Well, it seems BMW is not the only automaker rethinking the design of infotainment systems. WayRay, a Swiss startup is also working on an innovative augmented reality (AR)-enabled car navigation dashboard system for smart cars. And to further this development, it has now bagged a fresh $18 million investment from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

In addition to the capital infusion that’ll help WayRay better its tech and launch globally, the company has also partnered with Banma Technologies to build an AR navigation and infotainment system for their connected cars launching in 2018. This automotive startup is a joint venture between Alibaba Group and SAIC Motor, building the next-gen smart cars. Adding WayRay’s AR tech to their arsenal will only further boost their efforts.

Talking about their holographic product, WayRay CEO Vitaly Ponomarev said,

We have developed the world’s only technology that allows you to create augmented reality in the car. It highlights our product on the background of the traditional HUD and attracts the largest automakers. In 2017, we plan to launch the mass production of holographic AR-navigator Navion and sign contracts with major global automakers to implement our infotainment systems.

Headquartered in Switzerland, WayRay was founded by Vitaly Ponomarev back in 2012 with the aim of developing next-gen AR-based consumer electronic products for the automotive industry. The company says that it has invested close to $10 million of its own funds to build the patented holographic navigation technology. And it now plans to commercialize its technology by integrating its first-ever true AR navigation system into upcoming smart cars.

This AR navigation solution is called Navion and allows the user to witness directions as well as control several other functions right in front of them. It overlays the content in your view frame and allows you to control most functions without touching any controls. You can use voice commands, hand gestures or sometimes the Navion app to control the functionality. Also the best part, it doesn’t require you to even wear a headgear or lenses. How awesome is that !?

Further, the investment from Alibaba reinforces our belief in the idea of such capable infotainment systems making their way to our vehicles in the future. If you’re unaware, the Chinese e-commerce giant also dipped its toes in the automobile market by launching its first-ever smart car — RX5 for 148,800 yuan last year. But, it now seems to be deepening its ties with the industry with this funding. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the company integrate WayRay’s tech into the next iteration of its smart connected car.

Ethan Xi, Alibaba Group senior director of finance comments on the investment as under:

We believe there is huge potential in the development of leading-edge technology like augmented reality and its application to various industries, like WayRay’s AR navigation system in the auto sector. The potential of augmented reality makes it an exciting and promising area.

Smart cars with holographic navigation displays, what more can one ask for as the future of mobility. Numerous technology, as well as automobile giants, are already hard at work building the perfect self-driving vehicle for regular usability on public roads. In addition to upgrading the mobility needs from outside, we also need to introduce changes inside the vehicle as well. WayRay is planning to change the same with its next-gen AR-powered navigation dashboard.

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