The Holograktor ride-sharing concept car from Swiss deep-tech firm WayRay could disrupt entire automotive interior design departments with its world-first Real AR holographic head-up display.
The WayRay Holograktor EV runs three separate “Real Augmented Reality” holographic displays, with one for each of its three occupants, blended in seamlessly from ranges of zero to infinity, rather than the passively floating HUD displays of traditional cars.
What’s more, the Real AR technology from WayRay could even see automotive interiors reborn, with no differences between left- and right-hand drive dashboards and much shorter dashboards creating more interior space.
Porsche and Hyundai were both early investors in WayRay, which began life in Russia before moving to Zurich in Switzerland, though surprisingly neither of them is likely to be the first to deliver the WayRay holographic technology in a production car.
Designed by Koenigsegg’s head designer Sasha Selipanov, the 4.4-metre Holograktor could even find itself moving from a concept car to a production reality if there is enough positive reaction to its prismatic shapes – and its enlarged roof attachment.
Dubbed the “Shrimp” internally, the external shape on the roof houses the holographic projection system for the rear seat’s single occupant, and projects on to the specialized front windscreen.
If that’s not enough technology, the Holograktor was conceived as a car that can be driven conventionally or by remote control over a 5G link to a qualified driver, rather than through Level 5 autonomy.
It’s also the first car conceived to take the car industry into the metaverse, with occupants reacting with the holographic content.
Built to highlight the maturing of the WayRay technology, the ride-sharing concept could even result in discounted fares for people willing to use the Holograktor’s additional screens highlighting local businesses or advertising.
But the main reason it exists is to showcase the holographic technology, which would replace existing head-up displays and takes up less than three litres of volume in a dashboard compared to the 25-30 litres that are typical in a luxury car.
It also doesn’t need a special extra screen to display the projections on, because the WayRay system blends a specially treated layer into the dashboard’s laminates and bounces off that instead.
WayRay insists the system sets new standards in focal lengths, colour saturation and accuracy, and its focal length runs from zero to infinity. That means it can begin displaying signs or advice at the horizon and grow it as the car approaches.
“We see that we have zero competition in that type of display and it is clear that we will capture the biggest market share,” WayRay founder Vitaly Ponomarev said.
“We have the advantage in technology and the package. Ours is up to 10 times smaller than conventional HUDs.”
“It’s also very immersive and provides a better field of view and it has the ideal distance,” the Russian entrepreneur explained.
“We will demonstrate that we don’t want to just be a supplier to the industry, but the technology leader in holography in general, particularly in automotive.”
The Holograktor was designed around the Real AR and the holography, which explains why it is so wide, and also why there is only one rear seat.
The entire car was conceived as a new way of “consuming and interacting” with content, as well as for moving on the HUD world.
It stems from a decade-long burst of research into holography that seemed to be right at the edge of physics as well as manufacturing. WayRay holds patents in novel photopolymers and refractive optical systems, as well as rending engines and laser technology.
It became publicly visible at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a holographic AR infotainment system inside the Rinspeed Oasis concept car.
Its list of early investors includes JVCKenwood, Alibaba, China Merchants Capital, the Russia-Japan Investment Fund and sovereign wealth funds from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
WayRay returned to the CES in 2019 with the Genesis G80 production car carrying its True AR Software Development Kit, and its True AR Head-Up Display system was unveiled in the Pininfarina Teorema concept in July this year.
It is believed that WayRay’s True AR technology is around a year away from being inside a series production car, with plans to use it for entertainment for the passengers and navigation, safety and service functions for the driver.
Ponomarev has been careful to sidestep concerns over distractions for the driver by focusing on the safety side of the Real AR, rather than the entertainment side – so far.
“We can now predict for almost any situation how much attention is needed to perceive a certain piece of information,” the WayRay founder said.
“At all times, only as many elements should be displayed as the driver’s current load allows. At red lights and in a traffic jam, for instance, that means significantly more than in a complex driving situation.
“This creates an incentive to develop content that distracts as little as possible because it has a higher chance of actually being shown.”
But that won’t last forever, especially if autonomous ride-sharing reaches its predicted heights, when passenger entertainment will become a higher priority.
“Eventually, cars will become living rooms on wheels, with all the entertainment and information media people use there. This technology could also visualize the decisions of the autopilot,” he said.
“If a vehicle can tell its passengers that it has detected a potentially hazardous situation and demonstrate to them on the windshield how it plans to react, they will feel much more relaxed.”
Oddly enough, Holograktor designer Sasha Selipanov had strong ties to holographic head-up displays long before being contacted to design the Holograktor – his father was a physicist developing holographic head-up displays for Russian fighter jets.
“My dad worked on something similar to what we are doing now, which is kind of a funny coincidence,” Selipanov said.
“In the military, there was a clear advantage on maintaining one focus and keeping your eye on the target rather than changing focal lengths to see all the relevant information.
“I told him a few things about our project, and he was quite excited that some of the ideas they were tinkering with back in the late 1970s and early 1980s are now coming to the market for more noble reasons.”
And it’s ready for the market, according to Ponomarev.
It involves a laser unit, integrated into the Holograktor’s floor, generating a red-green-blue light stream and sending it through an optical fibre to a picture-generating unit in the dashboard.
Less than three litres in volume, the unit boosts the field of vision up to 25 degrees by eight degrees – or a claimed four times the field of vision from conventional HUDs.
“This (the Holograktor) is a car that has been designed specifically for zoomers,” Ponomarev said.
“It’s for people who want to play and want to consume content, and we are assembling the content now that we want to show inside the car.
“The idea is that you can choose Uber
At 4416mm long, its 2880mm wheelbase includes suicide doors that swing slightly upwards and also rear doors that include a roof cutout to enable easier entry into the centrally located seat.
Its single electric motor will shoot it to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds and on to 200km/h, but Ponomarev suggests the powertrain is hardly relevant.
Shorter than a compact SUV but larger and wider inside, it pushes the front seats almost half a metre apart to give the rear seat occupant a better view of the windscreen’s AR display, with each passenger having their own version of the AR screen on the windscreen.
“My ambition is to release this car five years from now and make it homologated,” Ponomarev said.
“That depends very much on the perception of the market.
“It could be, though, that we just use it as a white label concept to help other OEMs to make cars like this with our technology.”
Ponomarev found the Holograktor’s design boss in a very modern way: he sent him a message over Instagram and it went from there.
Selipanov is the Georgian designer behind the Lamborghini Hurucan, the Genesis Essentia concept, the Bugatti Chiron Sport and the Koenigsegg Gemera.
Like Ponomarev, Selipanov also grew up in Moscow, and those Russian leanings can be seen in the concept car.
“We right away aimed for this Russian constructivism form language,” Selipanov said.
“If you have those early Soviet posters in mind, you can see those very brightly coloured geometric shapes of triangles and blocks.
“We wanted to create a visual language for WayRay that took this Russian constructivism as the base and coincidentally, the triangular forms is very reminiscent of a prism, like the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album cover.
“It is a light-ray aesthetic that comes with the triangularity and the prism-like effect, which is just perfectly appropriate for a car built to highlight holography.”
The Shrimp almost presented a problem until Selipanov decided to make a feature out of it.
“It’s a unique selling point, and I like to celebrate these kinds of things that are unusual,” he admitted.
“Functionality like that happens very rarely on a car so instead of trying to hide it in any way we thought we should highlight it.
“There is not really another place where this can go, based on the occupant package and where the eye box field of view of the rear passenger is.
“We considered a small dashboard for the rear seat instead, but once the three-seat layout was confirmed we couldn’t obstruct the doorway or pathway to the seat.”
There is no shrimp for the front passengers, though, as the WayRay technology sits in the volume of the dashboard, aiming up at the windscreen, where the Shrimp’s projections aim down.