Road to the future

    The WayRay project is the finalist of GenerationS 2013. It is one of the most ambitious and unusual startups in Moscow, which received high marks from the jury and a cash prize of 500,000 rubles.

    Today we are talking with Mikhail Svarichevsky (@BarsMonster), the technical director of the project, designed to bring to life the scenes of many fantastic films and to make mass technologies that were previously accessible only to military ones.

    S.K .: Tell us in general about the project, what product are you doing?
    MS: The main idea is WayRay Navion, a projection system of navigation information “through” the windshield, like on fighter jets. Then the driver sees directions for driving 4+ meters from the car - he does not have to look away and refocus. This allows the driver to drive less time looking away from the road - which is more convenient and safer. The second product is WayRay Element, I think we will talk about it below.

    S.K .: How did you get into the project?
    MS: Oddly enough - Habr helped here. Vitaly Ponomarev, the founder of the company, read my articles and invited me to chat. The project turned out to be very interesting for me - not only electronics and programming, but also optics, lasers and holography. It was interesting to deal with this, everything very successfully fell on my interests.

    S.K .: What is the fundamental difference between WayRay Navion and existing navigators, and especially HUD?
    MS: In the very idea of ​​HUD displays there is nothing supernatural - just as long as we rarely see them in civilian applications. In some car models, primitive HUD displays have been built in since the 80s. We want to make a universal system that can be installed in any car. In addition, we are working to reduce the size of the system through the use of holographic elements - this will allow us to get a larger angular size of the projected image with the same dimensions of the system.

    S.K .: What will be the final device?
    MS: WayRay Navion - will be a box mounted on a dashboard so as not to block the view of the driver. Inside is an on-board computer, a projection system with optics that shines on a transparent hologram on the windshield. The driver looks through this transparent hologram - and sees both the road and the navigation information that we want to display.

    SK: And what about production: China, or is something being done in Russia?
    MS: Of course, at the development stage it is preferable to work with domestic factories - in order to spend less time on delivery and customs. For example, the mirrors for the first experimental installation were made in Russia, they tried optics - but failed: local production needed volumes, and they were not interested in tinkering with prototypes. I had to give it to a factory in China - there, of course, volumes are also needed, but they understand that without a prototype no one will go into production.

    With electronics - we need printed circuit boards for the 6th accuracy class, in Russia they do it - but this is a kind of exclusive. Further, if you collect prototypes here, then all the details need to be taken separately through customs (local distributors have far from everything). Therefore, naturally, it was also faster and safer to manufacture and assemble prototypes of electronics in China.

    S.K .: How will the whole system be controlled (will a smartphone, touchscreen in the car, voice commands or some special gadget be used)?
    MS: At the moment, this is a smartphone (Android / iPhone) and voice control. In the foreseeable future, we want to add optical gesture recognition. Naturally, with a separate physical touch / LCD screen, the whole point is lost.

    S.K .: What is the current state of the project and what are you working on now?
    MS: At the moment, the first revision of electronics for Navion and Element has been developed and went into production, we expect to receive it from day to day.


    The first revision of optics (still with large dimensions, without holographic elements) was developed, came from a factory in China, assembled and showed results completely consistent with the calculated ones.


    On this system you can already control the distance to the imaginary image (from infinity to 3-4 meters in front of the driver), watch how people react to the image and debug the UI.


    We recorded the first holograms on silver-based material last year, now we are recording hologram samples on polymer material, which should provide better control over the diffraction efficiency of the resulting hologram.

    S.K .: And what about the second project - Element? And what is Autoyoga?
    MS: An element is a companion product, is inserted into the OBD connector in the car, and allows you to collect parameters and statistics on the car in real time. It can work with both a cell phone and Navion. Naturally, such products with a simpler implementation are already being made (including by the Chinese) - we need to provide greater opportunities for use. Autoyoga is, to a first approximation, a cross between “achievements” and an assessment of ride quality - to give the driver feedback on how well he drives, which can be improved.

    S.K .: What are the development plans for the future?
    MS: This year - we should get the final samples of Element and Navion, as complete solutions, run them in cars with real users and start mass production. Naturally, there is still a lot of work on this path, especially in optics and holography. For electronics and programming, no special surprises can be expected. In the longer term, we nurture the idea of ​​WayRay Cloud: through WayRay Cloud, all machines and infrastructure can be combined into a single whole that can function more efficiently. But how exactly this will work - for now, it’s probably premature to speak.

    SK: Give advice to a young guy who reads this article and really wants to create his own high-tech business. What should be the first step to make a dream a reality?
    MS: One of the main things is the balance between optimism and pessimism. In WayRay, for example, the main pessimist (realist?) Is me. Excessive optimism in general can often arise from a lack of understanding of the subject area - young innovators in the risk zone, by definition. It’s important not to try to bite off too big a chunk - Google and Facebook account for 1,000 small successful startups that you will never hear about in the news. “Biting a lot” will have to spend a lot of money investors. And of course, you need to remember what I wrote in the article about innovation in Russia as a whole.

    Link to the company’s website

    Interview for the GenerationS contest was taken by Sergey Kokarev

    Also popular now: