Self Driving Cars, Augmented Reality, and Creating Your Virtual Amusement Park

So I found out today that Google self-driving cars have driven ~200k miles in California without an accident, and apparently they are right around the corner. These cars are able to form a 3D view of their surroundings and can avoid obstacles like other cars and pedestrians. Just off the top of my head I can think of numerous advantages that a self-driving car would have over manually controlled cars. These virtual “drivers” wouldn’t have to deal with the distractions of texting, being drunk, or being overly emotional. I imagine it won’t be long until we look back and say “I can’t believe that people used to drive cars themselves”. Millions of people a year are injured while driving, and around 50k are killed. It is not hard to imagine that self driving cars will be able to dramatically reduce these numbers. Even with only quick, superficial research I already trust robot drivers in their current form over 90% of the drivers on the road today.

So if you look at how attached we are becoming to our electronic devices, it appears that these self driving cars will be a necessity very soon. We’re only adding to the accident totals with people being distracted by iphones, ipads, etc. The rumor is that Google will be releasing glasses later this year with augmented reality. Now people will look like they are watching the road, but in fact will be checking their Facebook on their Google Glasses. Obviously self driving cars are an absolute necessity, if we’re going to prevent technology related accidents in the future.

I was thinking that the combination of self driving cars and augmented reality will allow for some very cool applications. If you think about people driving around right now, everyone is listening to their own genre of music and are basically creating their own little reality in their car. With ipods we can create soundtracks to our lives. This will only increase with augmented reality, as we can start playing around with what we see visually.

Imagine stepping into your car, and while you’re riding, there are images and information superimposed upon the cars window panes. The most basic and obvious applications of this would be allowing iphone style facetime conversations with people on your windshield, or viewing information about businesses or restaurants superimposed over the actual buildings as you drive through your city. Perhaps these images of buildings and people are taken in by the cars 3D camera and are altered visually. Image driving through a city where an artist has virtually decorated or painted all the buildings in the city, so that when you drive through you can enjoy a particular artist’s interpretation of that city. You could set the mood to “happy” or “sad”, and your surroundings would be changed visually to match that. Car rides could turn into next generation psychedelic trips.

The opportunities for artists will be unlimited. As you head into a new city, you could download the most popular augmented reality overlays. These could be grand artistic re-interpretations of a city. Have Godzilla destroying the city around you, or perhaps a true history tour as you watch a time lapse of how the city around you was built. The possibilities are only limited by our creativity and desire to create. You could basically turn the entire world into your own personal amusement park. You can simultaneously explore and create the world around you as you go.

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