Volvo considers virtual reality games for its cars

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Volvo has considered building virtual reality games into its cars to keep bored drivers more alert.

The Swedish manufacturer's obsession with safety has stretched to investigating whether drivers' concentration levels could be improved with fun elements to driving.

Staffan Davidsson, senior Human Machine Interface engineer for the brand, said his team had ballooned from just two people to more than 40 in just 10 years - proving the importance the marque places on his work.

And he explained Volvo was constantly working on ways of improving not only safety but the ease at which buttons and controls could be found in cars as well as adding new technology which makes driving more enjoyable.

"If it's hard to find a control then we haven't done our job properly," he told Autoblog. "We work very hard on researching exactly where buttons go in our cars. The first one we place is the power button and then everything else fits around it. We researched three different places for the power button alone in the latest Volvo models."

But what about those games? Well, Davidsson explained that when drivers travel long distances they quickly become bored and this is something Volvo is working hard on fixing.
"We know that drivers play games with number plates, car colours and pretend to shoot at other cars on the road to end the boredom," he explained.

"We have researched at Brunel University in the UK how adding virtual reality games to cars could help change that. We know that drivers have a certain level of concentration - too low and it's dangerous, too much information and again it's dangerous. It's about keeping that concentration at just the right point. Games can do that."

Davidsson added that as yet the technology hadn't been given the final seal of approval, and refused to elaborate further, however he added it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility. "It's certainly something we've investigated," he said.

Volvo's ethos of its cars being "designed around you" means this interaction between car and driver is becoming more and more important. Davidsson revealed that cars with social media integration had been considered as well as location based notifications, telling the driver where the cheapest fuel or restaurant offers are.

"We look at products from the likes of Apple that have been designed with the user at the very forefront with functionality added later. They are our key influences," he said. "The iPhone and iPad are all about the user and how easy things are to do, everything else comes second. It's something that we admire and want to emulate in cars."