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Small SUVs Ranked by Towing Capacity

Small SUVs Ranked by Towing Capacity

January 17, 2022

Sports utility vehicles (aka SUVs) are offered in small, midsize and full-size models. Larger models could be popular choices for those who need space for lots of passengers or individuals who need a decent amount of cargo room and strength for towing, too. Yet, car buyers who need to tow a small camper or a kayak but who can’t afford to spend the price for a large SUV model or who maybe don’t feel comfortable navigating such a large model could opt for a small SUV instead. Here are all the moderately-priced small SUVs ranked by towing capacity. A ROUNDUP OF ALL THE MODELS There are almost a dozen small SUV models on the market. Price ranges vary, but most hover in the mid-$20K range. Models offer similar towing capacities, too. Here are all the models sorted by maximum towing capacity (least to greatest). * 2021 Nissan Rogue MSRP: $26,050 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ Towing Capacity: 1,350 pounds * 2022 GMC Terrain MSRP: $27,900 Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds * 2022 Chevrolet Equinox MSRP: $25,800 Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds * 2022 Honda CR-V MSRP:  $25,750 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds * 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan MSRP: $25,995 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick (for 2021) Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds * 2022 Ford Escape MSRP: $26,010 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Towing Capacity: 1,500 to 3,500 pounds * 2022 Subaru Forester MSRP: $25,195 Towing Capacity: 1,500 to 3,000 pounds * 2022 Kia Sportage MSRP: $24,090 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Towing Capacity: 1,653 pounds * 2021 Mazda CX-5 MSRP: $25,370 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ Towing Capacity: 2,000 pounds * 2022 Hyundai Tucson MSRP: $25,350 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ Towing Capacity: 2,000 pounds * 2021 Toyota RAV4 MSRP: $26,350 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Towing Capacity: 2,500 pounds THE SMALL SUV WITH THE BEST TOWING CAPACITY Car buyers looking for the best small SUV for towing have several choices. Both the Ford Escape and the Subaru Forester offer a towing capacity that varies from 1,500 pounds to 3,000 and the RAV4 offers a maximum towing capacity of 2,500 pounds. The Escape and the RAV4 also both received Top Safety Pick ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In addition, all three models are comparable in price. The Subaru Forester is the least expensive option with a base price of $25,195. Small SUVs Ranked by Towing Capacity [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Do-Other-Models-Pull-Their-Weight.jpg] DO OTHER MODELS PULL THEIR WEIGHT? The other remaining models offer around the same towing capacity—about 1,500 to 2,000 pounds. The Nissan Rogue offers the lowest towing capacity, pulling only 1,350 pounds. Since models are quite comparable in their towing capacity, buyers might look at price and safety or other features to guide their final purchase decision. The Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-5 were rated the highest in safety by the IIHS, with a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Small SUVs are not designed, however, to tow massive loads. While these models could be fine pulling kayaks, canoes or other lighter items, they aren’t the option for buyers who need to pull large campers. Buyers may need to upgrade to a midsize model SUV, if they want a bit more power for towing. Luxury models like the Audi Q5 or the Land Rover Discovery Sport could be great choices—both can tow more than 4,400 pounds. The 2022 Audi Q5 received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS; the model has a base price of $45,600. The Jeep Cherokee is the best mid-sized option for towing, though. The Cherokee can pull 4,500 pounds. The Cherokee also is moderately priced at $27,890. WEIGHING THE BEST OPTIONS Buyers might not be sure which model is right for their needs. With so many options with similar specs, it becomes a bit more difficult to find the best choice. Ultimately, the choice may come down to budget and the price that the buyer is willing to spend or can afford to spend. New models may be more expensive than used models. Used luxury models, however, could be priced higher. When setting a budget for a new car, though, experts recommend spending less than 10 percent of monthly take home pay on that monthly car payment, and the total cost of transportation should be kept to less than 20 percent of monthly take home pay. What is take-home pay? This is the amount that is left from a paycheck after taxes and other deductions (like medical insurance). Take-home pay is not the total salary an individual earns. Transportation costs related to car ownership include the monthly payment, the price of fuel (or electricity for eco models) and car insurance. In total, these expenses make up the price of the car each month. Car buyers tend to focus on simply the monthly payment when budgeting for a new car. They need to remember, though, that a new car might cost more to insure, which means monthly premiums might increase. Fuel needs also may be different. Small SUVs may be more fuel efficient than larger models. However, if a car owner is used to driving a small car, they may face increased costs at the pump by upgrading to a small SUV. For buyers that don’t know how much they may be able to secure in financing, Nerdwallet offers an easy tool to calculate how much a buyer could borrow based on their income and credit score. When using Nerdwallet’s tool, remember to follow the guidelines based on take-home pay. Small SUVs Ranked by Towing Capacity [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Shopping-During-a-Supply-Crunch.jpg] SHOPPING DURING A SUPPLY CRUNCH Some buyers prefer new vehicles, but others are looking for the best price among pre-owned options. Buying new or used cars could just be a preference. When shopping used inventory, the age, mileage, make/model and condition all could impact the price of the vehicle. However, another major factor also can play a role: supply. When supply is low, buyers might not have much selection. Prices also could be higher. Car dealerships have faced times where car lots are nearly empty. When this happens, the buyer might have to purchase what they can find. This can make finding the best vehicle much harder, and it might be more difficult to find thrifty options, too. During times of supply crunch, buyers may need to do their research ahead of time. If they’re looking for a small SUV for towing, they may need to review all the options and have a backup plan in place. For those who really want a RAV4, they may be flexible and shop for a Honda CR-V. Many small SUVs are comparable in price and towing capacity. Buyers may have a brand loyalty or preference, but when supply is tight buyers may need to make a few concessions. Buyers shopping during a supply drought should know their needs, and have multiple backup models on their list in case their top choice is nowhere to be found on the lot. They also may research brands they’ve never purchased. Maybe a buyer is unfamiliar with Kia but knows that the brand offers a small SUV. Visit the manufacturer’s sites to learn all about the models. Then visit the IIHS and research safety ratings.   EXPLORING THE OPTIONS ONLINE Many buyers begin their research process online. Sites like Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and IIHS can help buyers find specs and prices as well as safety data on the models that interest them. Dealership sites are the best destinations for uncovering available inventory. In addition, buyers may want to see what types of incentives and promotions each dealership is offering. RelayCars also can help buyers explore cars from home via augmented reality and 3D imagery. RelayCars offers an immersive library of thousands of cars. Just choose the model that the buyer wants to view and begin exploring. RelayCars gives users the option to view the vehicle via a 3D image or in augmented reality. With 3D images, the user can rotate a model image of the vehicle in 360 degrees; view the car from any angle. They also can choose to view the model in different paint colors. With augmented reality, the user can choose where they want to view the vehicle. Augmented reality uses the camera of a smartphone or tablet to superimpose an image of the vehicle in the user’s own environment. View the car in a bedroom, in the garage or see how it looks in the driveway. The car is displayed in full scale, and, using the camera function of the device, an individual can actually walk around the vehicle. This gives users an immersive way to explore the vehicle. Auto brands also could offer immersive augmented reality experiences. When buyers are researching their vehicle options, they can visit the manufacturer’s websites to explore any augmented or virtual reality viewing experiences. In addition, buyers also can visit YouTube to check out any videos about their favorite models. Some dealerships offer virtual test drives via YouTube. These videos can help buyers get a better understanding of the vehicle. Buyers who are only focused on the towing capacity of a small SUV, though, may find that their options are very similar in price and perhaps design, too. Using third-party sites and resources can help buyers gain more information about their options, especially if they need to have multiple backup options on their list during times of inventory shortages.

What is the Best Mileage for a Used Car?

What is the Best Mileage for a Used Car?

January 12, 2022

Shopping for a used car could require a bit more online research. Buyers might know the make and model they want, but they might need a specific price to fit their budget. They may need to look at the age of the vehicles, and used cars also can vary in the number of miles on their odometer. Price could differ because of mileage, age and condition, too. Of all these factors, though, mileage might be the most perplexing. What is the best mileage for a used car? Is there a mileage that buyers should absolutely avoid? Here’s how to decipher the numbers on the odometer! Best Mileage for a Used Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Why-Mileage-Affects-Price.jpg] WHY MILEAGE AFFECTS PRICE When shopping for a used vehicle, a number of factors affect the price: make/model, age, mileage and condition. Older vehicles may be less expensive than newer models, but this isn’t always the case. For example, an older luxury car might be more expensive than a newer economical vehicle. Cars with damage or less than stellar interiors also may offer a lower price. There could be rips or other issues related to the overall appearance of the car. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t bode well for the value of the vehicle. Thus, the dealership will likely slice that price tag. Make and model also affects the price of used inventory for obvious reasons. Again, a luxury vehicle is going to be priced higher than a standard model. A minivan that is the same age as a compact car will typically be more expensive, too. Mileage is the final factor that can decrease or increase the sticker price. Why is mileage such an issue? Higher mileage means more wear and tear. As the mileage increases, the maintenance issues may also increase. When cars hit 100,000 miles, for example, there are a number of mechanical services that may be necessary. Drivers might consider the 100,000 mile marker as the car’s middle age. Car and Driver explains that today’s cars will drive up to 200,000 miles. Buying a car with six digits is a significant odometer reading, but is it a deal breaker? That really depends on the buyer. BEST MILEAGE ON A USED CAR FOR A COMMUTER Buyers will often turn to the used market to find a vehicle that’s more affordable. Some buyers don’t even consider a new model, because of the issues related to depreciation. For these buyers, used inventory is the better option. While a number of factors affect the price of a used car, buyers may zero in on the odometer when all other factors are equal. For commuters, choosing a used model that offers the lowest mileage might be ideal. What is the best mileage for a used car if the buyer needs that vehicle for a lengthy commute? The answer isn’t simple, because the buyer really needs to weigh the options of price and mileage and also understand how long they wish to keep that car. If the buyer is financing the car for three years, they will need to figure out if the car will even last that long. For example, if the car buyer commutes 100 miles round trip five days per week, they will drive about 2,000 miles per month or 24,000 miles each year. If the odometer of the used model is resting at 100,000 miles, that means the vehicle will rack up at least 60,000 miles over the life of the loan. While a vehicle could last up to 200,000 miles, there is no guarantee that it will last that long. Driving a car an extensive amount each day adds wear and tear on the vehicle. While every used vehicle should come with a report on its previous ownership and history, the buyer doesn’t know the driving habits of the previous owner. Did they commute daily? Did they service the vehicle regularly? For commuters who are buying a used vehicle, the mileage is important. Unfortunately, the mileage might not be the only consideration for the buyer. Price could impact what they choose, too. For this reason, one recommendation for a driver who needs a used car for a commute is to choose the model with the lowest mileage that fits within their budget. Buyers also can research safety ratings for different models via the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to find their safest models. BEST MILEAGE ON A USED CAR FOR CITY DRIVERS City drivers are those who drive locally. These drivers may work near their home, or they may be retired or stay-at-home parents who don’t need to travel far during their daily routines. When buying a used car for local driving, does mileage matter? The odometer reading may still be a factor to consider, but it may matter less to city drivers than to those who have long commutes. Buyers still need to consider how long they plan to keep the vehicle. They also need to look at their budget needs and how this weighs against the odometer reading. If buyers are driving 10 miles a day on average, the mileage isn’t going to become such an issue. However, if buyers also plan to use the vehicle for road trips or more extensive travel, then mileage on a used model could be more of a factor. Like commuters, though, city drivers might look at both price and mileage and weigh their options accordingly. Best Mileage for a Used Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Finding-the-Best-Used-Car.jpg] FINDING THE BEST USED CAR For many used car buyers, mileage will play into their final decision but so will price. Unlike new inventory, there are a number of factors that buyers will need to consider when purchasing a used vehicle. Some buyers can have their heart set on a specific make/model. Maybe they have a preference related to the type of car they drive. When searching for used models, though, sometimes the choices even with a single model can be really overwhelming. Prices can vary considerably. How do buyers sift through all their options? When shopping is used, buyers should understand where they are willing to compromise and where they will not budge. Some buyers might be willing to opt for an older model if it offers lower mileage. Other buyers might hunt for the newest models and not care about the mileage. Price and the budget may play into this decision, too. If buyers must have a low price, they will need to compromise in some areas. Again, buyers may find lower prices for cars that are older or that have higher mileage. However, lower prices also could be associated with economic models, too. Are buyers willing to sacrifice the model they want for a budget option? Would they rather choose an older luxury model than a budget-friendly newer economic vehicle? What about safety features? Newer models will typically offer better safety features. Do buyers want a backup camera or more modern capabilities? These are considerations buyers need to factor into their decision. IS FUEL EFFICIENCY MORE IMPORTANT THAN MILEAGE? Commuters may be curious if the fuel efficiency of a vehicle is more important than its mileage. If a car offers great fuel efficiency, does the mileage even matter? Hybrids and electric cars both get great energy efficiency. Since electric vehicles don’t use fuel, they don’t offer statistics related to miles per gallon (MPG). Instead, many include stats referring to the miles per gallon equivalent (or MPGe). Hybrids could travel 60 miles per gallon, but electric models might boast more than 100 MPGe. While this means that drivers won’t have to hit the pump or the plug as often, it doesn’t negate the odometer reading. Mileage still affects the value of the car and it still affects the life of the vehicle. Fuel efficiency can save money, but it won’t allow a vehicle to necessarily last longer. The electric plug isn’t a fountain of youth for an automobile! Instead of an engine that may fail, an electric vehicle will have a battery that needs to be replaced. As AutoTrader explains, batteries are constantly evolving and getting better. Older electric vehicles will offer less range than newer models. Is it cheaper to replace an older model’s battery or just replace the car? That could be the ultimate question for those who opt for used electric models. WHAT IS THE BEST MILEAGE FOR A USED CAR? There is no ideal odometer reading for a used car. Buyers need to weigh the mileage against other factors for the car. Age, mileage, condition and make and model all affect the price of that vehicle. Some buyers may be fine with a car with higher mileage if it fits into their budget. These buyers could be city drivers who don’t travel far for work or daily errands. Those with long commutes, though, might need a car with the lowest mileage that fits into their budget. Higher mileage on a used model could mean more money in upkeep if the driver uses the car for long commutes. In addition, that used purchase might not have a long life if it already has an odometer with six figures. Ultimately, buyers need to find the used model that fits their budget and their driving habits. Mileage is important to some buyers but isn’t a concern to others. The reading on the odometer is just one aspect to consider when buying a used model.

Third Row SUVs for Every Budget and Space Need

Third Row SUVs for Every Budget and Space Need

January 7, 2022

Third-row SUVs are an ideal vehicle for car buyers looking for enough space for a large family or those who need cargo space for recreational or business equipment. These vehicles have a rugged aesthetic for buyers who don’t necessarily want a standard family car. Third-row SUVs are perfect for fitting extra passengers—most will seat at least seven—but not all of them are full-sized SUVs. Car buyers can find third-row SUVs for every budget and space need; third rows are offered in mid-size and full-size SUVs. Looking for the perfect third-row SUV? Here are the options by size and price. SMALLER THIRD-ROW SUVS Looking for a small SUV with maximum seating capacity? The smallest SUVs that feature third-rows might be more midsize than small. Many compact or small SUVs typically only feature a second row plus cargo space. CarBuzz ranked the top smallest SUVs that feature third-row seating. While smaller SUVs might not have as much space between rows as larger options, they could be easier on the budget. Here are the top five smallest SUVs featuring third-row seating from CarBuzz with additional data on price, seating capacity and safety rating (from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety): Kia Sorento [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Kia-Sorento.jpg] * Kia Sorento (Midsize SUV) Base Price: $29,490 (2022 model) Capacity: Space for 7 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Hyundai Palisade [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Hyundai-Palisade.jpg] * Hyundai Palisade (Midsize SUV) Base Price: $33,150 (2022 SE model) Capacity: Space for up to 8 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ Kia Telluride [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Kia-Sorento-1.jpg] * Kia Telluride (Midsize SUV) Base Price: $32,790 Capacity: Space for up to 8 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick Genesis GV80 V6 AWD [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Genesis-GV80-V6-AWD.jpg] * Genesis GV80 V6 AWD (Midsize SUV) Base Price: $59,650 (2021 model) Capacity: Space for 7 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ Volvo XC90 [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Volvo-XC90.jpg] * Volvo XC90 (Midsize SUV) Base Price: $49,900 (2022 model) Capacity: Space for 7 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ SUVS OFFERING THE MOST ROOM IN THE THIRD ROW Midsize SUVs might be easier on the budget than their larger counterparts, but for buyers who need as much space as possible, a full-size SUV might be the best option. U.S. News & World Report ranked the SUVs (2021 models) with the best third-row seats. Here are the top five picks from U.S. News based on leg room for the third-row with additional data on price and safety ratings (two are actually midsize models!): Ford Expedition [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Ford-Expedition.jpg] * Ford Expedition Third Row Space: 40.9 inches. Base Price: $50,595 (2021 model) Safety Rating: N/A Chevy Suburban [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Chevy-Suburban.jpg] * Chevy Suburban Third-Row Space: 36.7 inches Base Price: $52,300 (2021 model) Safety Rating: N/A GMC Yukon [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/GMC-Yukon.jpg] * GMC Yukon Third-Row Space: 34.9 inches Base Price: $50,595 Safety Rating: N/A Volkswagen Atlas [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Volkswagen-Atlas.jpg] * Volkswagen Atlas (Midsize SUV) Third-Row Space: 33.7 inches Base Price: $31,545 Safety Rating: Review Report Chevy Traverse [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Chevy-Traverse.jpg] * Chevy Traverse (Midsize SUV) Third-Row Space: 33.5 inches Base Price: $29,800 Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick FINDING THE BEST AND MOST AFFORDABLE THIRD-ROW SUV Buyers on the hunt for a new 2021 or 2022 SUV featuring the third-row of seating might opt for the Chevy Traverse or the Kia Sorento, as these two models are the least expensive of all the above choices. But these models are not the least expensive third-row SUV; the Volkswagen Tiguan is the least expensive 2021 model with an MSRP of $25,245.   Those with a very tight budget, though, also can shop used or pre-owned SUVs to find a deal that fits into their budget while providing the space they need. When looking for used or pre-owned models, buyers can research different models for their safety ratings via IIHS. The site offers an easy search query system to find the ratings for almost all vehicles; however, data on larger SUVs could be limited. If buyers aren’t sure if they are getting a good deal from the dealership, they also can use Kelley Blue Book (KBB) to find out the prices of a model in their area. KBB offers an easy query system to find prices of models. Just type in the year, make, model and location, and KBB will pull up all the vehicles in the area. This lets buyers compare prices across dealerships. RESEARCHING OPTIONS ONLINE Cox Automotive’s Car Buyer Journey Study (Pandemic Edition) reported that buyers spent more than seven hours researching and shopping for a car online. This was actually about two hours less than buyers spent on the same tasks in 2019. However, for many buyers, the research begins online. Many begin their search via third-party sites (like KBB), and more than three-quarters of shoppers went to at least two sites. The study noted that dealership websites were more likely to be the final online destination for buyers; 33 percent of those participating in the study said that they visited dealership sites last. Buyers may look online for safety ratings, price and other details related to their potential purchase. Some buyers might know exactly the type of vehicle they want and may zoom through their research phase, looking perhaps only at the best prices in the area. Other buyers, though, might have no idea about the type of car they want to purchase. These shoppers could do a bit more research online. They may feel that they are beginning their search from scratch. While buyers could visit sites like Edmunds, IIHS and KBB for information about vehicles, these sites don’t necessarily help buyers visualize the vehicle beyond simple two dimensional photos. Even dealership sites may offer limited photographs of new models. Some could offer slideshows or a selection of photos, but what about buyers who want more visual data? Augmented Reality for Immersive Research [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Augmented-Reality-for-Immersive-Research.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR IMMERSIVE RESEARCH RelayCars provides buyers with the tools to research any vehicle up close via 3D and augmented reality visuals. RelayCars offers thousands of models for buyers to explore. Augmented reality can be a key tool during the car research phase. While photos show details of the vehicle, they aren’t designed to allow for exploration. Augmented reality  has been used by many stores and companies for try-on experiences that give consumers a way to see products before purchasing. With augmented reality, consumers can virtually swipe paint onto their walls or try on different cosmetics. Stores also let shoppers preview furniture in their homes. Just drop a coffee table into the space to see if it fits. RelayCars is the try-on experience for cars. While the site lets shoppers preview vehicles on the screen via interactive 3D graphics, RelayCars also offers an augmented reality experience. Visitors to RelayCars can choose a model that they want to explore and view in augmented reality, and, using their smartphone or tablet camera, they can capture the space where they want to place the vehicle. The car (or SUV) can be dropped in any space. View an immersive vehicle in the driveway or see how it looks in the garage. Why is augmented reality so different from standard imagery? Augmented reality typically depicts the product as it would be in person. The table from a furniture store isn’t just a tiny model, it’s shown in normal size via the augmented reality preview. When shopping for cars, augmented reality can let shoppers better understand the design of the vehicle. In addition, some platforms even let the user look inside the vehicle. The vehicle can appear wherever the user wants to explore it. Once the augmented reality vehicle is placed into the environment, the user can actually walk around the model. RelayCars lets users preview as many vehicles as they want in augmented reality. There is no limit to how many vehicles consumers can research. The site acts as a research tool to help buyers better understand their options and explore them. After they’ve used the augmented reality tool via RelayCars, they also can view the car on-screen in 3D. The images of the vehicle can be rotated to see the car from any angle. In addition, RelayCars also offers a 3D panorama tour for each model. This lets users explore the interior of the car. Every vehicle in RelayCars’ showroom also can be viewed in different paint hues. However, the options depend on the color choices for each vehicle. USING RELAYCARS TO FIND THE BEST THIRD-ROW SUV For buyers looking for the best SUV with third-row seating, RelayCars can be used to explore the interior space. The 3D panorama viewing option gives users the feeling that they are sitting in the front seat of the SUV and looking around the vehicle. Use the mouse or just a fingertip to navigate around the SUV. Augmented reality also lets buyers see how the SUV would look in their garage or driveway. They also can immerse themselves in exploration to better understand the SUV’s design and walk around the vehicle. Buyers can explore different SUV models via RelayCars to find the best SUV for their space needs. Then they might visit dealership websites to find the best price or deals in the area. RelayCars adds an immersive visual element to the car shopping experience to allow for consumers to create a virtual (or augmented reality) showroom in their home. When buyers find the best SUV at the best price, they can save the rest of the details for the dealership visit. RelayCars helps buyers research vehicles from home and creates a unique preview experience that lets them explore all their vehicle options!

The Most Reliable Pickup Trucks

The Most Reliable Pickup Trucks

January 3, 2022

Buyers on the hunt for a new pickup truck might be drawn to this body type for its rugged durability and towing capacity. Pickup trucks are offered in ½ ton, ¾ ton and full-ton models. Some are diesel, but electric trucks are an option, too. Pickup trucks are a workhorse vehicle and many are capable of towing and hauling massive loads. Trucks also can hit the off-beaten paths, conquering sand, mud and rocks, too. When shopping for a new pickup truck, though, what models are the best and most reliable. Here are the most reliable pickup trucks. Reliable Pickup Trucks [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Sizing-Up-the-Pickup.jpg] SIZING UP THE PICKUP Buyers who are unfamiliar with the pickup truck market might be a bit overwhelmed by their options when they start browsing online. Buyers will typically see a range of numbers for pickup truck models; these numbers include 1500 or 150, 2500 or 250, 3500 or 350 or even 4500. What do these numbers mean? Pickup truck numbers denote their size. It’s easier if buyers associate the numbers with tonnage; the numbers 1500 or 150 denote ½ ton models, 2500 or 250 refer to ¾ ton models and the largest vehicles are full-tons and are denoted by 3500 or 350. However, buyers may see a 450, and this is the largest model. Other manufacturers may represent their largest models differently. Weight for models isn’t necessarily ½ ton or even full ton; the terms ½ ton or ¾ ton are now just industry references. Models may weigh significantly more than the ½ ton reference suggests. Buyers need to look at these classes as measurements of strength instead of weight or exact tonnage. A half-ton pickup is the lightest weight option, and it is capable of towing and hauling a significant amount of weight. However, towing and hauling capacity increases with the model size. Buyers who need brute force for work needs would need to choose a full-ton model. Reliable Pickup Trucks [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/The-Weight-of-Towing.jpg] THE WEIGHT OF TOWING The larger and heavier the pickup, the more weight it is capable of towing. Vehicle buyers may have different towing needs related to their job or just their lifestyle or interest. Avid water sport enthusiasts may need to tow a small trailer carrying a jet ski or a boat. Those who love the outdoors may need to tow a small camper. Farmers or ranchers may need a heavier pickup truck for towing large machinery or equipment, though. They may opt for a ¾ ton or one-ton model. How much weight can each model tow? What model is best for a buyer’s towing needs? Here’s how the most popular models of ½ ton pickup trucks stack up in towing capacity: * 2021 Ford F-150 (Five engine options) 8,200 to 14,000 pounds * 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (Five engine options) Up to 13,300 pounds * GMC Sierra 1500 Up to 13,000 pounds * 2022 Ram 1500 Up to 12,750 pounds * 2021 Nissan TITAN 9,310, to 11,040 pounds * 2021 Toyota Tundra 9,400 to 10,100 pounds * 2022 GMC Canyon Up to 7,700 pounds * 2021 Ford Ranger Up to 7,500 pounds * 2021 Jeep Gladiator Up to 7,650 pounds * 2022 Chevrolet Colorado Up to 7,000 pounds * 2022 Toyota Tacoma 3,500 to 6,800 pounds * 2022 Nissan Frontier Up to 6,720 pounds * 2022 Honda Ridgeline 5,000 pounds TOWING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ¾ TON AND FULL TON PICKUPS For car buyers who need towing capacity beyond the abilities of the typical ½ ton pickup, a ¾ ton or full-ton might be the better option. For the one-ton models, Ford ranks as the top choice for towing. The Ford F-350 is capable of towing up to 21,000 pounds, but with a fifth-wheel this extends its towing power to 32,000 pounds. Ford also offers the Super Duty F-450 XL, which can tow up to 36,400 pounds. This is by far the beast of all the pickup truck options.   The ¾ ton models can’t tow nearly as much as a full-ton pickup, but they can tow more than the ½ ton. In this class, Ford’s F-250 model can tow up to 21,800 pounds (for the fifth wheel depending on the engine). The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD can tow up to 18,510 pounds. WHAT IS THE SAFEST PICKUP TRUCK? Buyers may want the safest pickup truck. When researching the safety ratings of a vehicle, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the best resource. Buyers can search by make/model to find the safety rating and read the full safety report. The top rating is denoted as the Top Safety Pick+. For small pickup trucks, there were no models that received this rating. However, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crew cab pickup received a Top Safety Pick rating (which is the next best rating from the Institute). For 2021 large pickup trucks, there also were no models that received a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Multiple models received the Top Safety Pick rating, however. These models included: * 2021 Ford F-150 Crew Cab pickup * 2021 Ford F-150 Extended cab pickup * 2021 Ram 1500 Crew cab pickup Buyers considering other models can check out their safety ratings by visiting the IIHS website. Safety reports are provided for every make/model. However, not all 2022 models have been released so data could be unavailable. MOST RELIABLE PICKUP TRUCKS Reliability encompasses many factors for a vehicle. Every year, J.D. Power ranks one vehicle in each class as the most dependable; this vehicle is given the J.D. Power Award for Highest Dependability. Here’s how pickup truck models fared for the 2021 awards (based on 2018 model years): LARGE HEAVY DUTY PICKUP (#1) * 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD The Silverado scored an 80 from J.D. Power. For Quality and Reliability, it received an 81 (which is denoted as Great). The Silverado received a 78 related to Driving Experience; this is considered Average. For Resale, it received another average score of 79. However, it received an 83 for Dealership Experience, which also is Great. LARGE LIGHT DUTY PICKUP MODELS * Toyota Tundra 4WD The Tundra scored an 84 in Quality and Reliability, which was the highest in its class. However, for Driving Experience, it only scored an 81. THE BUDGETARY MATTERS Car buyers might review the safety and reliability ratings as well as the towing capacity for their pickup choices, but price often affects the choice of many buyers. Pickup trucks can range in price, depending on their size, their engine and additional features as well. The full-ton models will be the most expensive choices, but the engine also adds to the cost. With pickup trucks, buyers can typically choose from different engines. The power of the engine can increase the towing capacity. More powerful engines—including diesel—will often be more expensive. Buyers also could choose to add more features to their truck, and this also adds to the price of the automobile. Before shopping for a pickup truck, buyers should figure out how much they can spend. However, the price of a vehicle doesn’t just include the monthly payment, it also includes the price of insurance and fuel needs. In general, experts recommend allocating no more than 15 to 20 percent of take-home pay (this is the amount after taxes are deducted) to transportation costs. Nerdwallet advises that the car payment should only be less than 10 percent of take-home earnings. USE RELAYCARS TO EXPLORE THE OPTIONS Once buyers have figured out how much they can spend on a new pickup truck and have researched the trucks that fit their towing needs, they can explore their options on RelayCars. Using the site, buyers can preview cars in 3D or in augmented reality. RelayCars includes a virtual tour of the exterior and interior of each different model. Each vehicle can be explored in 360 degrees to see the interior and exterior of the vehicle. The interior panorama tour allows buyers to see the features in the front and back seats. Using these virtual tours, buyers can better understand the vehicle’s space constraints to determine if the model is a fit for their needs. RelayCars also lets buyers view the vehicles in different paint hues. RelayCars provides an immersive augmented reality experience for buyers, too. Each model in RelayCars’ virtual showroom can be explored in augmented reality in the user’s environment. Drop a Dodge Ram into the garage and walk around the vehicle, or preview different trucks in the driveway. With augmented reality, car buyers can get up close with a virtual model of any truck. They will see a graphic depiction of the vehicle appear before them, and they can view that car as if it’s actually in their space. Augmented reality gives users a personalized showroom experience, except the user’s own environment transforms into the showroom. There is no limit on the number of pickup trucks that car shoppers can preview via RelayCars. Check out different makes and models to find the most appealing option. Explore the exterior and interior of each model, and then decide what pickup truck would work best for the needs and budget of the buyer. RelayCars is open day or night. When buyers are shopping for the most reliable pickup truck, they can view their options from home at any time of day. Use RelayCars as a personal vehicle showroom and immerse in the virtual and augmented reality experiences.

How Consumers Can Access a Virtual Reality Experience without Buying a Headset

How Consumers Can Access a Virtual Reality Experience without Buying a Headset

December 29, 2021

Virtual reality is one access point to the realm known as the metaverse. If the term sounds familiar, it’s because Facebook has rebranded as Meta, Inc. The name nods to the ‘metaverse,’ and the company has expressed its commitment to developing this new alternate universe. While augmented reality dips a toe into a meta world, virtual reality exists firmly in the metaverse. Unfortunately, accessing a virtual reality experience typically requires a headset, which can be costly and cumbersome. However, consumers don’t necessarily need to own a headset to enjoy a virtual reality experience. In fact, virtual reality is more accessible than most consumers realize. Here are five virtual reality experiences for consumers that want to explore the metaverse but that, perhaps, don’t want to spend hundreds on a new headset or goggles. GOOGLE CARDBOARD With Google Cardboard, the smartphone can transform into a virtual reality headset. While this experience isn’t free, it is very inexpensive. Google Cardboard headsets can be purchased in a range of prices, and several cost less than $10.   How do consumers know which Cardboard option is best? Choose the option that fits the smartphone screen. Feeling DIY inspired? Google also offers instructions online on how to build a viewer from basic items found around the home. Or make a list from the tutorial and visit a hardware store. After building or receiving the viewer, consumers can download the Google Cardboard app via the App Store or Google Play and start enjoying virtual reality experiences! Virtual Reality Experience [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Virtual-Reality-Spa-Experiences.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY SPA EXPERIENCES Virtual reality experiences are now used to enhance spa treatments. While virtual reality isn’t being used as a treatment, it is being utilized to help guests relax and enjoy a more immersive state of relaxation. Virtual reality headsets allow guests to enjoy a getaway of their choice. Guests can transport to a lush paradise or another scenic environment as they sit in a massage chair. The experience is called Esquapes Immersive Relaxation and also uses fans combined with heat lamps to create a more realistic virtual—and warm!—getaway. VIRTUAL REALITY GAMES Local adventure parks often include virtual reality games or other experiences. Many charge a fee for participating, but for those who want to experience virtual reality without committing to a headset, these games and experiences are great options. To find virtual reality offerings, just search for “virtual reality experiences near me” on Google. Or ask a virtual assistant via a smartphone. Yes, it’s really that easy. And many major cities will offer something virtual! Virtual Reality Experience [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Virtual-Reality-Museum-Experiences.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY MUSEUM EXPERIENCES Some museums offer virtual reality experiences to allow guests to immerse in an art or other exhibit. These experiences vary but are a unique way to explore an exhibit or work of art. Some exhibits are even virtual by design! Museum Next included a round-up of different museums offering virtual reality and how each has utilized this technology to enhance their exhibits.  For example, the V&A used virtual reality for its Curious Alice exhibit, which focused on the “…origins, adaptations and reinventions…” of the classic adventures by Lewis Carroll.  The virtual experience transports the visitor into Wonderland. Go on quests, solve riddles (from the Caterpillar, of course) and interact with the characters. There’s even a game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts, because a visit into the mad world of Wonderland wouldn’t be complete without a game of croquet. Grab a flamingo! The Louvre’s dip into virtual reality also was highlighted by Museum Next. The Louvre created a virtual reality experience focused on Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Users can download the app ‘Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass’ via Google Play or the App Store. However, users must have access to Google Cardboard or a virtual reality headset to explore the app. VIRTUAL TOURS Stuck at home with nothing to do? Let virtual reality be the exit to another experience…or to another part of the world. While many museums offer virtual reality experiences as part of an exhibit, many offer virtual tours, too. There is no need for a headset to take a virtual tour. However, users will need access to their computer…or a smartphone or tablet. Virtual tours aren’t true virtual reality. That is, without a headset or goggles, the user doesn’t feel completely transported. Yet, tours are virtual in that they allow the user to explore the museum from  home. Virtual tours can let users explore different exhibits in detail or just feel as though they are walking down the corridors of the museum, looking up at paintings or other artwork. The Sistine Chapel allows those at home to view Michelangelo’s artwork on the Chapel’s ceiling. Use the mouse (or the finger) to navigate through this historic and wondrous site. Directional arrows via the virtual tour allow users to get closer to different areas of the Chapel (and artwork by different artists). Or rotate the tour upwards to view the ceiling. Other museums include virtual tours of exhibits or may even allow guests to schedule more immersive and lengthy private virtual tours led by a personal tour guide from the museum. Different museums may provide unique experiences and offerings. However, those who are interested in exploring virtual reality experiences at local museums might want to visit their websites first. Many virtual tours are accessible via the museum’s website or there may be additional information related to virtual tours posted online as well. Virtual Reality Experience [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Virtual-Reality-Experience-for-Shopping.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE FOR SHOPPING? Consumers might find themselves stuck at home during a rainy or snowy day but still want to go shopping or at least window shop. Most consumers know that online shopping is a convenient way to order what they need and find what they want; many stores even allow consumers to buy online and ship to the store (often for free!). Plus, online shopping is open and accessible rain or shine. But is online shopping virtual reality? Not quite. Many people use the term ‘virtual’ to describe an experience that doesn’t take place in person or at a physical location. However, the metaverse still can be used to aid shoppers in their online experiences. Virtual reality hasn’t yet hit mainstream popularity. Many individuals at home don’t have access to virtual reality headsets or goggles. And while stores could offer virtual experiences at their physical locations, what about online shopping? Can virtual reality be used to help shoppers online? These completely virtual experiences aren’t yet common. Although they could be in the future. Perhaps if Meta releases a very affordable virtual reality headset, it’s possible that the metaverse could be used for shopping. Perhaps malls go virtual. However, the metaverse is accessible via another technology that’s very similar to virtual reality. Augmented reality combines the real world environment and the metaverse. Using the camera on a smartphone or tablet, the user visualizes the real world, and augmented reality apps then overlay graphics into this environment. Since augmented reality combines the real world with graphics, the technology is popular for ‘try on’ experiences that allow consumers to preview products. The camera can be used as a window or a mirror. For example, the user can capture their own face via the camera and an augmented reality try on experience can let them virtually swipe on makeup hues or even hair colors! These experiences also let the consumer explore and enjoy products in new ways. And they also could decrease the likelihood of a return. After all, if an individual can preview a lipstick color, they can decide if the color flatters their complexion. Or if it’s a big no. Before augmented reality experiences became more mainstream, the consumer had to guess about products. Now, though, augmented reality lets consumers drop furniture into a room to see if it fits. Or try on a pair of eyeglasses. Paint colors can even be previewed on walls. While augmented reality doesn’t transport the user to another realm, it does mix reality with the metaverse. The furniture that is virtually placed into a room doesn’t really exist. It’s just a depiction. A computer graphic. But could virtual reality be used to create even more immersive experiences in the future? That might depend on the future of virtual reality. For many consumers, virtual reality headsets aren’t practical or affordable. Some consumers might not even enjoy virtual reality, as the experience could make them feel sick or induce a headache. However, if the headsets become more mainstream, perhaps more affordable, then maybe the metaverse could expand to include virtual shopping experiences. The future of the metaverse, though, also may be a long way off. While Meta (the company) is interested in furthering these experiences, consumers could see different iterations of the metaverse. Or different metaverse destinations that are branded by different tech companies. Apple could deploy its own metaverse with virtual reality experiences. There could be a Google metaverse. And a Facebook metaverse…or, rather, a Meta metaverse. For now, though, augmented reality could be the easiest way for consumers to enjoy a semi-virtual experience without the headset or maybe even the headache. However, for those who really want to fully immerse into a virtual world and leave reality behind, stepping into virtual reality might be as easy as visiting a local museum or even a spa. And for those who wish to deploy virtual reality without an expensive headset, Google Cardboard could be the cheapest ticket to the fully virtual metaverse!

Categories: Virtual Reality
Why Virtual Reality Goggles are Getting Cheugy

Why Virtual Reality Goggles are Getting Cheugy

December 24, 2021

Pumpkin spiced lattes, skinny jeans, side parts, graphic tees. The commonality? Their cheugy status. While these once cool trends were often associated with the younger generation known as Millennials, Generation Z is up and coming. They don’t wear skinnies. They prefer the middle part. And maybe they’re also not really donning virtual reality goggles. Yes, we might need to admit an uncomfortable tech truth. Virtual reality goggles might be getting cheugy! Except Millennials never really embraced virtual reality with zeal. The New York Times was a bit kinder in noting that the tech is “niche.” A few years back, Inc. wrote about how virtual reality could be used to reach Gen Z. And while this immersive tech is the type of experience Gen Z likes, the problem with virtual reality is the gateway into it: the virtual reality goggles. The headsets or goggles—call them what you will—have never really been sleek or stylish. They’re clunky. They often connect with cumbersome wiring. Some are insanely expensive. Even years after Inc. wrote about the allure of virtual reality and augmented reality, not much has changed for the design of virtual reality headsets. But augmented reality? That’s another story. Tech writers aren’t necessarily buzzing consistently about virtual reality headsets. They are, however, waiting for the drop of consumer-driven augmented reality glasses. These may be the promise of the future. The sleek visual link to a fully immersive world. And one that isn’t tethered to wires or other equipment. Virtual reality goggles might need to be cancelled. At least in their common iterations. They’re evolving but not really evolving. Their clunkiness has not really improved over time, and, while this is fine for enterprise uses like employee training and simulations, is it really what the younger audience is desiring? Oculus is one of the most popular virtual reality consumer headsets on the market. It’s also the most affordable. In the last quarter of 2020, Statista reported that more than a million headsets were sold. In the first quarter of 2021, sales dropped to around 850,000. Fourth quarter, of course, correlates with the holidays. The sales drop isn’t horrific. Oculus isn’t hurting. But does the traditional headset need a facelift? A redesign? And could that be in the future? Oculus is owned by Facebook, now known as Meta. The company has been very outspoken—as has its founder—about the future of immersive technology. Meta is interested in creating an entire metaverse, but the question is will virtual reality be a part of it? Or will augmented reality augment this universe? Meta’s home page includes both augmented and virtual reality possibilities. Oculus also is included. But will the standard Oculus headset be the gateway into Meta’s metaverse? Or will consumers see something much more astounding and cutting edge from Meta? Virtual Reality Goggles [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/The-Problem-with-Virtual.jpg] THE PROBLEM WITH VIRTUAL Virtual reality comes with a few problematic features for some consumers. Virtual reality isn’t—right now—necessarily financially accessible. Oculus tends to be one of the more budget-friendly headsets at around $300, but for many individuals and families this isn’t affordable especially since virtual reality is largely seen as entertainment. Consumers don’t need virtual reality. It isn’t essential to everyday life. Thus, the investment really isn’t alluring for those who can’t afford it. In order for technology to really become mainstream, it needs to be equitable and affordable but it also needs to be necessary. Right now, virtual reality isn’t a necessary technology. It isn’t a smartphone. It isn’t a computer. Virtual reality isn’t yet a means of connection. Virtual reality also isn’t embraceable for every consumer. The technology requires a headset to immerse into the experience, and this experience tricks the brain into thinking that movement or other actions are occurring when the body remains at rest. The issue with this is that some individuals suffer from nausea or other sickness because of sensory miscommunication. Their brain and body aren’t in sync. They feel nauseated, they may suffer from headaches or feel dizzy. Similar reactions can happen with modern 3D movies. The headsets are the only way to access the virtual realm. And, for some consumers, the discomfort and price of the headset just isn’t worth the admission into a virtual realm. While virtual reality headsets have improved over the years, they’re still bulky and clunky. And many are still tethered by wires, which can make those models cumbersome. THE METAVERSE AND VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY So is virtual reality done? No! Virtual reality as a technology isn’t cheugy. Virtual reality isn’t the problem; the headsets are the problem. The issues of access are the problem. And this is where the metaverse and the buzz about glasses enter the picture. Creating an entire metaverse isn’t going to happen overnight. And how that world will look is only really understood by Meta and the imagination of those who will be creating it. Yet, if consumers and younger generations are going to want to jump into this realm, the access might need to be a bit more visually appealing…and financially feasible. If the metaverse is going to be the future of connection, the access into it will need to be comfortable for the consumer. And, obviously, not cost prohibitive. The beginning of this technology will probably be experienced by those who can afford the technology to access it. However, if the metaverse or this type of technology becomes mainstream, tech companies might develop more affordable glasses to see into this world. As Meta is developing its metaverse, though, what of Apple, Google, Microsoft and others? Could there be multiple different realms branded by each company? And would or could each company offer its own pair of either augmented or virtual reality glasses that can be used to immerse into these experiences? Virtual Reality Goggles [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Augmented-Reality-Glasses.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES The development of augmented reality glasses may change the immersive consumer experience. Microsoft has stated its intent to create a consumer version of HoloLens, which features augmented reality. Most everyone knows Meta’s commitment to immersive technology. And the buzz around augmented reality glasses from Apple has been around for quite some time. Glasses—sleek and probably unique to each company—might be what usurps the virtual reality goggles or headset. And, again, this isn’t assuming that virtual reality will go away or disappear. However, accessing the technology could change. Perhaps augmented reality glasses give way to glasses that also allow entrance into virtual reality. Or maybe these glasses become the access point to mixed reality experiences. The race is on between the tech giants regarding who will debut the first consumer-driven augmented reality glasses. However, this debut could mark the turning point for augmented reality to solidify the virtual reality goggle’s cheugy status. The debut of augmented reality glasses also could be a call to tech companies for redesigning virtual reality headsets to make them sleeker, less cumbersome and, hopefully, more affordable, too…and save them from cheugy. VIRTUAL REALITY WITHOUT THE HEADSET For consumers who want to experience virtual reality without donning those cumbersome and not-so-cool headsets or goggles, there are a few options. Unfortunately, those options aren’t true virtual reality. The definition of virtual is sometimes very loose. Some consumers consider anything that doesn’t take place in-person to be ‘virtual.’ Like virtual learning or virtual meetings. True virtual reality takes place in a virtual realm; everything in this realm is graphically generated. There isn’t any real world overlap. Without a headset or goggles, entering the virtual realm isn’t really feasible. However, those who want an immersive experience that isn’t virtual reality can opt for augmented reality experiences. Augmented reality is very much accessible for most consumers; all that’s needed is a smartphone or tablet. Explore augmented reality games or use augmented reality tools to preview products. Consumers experience augmented reality by using their phone or tablet camera to view the real world; the app will display the augmented reality data into the real environment. Augmented reality overlays digital graphics on top of the real world; it can sometimes mix fantasy with reality. Pokemon might not really exist, but thanks to augmented reality they appear in the real world. While virtual reality isn’t accessible without a headset or goggles, the immersive experience of augmented reality can be enjoyed by most consumers. Augmented reality also can be embedded into Snapchat and other social media posts. THE EVOLUTION OF REALITY Reality is evolving into augmented and virtual realms. While the evolution of virtual reality headsets seems slightly stagnated, the pursuit of augmented reality technology including glasses may propel interest in redesigning those old clunky headsets. If and when augmented reality glasses become a reality, this technology could be the new ‘must have’ item. The new tech darling. Virtual reality isn’t cancelled, though. And the tech itself isn’t cheugy. However, the old clunky styling of the access into the virtual realm has, perhaps, entering its tech expiration. Virtual reality needs a redesign. For virtual reality to fully hit mainstream popularity, for it to really be a ‘must have,’ it also needs to be necessary. It isn’t. Not yet. Could the metaverse change this? That remains to be seen. But consumers also could be faced with many virtual and augmented realities branded by different tech players. And they all could have their own glasses. Hopefully, those glasses will be worth the wait…and worth the wear. And, ideally, engineers will have declunked the cheugy virtual reality goggles and allowed them to evolve into something that is both accessible and stylish.

Categories: Virtual Reality
How Businesses Immerse In Microsoft Augmented Reality Technology

How Businesses Immerse In Microsoft Augmented Reality Technology

December 20, 2021

Augmented reality has become the buzz among tech giants. Facebook is focusing on more immersive experiences and developing its metaverse. Tech writers have been waiting patiently—or not so patiently—for new Apple consumer-driven augmented reality glasses. Google offers many augmented reality experiences including Floom and other augmented reality ‘experiments.’ But what about Microsoft? Has Microsoft gone quiet in the immersive world? The reality is that Microsoft has never stopped augmenting. In fact, Microsoft’s HoloLens has been wired into enterprise usage for years. Interested in immersing into the augmented world? Here’s how Microsoft augmented reality has changed business thanks to HoloLens. WHAT IS HOLOLENS? Microsoft’s HoloLens is a ‘mixed reality headset.’ Businesses can use HoloLens to support development and design of products or even to train employees. HoloLens can launch virtual reality experiences or augmented reality experiences. The usage may depend on the needs and requirements of the business. But the seemingly hybrid technology of the glasses (or headset) is why Microsoft refers to it as ‘mixed reality. Many bill HoloLens as augmented reality, but its uses for business are a bit virtual in design. That is, meetings can be held via HoloLens, with individuals appearing at tables or elsewhere during the virtual sessions. The holographic or digital images appear in the real environment, which is the definition of augmented reality. For many users, this experience can appear as though it is virtual in design. The term ‘virtual,’ though, is often interpreted differently by tech professionals and consumers. As for consumers, they cannot purchase a HoloLens just for their own use, for gaming or even just for fun. For now HoloLens is only used by businesses. However, a Wall Street Journal interview revealed that a consumer HoloLens will be a reality in the future…although perhaps not in the near future.   Microsoft’s competitors, though, also are eyeing a consumer-driven pair of augmented reality glasses; while Facebook launched the Facebook x Ray Ban Stories glasses, they don’t include any augmented reality tech. HOLOLENS MESHES AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY While the HoloLens experiences might seem to mesh augmented and virtual reality for those who jump into the experience, Microsoft also has launched its Mesh platform that is a unique hybrid of these two technologies. Tom Warren with The Verge interviewed Microsoft’s Alex Kipman while wearing a HoloLens 2 and utilizing the Mesh platform. Warren wrote that the experience “…felt like a Microsoft Teams meeting set in the future.” Warren joined Kipman in a virtual conference where Kipman appeared—albeit virtually as an avatar—at Warren’s coffee table. The experience included Kipman sharing different virtual objects with the writer, who could then make changes to the objects. Mesh allows unique collaboration and conferences or meetings that are virtual, yet face-to-face, too. Coworkers or colleagues appear in space, even when they might be across the globe. MERCEDES BENZ AND EMPLOYEE TRAINING Mercedes Benz has utilized HoloLens for aiding technicians in making repairs via its Virtual Remote Support. The tech wears HoloLens glasses, which shows a remote team or expert what the technician sees. Repair guidance–like images and other instructions–can be digitally overlaid on top of the real mechanics of the vehicle. In this way, the technician has virtual—or augmented—assistance to guide the repair process. And as the technician is linked to a remote expert, they also can communicate.   CNET reported that Mercedes Benz was equipping all dealerships with the technology. FORD AND CAR DESIGN While clay models in car design might never disappear completely, augmented reality might be a new high-tech aid for designers to simplify the design process. Ford embraced the use of HoloLens during the pandemic to allow designers to make some changes to car designs virtually. During the pandemic, Ford executives also used virtual reality to collaborate when many team members worked from home. Microsoft Augmented Reality [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/HoloLens-in-Manufacturing.jpg] HOLOLENS IN MANUFACTURING HoloLens also is utilized in the manufacturing sector. Delta ModTech discussed the three main ways it used HoloLens: Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs), employee training and equipment servicing. HoloLens provided a remote entryway for clients to participate in FATs even when they weren’t at the factory. The glasses also aided employee training in that HoloLens provided a unique way for the factory to host live step-by-step instructions. And HoloLens also aided service issues by superimposing data and instructions on machines. Microsoft Augmented Reality [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/HoloLens-and-NASA.jpg] HOLOLENS AND NASA Augmented reality can be out of this world! NASA scientists used HoloLens to explore Mars…virtually. Data from Insight was used to project Mars terrain digitally atop a lab. In addition Lockheed Martin engineers also used HoloLens to design spacecraft. The glasses showed instructions and included voice guidance, too. AUGMENTED REALITY FOR CONSUMERS? While consumers cannot purchase a HoloLens for entertainment or other use, could a consumer-driven HoloLens be in the future for Microsoft? The tech industry has a huge interest in developing augmented reality glasses for the consumer market. The augmented reality ball might be in anybody’s court right now. Tech writers have been awaiting Apple augmented reality glasses for quite some time. With Facebook morphing into Meta, though, the focus on a metaverse and augmented reality could see the ball bounce in favor of team Meta. While consumers are still waiting for glasses that will let them peer into an augmented reality universe, there are many experiences available for consumers that are free…and augmented! GOOGLE Those with Android devices can experience a range of offerings from Google, including Floom. This cool augmented reality experience lets users create a tunnel (or portal) anywhere in their environment and see on the other side of Earth. Floom can be adjusted to dig at different angles, and this allows users to see all different places around the world…from the same original location. Who knows what will show up on the other side! But users can have fun exploring different augmented reality adventures. Google also lets users post experiments. The latest drop is from Oio and is called Bouncing Bands. This augmented reality experience transforms spaces into music. The experiment experiences are accessible via Android devices. APPLE Apple might be working on augmented reality tech for the future, but until an announcement is made, tech experts can only theorize what that product would or could be. In the meantime, though, owners of Apple devices can enjoy free augmented reality experiences via the App Store. Those new to augmented reality can enjoy playing around with the graphic immersive technology with games like Pokemon GO; using the camera on a phone or tablet, users can hunt and catch Pokemon anywhere. They could even be hiding in the home! There are many different augmented reality apps to explore via the App Store. Download enrichment apps that allow users to immerse in science and explore their environment. For example, the app Seek (which is available via Google Play, too) can capture the image of flora and fauna in the user’s environment and instantly identify it. Is that Poison Ivy? View the plant in the camera and find out! The game Stack AR lets users play a tower building game on any surface in their environment. Interested in getting a tattoo but afraid of committing? INKHUNTER is an augmented reality app that lets users preview ink anywhere on their body! Is that dragon a good idea? Test it out before letting the needle make it permanent. AUGMENTED REALITY TRY-ON EXPERIENCES AROUND THE WEB Businesses and stores offer augmented reality experiences via apps or just online. Stores can offer try-on experiences that let customers preview products before purchasing them. For example, IKEA and other stores let users drop furniture into a room to see how it fits and how it looks. Before the launch of augmented reality technology, buying cosmetics was really a best guess and cross your fingers scenario. Would the shade look the same on the lips as it did on the screen? Buyers would have to wait to find out…and sometimes it would lead to frustration and returns. Augmented reality experiences are featured on different product sites and stores that let consumers swipe on products virtually. The camera acts as a mirror, and users can select a certain product and color to swipe on eyes, lips, and cheeks. Some experiences even let consumers preview hair colors! Even shopping for a new car can now be simplified with augmented reality tools. RelayCars offers consumers different options for researching and previewing different vehicle models. Vehicles can be previewed on screen via 3D imagery; these images can be rotated so that shoppers can see the vehicle from all angles. RelayCars also gives consumers the option to utilize augmented reality for a more immersive experience. With the power of augmented reality, RelayCars lets users drop any vehicle model into their environment. They can walk around the car and see it up close. Users can even see how that car might look parked in their garage or in the driveway. If Apple, Facebook or Microsoft launches consumer-driven augmented reality glasses, these immersive experiences might become the normal way of shopping and exploring new products. While new augmented reality glasses could be expensive when they debut, they also could eventually become mainstream…like the smartphone.But before consumers can view the world in rose-tinted augmented reality glasses, they need to debut. And the race is still on to see which tech giant will unveil them first!

10 Best Virtual Reality Games

10 Best Virtual Reality Games

December 17, 2021

Nothing enhances a game quite like virtual reality. This technology blocks out the user’s real world and transports them to a computer-generated, simulated environment. Virtual reality technology creates a fully immersive experience, so the user can even interact with their surroundings in the simulated environment. In the past, virtual reality games weren’t widely available to consumers, but that’s no longer the case. Today, consumers can easily access a wide range of virtual reality games using their smartphones, tablets, computers, or virtual reality headsets. But with so many to choose from, it can be hard to determine where to start. Which games should you try? Here are the 10 best virtual reality games: BEAT SABER Beat Saber is a virtual reality music/rhythm game playable on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Oculus Quest, and Playstation VR.  Some people describe Beat Saber as a mix between Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. Once the game starts, use your handheld controllers to move your virtual lightsabers to the beat of the music playing in the background. Your goal is to use your lightsabers to destroy the colored blocks that come at you from all different directions. The speed at which the blocks come toward you varies depending on the tempo of the music.  You will also need to move your body to steer clear of bombs and overcome obstacles that come your way.  Beat Saber is an entertaining game, but it’s also a great way to workout. There’s no doubt that you will work up a sweat and get your heart pumping by the end of the first song. Best Virtual Reality Games [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Astro-Bot-Rescue-Mission.jpg] ASTRO BOT: RESCUE MISSION If you own a Playstation VR gaming system, you may want to check out Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, which is one of the most popular games available on this platform. The game asks you to team up with Captain Astro, a robot, on a mission to rescue his crew. The challenge? His lost crew is scattered across different worlds inside this virtual environment, so you will need to travel far and wide to find everyone.  Your goal is to rescue all 213 robots as quickly as possible. To meet this goal, you will need to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, collect coins, and make it through all 20 levels in this virtual fantasy world. Captain Astro will lead the way, but you will need to stay by his side in order to complete this mission and beat the game. RICK AND MORTY: VIRTUAL RICK-ALITY You don’t have to be a fan of the animated series Rick and Morty to enjoy this virtual reality game, which is compatible with Playstation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.  You are in control of a character named Morty, who is a clone of Morty Smith that was created to help Rick and Morty with everyday tasks. You will be given a list of chores that you need to complete in this simulated environment. For example, you may be asked to do the laundry or order a new computer for Rick. Whatever the task, it’s your job to complete it in order to stay alive in the game.  The tasks are mundane, but the game is anything but. Some reviewers have even said that playing the game is like living in an entertaining episode of Rick and Morty.  Best Virtual Reality Games [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Cloudlands-VR-Mini-Golf.jpg] CLOUDLANDS VR MINI GOLF You can play a round of mini golf without ever leaving home thanks to Cloudlands VR Mini Golf, a game which is playable on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Daydream.  This is a great game for people who are new to virtual reality since it’s so easy to play. All you need to do is use your handheld controllers to aim, swing your golf club, and hit the ball. It’s just like playing mini golf in real life, except you don’t need to walk to get to the next hole.  You can choose to play on your own or compete against online or local players. There’s even a course editor feature that allows you to build your own challenging golf course. Once it’s complete, invite other players to try it out to see who can get the highest score on your custom course.  JOB SIMULATOR Job Simulator transports you to a simulated world in which robots, not humans, perform the vast majority of jobs. Once you enter this world, the game gives you a chance to see how you would perform in many of the roles now occupied by robots.  For example, step into the shoes of a short-order cook to see if you can successfully fulfill all incoming orders from customers. The more you complete, the more challenging the orders become. The more complicated orders may require you to use unique tools or new ingredients. You can switch jobs at any time in the game, so feel free to experience as many different jobs as you would like before calling it quits. Even though the game requires you to perform various jobs, it won’t feel like work.  KEEP TALKING AND NOBODY EXPLODES Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the perfect party game for people with access to an Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, or Playstation VR system.  It’s a multiplayer game, but only one person needs to wear the virtual reality headset. This person will be responsible for carefully defusing the bomb in the simulated environment. The remaining players must help the first player figure out how to safely defuse the bomb by reading from the game’s instruction manual. These instructions can be pulled up on a phone or tablet or even printed out so they can be passed around. The challenge is clearly communicating to one another to ensure the first player doesn’t cut the wrong wire or push the wrong button. If they do, the bomb could explode, which ends the game. Best Virtual Reality Games [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Star-Trek-Bridge-Crew.jpg] STAR TREK: BRIDGE CREW Star Trek: Bridge Crew, which is playable on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR, requires four players. Players will be assigned the role of Captain, Helm Officer, Tactical, or Engineer. Each role has unique responsibilities. For example, the Engineer is responsible for making repairs, whereas the Helm Officer is responsible for controlling the speed of the ship. Once the roles have been assigned, you and your three friends must work together to safely pilot a spaceship from the popular Star Trek series. You will need to communicate with the other players at all times to coordinate your actions and respond to threats.  Don’t have three friends who want to play? You can play Star Trek: Bridge Crew in single player mode. However, it is more fun in a group. TETRIS EFFECT If you’re a fan of the classic game Tetris, you may want to try the virtual reality version, Tetris Effect, which is playable on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR. Tetris Effect allows you to play tetris in a virtual environment. There are unique visuals and soundtracks for every level of the game, which makes it much more interesting than classic tetris.  For example, one level takes place underwater. This level features a calm, soothing soundtrack that simulates what you would hear if you actually were underwater. Sparkly whales and other sea creatures also float around you, so you will feel as if you are actually underwater. The rules of tetris are simple and straightforward, so this is a great game to try if you are new to virtual reality. THE INVISIBLE HOURS If you love murder mysteries, you may want to play The Invisible Hours, a virtual reality game that is compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Playstation VR.  The goal of this game is to determine who killed Nikola Tesla, a famous scientist and inventor, in his mansion. There are seven suspects who were present at the time of the murder. To determine who did it, the game lets you travel backward and forward in time to observe each of the suspects before and after the murder. You can choose what time you want to travel to and which events you want to observe. This gives you an opportunity to observe everything leading up to the murder and immediately after the murder. Use your observations to piece together what happened and figure out who is responsible for murdering the victim. Best Virtual Reality Games [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/RelayCars.jpg] RELAYCARS Are you thinking about buying a new car? If so, you may want to step into the RelayCars virtual reality showroom. Inside the showroom, you can explore thousands of cars from a wide range of automotive manufacturers. You can walk around the exterior of each car, sit in the driver’s seat, and see what the vehicle would look like in different colors. You can even pull up general information about each vehicle, which makes it easier to compare your options. In other words, you can explore and learn more about vehicles just like you would if you were actually in a dealer’s showroom. The best part? You don’t need an expensive virtual reality headset to experience RelayCars. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

How Do Schools Use Augmented Reality in Education?

How Do Schools Use Augmented Reality in Education?

December 15, 2021

Generations of students once remember using chalk and a blackboard to write out math problems and learn their alphabet. Those dusty boards then led to dry erase boards…which eventually morphed into smartboards. Computers, too, were once a rare classroom feature. Today’s students often have their own laptop. Technology dominates the classroom, and lessons are becoming more immersive thanks to augmented reality and virtual reality platforms. How do schools use augmented reality in education? The real question should be how DON’T schools use this technology! Augmented reality and virtual reality are used to enhance science lessons, to help students discover the universe and even to teach doctors about human anatomy. Education is augmented, and technology is creating immersive experiences that enable students to explore and discover subjects like never before. AUTOMOTIVE EDUCATION Students learning to repair vehicles and other aspects of car mechanics are learning immersively thanks to the power of augmented reality. In an interview with ABC Action News, one student explained that augmented reality allowed a safer learning environment as students navigated repairs of hybrid and electric vehicles. With augmented reality, the student explained, the steps were detailed and allowed full understanding of how to do the repairs…safely. Augmented reality also is used by professional technicians. For example, Porsche technicians use “Tech Live Look,” which uses augmented reality glasses that feature lights to illuminate shaded areas and the glasses can even magnify tiny details. Glasses also are used by the techs to communicate to a tech team that can provide help during difficult repairs. The glasses show what the tech is seeing and show the image to the virtual team. Mercedes-Benz also has implemented augmented reality to help technicians during repairs. Mercedes-Benz uses Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets to communicate with a remote team, too. The headset also shows holograms and other instructions to help ease the repair process. Augmented Reality in Education [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Medical-Education.jpg] MEDICAL EDUCATION New York University’s Langone Health integrates augmented reality into the medical curriculum. The school offers a “Living Anatomy” course, which utilizes augmented reality to sub in for the dissection of cadavers. Instead, students learn with “photorealistic scanned cadavers and specimens.” In addition, augmented reality lets students receive immersive instruction related to more difficult anatomy. And the school explains that faculty will create their own augmented reality models as well as augmented reality (or virtual reality) exercises. Augmented reality also could theoretically be used to explore surgical education, too. As exercises and lessons are virtual and immersive, students could make mistakes without consequence. Augmented reality or virtual reality could let students safely explore procedures in a harmless environment via simulated experiences that are conducive to the medical school experience. ELEMENTARY EDUCATION AUGMENTED REALITY Younger generations—including Generation Z—have lived their entire lives with social media and, of course, the internet and computers. Navigating new technology is simply part of their lives and their social world. Today’s elementary students often have their own laptop or notebook computer that links them to lessons and assignments. Schools also may utilize different programs that complement subject material. For example, reading programs may be used to help early readers gain fluency and confidence. Augmented reality programs might be integrated into the curriculum, too. In fact, sites like Edutopia offer a list of programs that educators can use in their classrooms. Recommendations include: COSPACES EDU This program enables students to create their own augmented reality experience. QUIVER MASKS Students create masks via augmented reality. These masks let students immerse in a story as a character or even an animal. NARRATOR AR This augmented reality program focuses on handwriting development. Letters come alive! WONDERSCOPE Compatible with iOS, Wonderscope immerses children into stories by bringing the action and characters into the real environment. Parents can download this at home, too! Augmented Reality in Education [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Virtual-Reality-in-Education.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY IN EDUCATION Augmented reality might be the most accessible technology, as these experiences can be downloaded via phones. However, schools also are utilizing virtual reality to immerse students deeper into learning. While augmented reality overlays graphics on top of the real environment, virtual reality takes the learning into another realm. Accessing virtual reality requires a headset, and this allows the user to enter the experience or lesson. EdTech reports that virtual or augmented reality can allow students to improve their focus, and this is especially beneficial for children with ADHD who may become easily distracted. EdTech also interviewed a special education teacher who used virtual reality to deploy field trips for her students. With virtual reality headsets, her students were able to explore a greenhouse! For some school districts, the price of headsets for virtual reality could pose an issue. However, these headsets allow students to access so many different experiences. Teachers could get extremely creative in using complementary virtual reality experiences with the subject lessons. For example, studying ancient Egypt could include a virtual tour of the Pyramids of Giza through virtual reality! Augmented Reality in Education [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/augmented-or-virtual-reality-in-the-classroom.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN EDUCATION…AT HOME! Parents whose children don’t utilize augmented or virtual reality in the classroom don’t have to be dismayed! Augmented reality experiences are plentiful for both Apple and Android devices. The App Store and Google Play offer a variety of ways to explore the world via augmented reality. However, parents might wish to use augmented reality to complement their child’s lessons or subjects at school. As EdTech noted, children who have trouble focusing could benefit from augmented reality experiences for learning. While there are too many apps to fully list, there are a few apps that are ideal for introducing children to augmented reality experiences. Parents don’t have to invest money for most of these apps; many are free, but a few may have a small price for download. Also, if children or teens have a virtual reality headset like Oculus, they can explore many different experiences via Steam. Parents can do a search for educational virtual reality experiences. And they may even find virtual tour experiences, too! Here are a list of 10 educational apps that are perfect for all ages; parents might have fun exploring, too! JIGSPACE This app is compatible with iOS. With JigSpace, students can create augmented reality experiences and presentations. This is a great way for students to learn how to create and explore with technology. Play around with different ideas, and encourage children to have fun! The app is recommended for children ages four and up…so even kindergarteners might have fun with it! CATCHY WORDS AR With this game, children actually spell words in augmented reality! This is a fun way for children to practice both their spelling skills and their reading skills, too! Players have to catch the letters in their environment! AUGMENTED HISTORY Don’t just learn about history…see it in the room. Or outside. Or anywhere. Augmented History shows castles and fortresses…and more! History appears before the user’s eyes! ANIMAL SAFARI AR For younger children, augmented reality can be used to teach about animals from around the world. Drop different animals into the environment and read all about them. LESSONS IN HERSTORY This app focuses on famous women in history and uses augmented reality to help children learn all about them. But there’s a fun catch, too. To access the stories, students use their phone or device camera to capture a famous man’s photo in their school’s history book to learn about a woman with similar accomplishments! GEOGEBRA AUGMENTED REALITY Drop 3D images in the environment. These math images can be explored from any and every angle to help students understand concepts beyond the book.   AUGMENTEDCLASS This app is available for Android devices and enables students to create their own augmented reality experiences. No programming or coding experience is necessary, which makes this app perfect for students who want to learn more about designing their own augmented reality. CIVILISATIONS AR This app from the BBC brings ancient objects and art into an immersive augmented reality experience. Explore Renaissance artwork and a mummy from ancient Egypt. SEEK Encourage children and teens to explore the world around them with Seek. Developed by iNaturalist, this app lets users scan an image of a plant, animal or an insect from their environment to learn more about their own backyard…or any surroundings. In a few seconds, the app will identify the exact species and provide more details. This is a great app to use on vacation to explore the native flora and fauna of any region. SKYVIEW LITE Students can view the night sky anywhere in their home. Or just point the camera at the sky using the app to learn more about the constellations and heavenly bodies in the sky. The app will even identify planets! When using SkyView at night, users can select night mode for better viewing. As augmented reality progresses in its development, more schools and classrooms may utilize this technology as a complementary learning tool for specific lessons and subject matters. For example, medical schools might opt to use augmented reality in place of cadaver dissection or as a means to help early medical students gain experience with specific anatomical features in the body. Elementary schools can use augmented reality to enhance the learning experience and to help students zero in on a lesson to minimize distractions. While virtual reality requires a headset to experience lessons, games and simulations, augmented reality is much more accessible. Parents can download augmented reality apps for their children to encourage them to immerse in science, math and history topics. These apps are often free and many are recommended for all ages. In the future, augmented reality could become yet another tool that educators use to encourage exploration and help immerse children in the lesson and curricula. With augmented reality and even virtual reality, students can visit faraway countries, see dinosaurs appear before their eyes and even view constellations from the sky…all without even leaving the classroom!

Does Google Make Augmented Reality Glasses?

Does Google Make Augmented Reality Glasses?

December 13, 2021

Most people think of Google as just a search engine, and it’s not hard to see why. Its search engine is undoubtedly its most popular and successful product. In fact, Google handles more than 90% of searches performed around the world. However, the search engine is just one of many products created by Google. Google offers a wide range of services, including advertising platforms, publishing tools, maps, analytics, market research, email, and messaging apps. The company also creates products, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. But does Google make augmented reality glasses? Here’s everything you need to know: WHAT ARE AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES? The term “augmented reality glasses” refers to eyewear supported by augmented reality technology. The functionality of augmented reality glasses can vary from model-to-model. But in general, this technology allows the wearer to superimpose elements from the digital world such as images or audio onto their real world environment. These digital elements are projected onto the lenses of the glasses so they are easily visible to the wearer. For example, a pair of augmented reality glasses may help you figure out where to go by projecting turn-by-turn directions onto your lenses. Digital elements such as arrows and street signs may appear on your lenses to guide you to your final destination.  Even though the information is projected onto the lenses, it is only visible to the wearer. This means no one will know what you are looking at when wearing a pair of augmented reality glasses. Augmented Reality Glasses [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/History-of-Google-Glass.jpg] A BRIEF HISTORY OF GOOGLE GLASS Google Glass is a brand of smart glasses, or augmented reality glasses, produced by Google. Even though Google Glass was initially released less than a decade ago, the brand has a long and complicated history.  PRE-LAUNCH PROMOTION In 2012, Google released a short video called “Project Glass: One Day,” which showed how the Google Glass could enhance a normal day in the life of a consumer in New York City. The video shows how the wearer is able to use his glasses to check the weather, look at his calendar, listen to music, and perform other tasks. Later that year, Google revealed the first prototype of the smart glasses at the Google I/O event. Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, got on stage and interrupted Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president, in order to treat the audience to a live demo of the glasses. Google also partnered with Diane Von Furstenberg, a fashion designer, to generate more buzz around the upcoming release of the Google Glass. The company released video footage filmed with the Glass prototype that took viewers behind the scenes of a Diane Von Furstenberg fashion show. These are just several examples of the publicity stunts that were planned in an effort to get consumers excited about the launch of the Google Glass.  THE LAUNCH OF GOOGLE GLASS In 2013, Google released its first pair of smart glasses, the Google Glass. The glasses looked like standard glasses, however the lenses were replaced with an augmented reality heads-up display.  Google invited consumers to use a branded hashtag on Twitter to enter for a chance to purchase a pair of the first edition smart glasses. The company ended up choosing 8,000 Twitter users. All of the users who were chosen had to pay $1,500 to acquire a pair of the glasses. The users who were willing to pay this price could acquire the glasses before they were available to the public in May 2014. GOOGLE GLASS BACKLASH Some consumers loved the Google Glass when it was released, but the glasses received a great deal of backlash from the general public. Because the Google Glass was designed with a head-mounted video camera, many people worried that Google Glass wearers would be able to film them without their consent.  These privacy concerns continued to grow as more people began wearing the Google Glass in public places. Eventually, some restaurants, bars, and other businesses began to ban their customers from wearing the smart glasses. The public even coined the term “glasshole” to describe consumers who wore the smart glasses in a way that was deemed socially unacceptable. Furthermore, prominent tech reporters complained that the Google Glass performed poorly and had a terrible battery life. In 2015, Google announced that they would no longer sell Google Glass as a result of the backlash, performance issues, and privacy concerns.  THE REDESIGN OF GOOGLE GLASS Shortly after announcing the end of Google Glass, Google revealed that it was in the process of redesigning its smart glasses. Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive, was responsible for overseeing the redesign. In an interview, he revealed that his team would not release the redesigned Google Glass until they felt the product was absolutely perfect. Google Glass Enterprise Edition [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Google-Glass-Enterprise-Edition.jpg] THE GOOGLE GLASS ENTERPRISE EDITION The Google Glass Enterprise Edition, which was the second edition of the product, was announced in 2017. Unlike the first edition, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition would not be available to consumers. Instead, the product was only sold to businesses such as Boeing, DHL, and GE.  The Google Glass Enterprise Edition was primarily used by factory workers. For example, workers on the assembly line could use the glasses to quickly access instructions or other information without stepping away from their work. This way, they could find the information they needed to perform their job duties without stepping off the assembly line or asking someone for help. The Google Glass Enterprise Edition featured a number of upgrades, including a longer battery life, faster processor, and a light that turned on whenever the video camera was recording.  Overall, this product was considered a success among its limited customer base. THE GOOGLE GLASS ENTERPRISE EDITION 2 In 2019, Google announced the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. Just like the first edition, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 was designed for and sold solely to businesses. It featured minor design upgrades in addition to a better camera and faster processor. According to Google, these smart glasses have helped businesses reduce production times, improve quality, and lower operating costs. CAN CONSUMERS EXPECT GOOGLE AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES IN THE FUTURE? Even though the latest editions of the Google Glass have been successful with businesses, Google has not announced plans to make them available to consumers. However, some industry insiders believe that Google is already in the process of developing a new pair of augmented reality glasses for consumers. Google recently announced that they are actively looking to hire someone to create an augmented reality operating system for an unspecified augmented reality device. This indicates that the company is planning on building a new augmented reality device from the ground up, which has led many people to conclude that this device will be sold to consumers. Furthermore, Google recently acquired North, a Canadian smart glasses manufacturer. North has already successfully launched a pair of augmented reality glasses, the North Focals. The company also planned on releasing Focals 2.0, but these plans were halted after the acquisition. Neither Google nor North has revealed what the companies will be working on together. This has led many industry insiders to predict that Google is secretly working on a new and improved pair of augmented reality glasses for consumers. But even if these predictions come true, there’s no telling when the augmented reality glasses will be available. Facebook’s Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Glasses [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Facebooks-Virtual-Reality-and-Augmented-Reality-Glasses.jpg] WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK’S VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES? Google isn’t the only player in the mixed reality wearables market. Many other companies, including Facebook, have invested heavily in developing virtual reality and augmented reality wearables for consumers.  After acquiring Oculus, Facebook successfully launched a line of virtual reality headsets for consumers. The Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and Oculus Quest were met with mixed reviews from consumers and tech reporters. Facebook has never released sales numbers for the Oculus product line, but has said that all Oculus products have been successful. For years, it has also been rumored that Facebook is secretly working on a pair of augmented reality glasses. Facebook is also in the middle of developing a high-end virtual reality and augmented reality headset for consumers. Few details have been released to the public about this headset, which the company has nicknamed “Project Cambria.”  However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did reveal that the product will be completely new and will feature face and eye tracking. The headset will also be designed with cameras that can capture and send high-resolution videos to the lenses. Many industry insiders believe that the headset will look and perform similar to the mixed reality headset that Apple is currently developing. Even though Facebook has confirmed that this headset is in development, the company has not announced when it will be available for sale or how much it will cost. But Zuckerberg did state that he expects the product to be priced at the “high end of the price spectrum.” One thing is certain: the competition in the augmented reality wearables market is heating up. Now that Facebook, Google, and Apple are all developing augmented reality devices, there’s no question that consumers will have the option of purchasing one of these innovative wearables in the near future.

Categories: Augmented Reality