BMW has announced that the next generation its ConnectedDrive suite of infotainment features will include 3D graphics in the navigation system, powered by a 1.3-GHz processor assisted by a dedicated 3D graphics chip. The way the “3D City Models” viewing option works is that if your location’s 3D map data is in the navigation database, when you get close to the next navigation point, the display’s perspective will change from a “bird’s-eye” view of a two-dimensional map to a detailed overhead 3D view of nearby streets and buildings. This makes a lot of sense if you think about how people actually navigate in real space. Humans navigate in 3D space, not by visualizing a 2D street map in our heads. If you’re at an event and I ask you how you get home, the image you will have in your head will not be a two dimensional map, but rather a mental image of 3D space with landmarks in particular locations and when actually navigating, you look for those landmarks, in the right spatial location, to orient yourself in 3D space. The fact that BMW has added a dedicated 3D graphics chip to the system’s electronics opens the possibility that future BMWs may use actual 3D displays. MasterImage, which already manufactures and sells autostereo (glasses-free 3D) displays for cellphones, has been pitching automakers on installing autostereo display panels for infotainment purposes.
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