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Audi e-tron Transformed Into Rolling Virtual-Reality Game


Road trips are about to get a lot more fun, even from the back seat.

"Are we there yet?” Anyone who's ever taken a road trip with kids in the back seat has heard (or as a kid in the back seat has asked) that question ad nauseam. And automakers have toiled endlessly to answer it with increasingly captivating in-car entertainment features. But Audi's in the process of taking it to the next level.

At CES this week, the German automaker revealed a new virtual-reality system, co-developed with its latest venture, that aims to turn its vehicles into fully immersive video-game platforms. And the possibilities look endless.

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Through its subsidiary Audi Electronics GmbH, the automaker has co-founded, invested in, and partnered with Holoride GmbH to develop the trick tech demo'd in the video above.

Far beyond simply installing an Oculus Rift or similar VR headset in the back seat of the vehicle (an e-tron electric crossover in this case), the idea here is to work with the vehicle's movement to augment the experience. The vehicle turns, for example, and the user sees and feels like they're moving around a spaceship (like the one in the upcoming Avengers movie Rocket's Rescue Run.) The vehicle stops, and a quick quiz pops up in front of them.

Use your imagination and you can easily see a bottomless pool of possibilities for future applications – both entertaining and educational. And it won't be limited to Audis or even other products from the Volkswagen Group, either. Ingolstadt wants to open up the system's development and license it to any automaker that's interested.

"Creative minds will use our platform to come up with fascinating worlds that turn the journey from A to B into a real adventure,” said Holoride's future CEO and Audi's digital-business chief Nils Wollny. "We can only develop this new entertainment segment by adopting a cooperative, open approach for vehicle, device and content producers.”