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July 10, 2017

Acura is livestreaming an augmented reality race on Facebook

by John_A

Honda’s luxury car brand Acura is set to livestream an augmented reality race featuring its 2018 TLX A-Spec sedan. The event will see four drivers hit a real track while wearing AR helmets that will create new virtual environments for each lap. Aside from spectating, viewers will also be able to interact with the racers on Facebook Live.

The race will see each driver attempt to clock the fastest overall time during a three-lap time trial. That sounds simple enough, until the AR environments come online and really begin altering what the drivers see. As a result, each lap will trigger a new mixed-reality environment, visible to both the drivers and viewers.

Central to the virtual experience will be the computer-connected helmets worn by the racers. Within each helmet is a HD screen with a two-way mirror that allows the driver to see the AR overlaid onto the real track. A computer rig in the backseat, powered by the Acura’s battery, will generate the environments.

To ensure the experience runs smoothly, Acura will have to track the objects on the tarmac and the movement of the car itself. Of course, this isn’t Forza, so you can’t just rewind the action should something go wrong, so Acura will use custom-made tracking gear to ensure the drivers don’t plough into a wall because their eyes deceive them.

You can tune into the race on Monday at 8pm ET on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Viewers will be shown the action courtesy of cameras placed on the drivers’ helmets and around the track. Facebook Live audience members will also be able to offer hints and tips. Acura claims the interactions will transform viewers into a virtual pit crew. But all you’ll really be doing is smashing a Facebook reaction at a given time to reveal a shortcut to the driver — which isn’t quite the same, is it?

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