Automakers Invest in Startup Projecting Holograms on Windshields

  • GM Ventures, alongside other established auto-industry manufacturers, has invested $50 million in Envisics, a startup re-creating the head-up display.
  • Using automated reality, the Envisics technology projects a hologram onto the road to highlight other vehicles, pedestrians, and project route navigation.
  • GM Ventures said that this technology could make its way into the forthcoming Cadillac Lyriq EV.

    Envisics, a little-known startup, is reimagining what the head-up display can be, and its work has gotten the attention of some big players in the automotive space. Companies including GM Ventures, the corporate venture arm of General Motors, along with supplier Hyundai Mobis and several others, have invested $50 million in Envisics, the startup announced today.

    Envisics’ technology fuses automated reality with head-up displays so that hazards such as pedestrians and other vehicles can be illuminated through the use of a 3D hologram. This reimagined head-up display can also be utilized when route navigation is in use, as the automated reality can illuminate where on the road a driver should be or project arrows where a driver should turn. As Envisics describes it, the technology allows cars to “annotate the world around them,” all in the field of view of the driver.

    Unlike the standard head-up display, the focal point in Envisics’ technology doesn’t have a fixed focal point; instead, it moves with the road while a car travels down the road. What it does have in common with the head-up display currently in cars is that it uses the windshield as a kind of mirror.

    The supplier will sell the technology to automakers to put in their vehicles. Matt Tsien, president of GM Ventures, said in a statement: “This technology will help us revolutionize the in-vehicle experience with a variety of safe, highly integrated, and intuitive applications, including applications that will enhance the hands-free driving experience in future EVs, like the Cadillac Lyriq.” Hyundai Mobis said that it plans to “jointly develop autonomous-driving specialized AR HUDs with Envisics, targeting mass production by 2025.”

    Automated reality is generated through the cameras and sensors on a given car, which automakers build themselves and then would pair to Envisics’ technology, since the startup only creates the underlying projection tech. That allows automakers to decide how they want to utilize the projection system in a given vehicle.

    Back in 2018, Porsche and Hyundai announced that they were investing in a similar startup, called WayRay, which is also developing technology to integrate automated reality into head-up displays. The companies’ combined investment totaled $80 million.

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