Acura will debut an augmented reality race today on Facebook live as the next iteration of the Acura TLX “What A Ride” campaign.
The automaker is calling it a first-of-its-kind AR driving event, plus a world’s first AR helmet technology. The drivers are technology influencers including Zachary Levi, Sam Gorski, Dom Esposito and Maude Garrett along with hosts NSX GT3 racecar driver Ryan Eversley and online personality Bradley Hasemeyer.
From behind the wheel of the new 2018 TLX A-Spec with SH-AWD, the four influencers will compete in the “What a Race” AR experience, challenging one another for the fastest overall time during 3-lap individual runs. Each lap will trigger a new AR course visible to the driver and the Facebook Live audience, with a unique set of visuals and obstacles that will task the Acura TLX A-Spec’s precise handling to overcome. Cameras mounted to the drivers’ helmets will bring viewers directly in on the action, and several additional cameras positioned throughout the racecourse will provide excitement from multiple perspectives of the race.
Drivers will each sport custom-built race helmets with augmented reality technology embedded in the extra-wide visor, allowing for a full-color HD 80-degree viewing experience.The foundation is a racing helmet used for general driver protection and safety, while an HD screen with mirrored lens technology has been added for an expanded field of view, along with a gyroscope to monitor head location within the car. The helmets are connected to a computer in the rear seats that provide high-performance rendering capacity.
A custom molded plastic console that houses the remaining technology used to create the AR experience. Inside the console there is a 5" full-color HD screen that is connected to a high-powered gaming system behind the driver seat.
The HD Screen projects an image down into a mirrored lens technology. This is essentially a two-way mirror system that allows for the reflection of the HD screen to appear properly and not distorted in the users field of view. An image at the top (the screen) is projected through ocular lenses that adjust the image to display stereoscopically on a one-way mirror. The driver looks through the mirror, seeing the AR world and the real world at the same time.
Each lap will trigger a new AR course visible to the driver and the Facebook Live audience, with a unique set of visuals and obstacles that will task the Acura TLX A-Spec’s precise handling to overcome. Cameras mounted to the drivers’ helmets will bring viewers directly in on the action, and several additional cameras positioned throughout the racecourse will provide excitement from multiple perspectives of the race.
Acura teamed up with AR production experts at Current Studios to concept and execute the “What A Race” experience. The team patched into the TLX’s ABS system to track the vehicle’s wheel speed and direction. To further mitigate any potential technical snafus during the race, the team custom fabricated a device attached to the under carriage of the vehicle, allowing the location of the car in the AR world to be automatically reset remotely and quickly, as needed.
The race will not be a passive viewing experience, according to the automaker. Viewers will play an active role in the race and serve as a virtual pit crew. Prompts will encourage fans to use reaction emojis throughout the race, revealing shortcuts and clearing obstacles to influence the course’s landscape and help the drivers succeed, providing an exhilarating experience for everyone involved.