We tested Holoride or how to play in virtual reality while the car is driving

To entertain passengers, virtual reality invites itself into the passenger compartment of the vehicle thanks to Holoride. Related to HTC and its Vive Flow glasses, the project makes it possible to play in the back while taking into account the movements of the car to avoid heartache.

Onboard entertainment, the new wealth of tomorrow’s car. Is one lessons from CES 2023 which closed in Las Vegas. The car is no longer modernized in its chassis, power or payload for the electric models, but in its ability to offer different experiences in the cabin.

Even during the American fair leading manufacturers have highlighted numerous features that will enhance the ride for passengers as well as assets so that the driver remains focused but relaxed during the journey. This will happen, for example, by adding the voice assistant Amazon Alexa and the Fire TV environment in Jeep for example, a virtual reality headset in Valeo, the promise of software from Qualcomm which will be integrated by many drivers like Renault, or through video games , music and all the knowledge in Sony entertainment related to Honda. Everyone’s goal: to combat boredom in the car by offering additional technology. And it can also go through video games in virtual reality.

A project led by Audi

Thus, Tech&Co was able to test Holoride, the opportunity given to the passengers of a vehicle to take advantage of a virtual reality headset to play, but without feeling sick to the stomach or any other problem related to the movement of the car. The German startup has teamed up with HTC to base its experience on the Vive Flow, an ultralight goggle-shaped device that connects to a smart phone to work Just launch the app of the same name and then pair a Bluetooth controller to enjoy content (games, apps, streaming, various experiences, etc.).

HTC Vive Flow virtual reality glasses
Virtual reality glasses HTC Vive Flow © Tech&Co – Melinda Davan-Soulas

Audi is Holoride’s old partner with whom it has developed a special package. If you are lucky enough to drive from an A4 to an A8, from a Q5 to a Q8 or even an e-tron model with the Audi Connect Navigation & Infotainment option, all you have to do is connect the VR glasses to the vehicle and with Wi-Fi, no smartphone needed. Otherwise, Holoride has retired from its Retrofit bag. Attached to the inner glass, the module connects each car to ensure the experience. It, like the Audi on-board system, will send all the car’s GPS tracking, trajectories, brake hits and other elements that will sometimes affect the game to the smartphone connected to the glasses.

It’s behind the wheel of a retrofitted 1967 Cadillac that the Holoride test takes place. Virtual reality glasses on and driving through Las Vegas, we will test different video games from the back seat of the vehicle. One concern: how to manage the movement of the car without getting sick to the stomach not knowing what is happening around us live. “All compatible experiences are checked to be able to adapt to the movement of the car,” says Holoride. “The game must adapt in real time to the movements of the steering wheel to avoid any confusion.” This will allow a dynamic and comfortable experience for the player.

Retrofit is a small device that connects to wifi and allows you to enjoy Holoride in any vehicle
Retrofit is a small device that connects to wifi and allows you to enjoy Holoride in any vehicle © Tech&Co

Games designed for the road

Good news, Holoride works with 2D or 3D games using a controller. The first game tested, Pixel Ripped 1995: On the Road, has been revised to meet the needs of smartphone operation connected to Vive Flow. This pixelated title revisits classic games from the 1990s and rescues friends from a virtual heroine. To keep up with the moves, the game has revised its environment. The glasses show a scene inside a car. And when he turns right or left in reality, his in-game driver does too. “Sitting in the middle”, the player has a necessary coherence between the feeling of the body and what he sees, in addition to a very entertaining game.

Pixel Ripped 1995 game updated and adapted for car movements for Holoride
Pixel Ripped 1995 game updated and adapted for car moves for Holoride © Holoride

The second experiment could have been a little more dangerous for gagging, but it also fits perfectly. Cloudbreaker is a shooter in which you control a flying robot that must face waves of enemies. A swipe to the right and your mid-air scene moves. All this is made possible by the Holoride system embedded in Audi cars or via Retrofit. The game turns out to be a little more dynamic and nervous than the first one, but airsickness is avoided thanks to the good fluidity in the movement of the car.

Free reel game, no nausea

The Holoride experience in the car is more pleasant and quite enjoyable. It remains to be seen what the library made available will actually consist of. The HTC Vive Flow, when it was released on its own, wasn’t necessarily feature-rich, even if you could get access to a pretty wide selection and some compatible smartphone apps. For Holoride, we already find it a good dozen custom apps, from games to the availability of a browser to educational courses (dinosaurs, brain training, learning…). More to come soon, we’re sure.

HTC Vive Flow lets you play in the car in virtual reality
HTC Vive Flow lets you play in the car in virtual reality © Tech&Co

Finally, perhaps the most annoying comes from the Vive Flow headset itself. It’s a bit large and will tend to slip easily on smaller heads if not fitted properly. It’s good to know if it’s a child or teenager using it. The supplied controller will be a bit sketchy, but it’s possible to use any other Bluetooth controller (even Xbox Series or PS5 DualSense) to play.

Vive Flow announced in simple use 4 hours of autonomy. It’s more than enough to play in the car before you’re tired and out of battery. It is also possible to use it for streaming and any other smartphone application, but everything will not adapt to road movements. Be careful in this turbulent time!

HTC Vive Flow can support any Bluetooth connected controller.
HTC Vive Flow can support any Bluetooth connected controller. © Tech&Co

The Holoride package including the HTC Vive Flow, a Bluetooth controller, a safety belt and a one-year subscription is advertised for 700 euros. It provides access to a catalog of content, experiences and games that are optimized to fit on the road. Beyond the first year, Holoride will be available for €20 per month (or €14.99 per month for an annual subscription).

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