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BMW Mini AR Driving Goggles Have X-Ray Vision

Driving glasses used to mean reducing glare. BMW would rather add augmented reality to goggles intended for use with its Mini brand of cars. Officially called Mini Augmented Vision, these retro-styled goggles deliver heads-up information to a driver by combining tech from BMW and Qualcomm.

The BMW Mini brand has long been known for its unique blend of design and performance, and these certainly fit that bill. The aviator-style  prototypes were unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2015. The Mini Augmented Vision deliver images via two 720p displays (one for each eye), which work together with a camera located on bridge of the goggles. An inertia sensors tracks head movements and projects data on the lenses (hopefully) without blocking sight lines.

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Drivers will have speed and distance available at a flick of an eyeball. In addition, Mini’s goggles will show navigation data, upcoming points of interests, turn-by-turn directions and incoming messages. We're particularly intrigued by an X-ray view that removes structures such as doors and A-pillars from your vision.

You can even get a video feed from cameras mounted in the side view mirrors, so parallel parking is easier than ever before.

One issue found in traditional head mounted displays is that the latency between head movements and the projected images can often cause nausea or confusion. To solve this, Qualcomm developed an algorithm to predict where you are going to look, so you don't have to worry about the goggles making you feel sick or delivering info to places you can't see.

However, there are still some kinks that need to be ironed out. Demo units of Mini’s Augmented Vision featured fixed temples, making the goggles feel more like a visor than glasses. The goggles are also one-size fits all, so even with the built-in nose adjustment, a perfect fit may still be hit or miss. We also wonder what the National Transportation Safety Board might think of drivers being bombarded by such a stream of data on top of keeping both eyes on the road.

There's no news on glare reduction, possible prices or commercial availability of these specs. We wonder if BMW will bring a similar device to its much larger fleet of vehicles. For that we'll have to see if these goggles are a real vision into the future of driving.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.