinary streets. It was created for use on the company’s M test track. The software used for the project can adapt and recreate the locations in various cities around the world.
Don’t worry, the car has a variety of safety features that are designed to help prevent an accident. This includes the use of computer vision and mapping technology. In addition, a BMW employee can also ride in the passenger seat to monitor the road and press the brake pedal whenever needed.
One person who was very excited at the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the M4 was Elias Hountondji, a driver for the Red Bull Driftbrothers team. Hountondji talked about the experience, saying, “It was an absolutely unique experience for me: driving a real, physical BMW M4 in a virtual completely different environment – and that crosswise and dynamically.”
The immersive experience that BMW created using VR allows drivers to feel the vehicle’s various features and interact with its surroundings in real-time. It’s unlike anything that’s been done before, according to Hountondji.
BMW started working on a mixed-reality project over two years ago. Initially, the project was supposed to be used on the M5 model, but it was eventually developed for the M2 in 2022. The bigwigs at BMW saw the potential of their M mixed reality experience and noted that the project could be utilized to help drivers in training courses and competitions.
As the M project developed, BMW wanted a more immersive and interactive experience for drivers. In 2022, the company reached out to various prominent gamers and video game personalities to help uncover what those experiences were and invited them to Munich to check out their M test track.
One of them was Cailee, a well-known Twitch streamer and a prominent member of G2 Esports who was lucky enough to be one of the early testers of the M project. According to Cailee, “It’s just the most insane experience I’ve ever, ever had. I play Rocket League, I’ve sunk so many hours into it and everything, but I really cannot describe the experience that I had in Munich.”
The demo course featured various obstacles that participants had to avoid. To add more gamification to the experience, drivers were required to collect coins along the way. During the second and third laps, timed elements demanded that the drivers accelerate, which gave them a racing feel. The suspension of reality provided drivers with a more comfortable driving experience.
Sounds pretty sick, right? Well, that same experience is now available for you! BMW has decided to create a first-of-its-kind experience for its customers. If you have the need for speed in your blood, you can use this link to pre-register for a test drive slot.
Feature Image Credit: BMW