One of the more popular YouTube channels recently pulled a little trick on its viewers.
“Why Everywhere in the US is Starting to Look the Same,” opened with scenes of ordinary shots of an interstate exchange around Fredricksburg, Virginia. The streetscape is nothing but fast-food restaurants, mid-market hotels, and big-box stores.
But then came the big reveal: these scenes aren't from Fredricksburg, Virginia. In fact, each one of the short clips — and they really do look like they're from the exact same places — are from different cities across the country, from Maine to Tennessee to Texas to California.
The sameness! It's uncanny — and a little disturbing.
The video seriously resonated with viewers, garnering nearly two million views in just a few weeks post-release.
So the verdict's in: boring roads don't have to make for boring rides. A new VR technology promises to completely revolutionize what it means to be a passenger.
Car rides can be more fun
Wendover isn’t the first to clock that the view out a car window can be, well, underwhelming. In the early 2000s, the best my parents could do to remedy the monotony (and make the miles pass quietly) involved a power inverter, a chunky little TV, and a stack of VHS tapes from Blockbuster.
In case you missed it, Blockbuster was the go-to video and gaming rental store, several "vibe shifts" ago — 20 years, to be precise. Now, there's a new product that uses data from your vehicle's onboard computers and VR technology to put passengers into a four-dimensional immersive wonderland that reacts instantly to the movement of the car.
It's called holoride, and it makes the open road a lot more fun.
holoride is a new kind of VR
The platform, which works with pretty much any VR headset, turns the back seat into the kind of immersive experience that was only available at a theme part just a couple of years ago.
It's a feat of technology and collaboration. The platform leverages its fat stack of patents to make use of all kinds of information about the drive, including speed, location, navigation settings, and information about turns and stops. Thanks to partnerships with automakers Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford, the platform gets that information directly from the vehicle itself. No more relying on accelerometers!
Holoride has also partnered with an iconic suite of content creators, including Discovery, Disney, Universal Studios, and thousands of independent developers. Like most VR platforms, holoride's main use case is gaming.
And the reason for a focus on gaming lies in holoride's immersive capabilities. For example, imagine you're in a VR game using a huge cannon to launch projectiles at far-off balloons, kind of like Bubble Shooter if it came out in the 2020s. With holoride, the car's movement brings you deep into the gameplay by adding an extra level of difficulty — when the car turns a few degrees, so does the cannon.
(Another cutting-edge feature is holoride's low latency, without which many VR platforms have been associated with a lot of nausea.)
Elastic content changes the game — literally
And it gets even cooler. The game isn't only taking in real-time data from the car and the headset. Input from the navigation system enables holoride to "know" roughly how much longer you'll continue playing — so it can build games to last exactly the right amount of time. They can even build the game to anticipate upcoming turns.
Passing the impossibly long drive to Florida by watching Spy Kids (2001) on a 13-inch screen was definitely a vibe, but it didn't take me to another world. But that's exactly what holoride promises to do.
This article was brought to you by Audi.