A New Dimension of Comfort and Safety with 3D Lightfield

At this week’s Shanghai Auto Show, visitors will have the opportunity to experience Natural 3D Automotive Navigation at the Continental exhibition. A joint creation by Continental, HERE and Leia Inc., the navigation system leverages 3D Lightfield display to create an intuitive user experience. And for the first time, Continental is bringing 3D Lightfield into a curved screen which will simplify human-machine interaction and enhance driving safety.

From a stop-sign with shining red hovering on the front of the screen, to rows of houses or buildings emerging from the navigation system, these kinds of 3D effects are revolutionizing cockpit display solutions. And with 3D Lightfields unique multi-angle views — made up of eight perspectives of the same object that subtly vary according to the point-of-view and protruding up to ten centimeters (4 inches) from the display, both driver and passengers can see the 3D graphics.

To create the embedded media content for the display, the development team leveraged the Leia Unity SDK. HERE provided maps and models to be used in Unity, where many standard tools were used for the design work. Creating unique aesthetic applications, for example lines that highlight building edges and glow in the dark, buildings that vary their transparency based on the camera, and 3D autofocus were done through the SDK and specially added custom shaders written for the post processing stack. The Leia and Unity teams collaborated to make the necessary changes to post-processing code to allow all of this to work.

Build times were quick, thanks to Unity’s support for custom build scripts. With automotive frequent iteration for different platform functionality is needed, and the ability to have custom build scripts and automate was key. The team was able to do a lot of automation and use unit tests on a cloud server to ensure everything was working.

With slim margins for car manufacturers, and the decreased need for service post-sale with the progression of autonomous and electric vehicles, there is a significant opportunity for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to generate revenue through in-vehicle user experience. Unity offers a new level of engagement and experience that you do not see with 2D rendering visualization. From safety features to developing breathtaking scenery, the 3D Lightfield display can be utilized to have relevant information emerging from the screen faster, combining safety and experience.

“The car to me is a big cell phone,” noted David Fattal, Leia, Inc Co-Founder and CEO in a recent interview on the future of consumer automotive applications, “in a couple of years, you’re going to be doing the same thing in your car that you’re doing today on your phone or tablet—doing things like watching movies, playing games, and shopping online.”

As automated and electric vehicles evolve, there will be more infotainment for drivers and passengers alike including: video calling, internet browsing and video streaming. Imagine a family or group of friends on a road trip and the car needs to be charged en route, which can take one to several hours. Infotainment will be key to passing the time and the content can be an immersive experience, real 3D not 3D flattened for a 2D screen. It’s now possible to create next generation immersive visual experiences by simply applying the Leia Unity SDK to enhance the experience for a 3D Lightfield display.

Learn more about how you can create for Unity using the Leia plugin or download the Leia Unity SDK from the Unity Asset Store.