Holoride’s VR entertainment system is coming to Audi in June

Holoride, a tech startup with a promise to “turn vehicles into mobile theme parks,” recently announcement at the SXSW festival in Austin that it will bring VR headsets to select Audi SUVs and sedans this summer.

With the Holoride system, Audi passengers will be able to mix what they see during the actual journey with elements of augmented reality via motion synchronization technology. Passengers can fly over rainforests or enter a virtual office to join a business call, all from the backseat of the car, according to the company. And Holoride says its technology adapts experiences to the length of each trip, the location and the driving style of the person behind the wheel to deliver new content every time you get in the car.

Holoride’s goal is to monetize the many hours people spend in cars each year. Holoride, and the companies it partners with for in-car experiences, also envision a possible future filled with self-driving cars. In this world, everyone in a vehicle could be a passenger and there could be opportunities for new entertainment products and subscription services. The partnership also comes at a time when VR headsets appear to be gaining widespread popularity with consumers.

Holoride parted ways with Audi in 2019 and partnered with Swedish software development company TerraNet to create the sensors and software needed to quickly process a vehicle’s environment and translate data into VR responses. Audi still holds a minority stake in the VR company through Audi Electronics Venture, a subsidiary that developed the technology and licensed it to Holoride. But Holoride is not exclusive to Audi and uses an open platform that will allow any automaker to use the entertainment system.

“We are always open to working with other automakers and hope to make as many vehicles Holoride compatible as possible,” Rudolf Baumeister, the company’s director of marketing and communications, told CNN Business.

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Holoride uses open source software, which means any developer will be able to create unique experiences for the in-car system and it allows brands to push curated content. The company said it has partnered with automotive, gaming, technology and media companies, including Porsche and Schell Games, to develop its content platform. And the HTC VIVE Flow will be the first VR headset equipped with the Holoride system.

Above all, Holoride claims to have found a way to solve a key problem with VR experiences in cars: motion sickness.

“[W]We developed our technology so that the real world and the virtual world are in sync,” Baumeister said. “This means what you see and what you feel align with almost no latency – it reduces motion sickness. Holoride says its technology can actually reduce motion sickness in symptom-prone cyclists.