MINI makes its own Augmented Reality glasses

MINI is venturing into the realm of wearable tech and for very practical reasons. While we technology buffs might be excited and impressed with the Google Glasses or iWatch, if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t really need either one. But if MINI succeeds in bringing its new Augmented Vision glasses to production, it’s going to make getting to your destination a lot easier and safer.

The British automaker showed off the prototype at the recent Shanghai Auto Show and it looks like an oversized, thick aviation goggles. The physical outlook still needs a lot of fine-tuning, but the device, when worn, overlays the driver’s view with pertinent driving information – ie. current speed, speed limits, driving directions – and also blasts other information you might need/want right into your eyeballs, like parking spaces and points of interests in the vicinity (we sense a spam alert here).

You might not be so impressed if you already knew about other automakers who have conjured up unique ways to display digital information, like Land Rover’s see-through bonnet and Jaguar’s virtual windscreen. But what we like about the MINI glasses is the ersatz X-Ray vision it gives the driver. Cameras placed around the outside of the vehicle can feed images to the glasses, and by turning your head, you can “see through” the solid body panels; this will be extremely helpful when trying to park in a tight spot, to avoid hitting low objects (including children) and to overcome the perils of blind spots.

And even after you park your car like a pro with the help of the glasses, you can continue to receive walking directions to your destination on it; we like the idea of navigating in a strange city without having to continuously refer to our phones/tablets/paper maps. Er…but first, MINI has to make the glasses look a lot less like Elvis’ chunky sunnies because not everyone would look good in one (we’re not even sure we liked it on The King himself, and this model below just barely carries it off).


MINI has been working with none other than Qualcomm to create this new wearable tech worthy of its marque. It uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 processor and Vuforia platform, which is designed specifically for augmented reality applications. Right now, the glasses only works in a controlled environment but the Project Leader for MINI Augmented Vision, Dr Joerg Preissinger, has said that he believes such a product will one day be available in the market. Well, we like to think that believing eventually leads to seeing!

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