Holoride: Car Rides as Virtual Reality Games

Passengers often get board in cars. Holoride uses real-time data from the car ride and artificial intelligence to create a completely new kind of entertainment for passengers. The extended reality experience has even been said to reduce car sickness. The founders told us more about their XR onboard entertainment program in our Seven Questions.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourself!

Holoride: Hello Munich! We are Daniel Profendiner (38, CTO), Marcus Kühne (44, CXO) and Nils Wollny (38, CEO). We founded Holoride together to turn boring travel time into an exciting adventure ride.

Fate and luck are often mentioned when talking about how people meet. Our story isn’t that dramatic. But you might call it a nice coincidence. All three of us worked for the company with four rings in its logo and were in very different departments. Marcus and Daniel met up in the patent department at Audi AG because both of them independently and almost simultaneously applied for the same patent — and I can tell you this much: it had to do with Holoride.

Partnerships with Audi and Disney

While Daniel was considering the use of immersive technology in vehicles from a predominantly technical-conceptual point of view, both Marcus as the person responsible for our VR/AR strategy and Nils as Head of Digital Business thoroughly examined the economic aspects and quickly realized that the only approach with a chance at scaling and becoming commercially relevant could not be dependent on a specific manufacturer. With this realization and a passion for the technology, the three spent every spare moment promoting the project and were finally able to successfully present it to the management boards at Audi and VW.

The spin-off came in late 2018 to turn the manufacturer-agnostic solution into reality. We then officially presented the Holoride world together with our two ideal partners Audi and Disney at CES 2019 in Las Vegas and caused quite a stir.

Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?

Holoride: Travel time is often wasted time, which is why we have made it our goal to make car rides more exciting, particularly for passengers. After all, estimates suggest that more than one billion trips are made daily worldwide in private vehicles with at least one person on board as a passenger. Due to a lack of possible activities, these trips are usually idle time for most people and a necessary evil. The driving experience still very much focuses on the driver and current media offers are not necessarily suited for use in a car because the ability to enjoy them is quite compromised — for example, by screens that are too small or by formats that aren’t optimal for the time traveled. On top of that, many people suffer from car sickness because looking at a smartphone or tablet during the ride confuses the sensory perceptions.

We solve that problem by fusing IoT, AI & XR together to create a brand new kind of experience. Sounds complicated? It actually is, to be honest. Derived from algorithms for autonomous driving, Holoride software uses real-time data that provides information about the position, navigation route and speed in addition to the steering, braking and accelerating behavior of a vehicle (IoT). This data is linked intelligently (AI) with highly immersive display technologies such as virtual, mixed or augmented reality — which is known as “extended reality” (XR). Thanks to almost exact synchronization of image and movement, the quality of how the consumed content is experienced is increased tremendously because the actual movement of the vehicle becomes part of the virtual experience and content length is based on the estimated length of the trip. It also significantly decreases the symptoms of car sickness, which is something about 2/3 of all passengers suffer from.

Holoride software makes it possible to offer a new category of media: “elastic content.” Meant for use in vehicles, the content adapts to the length of the trip, movement and the context of the vehicle — for a highly immersive experience and a significant reduction in symptoms of car sickness. Here’s a simple explanation of how the interlinkage works: When the car goes left, you move in the same direction in your virtual surroundings. If you stop at a crosswalk, a bright blue bird walks across it instead of a pedestrian. And if it starts to rain — as identified by the rain sensor — you might find your space ship in the middle of a meteor shower. Cool, right? We think so too! Of course, these are musings that don’t necessarily need to be realized, but who knows?

For the first time, vehicle data becomes the “enabler” for a new format of entertainment and passengers’ time that would have otherwise been wasted can be monetized by all participating partners. Holoride has the potential to make a lasting impact on entertainment in vehicles. We’re creating a global platform for the mobility and entertainment industry.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Holoride: It is — we’ll be the first to establish this technology in the mobilized transport environment, starting with cars.

Holoride: Munich is perfect for us

Munich Startup: Was there a point when you nearly failed?

Holoride: Fortunately, no, but there were obviously some sleepless nights before we founded the company. Getting started and the spin-off process were huge challenges, but we are firm believers in our technology and the advantages it offers.

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?

Holoride: For 2021, mass integration is planned with car manufacturers, location-based experiences are a topic, and in five years, Holoride will operate in all forms of transportation.

Munich Startup: How do you view Munich as a startup location?

Holoride: Munich is perfect for us — because we are either from Munich or nearby Ingolstadt, we always did and still feel very much at home here. In addition to the large international companies that are located in Munich, we obviously also appreciate the diversity and high quality of living provided by Bavaria’s capital city. That is of particular importance to us for attracting talented individuals to Munich if they don’t already live here.

The international airport is an added advantage for us, and the fact that Munich is so important on both a national and international level is proven by Munich becoming the new IAA venue starting in 2021.

Munich Startup: Skype or in person?

Holoride: That depends on the situation. In person is always great, but that unfortunately doesn’t always work since we’re on the road so much with so many projects. That’s why we always try to make on-screen calls, because we think that makes discussions a bit more personal.

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