Reaching the next level of in-car gaming
With future in-car entertainment, the vehicle will become a game console – and not just for passengers.
Gaming – in its many forms – has long been part of entertainment on the road. In the past, it might have consisted only of a few rounds of ‘I spy’ or a simple board game like chess and battleship. It wasn’t until the end of the twentieth century that the Gameboy was released. Tetris, Mario Kart and Pokémon quickly found their way onto the back seat. Not long after that, with the launch of the first smartphones, mobile games became an entirely new genre of gaming.
Now, with the continuous digitalization of the car, we are once again on the verge of a gaming revolution.
Increasing potential and popularity
There are two main technological enablers that will expand in-car gaming opportunities.
The first is autonomous driving. Currently, gaming is an option only for passengers. Drivers can only dive into their games when the car is parked at a charging station, for example. But once we reach higher levels of automated driving and are eventually in a position to take our hands off the wheel entirely, gaming will also become an option for ‘drivers’ on the road. Fully autonomous driving will grant us all so much more time in our cars that can be used in a meaningful way – including for in-car entertainment and gaming.
The second enabler of in-car gaming systems is processing power. High-end video games demand powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) capable of rendering vast three-dimensional virtual worlds. The car of the future, with its high-performance computers integrated in the vehicle architecture, will also be able to support complex functions and applications. This means that the power required for gaming will already be available in the vehicle, turning it into a game console in itself.
In-car gaming is not only technologically possible; it’s also supported by the increasing popularity of gaming as a whole. With every new generation, the activity is becoming a bigger part of our lives. In a Deloitte survey on digital media trends, 87% of Generation Z stated that they play games at least weekly, followed closely by 83% of Millennials and 79% of Generation X.
In-car gaming in the future
We’re already beginning to see more advanced gaming applications, extending reality for car passengers in the back seat. holoride, for example, pairs vehicle acceleration and location data with virtual reality goggles to create an immersive experience for passengers. In the future, we could expect to see further uses of virtual, augmented and mixed reality in the car. Graphical overlays and head-up displays (HUD) could change the way that drivers and passengers interact with the world around them. Perhaps as the car drives past a key landmark at the side of the road, a display appears on the window with a relevant quiz for the passengers. Or perhaps the user puts on a pair of glasses that projects a digital layer before their eyes and adds a new dimension to in-car entertainment and gaming.
Other applications might also involve integrating handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. These could be connected to the vehicle’s infotainment system and used as a controller, thereby making use of the large existing screen in front of the occupants.
In fact, the entire vehicle cabin itself could become a platform for immersive gaming experiences. The ventilation system could be used to emphasize speed in a driving game – the faster the virtual car goes, the more air streams into the real car through the air ducts. Ambient lighting could also adapt to the mood of the game – red for a battle in a fiery hellscape or blue for a calming underwater adventure.
Supported by autonomous driving and huge amounts of processing power, these gaming possibilities could, in future, become a reality. Software will transform charging, commuting and long-distance travelling into enjoyable experiences, and turn the car into an entertainment hub.