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Volkswagen ID.Code Concept Has Eyes That Can See You Coming

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Volkswagen has a large presence at this year’s Auto China show in Beijing. The ID.Code Concept could be the strangest of them all, but not for reasons you might expect. On the outside, it looks like a fairly straightforward SUV. The cabin isn’t too radical either, featuring a typical concept layout with four swiveling seats in a minimalist cockpit. It’s the technology coursing through its skin that, frankly, is a bit creepy.

How else would you describe a system called “3D Eyes” that watches you as you approach? It’s part of a comprehensive, interactive lighting system that VW envisions as part of an autonomous future. See that long white strip on the nose between the headlights? It’s called the Light Cloud, and it consists of 967 LEDs that, among other things, can create U-shaped “eyes” that give the appearance of looking in various directions.

Volkswagen ID.Code Concept
Volkswagen ID.Code Concept
Volkswagen ID.Code Concept

It works in conjunction with the Light Screen, which is harder to see. That’s because it’s the smiling portion of the front end below the Light Cloud, where you’d expect to see a grille. VW uses a transparent paint that, when the Light Screen is off, looks like a normal part of the car. When on, it can display everything from weather reports to seasonal images like cherry blossoms in the spring. If another car stops to let you make a turn left, the screen can display a big ol’ heart as a token of gratitude.

We stand by our creepy assessment, but if that’s not enough, VW also gives the ID.Code something called Smart Windows. In spots on the glass, these windows can display an avatar in the guise of a human that can strike up a conversation as you approach. So to sum up, we have digital eyes and emojis that appear on the front, and a floating human head on side windows that might remind you to wear sunscreen. And we haven’t even talked about the “secret sauce” yet.

VW says all of these tech features are part of a “secret sauce.” VW designers envision the sauce as something intangible that’s surprising and inspiring, and the tech, along with the overall design, are a part of that. The company says it’s really about bringing human-like camaraderie and communication to a future filled with AI. That communication isn’t relegated to just the vehicle owner, either. A bevy of cameras and sensors give the ID.Code Level 4 autonomous functionality, so these so-called eyes and external screens can also facilitate more vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

Meanwhile, front-seat occupants in the SUV’s cockpit can spin 180 degrees and chat with the folks in the back while the car drives. Or you can have a conversation with the car—or rather, the human avatar appears in augmented reality on the windshield. Presumably, it can multitask while safely maneuvering through traffic.

Volkswagen ID.Code Concept Interior

As for the exterior design, VW believes that’s also part of this special sauce. Described as sleek and jet-like, it’s supposed to strike a balance between a functional SUV and that of a sleek grand touring vehicle of old. Design is subjective, so we’ll let you draw your own conclusions there. We see a clean SUV with contemporary crossover flair, but that’s about it.

This is strictly a concept vehicle for now. There’s no mention of powertrain, range, or anything of a mechanical nature. There’s also no mention of possible production plans, though VW is adamant about the ID.Code pointing towards the company’s future in China. Whether features like 3D Eyes or human avatars migrate to other parts of the world, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.

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