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After years of effort, Holoride its turning cars into mobile theme parks by putting virtual reality into Audi cars.
I tried it out at our GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 event, where Holoride CEO Nils Wollny spoke on a panel about the crazy ideas of the future. Once such crazy idea is Holoride. I used an HTC Vive Flow virtual reality headset in the backseat of a car as his people explained it to me.
“It has been almost seven years, but three years as a separate company. We’re really focused on commercializing this,” Wollny said.
I played a game dubbed Cloudbreakers: Leaving Haven. I donned the headset and use a typical game controller to maneuver through the space and fire a weapon at some colorful flying enemies. You can also watch a movie by syncing the headset to your smartphone, viewing the equivalent of an 180-inch screen.
Cloudbreaker: Leaving Haven tells the story of Dev and his android friend Skyjack as they fight to survive in the year 2119, on an Earth ravaged by the changing climate and a marauding artificial intelligence from beyond the stars. I had to peek from under the headset to make sure my fingers were on the right buttons. I also had to do a quick color calibration to get started.
The cool thing was that the game leveraged real-time motion data from the vehicle combined with dynamic content. As the car turned, the image I saw before me also turned on the VR screen. That enabled me to feel at one with the motion of the car, and I didn’t get carsick. Wollny thinks of this as “extended reality.”
I had infinite ammo as I fired at these flying aliens. It was a short 15 minutes but I also got to start watching a streaming video movie, and it worked fine. The other people in the car could hear it as I didn’t have an audio headset on. But you can use Bluetooth headsets.
Munich, Germany-based Holoride worked on this tech for a while, and it had to integrate with the motion data in the Audi vehicle in order to get this to work, Wollny said. The platform is releasing in mid-November in Germany with select Audi vehicles. I recommend you don’t wear the headset while driving.
Wollny thinks of the games and apps as a new media paradigm, dubbed “elastic content.” Combining the immersive qualities of virtual reality with real-time vehicle data, Holoride is an always-in-motion virtual space, or Motorverse, where riders can enjoy interactive and passive content that reacts to both them and the motion of the car, Wollny said.
“Despite amazing advances in automotive technology over the last few decades, passenger experience and in-car entertainment has remained largely the same,” said Wollny. “With the introduction of Holoride, we are not only elevating that stale experience; we are redefining how you spend your time on the go. I couldn’t be more excited for riders to finally enjoy the thrills of the Motorverse for themselves.”
The integration of Holoride into Audi select series vehicles is a continuation of Holoride’s shared history with the German premium auto manufacturer, as Holoride spun out of Audi. Since 2019, both Audi and
Holoride have showcased their ongoing partnership on different occasions, including CES 2019, IAA Mobility 2021, and SXSW 2022, where Holoride’s vehicle integration with Audi was officially announced.
“By integrating Holoride in our models, we’re redefining in-car entertainment,” said Giorgio Delucchi, head of digital experience and business at Audi, in a statement. “Through combining real-time vehicle
data and virtual content, we’re creating an entirely new customer experience. A crucial cornerstone of the vehicle’s digitalization is developing the interior into a third living space. In this very personal space, living and working coalesce. Holoride is another proof point in our roadmap.”
At launch, Holoride users will be able to dive into Cloudbreakers: Leaving Haven from Schell Games, the studio that brought Among Us to VR. It was produced in partnership with Superconductor, the creative agency founded by Hollywood talents Justin Lin (Fast & Furious franchise) and Anthony and Joe Russo (Marvel Cinematic Universe). The Russo Brothers also served as creative advisors to Holoride.
Brent Friedman and Jeremy Breslau, the two veteran writers of blockbuster film, TV, and game franchises wrote the Cloudbreakers’ unique universe and story. Leveraging Holoride’s elastic content, players guide Dev, his scavenger robot Skyjack, and I.O.N.E. through the hostile skies of Stratus, gathering scrap and blasting A.I. sentries as they simultaneously travel to their real-world destination.
In addition to bringing new thrills to passengers’ rides, Holoride can also create a more comfortable experience for users. Instances of motion sickness are substantially reduced thanks to the technology’s use of steering, braking, and acceleration data to match what riders see in the headset with what they feel outside the Motorverse, and with almost no latency, the company said.
Holoride launches with the Pioneers’ Pack, containing everything needed to jump into this exciting new platform (minus the car), and priced at $690 (EUR 699). The package is available in Germany at shop.holoride.com starting today.
Sadly, the Audi car is extra. The Pioneers’ Pack includes:
- HTC VIVE Flow: lightweight and easy-to-wear VR glasses that supports Holoride’s entertainment service
- 8BitDo Pro 2 Gamepad: offers a familiar user experience in a classic controller design
- Safety strap: connected to the seatbelt, the strap provides safety during unexpected events while driving
- A one-year subscription to the Holoride platform
After the first year, Holoride subscriptions will be available for a monthly fee of $19.74 (EUR 19.99 per
month) or yearly upfront payment. Both options unlock access to an growing content catalog.
Additionally, the Holoride browser and a powerful phone mirroring feature bring your online life to a 180-inch virtual screen. Embedded into a motion-synced environment, it allows riders to stream their favorite shows and stay connected via their social apps.
Founded in 2018, Holoride’s founders include Wollny, Marcus Kuehne, Daniel Profendiner and Audi. Wollny thinks of Holoride as a step forward into the metaverse, or the Motorverse as users take the power and potential of an immersive web3 experience with them on the road.
At the center of it all is RIDE, Holoride’s own cryptocurrency, which was conceived to supercharge the content ecosystem, drive engagement, and create value for all users. The RIDE token connects car manufacturers, content creators, brands, and passengers for a novel in-vehicle economy.
The company expects to launch in the U.S. and additional markets in Europe and Asia starting in early 2023.
Another game coming is Dynablaster, a classic bomber game that was a blockbuster of early PC gaming on machines like the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga is back with a new 3D look. More titles are coming.
“We make it as convenient as possible to enter the Motorverse,” Wollny said.
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