Skip to main content

Nissan uses 5G to test tech that lets motorists summon in-car 3D avatars

Nissan Invisible-to-Visible technology concept
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Nissan wants to turn car windshields into portals to a virtual world. At CES 2019, the Japanese automaker demonstrated what it calls “invisible-to-visible” (I2V) tech, and it leveraged the benefits of 5G to begin testing it in real-world conditions on its proving grounds in Japan. While the name makes it sound like witchcraft, I2V is just a way to overlay information from a car’s onboard sensors, as well as the cloud, onto the driver’s field of view. Think of it as augmented reality (AR) on a larger scale, or a head-up display on steroids.

I2V relies on a system called Omni-Sensing to act as a hub for the relevant data, which is organized and displayed as graphics floating around relevant objects — just like in a video game. In fact, the entire platform was developed by Unity Technologies, which started out in the gaming business. Drivers can also connect to what Nissan calls the “Metaverse,” a virtual environment shared with other users. It allows people to appear inside the car as virtual, three-dimensional avatars.

This tech has many possible uses, according to the company. If it’s raining outside, I2V could project an image of sunny weather inside the car. Drivers could call on local guides to get information about the areas they’re driving through, or driving coaches to help improve their skills. Cars could also use the tech to warn drivers of upcoming hazards, like poor visibility or irregular road surfaces, or suggest alternate routes to get around traffic jams.

Why did Nissan develop Invisible-to-Visible? Tetsuro Ueda, Nissan Expert Leader explains

Nissan began testing the technology in Japan in March 2019, and it explained its real-world trials are made possible by super-quick 5G technology. The low-latency connectivity wirelessly transmits avatar data into the test vehicle, which is based on a van the company sells in overseas markets, and in-car camera views from the vehicle in real time. The point of the trial is to evaluate how the people traveling in the car and those represented through avatars sense each other’s presence via the user interfaces.

This technology is years away from reaching mass production. Even if it can be packaged in a way that works in the real world, I2V seems plain distracting. Drivers have enough trouble paying attention without their crazy uncles beaming themselves into the car to talk about football. This tech seems better suited to future self-driving cars, however, which Nissan and other automakers are working to usher in.

Updated on March 12, 2019: Added information about Nissan testing the technology using 5G.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
TCL’s new 5G phones are the most affordable yet, but U.S. buyers have to wait
tcl 20 series ces 2021 news 5g

The TCL 10 series may not have made all that many headlines, but now the company wants to step things up a little. At CES 2021, TCL has announced the new TCL 20 series, which will eventually be made up of a hefty five models. For now, however, the company is only launching two: The TCL 20 5G and TCL 20 SE.

Here's a rundown of the two new phones and what they have to offer.
TCL 20 5G

Read more
Lenovo takes on M1-powered MacBooks with its own ARM-based IdeaPad 5G
lenovo ideapad 5g qualcomm snapdragon 8cx ces 2021

After being an early adopter of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets on its Windows notebooks, Lenovo is upping the ante at CES 2021. While Lenovo is continuing to support Microsoft's Windows on ARM efforts, it's also now embracing 5G mobile coverage on the new IdeaPad 5G -- one of the best new laptops at CES this year.

Like Lenovo's previous Yoga C630 Snapdragon-powered clamshell, the IdeaPad 5G features strong battery life -- this notebook is rated for 20 hours of continuous video playback -- and a fan-less design with a thin-and-light form factor. The IdeaPad 5G this year will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform and feature Adreno 680 integrated graphics, a Snapdragon X55 modem, and 4G LTE support in areas where 5G signals aren't yet available. Where 5G is present, Lenovo claims that large files can download up to 10 times faster than over LTE.

Read more
By 2024, 5G could be beamed to your phone using huge, hydrogen-powered aircraft
stratospheric platforms cambridge consultants 5g platform in the sky news haps aircraft

In the near future, your phone may take its 5G signal from the sky instead of a nearby mast on the ground. It’s an innovative way to solve the problem of increasing connectivity without relying on thousands of terrestrial cell towers. The concept is known as a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS), and it essentially takes the cell tower from the ground and puts it in the sky.

The latest HAPS project to be unveiled is from Stratospheric Platforms and Cambridge Consultants. Today, the pair revealed the core of its efforts, a special antenna and unmanned aircraft, which it has been working on confidentially for the last four years.
How will it work?
Instead of talking to a nearby tower to get its signal, your phone talks to a three-square-meter antenna attached to hydrogen-powered aircraft with a 60-meter wingspan, flying at an altitude of 12 miles (20 kilometers). The aircraft, or HAP, is expected to stay aloft for at least a week, all the while providing 4G LTE and 5G network coverage over an area of about 86 miles (140 kilometers).

Read more