How is real-time 3D rendering accelerating the innovation of digital cockpits?

An illustration of different user interfaces, used for 'How is real-time 3D rendering accelerating the innovation of digital cockpits?' blog

Automotive dashboard development has come a long way in recent years. Since the 1990s, we’ve moved from simple Driver Information Centers, to In-Vehicle Infotainment systems, to connected cockpits that integrate with multiple technologies simultaneously.

Thanks to innovations like real-time 3D rendering, every automotive concept on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020 was built around a fully digital dashboard. Car manufacturers are now providing a richer visual experience to drivers and personalizing how this data is presented. They’re implementing things like head-up displays, real-time augmented reality and using data visualization to make drivers more aware when facing hazards on the road.

Here’s how real-time 3D rendering fits into the innovation of digital cockpits and what trends we can expect to see in the near future.

1. Providing a holistic driving experience with real-time 3D rendering

As the saying goes, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.

Real-time 3D rendering allows drivers to understand and interpret multiple streams of data simultaneously, which makes for safer, more informed choices at the wheel.

Automakers like Audi are taking this concept further than most other car makers. In newer Audi models, for example, the multimedia interface stitches together front, rear and side-angle cameras creating a simulated 360-degree view of not only the vehicle, but a wide space around the vehicle, too. This data is then presented to the driver on a display, who can then customize what they see.

1. Providing a holistic driving experience with real-time 3D renderingSource: Audi Media Center

It is because of real-time 3D rendering that this is even possible. Prior to this, drivers were faced with multiple blind spots during tricky parking maneuvers and received separate information on instrument clusters that didn’t talk to one another. With real-time 3D image rendering, however, images displayed from multiple camera angles can be presented to the driver on a single interface.

It’s not just parking maneuvers where this might be useful, either. Whenever a driver needs to establish a holistic view around their vehicle (for example, when changing lanes on a motorway), real-time 3D image rendering will help, and it will make for a safer, more informed driving experience.

2. Augmenting reality and blending experiences with 3D rendering

2. Augmenting reality and blending experiences with 3D renderingSource:

While head-up displays (HUDs) have been standard in aircraft for a long time, they are just now becoming commonplace in the automotive industry, and experts in this sector are innovating.

In August 2019, Jaguar Land Rover announced that they’re working on a three-dimensional head-up display system that will project information onto the real world. As explained by Valerian Meijering, human-machine interface and head-up display researcher for Jaguar Land Rover, in Car Magazine:

‘Not only does it [HUD] provide a much richer experience for customers, but it also forms part of our Destination Zero roadmap; helping us to move towards a safer, more intuitive and smarter future, for everybody.’

HUDs are undoubtedly changing the driving experience altogether. By augmenting the reality of the road with visualized data and presenting this in front of a driver’s eye on the windscreen, car manufacturers are delivering a more informed, more integrated driving experience.

Companies like Rightware partner Varjo are going a step further with applications of real-time 3D in a virtual reality context - which could be useful in the automotive industry for things like simulated driving, training or testing.

real-time 3D in a virtual reality context Source:

How can businesses in this space take advantage of augmented reality? This heightened level of visualization requires real-time stereoscopic 3D rendering (to enhance the illusion of depth in images) as well as rigorous testing. To do this effectively, manufacturers need to find the right tools for the job.

3. Interpreting and reacting to real-time hazards on the road

3. Interpreting and reacting to real-time hazards on the roadSource:

Data visualization is as important – if not more important – than the data itself. After all, what good is data if we can’t interpret and contextualize it?

In a vehicle, where decisions need to be made quickly and without error, how we present data to drivers is critical. Not only are we limited by physical space, we must also present context as quickly as possible without taking the driver’s attention off the road. If a driver has to process information themselves while at the wheel, decision-making time slows down.

3D rendering allows car manufacturers to present a richer, more contextualized dataset to a driver. When navigation systems were first adopted, for instance, drivers didn’t have access to road conditions – they simply saw a 2D map on their screen and the direction they needed to turn.

Thanks to real-time 3D rendering, navigation systems can now present information about road conditions, speed camera locations, traffic works, collisions and even emerging hazards (like V-Traffic’s Elk warning system) on the digital dashboard.

real-time 3D rendering

By providing this level of visualization to drivers in real-time, it enriches the driving experience and helps people navigate around traffic jams and avoid potentially dangerous scenarios.

Create unique experiences with 3D rendering

One of the biggest benefits of using real-time 3D rendering is the level of personalization it creates for the driver. While there might be the same car models on the road, the near future suggests that no two digital cockpits will be the same.

Like your mobile phone, a driver will be able to completely tailor their driving experience, turning on and off different types of information at the wheel as they see fit, as well as personalizing the way information is presented to them.

Some people prefer to view their music application on one screen and their navigation on the other. Others prefer different settings for their engine status and air conditioning configurations. The point is: real-time 3D rendering creates accurate, reliable and beautiful visual experiences for the multiple types of datasets available in a vehicle.

Through this development, you can offer up a level of personalization that’s never existed inside the car before. All that’s needed is the right toolkit to begin building it.

Kanzi is built from the ground up to support the design and development of real-time 3D rendering, delivering richer visualizations, tailored experiences to drivers and greater innovation for automotive UX teams. To explore Kanzi, contact an expert at Rightware today.

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