VR Marketing Creates Consumer Experiences in a Virtual or Augmented Realm
October 18, 2021
The idea of using a phone to see virtual reality products and images in front of the consumer’s eyes seems fantastical, and years ago this was something that was virtually inconceivable. Tech evolves fast, though. Back in the 90s, virtual reality games were just hitting the arcade, and teens found them to be the coolest. Virtual reality gaming is now an at-home reality, and the headsets are now….affordable! There are augmented reality apps for phones, and companies are using this tech to their advantage, too. VR marketing lets consumers experience products in a virtual or augmented realm. This tech-savvy marketing creates an immersive and interactive experience, keeping the consumer intrigued and engaged. During the pandemic, however, augmented and virtual reality gave companies the best tools to reach consumers when they couldn’t visit stores. Augmented and virtual reality experiences helped recreate the in-person experiences like trying on products or even previewing them in the home. Other VR marketing experiences enabled customers to even check out new car models…from home! THE RISE OF VR MARKETING AND AR MARKETING EXPERIENCES In January 2021, ReseasrchandMarkets.com released a Covid-19 Impact Analysis for the augmented reality and virtual reality markets. The analysis estimates that the virtual reality market will more than triple by 2025—from $6.1 billion in 2020 to $20.9 billion in 2025. In addition, the augmented reality market will see overwhelming growth over five years, soaring from $15.3 billion in 2020 to more than $70 billion by 2025. While these are projections, the figures represent the changing patterns that reverberated when Covid hit the globe. While Covid might have accelerated the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences offered by companies, these offerings were becoming more widespread even before a pandemic threatened to shut down the globe. Businesses in different sectors have been experimenting with augmented reality experiences via online platforms; cosmetics brands and stores have introduced virtual try on augmented reality apps or experiences. Using a phone or tablet camera, the device can be transformed into both a virtual mirror and a virtual makeover studio. For example, Ulta’s GLAMlab lets shoppers click on different hues of eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick to try them on. With just a tap of a finger, the makeup magically appears on the user’s lips and eyes. Looking for a new hair hue? There are augmented reality apps and experiences for that, too! Consumers can even preview different haircuts using augmented reality before they hit the salon! For consumers, these experiences are both fun and a convenience that allows them to see a product before they commit. For businesses, augmented reality marketing experiences like the try-on offerings could help decrease customer returns and increase customer satisfaction. Customers might even make additional purchases if they find a new color or product that they simply can’t resist! VR Marketing in Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/VR-Marketing-in-Tourism.jpg] VR MARKETING IN TOURISM Virtual reality and augmented reality marketing also swept into the tourism industry during Covid. Museums across the globe shutdown, and while some already offered some virtual experiences, others might not have been so prepared. Survival could have required online adjustment and creating experiences that homebound tourists could enjoy via their devices. Museums provided virtual tours. Sitting at home, anyone could take a peek at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They also could view different exhibits at the Louvre. Some museums even offered more one-on-one experiences. Private virtual tours could have been arranged. Online classes also were offered; kids and adults might have been able to participate in a variety of cultural experiences. Outdoor exhibits or cultural sites might have been open, but areas that normally experienced heavy crowds might have closed. During Covid—and even still today—UNESCO offers virtual tours of World Heritage Sites. Experience distant lands and cultural sites from the comfort of home that can be accessed through Google Arts & Culture and/or YouTube. Virtual tours include Mudejar Architecture of Aragon, Spain; Pampulha Modern Ensemble in Brazil; Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape in Spain; Kilimanjaro National Park in the United Republic of Tanzania; Le Canal du Midi in France and several more! The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History even offers its own augmented reality experience for guests. Download the app Skin and Bones to use within the museum’s “Bone Hall.” The app projects details about the skeletons found within the exhibit. The app also can be used remotely for guests who can’t visit the museum; just print out pictures of the exhibits and the app will do the rest! Augmented and Virtual Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality.jpg] AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TO…RELAX After a year and several months of craziness, most Americans are zapped, stressed out and ready for life to go back to normal. Unfortunately, those day spas weren’t always open for business. Or perhaps some consumers just don’t feel comfortable venturing beyond essential errands. Some tech companies have even offered relaxing augmented reality experiences via apps. Need to chill out from home? Gardzen-AR Meditation is augmented reality meditation. The app projects calming images into the room and gives users wonderful relaxing sounds for calming meditation. FishingGO AR turns an area into an aquarium. Users can even get info about the fish. But sitting in a virtual aquarium might be soothing for those who need a mini tropical vacation…at home. Some spas, though, are offering their own augmented or virtual reality experiences to enable guests to immerse into a relaxed state. American Spa reports that several spas use Guided Meditation VR. Guests sit in a massage chair and can escape virtually to the environment of their choice. The spa also includes sensory features to add to the ambiance and experience. For guests in areas that are far removed from tropical paradise, this virtual escape may be a much needed getaway. For half an hour, guests are transported and soothed by the experience. Now, not only can guests just go to the spa for a massage, facial and mani/pedi, but they also can take a break from their daily reality in the tropics. No need for a plane ticket…just wear goggles! VR MARKETING AND AUGMENTED REALITY IN CAR SHOPPING The automobile industry probably wasn’t as prepared to pivot to online as the other industries during Covid. However, the industry was forced to spring into the web to offer online buying (in some areas) and other virtual experiences. But even before the pandemic, some companies were already jumping into augmented and virtual reality to heighten the user experience. Augmented reality has been used to allow customers to virtually interact with cars from their home…or anywhere. While the industry might have offered some virtual reality experiences, too, augmented reality has really been the standout technology because it’s so widely available via phones and other devices. For marketing purposes, augmented reality is used to allow customers to see vehicles up close…and even virtually interact with the models. This technology also has allowed consumers to gain additional information during the research phase of their buying journey. For example, sites like RelayCars allow customers to drop the vehicle into their environment. Customers can walk around the car, look inside at the interior and even swap out the paint hue. While pictures can help customers gain some perspective about the design of the car, photos don’t provide context in other ways. However, augmented reality showcases a model of the vehicle that can even be life-sized. The consumer can choose to drop their dream car anywhere; they can even preview the vehicle in the driveway or see it parked in the garage. VR marketing and augmented reality marketing is a benefit for both consumers and businesses. There isn’t a forced commitment expected from the consumer; swiping on a virtual blush could lead a consumer to a new favorite product. Or they could discover that the hue looks awful. For businesses, technology might help lower returns and dissatisfaction from customers. If they can see a product before they buy it, there is no surprise. They might even stay within the app or experience trying out other products. Augmented and virtual reality also lets individuals experience the unexpected…and perhaps even the once unattainable. The consumer also could visit faraway lands that introduce them to other sites and culture. Augmented and virtual reality opens doors and possibilities. That virtual tour could lead to a real-life tour years later. Even car shopping can be simplified thanks to augmented and virtual reality. The old cliché is that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But for cars, how much information can be gathered from a two-dimensional image? Buyers want to interact; they want to see that vehicle. During Covid, virtual or augmented reality experiences might have been a great resource in previewing and researching different cars. With augmented reality, the vehicle appears in the real environment. Users can change the paint color. They can walk around the car…and look inside. The car comes to life; the user is in control. The augmented reality and virtual reality market is expected to grow dramatically over the next five years. By 2025, the augmented reality experiences that consumers know today might have evolved into something beyond today’s imagination. Will sensory experiences be integrated into augmented reality? Will shopping become a virtual reality experience? Maybe those much anticipated augmented reality glasses will be the norm…and AR will appear before our eyes without an app. The virtual road might be augmented with all types of possibilities for the future!
The 10 Best Augmented Reality Apps of 2021
October 1, 2021
Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose images, sounds, animations, and other digital elements onto their real world environment. In other words, it blends elements of the digital and real world together. Many people assume that they need to invest in expensive headsets or smart glasses to use augmented reality technology, but that’s not the case. There are thousands of augmented reality apps available for download on iOS and Android devices, so all you need to experience the power of augmented reality technology is a smartphone or tablet. There are many different types of augmented reality apps. Some are designed for gaming or entertainment, whereas others are used to educate consumers. There are also apps designed specifically to help online shoppers make informed purchase decisions. If you want to experience this innovative technology, here are the best augmented reality apps to download: Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Google-Lens.jpg] GOOGLE LENS Google has developed a number of different augmented reality apps, including Google Lens. This app lets you search based on what you see. All you need to do is open the app and point your smartphone at an object you want to learn more about. The app will automatically identify the object, perform a Google search, and present relevant search results directly in front of you. Google Lens can also help you learn more about the places around you. Point your smartphone at any building nearby and the app will use augmented reality to project relevant information onto your surroundings. For example, it might identify the name of the business and provide you with the company’s operating hours and Google reviews. This is a great app to have on your smartphone so you can quickly access it whenever you need more information on the world around you. MISSION TO MARS If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring outer space, you may want to download the Mission to Mars on your smartphone. This augmented reality app will project three-dimensional models of the rovers used on Mars into your surroundings. You can project a rover on your desk, in your driveway, on your kitchen counter, or even in the palm of your hand. You can also drive the rovers around and snap photos to share with your friends and family. Then, project a three-dimensional model of the Atlas V rocket into your surroundings. Watch as the rocket launches into space while the real launch audio plays in the background. You can also use augmented reality technology to project a three-dimensional model of Mars directly in front of you. Then, spin it around and explore every inch of the planet. Best Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Wayfair-1024x683.jpg] WAYFAIR It’s hard for consumers to shop online for certain items, including home goods and furniture. This is because some consumers struggle to visualize these items in their home, so they aren’t sure which ones to choose. Wayfair used augmented reality technology to solve this problem. Now, consumers don’t need to rely on their imaginations to determine how a specific item would look in their homes. Instead, they can use Wayfair’s augmented reality app to project a life-size, three-dimensional model of the item into their surroundings. Thanks to this feature, consumers can confirm that a piece of furniture will fit in their home and will complement the rest of their decor. They can shop with confidence knowing that they will be completely satisfied with the furniture items or home goods once they arrive. SEPHORA Wayfair isn’t the only retailer that has used augmented reality technology to transform the online shopping experience for consumers. Sephora, an international cosmetic company, has also taken advantage of augmented reality. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app uses facial recognition and augmented reality technologies to give online shoppers the chance to digitally try on different cosmetics. Now, shoppers can see what a specific shade of lipstick would look like on their lips or how a certain eyeshadow would complement their complexion. If a consumer likes what they can see, they can add the products to their cart and purchase them with just a few taps on their smartphone. The app also offers makeup tutorials powered by augmented reality technology. For example, if a customer is trying to learn how to contour their face, the app will use augmented reality technology to highlight the area on their face where the product should be applied. NIKE Nike is another retailer that has launched its own augmented reality app to help online shoppers. Nike Fit, which is available within the main Nike app, is an augmented reality feature that allows customers to determine their shoe size while shopping online. To access this feature, you just need to open the Nike Fit feature and point your smartphone camera at your feet. The app will automatically measure your feet to determine what size shoe you should purchase. The app may recommend purchasing a size smaller or larger for certain shoe styles, depending on how the size of that shoe tends to run. For example, if you normally wear a size nine, the app may suggest purchasing a size 8.5 for a style that runs small. Pay close attention to these recommendations to ensure you purchase the right size. Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Star-Walk-2.jpg] STAR WALK 2 If you’ve ever wondered what you’re looking at when staring up at the night sky, the Star Walk 2 app was designed for you. The app serves as a helpful guide to the night sky. It uses your phone’s data to pinpoint your exact location so it knows what part of the sky you are looking at. To begin, simply open the app and point your camera at any part of the sky above. The app uses augmented reality technology to project labels onto different stars, constellations, planets, and other celestial bodies. Move your smartphone around and the app will automatically begin labeling whatever it identifies in the night sky. You can also turn on the Time Machine mode to see what the night sky looked like on a specific date in the past or what it will look like on a specific day in the future. AR RULER As its name suggests, this app is an augmented reality ruler available at your fingertips. If you need to measure something, open the app and point your smartphone camera at the object. Tap on the beginning and end of the object to ensure the measurement is correct. That’s all it takes to measure an object without a measuring tape or ruler. This app does more than just measure simple, straight measurements. It can also provide measurements for angles, volume, and area. You can even record the measurements you take and use them to create a room plan. The measurements aren’t perfect, but they are close enough to get a rough idea of the size of an object or distance between two points. Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Find-Your-Car.jpg] FIND YOUR CAR You may want to download this app if you plan on parking your car in a crowded, large area like a mall, airport, or music festival. After parking your car, set your location in the Find Your Car app. The app will use augmented reality to mark your car’s location. Once you’re ready to get back into your car, open the Find Your Car app again. The app will use augmented reality to guide you directly back to your vehicle. For example, it may project arrows onto your surroundings to tell you when to turn. It will also project important information such as your distance from your vehicle and the estimated time it will take to walk there. SKETCHAR You can improve your drawing skills with SketchAR. Open the app and browse the library to find an image you would like to draw. Then, point your smartphone camera at a blank piece of paper. The app is designed to work with A4-size drawing paper. The app will use augmented reality technology to project a sketch onto the paper so you can trace over it with a pen, pencil, or other drawing utensil. There are dozens of different images to choose from in the app’s library. But if you don’t want to use an image from the library, you can upload your own photo and transform it into traceable art directly through the SketchAR app. Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/RelayCars.jpg] RELAYCARS Although not an app, RelayCars uses augmented reality technology to create an at-home automotive showroom experience for consumers. You can use this app to explore thousands of different vehicles from the comfort of your home. Because it is powered by augmented reality, you can get up close and personal with every vehicle just like you would inside a dealership’s showroom. The vehicles will appear lifelike and realistic, so you might forget you’re actually sitting on your couch at home. RelayCars allows consumers to research vehicles, compare their options, and gather the information they need to make a purchase decision from home.
How Toyota Uses Augmented Reality
September 29, 2021
Toyota is one of the biggest companies in the automotive industry. For decades, it has dominated the market by producing vehicles such as the Corolla, Camry, Tacoma, Rav 4, and 4Runner that appeal to a wide range of consumers. The use of innovative technologies has also helped Toyota stay on top of the market for so long. For example, Toyota used advanced technology to manufacture the Prius, which was the world’s first mass market hybrid vehicle. Toyota is now using another technology to gain a competitive edge: augmented reality. This technology allows users to superimpose digital elements such as images, animations, and sounds, onto their real world environment. Here’s a look at how Toyota uses augmented reality technology: OFFER CONSUMERS A VIRTUAL SHOWROOM EXPERIENCE In the past, automotive consumers had to visit dealerships in person to tour showrooms, explore different vehicles, and gather the information they needed to make a purchase decision. But now, Toyota is one of many automotive manufacturers that is using augmented reality technology to offer consumers a virtual showroom experience. Automotive consumers can use their smartphone, tablet, or computer to access Toyota’s virtual showroom. Inside the showroom, they can see a 360-degree view of the vehicle’s exterior, zoom in for a closer look, or even peek inside the vehicle to examine the interior. Thanks to augmented reality technology, consumers will feel like they’re looking at the car in person at a showroom. Another feature allows consumers to project life-size digital models of the vehicles into their real world environment. This gives consumers the chance to see how a specific Toyota vehicle would look in their driveway, parked in their garage, or sitting on their coffee table. Using augmented reality technology in this manner makes it easier for automotive consumers to shop for a vehicle online. It allows them to conduct research on their options from home so they don’t have to visit a dealership in person until they are ready to purchase a vehicle. Toyota Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Create-A-Unique-User-Manual.jpg] CREATE A UNIQUE USER MANUAL Lexus, which is the luxury vehicle division of Toyota, has developed a system known as the Lexus Augmented Reality Kit, or LARK. Part of this system is a digital user manual powered by augmented reality technology. The app is designed to recognize and present information on various features found inside a vehicle. For example, if a consumer points their smartphone at the infotainment system, the app will automatically display information about this system on the consumer’s smartphone screen. This information will help the consumer set up the system, connect their devices, and troubleshoot issues. This makes it much easier for consumers to learn about their vehicle. It also helps them quickly identify and fix simple issues without a professional’s help. The app is not available to consumers yet, but Toyota believes that it will eventually change the way in which consumers access information on their vehicles. SELL ACCESSORIES TO CONSUMERS David Kleiner, Toyota’s Extended Reality Lab Manager, recently discussed several augmented reality projects that are currently in development at Toyota. One of these projects involves targeting consumers in the post-purchase phase of the consumer buying cycle in an effort to sell more accessories. Kleiner revealed that Toyota is working on an augmented reality experience that allows consumers to see how accessories look on their Toyota vehicle. The tool would let consumers explore different ways to customize the way their vehicle looks and performs. Toyota consumers would also be able to purchase accessories directly through this tool, which would make shopping online for automotive accessories more convenient. Kleiner also noted that this tool would target Toyota Tacoma consumers first. He believes this augmented reality tool would help Toyota increase Tacoma accessory sales by $5 million per year. TRAIN EMPLOYEES A number of automotive manufacturers, including Toyota, are now using augmented reality technology to train new employees. Toyota has partnered with Microsoft to provide augmented reality training through HoloLens smart glasses. Employees can use these smart glasses to access training material that prepares them for the assembly line. Using augmented reality technology to train employees helps Toyota train more employees at once. It also allows new employees to get hands-on experience in a safe environment where their mistakes won’t have costly consequences. This way, new employees will know exactly what to do once they complete training and start working on the assembly line. Toyota Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Plan-Production-Plant-Layouts.jpg] PLAN PRODUCTION PLANT LAYOUTS Toyota is also using Microsoft HoloLens smart glasses to plan production plant layouts. In the past, Toyota used physical models to plan the layout of a future production plant. But building physical models is time-consuming and expensive. Now, Toyota relies on augmented reality technology to increase the efficiency of this planning process. During the planning process, Toyota uses these augmented reality headsets to project digital models of equipment and machinery into the empty production plant space. This allows them to determine where each piece of equipment and machinery should go to maximize production efficiency. It also eliminates the need to build a physical model, which helps Toyota save time and money on planning the layout for a future production plant. IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF VEHICLE MANUFACTURING Several years ago, it was reported that Toyota’s project managers were experimenting with different ways to use augmented reality smart glasses to improve the efficiency of a variety of tasks. One project manager at the company’s headquarters in Japan found a way to use Microsoft HoloLens smart glasses to quickly measure the thickness of a vehicle’s exterior paint. This needs to be done on every vehicle to ensure the paint color is consistent. It also helps employees confirm that the rust prevention coating has been applied to the vehicle. In the past, the process of checking the thickness of a vehicle’s paint required two people and took a total of eight hours. But now, a single employee can complete this task in just under four hours using a pair of Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality glasses. This is just one example of how augmented reality technology has helped Toyota drastically speed up the process of manufacturing new vehicles and performing quality checks. Toyota Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Entertain-Passengers.jpg] ENTERTAIN PASSENGERS Augmented reality is often thought of as a new technology, but it’s been around for quite some time. In fact, Toyota has been experimenting with this technology for over a decade. In 2011, Toyota partnered with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) to create its “Window to the World” design concept, which used augmented reality technology to turn a standard car window into a glass canvas for passengers to play with. Passengers could use their fingers to trace images onto the window. Using augmented reality technology, the images turned into three-dimensional digital objects that were superimposed onto the real world environment. Passengers could also point at a landmark outside of the window to measure its distance from the car. Toyota never incorporated this innovative design concept into any of its vehicles. However, two prototypes of the concept were on display for several months at the Autoworld Museum in Brussels. Toyota has found a great deal of success by using augmented reality technology to improve production processes, market vehicles, and connect with consumers. Because of this success, it’s safe to say that Toyota will continue to explore new ways to take advantage of this technology in the future.
Will Car Buying Be Driven by an E-Commerce Shopping Model?
September 27, 2021
Online shopping was a way to avoid stores during Covid and maybe even click away boredom. Some stores added features that let shoppers preview products, making decisions much easier and hitting buy much less of a questionable mystery for purchases like cosmetics, sunglasses, furniture or even a car. Covid shifted shopping habits…even for new cars. While many consumers might continue to prefer shopping online for goods and services, they also might be more inclined to look to the virtual realm for their car. Will car buying be driven by an e-commerce shopping model, too? According to a story via ABC News, this isn’t just a possibility…it’s now a ‘MINI’ reality! WILL MINI BECOME AN AUTOMOTIVE E-COMMERCE GIANT? Even before Covid, e-commerce platforms already existed for car shopping. However, this wasn’t necessarily an option that all consumers were embracing. Some may prefer old-fashioned dealership visits. But Carvana and other businesses offered a unique service to individuals who didn’t want to take time to visit a dealership. Sites like Carvana let consumers pick out a car and have it delivered. The company offers a convenient way to browse for a new car and complete the process virtually. Consumers also have the option to pick up the car. This is a bit like how stores offer a ‘ship it to store’ or similar option. When Covid forced some dealerships to close in certain areas, consumers might have had no other option but to shop online. Dealerships had to find remedies for creating an online shopping experience; some might have already offered online options. But for many dealerships the pivot to online retail was likely a huge change. Now manufacturers—and dealerships—might understand that automotive e-commerce is the future of the car buying experience. While Tesla lets consumers order their car online, the process from picking out the car to actual delivery of the vehicle can take a bit of time; news outlets report that Tesla deliveries are taking several months. So while Tesla embraces online commerce, purchasing a Tesla isn’t necessarily a quick experience. MINI, however, is rolling out a program that might be the future of automotive e-commerce. The manufacturer, per ABC News, has launched MINI Anywhere in California. The program is a one-and-done e-commerce experience. Consumers can choose their MINI, obtain financing and complete all the paperwork online. The best part? The whole process takes about 20 minutes. MINI Anywhere also includes an augmented reality experience. Want to know how that Mini will look in the driveway? Drop it in the environment. Then walk around the augmented reality graphic to check out the car from different angles. ABC talked to Patrick McKenna, an executive for MINI, who explained to the outlet that consumers can even schedule virtual test drives. “This definitely is the future; McKenna told ABC News. “We’re making dealers digitally savvy in the marketplace.” POTENTIAL E-COMMERCE SPEED BUMPS? ABC News noted that MINI was planning to offer MINI Anywhere in Florida and Texas. The rest of the dealer network would be included by the end of the year. The future for MINI might definitely be the virtual e-commerce model. However, are there any speed bumps ahead for this model if other manufacturers look to e-commerce platforms for their future, too? ABC News also noted that online models could mean higher prices, and negotiating might not be an option. Buyers also wouldn’t have that tactile experience that the dealership holds. And ABC also touched on the idea of buyer impulsivity. ADD TO CART: WHEN CAR BUYING JUMPS INTO THE E-COMMERCE FASTLANE While ABC mentioned buyer impulsivity related to emotions, there might be more to explore regarding online shopping and impulse buying. Many consumers might relate to having made a purchase decision—perhaps during Covid—that wasn’t based on need but want. Or maybe the speed of the internet spurred a buying decision without much research or thought. While, yes, buying a car usually includes research and visits to dealerships, if more manufacturers embrace e-commerce platforms for purchasing a vehicle, could this speed up the buying process in a bad way for some consumers? The internet allows consumers to shop quickly and conveniently. The option to now add a car to a virtual shopping cart allows the buying process to become more simplistic, and this could be a mixed bag for some shoppers. The good and bad of online shopping can be debated. There is no right or wrong answer. There could be consumers that buy a car without researching thoroughly, while others still spend hours exploring details. Every consumer is different. However, consumers who want to purchase a car can’t exactly just drop a Ferrari into a virtual cart without being approved for financing or having the funds to cover that purchase. Unlike shopping for furniture, shoes or other goods and services, buying a car online is a major purchase. EXPLORING MINI ANYWHERE While MINI Anywhere is only available in California, anyone can check out the site to better understand the MINI virtual experience. The company outlines all the details about what shoppers should have on hand (keep your license nearby!). But there’s also a virtual assistant who is standing by to answer questions and help out shoppers. MINI lets consumers engage in a Live Chat or drop a text. MINI also still accepts trade-ins via the online experience. Shoppers need to include all the details about their car. Kelley Blue Book provides the valuation. Although shoppers are handling the car buying process online, the local dealership is still part of the experience. Shoppers get to choose the dealership from which they wish to purchase their new MINI. The vehicle can be delivered (this is based on proximity, though). E-Commerce Shopping Model [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Dealership-Experience-of-the-Future.jpg] THE DEALERSHIP EXPERIENCE OF THE FUTURE? Covid transformed the shopping experience for the automotive industry. While in-person shopping at the dealership was the standard process, the shelter-in-place mandates that hit many parts of the country forced dealerships to take business online. Yet, online car shopping isn’t entirely new. Carvana has offered online experiences for years. Covid, though, sped up the normalcy of this car shopping trend. While some consumers might have been hesitant to embrace a virtual shopping experience, they also might have found the process to be simpler, faster and a less stressful experience. While the in-person dealership experience was the norm for the industry, was it an enjoyable norm for many consumers? The answer probably depends on the consumer. Some might have enjoyed haggling. Others might have dreaded the experience entirely. Whether or not all consumers are ready for online car shopping, the experience is here…and it’s evolving. Covid and the online pivot might have taken dealerships by surprise, but now many have probably settled into at least offering some type of online options. MINI Anywhere might just be the beginning. Nissan offers online shopping via Nissan@Home. And other manufacturers may line up to offer their own online platforms. Consumers will drive demand. What the consumer prefers will ultimately influence the industry’s next move. According to Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study: Pandemic Edition, new car buyers spent a little more than 5.5 hours online researching and shopping—an hour less than a year prior. The report also noted that more than 11 hours and 11 minutes were spent on purchasing a new car (this was closer to 12 hours in 2019). Among new car shoppers, only 45 percent knew what they wanted from the beginning of the shopping experience. If manufacturers streamline their online process, perhaps these figures could dwindle. That is, maybe consumers might speed up their process if it’s easier to find what they want. This could be true for those who know exactly what type of car they want. Yet, maybe dealerships could continue to be the destination for some shoppers. While online shopping is an option for many businesses currently, not all consumers shop just online. Many will choose to purchase some items online and go in store for other purchases. Others use online options as often as possible. Perhaps the dealership experience becomes a hybrid option. Maybe they offer both in-person and online purchasing options. Something for everyone. Those who want to visit the dealership and shop around for the best price might continue to do so. Maybe, though, different dealerships have unique online offers. Promotions might not go away, rebates might still be offered online. And different sales could be promoted periodically, too. Automotive e-commerce is evolving, though. MINI might be the first of many to begin to offer online platforms and experiences for a convenient and quick shopping experience. In the future, car buying could be a seamless online experience. Consumers might be able to browse all their vehicle options and maybe view them in their own environment via augmented reality (like MINI!). MINI Anywhere might be the model for car shopping, and consumers might be on the lookout for which manufacturer follows MINI’s mega lead.
The Rise of Extended Reality Tourism
September 24, 2021
Millions of people travel to different cities or countries to explore new cultures, visit historic landmarks, go on exciting adventures, or relax. In the past, tourists typically traveled to their destination via plane, train, boat, or car. Once they arrived, they could stay with friends or family, camp under the stars, check into a hotel, or reserve a room in a vacation rental. However, the way that tourists experience other parts of the world is changing thanks to extended reality technologies. What is extended reality tourism and why is it becoming increasingly popular? Here’s what you need to know: WHAT IS EXTENDED REALITY TOURISM? “Extended reality” is an umbrella term for all immersive technologies, which include virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. Virtual reality is a technology that transports users to a computer-generated simulation of an alternative world. The technology shuts the real world out in order to fully immerse the user in this simulated environment. They are even able to move around and interact with elements of their simulated environment. Rise of Extended Reality Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-reality.jpg] Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose elements from the digital world onto their real world environment. Users can superimpose various digital elements such as text, images, and animations. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not shut the real world out. Instead, it uses digital elements to add to or enhance the real world. Mixed reality is a blend of virtual and augmented reality technologies. Extended reality tourism involves using virtual reality, augmented reality, and/or mixed reality technologies to experience other places. HOW COVID-19 LED TO THE RISE OF EXTENDED REALITY TOURISM The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic impacted nearly every sector of the economy, but none were hit quite as hard as the tourism industry. Some countries closed their borders to tourists, whereas others issued stay-at-home or lockdown orders that prohibited or severely restricted travel. However, the tourism industry did not bounce back once these orders were lifted. Even when countries started to open up again, most people were still hesitant to travel due to health concerns. The impact of the pandemic will be felt on the tourism industries of all countries, but it will have the biggest impact on countries that rely heavily on tourism for jobs and economic growth. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that the sharp decline in international tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a loss of more than $4 trillion to the global GDP. Furthermore, more than 100 million jobs in the tourism industry are at risk as a result of the pandemic. Rise of Extended Reality Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/tourism-industry.jpg] Over a year later, the pandemic is still raging on, and the tourism industry is still suffering. But now, the tourism industry is beginning to embrace extended reality in an effort to adjust to this new normal. Because so many people still aren’t willing to travel, some companies are using extended reality to offer stay-at-home travel experiences. This benefits both consumers and the tourism industry. Extended reality tourism gives consumers the opportunity to travel the world safely and at a fraction of the cost. This technology also creates a new revenue stream for companies that are struggling to stay afloat in the tourism industry. EXTENDED REALITY TOURISM IN THE REAL WORLD There are countless extended reality tourism experiences available to consumers today. Some examples include: * Petra Xplore App * Faroe Islands’ Remote Tourism * Baalbek Ruins Virtual Tour * Virtual Aurora Tours * Atlantis, The Palm Hotel Tour * Acroptolis AR and VR App PETRA XPLORE APP Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Jordan. In June 2020, city officials launched the Petra Xplore App, which uses virtual reality technology to transport users to the historical city. Users can see the entire city–and its most famous landmarks–at scale. They can walk through and explore numerous points of interest, including the amphitheater, great temple, monastery, and tombs. As users explore the city, a voiceover plays to help them understand what they are looking at and its historical significance. This app, which was already being developed before the COVID-19 pandemic, helps tourists from around the world experience the city of Petra without ever leaving home. FAROE ISLANDS’ REMOTE TOURISM The Faroe Islands’ economy relies heavily on tourism, which is why officials decided to launch an extended reality tourism experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Remote Tourism Tool gives tourists the power to explore the mountains, waterfalls, and other parts of the Faroe Islands using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Tourists can also interact with locals in real time. The locals who choose to participate will then act as the tourist’s tour guide as they virtually explore the islands. This creates an unforgettable, authentic experience for tourists. BAALBEK RUINS VIRTUAL TOUR The Baalbek Reborn Virtual Tour was launched in March 2021. This virtual tour gives tourists access to three-dimensional reconstructions of the state of the Baalbek Ruins in the third century AD. In other words, it allows tourists to travel back in time to see what the Baalbek Ruins looked like thousands of years ago. Tourists can see famous sites such as the Temple of Bacchus, the Temple of Venus and the Temple of the Muses. It is a fully immersive experience that makes tourists feel as if they are actually on the ground exploring these historic ruins. VIRTUAL AURORA TOURS Many tourists dream of seeing the northern lights in person. Now, they can make this dream a reality by taking a virtual tour of the lights. The Virtual Aurora Tour is a short virtual reality video that transports tourists to Sweden, where they can see the northern lights appear in the skies above Abisko National Park. The Swedish travel company that created this tour also plans on releasing other virtual reality videos that transport tourists to the Aurora Sky Station. Rise of Extended Reality Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Palm-Hotel-Tour.jpg] ATLANTIS, THE PALM HOTEL TOUR Some companies are using extended reality to help tourists decide where to stay once they start traveling in-person. One example of this is the Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai. This hotel gives tourists the opportunity to take a virtual tour of the hotel online. They can walk through the lobby, check out the biggest suite in the hotel, and explore on-site activities and amenities such as the aquarium, gardens, and pool. This fully immersive virtual experience helps tourists understand what it would be like to stay at the hotel, which makes it easier for them to decide whether they should make a reservation. ACROPTOLIS AR AND VR APP Tourists who visit the Acropolis in person will be given an iPad mini that they can use to access the Acroptolis AR and VR app. The app uses augmented reality and virtual reality to show tourists what this historic site looked like thousands of years ago. To access this experience, tourists simply need to point their iPad camera in any direction. The app will then show them a three-dimensional reconstruction of what that specific area looked like in the past. IS EXTENDED REALITY TOURISM HERE TO STAY? There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic led to the rise of extended reality tourism. But what will happen to extended reality tourism once the pandemic is over? Some experts believe that extended reality tourism will keep growing in popularity long after the pandemic is over. These experts believe that extended reality tourism will continue to appeal to tourists who are looking for an inexpensive way to travel the world. It will also appeal to people who can’t travel due to physical limitations, work constraints, or family obligations. Experts also believe that extended reality tourism could be used in the classroom to take students on virtual field trips. This would allow teachers to take their students anywhere in the world within the span of a single school day. Other experts believe that extended reality tourism will slowly start to fade away after the pandemic is over. These experts believe that extended reality tourism faces certain challenges that are far too difficult to overcome. Rise of Extended Reality Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/virtual-reality-headset.jpg] For example, even though these technologies have been around for years, many consumers still don’t know what they are or the benefits of using them. Getting consumers to adopt these technologies is a significant challenge for the extended reality tourism industry. It may also be difficult for consumers to access extended reality tourism experiences. This is because consumers may need a virtual reality headset or augmented reality glasses to access certain experiences. Some experts believe that extended reality will be used on-site at tourist attractions long after the pandemic is over. These experts think that extended reality technologies will enhance the tourist experience at these attractions. However, other experts disagree. These experts believe that foot traffic at major tourist attractions will increase after the pandemic is over and it is safe to travel again. This increase in foot traffic will make it more difficult for tourists to enjoy the extended reality experience on-site. For example, if a museum is crowded with people, it may be more difficult to safely use a virtual reality headset. The people walking by could also “break” the augmented reality experience by interfering with the superimposed digital elements. There’s no way of knowing whether extended reality tourism will continue to grow in popularity once the COVID-19 crisis has been resolved. But for now, extended reality tourism is drastically changing the way in which people travel and experience other destinations.
AR in the Automotive Production Process
September 22, 2021
The automotive industry is constantly changing as a result of new technologies. The automotive industry often uses innovative technologies to provide new in-vehicle services or features. But sometimes, automotive manufacturers use new technologies behind the scenes instead. A recent example of this is augmented reality technology, which automotive manufacturers are now using to improve the vehicle production process from start to finish. What is augmented reality? How does the automotive industry use augmented reality? Here’s what you should know about AR in the automotive production process: WHAT IS AUGMENTED REALITY? Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose various digital elements onto their surroundings in the real world. Users can choose from a wide range of digital elements, including images, audio clips, and videos. In simpler terms, it changes the user’s perception of the real world by adding elements from the digital world to it. Some augmented reality experiences can only be accessed using a headset or a pair of specially designed glasses. However, many augmented reality experiences can be accessed using just a smartphone or tablet. In fact, the most well-known application of augmented reality is Pokemon Go, which is a smartphone app that launched in 2016. Although augmented reality is often associated with gaming, it has many other applications outside of the gaming world. Now, it is used in countless fields, including the automotive, healthcare, education, retail, ecommerce, and tourism industries. AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE PRODUCTION PROCESS Augmented reality is used for a number of different purposes in the automotive production process, including: * Employee Training * Workstation Planning * Designing New Vehicles * Manufacturing * Route Guiding Automotive Production Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Employee-Training-1.jpg] EMPLOYEE TRAINING Before the vehicle production process begins, automotive manufacturers use augmented reality technology to train new employees on the assembly line. One of these manufacturers is BMW, which uses augmented reality technology to conduct training sessions for engine assembly units. Training participants are given augmented reality glasses, which they can use to access detailed visualizations on how to assemble different engine parts. There are unique visualizations for every step, so the glasses guide participants through the entire process. Using augmented reality to provide training allows participants to move at their own pace, so they can spend more time on topics they find challenging. It also helps automotive manufacturers train more people at once. Augmented reality allowed BMW to increase their training sessions from one participant to three participants. Augmented reality training is just as effective as traditional training, too. BMW has used augmented reality to train employees for several years. After conducting surveys, the company found that there was no difference in quality between augmented reality and traditional training sessions. WORKSTATION PLANNING Some automotive manufacturers also use augmented reality to plan production plant layouts. If an automotive manufacturer is building a new production plant, for example, they can use augmented reality software to project true-to-size digital models of equipment and tools into the empty space. This way, they can see where everything fits and visualize what the plant will look like once it’s complete. This helps automotive manufacturers save time and money. Without augmented reality technology, manufacturers would need to waste time and money on building detailed models of production plant layouts. But now, they can use augmented reality technology to quickly create layouts that will increase the efficiency of the production process. DESIGNING NEW VEHICLES In the past, automotive manufacturers had to create clay prototypes of new vehicle designs. If the design was changed, the engineers had to create another clay prototype from scratch to reflect the revisions. But now, automotive engineers can use augmented reality technology to improve the efficiency of the design process. Engineers use augmented reality software to create digital models of new designs. Then, they project the digital model into their real world environment so other engineers can examine the design and give feedback. Changes can be made directly to the digital model, so engineers won’t need to waste time or money on building a new clay prototype. Using augmented reality technology in this way helps automotive manufacturers speed up the time it takes to finalize the design of a new vehicle. Thanks to this technology, manufacturers can quickly move new designs into production. Automotive Production Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Manufacturing.jpg] MANUFACTURING Automotive manufacturers rely heavily on augmented reality technology during the actual manufacturing process. Many manufacturers now give their assembly line workers access to augmented reality glasses. If an employee needs help assembling a certain part, they can use these glasses to look up the information they need. The glasses can project detailed instructions onto the employee’s real world environment. This way, the employee can get help without having to leave the assembly line, ask someone else for assistance, or waste time flipping through a user manual. All of the information will be projected right in front of them so they can reference it while they assemble the car part. Using augmented reality in this manner speeds up the assembly process and ensures parts are put together correctly. ROUTE GUIDING The warehouses that store various automotive parts are huge. Employees who work in these warehouses must study the layout to remember where everything is so they can quickly find the parts they need while on the clock. Fortunately, augmented reality technology makes it much easier for employees to find what they’re looking for regardless of the size of the warehouse. Augmented reality technology is used as a route guide in large automotive warehouses. To access this feature, employees must put on a pair of augmented reality glasses. The glasses will then project navigational instructions directly onto the wearer’s real world environment. For example, it will tell them when to turn down an aisle and which shelf to look at when searching for a part. This can drastically improve the productivity of warehouse workers. Automotive Production Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Automotive-Augmented-Reality.jpg] AUTOMOTIVE AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE POST-PRODUCTION PROCESS There’s no doubt that augmented reality technology has led to significant improvements in the production process in the automotive industry. But the automotive industry has also found new and exciting ways to use this technology in the post-production process. For example, some manufacturers have used augmented reality to create virtual automotive showrooms for consumers. Now, automotive consumers no longer need to travel to different dealerships in order to explore vehicles and gather the information they need to make a purchase decision. Instead, they can step inside a virtual showroom powered by augmented reality using their smartphone or tablet. They can select which vehicle they want to explore once they are inside the showroom. Then, they can use augmented reality technology to project a three-dimensional, realistic digital model of the vehicle into their real world surroundings. They can even look inside the vehicle to see what it would be like to sit behind the wheel. Automotive consumers can experience all of this and more without ever leaving home thanks to augmented reality technology. Augmented reality is also used as a marketing tool in the post-production world. This technology can be used to create unique experiences that help automotive manufacturers connect with consumers and promote the launch of new vehicles. For example, Audi introduced an augmented reality app that was triggered by the company’s TV commercials. Whenever the commercial aired, the app would automatically launch on the consumer’s phone. Then, the app would use augmented reality technology to make the cars jump out of the TV screen and into the consumer’s living room. From pre-production to post-production, augmented reality technology has completely disrupted the way the automotive industry operates.
Facebook and AT&T Launch Augmented Reality Experiences
September 20, 2021
Augmented reality is technology that allows users to superimpose digital elements onto their surroundings. Using this technology, consumers can enhance their real world with digital elements such as images, videos, and sounds. Although it is often considered a new technology, augmented reality has been around since the 1960s. However, it has come a long way since this time. For decades, augmented reality technology was used primarily by the military and NASA. But in 2000, Hirokazu Kato built ARToolKit, an open source software library that allowed developers to create a wide range of augmented reality programs for consumers for the first time. Today, augmented reality is used in a number of different fields, including the healthcare, automotive, education, travel and tourism, and retail industries. Some of the largest companies in the world have invested heavily in augmented reality, including Facebook. Because of these investments, Facebook has become a major player in the augmented reality market, and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The company recently announced its newest venture into the world of augmented reality: a partnership with AT&T. Here’s what you should know about this collaboration: WHAT AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERIENCE ARE FACEBOOK AND AT&T LAUNCHING? AT&T recently revealed that it is partnering with Facebook Reality Labs, the company’s virtual reality and augmented reality department, to create unique augmented reality experiences for consumers. The companies will bring these experiences to life using Spark AR, which is a Facebook platform that allows users to create custom augmented reality effects. The first product of this partnership has already been released to the public. Facebook and AT&T created an augmented reality experience to promote the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy. This experience gives consumers the opportunity to interact with characters from the movie such as Daffy Duck, Tweety, and Lola Bunny. Facebook and AT&T Launch Augmented Reality Experiences [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/smartphone-and-access-to-the-internet.jpg] All you need to access this experience is a smartphone and access to the internet. To begin, visit this website or AT&T’s Facebook or Instagram profile on your smartphone. Then, choose which characters you want to project into your real world surroundings. Aim your camera in the direction where you want the characters to appear. Then, sit back and watch them come to life right in front of you. This experience even allows you to interact with these iconic characters. Use the front or rear camera on your smartphone to snap a selfie with your favorite character. You can also use your smartphone’s camera to direct a short video with these characters. Then, share all of the videos and photos you create within this experience with your friends and family. According to AT&T, its 5G network can enhance this experience for consumers by improving the overall performance and shortening the load times of graphics. This is the first augmented reality experience launched by Facebook and AT&T, but it won’t be the last. The companies revealed that they are working together on various projects, including collaborative video calling and a series of augmented reality experiences that will be available to consumers in the future. Their goal is to create one-of-a-kind augmented reality effects that help consumers connect with friends and family in new and exciting ways. AT&T’S OTHER AUGMENTED REALITY INITIATIVES The Space Jam promotion isn’t AT&T’s only augmented reality initiative. AT&T’s other augmented reality efforts include: * Bookful * The Washington Post * Chicago Bulls * VITAS Healthcare BOOKFUL AT&T partnered with Bookful, a three-dimensional and augmented reality reading app, to create augmented reality experiences for young readers. You must have a subscription to Bookful to access this experience. Then, open the app and select one of the children’s stories to begin. As you read the story, the characters will literally jump out of your smartphone screen and into the real world using the power of augmented reality technology. This gives young readers the opportunity to interact with all of their favorite storybook characters, including Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, and Thomas the Tank Engine. The goal of this experience was to help children develop a love of reading. AT&T and Bookful hope that bringing their favorite characters to life with augmented reality technology will keep kids engaged and interested in reading. The Washington Post [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Washington-Post.jpg] THE WASHINGTON POST AT&T also partnered with The Washington Post to expand the use of augmented reality technology in journalism. The Washington Post used augmented reality to enhance journalistic content prior to the partnership. However, the partnership gave The Washington Post access to AT&T’s 5G technology, which drastically improved the augmented reality experience. This partnership gave consumers the opportunity to explore and learn about current events in a new way. One example of this is The Washington Post’s “How to Dress for Space” content. Instead of just reading about how astronauts dress for space, readers could use augmented reality technology to see life-size digital models of actual space suit designs in their real world environment. They could even get up close and personal with a three-dimensional, digital projection of Neil Armstrong’s space suit. This makes learning far more fun and exciting for The Washington Post consumers. CHICAGO BULLS The Chicago Bulls collaborated with AT&T to create a new fan experience powered by augmented reality technology. The experience, which was called AT&T StatsZone, was available within the pre-existing Chicago Bulls smartphone app. To access this experience, you just need to launch the app and tap on “AT&T StatsZone.” Then, you can click on any player to view their stats for current or past games. But the stats won’t just appear on your smartphone screen. Using augmented reality technology, the stats will bounce off of your screen and into the real world. You can even drag and drop them to customize how you view these three-dimensional projections. In addition to viewing stats, you can also watch augmented reality animations of famous in-game celebrations. These features help strengthen the bond between fans and the Bulls’ organization. VITAS HEALTHCARE AT&T is one of many companies that recognized the important role that augmented reality could play in the healthcare industry. To explore this further, AT&T partnered with VITAS Healthcare, one of the leading providers of hospice care. Together, AT&T and VITAS Healthcare studied how the use of 5G-enabled augmented reality technology could benefit patients. The goal was to determine if providing augmented reality content could alleviate pain and anxiety for terminally ill patients and help them relax and find peace. The two companies also explored potentially using augmented reality technology to train new healthcare workers. This technology could be used to provide hands-on training in a safe-environment to aspiring doctors, nurses, interns, and other healthcare professionals. These are some examples of the many ways in which AT&T has used augmented reality technology. Facebook’s Augmented Reality Experiences [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Facebooks-Augmented-Reality-Experiences.jpg] AN OVERVIEW OF FACEBOOK’S AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERIENCES Facebook is no stranger to the world of augmented reality. Over the years, it has developed numerous augmented reality experiences, including: * Spark AR * The New York Times * Wearables SPARK AR Some people assume that they need to know how to code to build an augmented reality experience, but that’s no longer the case. Anyone with a Facebook or Instagram account can create custom augmented reality experiences on Facebook’s Spark AR platform. You can use this platform to design your own augmented reality effect or filter. You can either upload your own digital assets or pull them from Spark AR’s extensive asset library. Once you are satisfied with your creation, publish it on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Portal so you can share it with the world. There are a number of step-by-step guides and tutorials available on Spark AR, so you don’t need to be tech-savvy to play around on this platform. THE NEW YORK TIMES The New York Times and Facebook announced a multi-year partnership to create “augmented reality driven reporting.” Together, the companies will use Spark AR to develop a series of augmented reality filters and effects for Instagram. These filters and effects will help consumers gain a deeper understanding of topical news stories. For example, one filter allowed Instagram users to learn more about how air pollution changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The filter darkened the user’s surroundings to show them the severity of air pollution in select cities. It also presented facts on the user’s screen about air pollution, including its causes and why it improved in some areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. This helped consumers learn about the topic of air pollution in an entirely new way. Instead of just reading about it, consumers were given the invaluable opportunity to experience it with the power of augmented reality. Facebook and AT&T Launch Augmented Reality Experiences [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Wearables.jpg] WEARABLES Facebook’s biggest augmented reality project is still in development. For years, the company has been hard at work developing a line of augmented reality wearables for consumers. Facebook has not revealed much about this line of wearables, including when they will be released to the public. However, the company has hinted that the product line will contain a pair of augmented reality glasses along with a wristband and haptic gloves that can be used to control the content projected by the glasses. Both Facebook and AT&T have a long history of launching augmented reality initiatives, so it’s not surprising that these two companies teamed up to build their own unique augmented reality experiences together.
BMW Launches New Art Car Augmented Reality Experience
September 17, 2021
The competition in the automotive industry has always been fierce. Throughout history, automotive manufacturers have used innovative technologies to stand out from their competitors. For example, the first car with a built-in air conditioner system was introduced by Chrysler in 1953. Years later, Nissan released the first car in the U.S. with a built-in backup camera. To this day, automotive manufacturers are still finding new and exciting ways to use advanced technologies. The automotive industry has recently embraced augmented reality, which is a technology that superimposes digital elements onto the user’s real world environment. This technology can enhance the user’s real world with images, sounds, or other digital elements. By superimposing these images on the real world, augmented reality technology blends the real world and digital world together. A number of automotive manufacturers are already using augmented reality technology, including BMW. In fact, BMW recently revealed that its newest venture into the world of augmented reality involves the company’s Art Car program. Here’s what you should know about this unique automotive augmented reality experience from BMW: WHAT IS THE BMW ART CAR PROGRAM? The BMW Art Car project was established in 1975 by Herve Poulain, a French race car driver who had the idea of turning a new BMW car into a canvas for an artist. Poulain, along with the founder of BMW Motorsports, Jochen Neerpasch, selected up-and-coming artist Alexander Calder as the first participant in the Art Car program. Calder accepted the invitation and created a unique design for one of Poulain’s BMW 3.0 CSL race cars. Calder was the first artist to participate in the BMW Art Car project, but he certainly wasn’t the last. Because the project was such a hit, BMW decided to continue it after Calder’s design was complete. Since the 1970s, a panel of international judges have been responsible for selecting other artists for the program. So far, 19 other artists have used BMWs as canvases as part of the Art Car project. Some of the most well-known artists in the world have participated in the program, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jeff Koons, and Jenny Holzer. Initially, the cars that were created in this program were used as race cars, but the head of the Art Car program has said that the focus has shifted. Now, the goal is to use these cars to advertise BMW’s commitment and connection to the art world. The cars are not available for sale. However, miniature versions of the first 15 designs were sold in BMW dealerships and select museums in the early 2000s. Several of the cars have also been featured in special exhibits throughout North America. But now, BMW has introduced a new way for consumers to experience the cars created in the Art Car program. How to Use Augmented Reality to Experience the Art Car Program [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/How-to-Use-Augmented-Reality-to-Experience-the-Art-Car-Program.jpg] HOW TO USE AUGMENTED REALITY TO EXPERIENCE THE ART CAR PROGRAM For the first time in history, consumers have an opportunity to see and explore all of the Art Cars in one place. All they have to do is download Acute Art, which is an augmented reality app available for smartphones and tablets. To access this experience, consumers need to open the Acute Art app and point their smartphone camera in any direction. Then, they can choose which one of the Art Cars they want to superimpose onto their real world environment. The app will use augmented reality technology to project a life-size, three-dimensional model of the selected vehicle into the user’s world. This gives automotive consumers the chance to get up close and personal with the Art Cars for the first time. Consumers can see what the vehicles would look like in their driveway, parked in their garage, or even in their living room. Because it projects a three-dimensional digital model of the vehicle, the app allows consumers to feel like they are standing in front of an actual car from the Art Car program. The digital model is far more realistic and lifelike than a still image. The best part is consumers can access this experience at any time, from anywhere. Thanks to augmented reality technology, all they need is a smartphone or tablet to play with BMW’s Art Cars. Only 10 of the 19 Art Cars were available when the app first launched. However, the full collection will be available soon since two new cars from the collection are added every two weeks. HOW IS BMW USING AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY IN OTHER WAYS? Even though the app is fairly new, it’s already been deemed a success by BMW. One BMW executive even said that they may roll out additional features in the near future. This isn’t the only way that BMW is using augmented reality technology to gain a competitive edge over other automotive manufacturers. BMW’s other uses of augmented reality technology include: * Maintenance and Repair Assistance * Training * Virtual Showrooms * Head-Up Display Maintenance and Repair Assistance [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Maintenance-and-Repair-Assistance.jpg] MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR ASSISTANCE Augmented reality is used to assist auto technicians at select BMW dealerships. These technicians can put on a pair of augmented reality glasses to access the information they need to diagnose issues with a vehicle or make repairs. For example, if a technician is having trouble with a complex repair, they can use their augmented reality glasses to connect with remote automotive experts. These experts will be able to see exactly what the technician sees. They will also be able to project digital elements onto the technician’s real world environment to guide them through the process of diagnosing the issue and making the appropriate repairs. The technician can even use their voice to open and scroll through text documents such as user manuals while wearing the augmented reality glasses. BMW estimates that using augmented reality in this manner will speed up maintenance and repair visits by 70-75%. TRAINING BMW is one of many automotive manufacturers that uses augmented reality technology to train new employees. Employees who participate in these training sessions are asked to wear augmented reality glasses. The glasses are used to project visualizations onto the wearer’s real world environment. These visualizations guide employees through the process of assembling different parts of the BMW engine. Employees are shown a detailed visualization for each step in the process so they can easily follow along and understand what they need to do. There are several benefits to using augmented reality to train new employees. Using augmented reality in this manner allows BMW employees to complete training at their own pace. If they are struggling with a specific step in the process, they can spend more time learning about it before moving on. This ensures that every employee fully grasps the concepts that are presented in training sessions. Augmented reality also allows BMW to train more employees at once. Prior to augmented reality training, BMW had managers training one person at a time. But now, BMW uses augmented reality technology to train three employees at once. Managers are now responsible for supervising these groups of three and helping them use the augmented reality glasses to complete their training sessions. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS Like many other manufacturers, BMW is also using augmented reality technology to power virtual automotive showrooms for consumers. In the past, automotive consumers had to visit showrooms in person in order to explore vehicles, learn about different models, and narrow down their options. However, augmented reality technology allows consumers to get the showroom experience without ever stepping foot inside an actual showroom. BMW consumers can use their smartphone or tablet to visit a virtual showroom powered by augmented reality technology. Inside this showroom, they can tour different BMW models just like they would if they were inside a real showroom. They can even look inside the vehicle to see what it feels like to sit behind the wheel of the car. This makes it easier for consumers to conduct online research and decide which vehicle they want to purchase. Automotive consumers no longer need to waste time visiting multiple dealerships to get the information they need. Now, they can simply visit a virtual showroom online and head to the dealership once they are ready to make a purchase. Head-Up Display [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Head-Up-Display.jpg] HEAD-UP DISPLAY BMW has used augmented reality technology to design innovative head-up displays for vehicles. This display will use augmented reality technology to project important information onto the windshield. This way, the driver can quickly look at the information without taking their eyes off of the road. A head-up display may show the driver how many miles they can drive before they run out of glass or how fast they are going. It can also project directions such as digital arrows or road signs to help drivers figure out how to get to their final destination. BMW also uses this technology to provide the driver with detailed descriptions about their surroundings. For example, the head-up display may use digital pins to tell the driver more about the buildings, streets, and businesses they are passing. This would come in handy if a driver is searching for something specific such as a gas station or coffee shop. These are some of the many ways in which BMW is already using augmented reality technology. Because these efforts have been so successful, it’s safe to say BMW will continue to find new and exciting ways to incorporate this technology into their business.
The Benefits of A Virtual Auto Showroom
September 15, 2021
In the past, the average consumer’s car buying journey began in an auto showroom. This is where consumers would explore vehicles, compare models, take test drives, narrow down their options, and make purchase decisions. But times have changed–and so has the consumer car buying journey. The vast majority of consumers begin their car buying journey online rather than inside a showroom. They no longer need to visit a showroom to research their options. Instead, today’s consumers spend an average of 14 hours conducting online research in the early stages of their car buying journey. Because so much of the car buying journey has shifted online, many automotive dealers now offer virtual auto showroom tours for online consumers. Automotive consumers can use their smartphone, tablet, or computer to step inside a virtual showroom. Then, they can examine the exterior and interior of cars and learn about different models just like they would if they were in a real showroom. The showrooms are powered by either virtual or augmented reality technology, so consumers will feel like they are actually looking at the vehicles in real life. If you’re in the auto industry, you may be wondering whether you need to invest in a virtual auto showroom. Building a virtual auto showroom to showcase your inventory can benefit both your business and your customers. Here’s how: REDUCES TIME AT DEALERSHIP The amount of time an automotive consumer spends at a dealership can have a direct impact on how satisfied they are with the car buying process. In fact, research reveals that the less time the consumer spent at the dealership, the more satisfied they were with the car buying process as a whole. Right now, the average automotive consumer spends around three hours at the dealership when buying a car. However, their satisfaction starts to decline after about 90 minutes. If you want to increase customer satisfaction at your dealership, it’s important to reduce the amount of time that it takes for consumers to buy a car. To do this, start by building a virtual auto showroom. Allowing consumers to visit a virtual auto showroom can drastically reduce the amount of time they spend in your dealership. Inside a virtual auto showroom, consumers can get all of the information they need to compare their options and make a final purchase decision. Automotive consumers who use virtual showrooms may not need to visit a dealership until they know which vehicle they want and are ready to purchase it. They won’t need to talk to sales representatives, take test drives, or tour the showroom floor once they go to a dealer. This could benefit both consumers and dealers. It benefits the consumers by saving them hours of time once they arrive at the dealership. But it also benefits the dealer by increasing customer satisfaction. The Benefits of A Virtual Auto Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Lowers-Operating-Costs.jpg] LOWERS OPERATING COSTS Adding a virtual auto showroom to your website may require an initial investment, but it can actually save auto dealers money over time. Each auto showroom may house dozens of different vehicles. Auto dealers are responsible for covering the costs of transporting these vehicles to their showrooms. Once the vehicles arrive, auto dealers must pay to maintain them. Maintenance costs can add up quickly. This is because every vehicle may require a great deal of maintenance to ensure they are in pristine condition when customers arrive. Furthermore, auto dealers need to pay for a property that is large enough to showcase all of these different vehicles. The larger the space, the more it will cost to rent or own. These costs can cripple small auto dealers. But now, auto dealers of all sizes can lower operating costs by investing in a virtual auto showroom. Auto dealers that offer virtual showrooms won’t need to keep as many vehicles on-site in their showrooms. Instead, they can invite consumers to explore their inventory online using their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Reducing the number of vehicles kept on-site can save auto dealers thousands of dollars in transportation, maintenance, and other showroom operating expenses. BROADENS CUSTOMER BASE The automotive industry is incredibly competitive. Some areas have dozens of auto dealers that are all competing for the same small group of consumers. However, a virtual auto showroom will allow auto dealers to broaden their customer base by connecting with consumers located outside of their community. Automotive consumers can tour a virtual showroom even if they live hundreds of miles away from the dealership. If they find a vehicle they like, they can contact the dealer to purchase the vehicle online or over the phone so they don’t need to waste time traveling to the showroom. Being able to connect with a larger customer base can help dealers increase sales and move inventory off of the lot more quickly. Benefits of A Virtual Auto Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Gives-Customers-What-They-Want.jpg] GIVES CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY WANT As an auto dealer, you should always be on the lookout for new ways to enhance the shopping experience for consumers. One way to do this is by offering a virtual auto showroom. Automotive consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of shopping for a car online. Sixty-three percent of automotive consumers said they would consider buying their next vehicle online. Sixty-six percent of these consumers said they would be comfortable exploring different vehicles online rather than in person in a showroom. If you aren’t offering these consumers the opportunity to visit a virtual showroom, you aren’t giving them what they want. As a result, you could miss out on the opportunity to convert them into loyal customers. CREATES A BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE FOR CONSUMERS If a potential customer wants to visit your showroom in person, they may need to rearrange their schedule in order to make it to your dealership during normal business hours. But visiting a virtual auto showroom is far more convenient. Your customers won’t need to wait until your dealership is open, call to make an appointment, or waste their time driving across town to visit a virtual auto showroom. They can access your virtual auto showroom from their smartphone, tablet, or computer at any time from any location. This allows consumers to start the car buying process whenever it is most convenient for them. They no longer need to work around your showroom’s schedule. The experience might be more enjoyable, too. Some automotive consumers don’t like visiting showrooms because they feel pressured by sales representatives who are eager to sell as many vehicles as possible. These aggressive sales tactics may force customers to make hasty decisions that they later regret. However, this isn’t an issue inside a virtual showroom. In a virtual showroom, consumers won’t have to deal with pushy sales representatives breathing down their neck. They can take their time exploring different models without feeling pressured to make a decision or purchase a vehicle. There’s no limit on how many vehicles they can look at, so they can spend as much time as they would like learning about their options. Benefits of A Virtual Auto Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Provides-A-Competitive-Advantage.jpg] PROVIDES A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE Having a virtual auto showroom also gives dealers a competitive advantage. If you are the only dealer in your area with a virtual auto showroom, automotive consumers who want to start the car buying process online may choose your dealership just so they can take advantage of this convenient tool. This may help you attract customers you otherwise would have lost to your competitors.
An Eye on Smart Contact Lenses
September 13, 2021
Consumers use smart technology daily. Smartphones help keep schedules straight, they allow access to friends, family and coworkers through email, social media and text messaging. Smartphones also serve as entertainment with games, videos and music accessible via just a click. Homes might include smart technology, too, with smart plugs and smart power strips that allow consumers to control their devices and appliances via the phone…or with a smart assistant. But what if eyes have smart power in the future? While smart glasses already are a reality, consumers might keep an eye on smart contact lenses that could incorporate augmented reality and more unique features. MOJO LENS: AN AUGMENTED REALITY CONTACT LENS? Move over smart glasses! Not everyone wants to select clunky headsets or glasses to experience augmented reality. Consumers might soon have the opportunity to choose contact lenses that offer augmented reality features and capabilities. Mojo Lens offers “invisible computing” that lets users experience technology without altering their appearance. Mojo Lens could be the first contact lens that offers augmented reality and immersive features. While the site doesn’t offer extensive details on features, the company does explain that “Mojo Lens even understands the activities you’re engaged in so it doesn’t disrupt or distract you.” The product could be extraordinarily promising for experiencing augmented reality without eyewear. However, the product is not yet available for sale, and the site states that “Mojo Lens availability is subject to regulatory approvals/clearance.” THE GOOGLE CONTACT LENS Back in 2014, Google was working on a contact lens that, per The Washington Post, would have been used as a device to monitor glucose levels in diabetes patients; teardrops contain glucose and this is how and why the smart contact lens would be useful as a medical-type device. So how can patients get their eyes into these lenses? Unfortunately, they can’t. The Google contact lens project was discontinued and the lenses never made it to consumers. The reason? Creating the technology in the lens to measure glucose was extremely complex. However, Science Magazine reported that Korean researchers might have created a more precise glucose-measuring lens. The lenses were tested on rabbits and showed accuracy. So perhaps contact lenses could allow diabetes patients to avoid the bloodwork that normally is used to measure glucose. SENSIMED TRIGGERFISH Smart contact lenses can help detect glaucoma and other eye issues. The Sensimed Triggerfish is a device that received FDA approval; the device features a contact lens that is worn by patients. The lens can monitor changes in the eye over a 24-hour period. This lets the doctor see beyond just a snapshot moment in the office for a more complete visual picture of eye health. According to The American Academy of Opthamology, a contact lens also may be used in the future for dispensing glaucoma medication weekly (it was created by Leo Lens Technology), while another lens was developed by researchers to dissolve in the eye to release medication over time. The Leo Lens Technology product still needs to undergo testing. MORE SMART LENSES! The American Academy of Ophthalmology included a list of smart lenses and how they may impact the future. The AAO included the Mojo Lens and Triggerfish in its roundup, and also touched upon lenses that would release antihistamines for allergy sufferers and a lens that may stop cornea melting (a disease that destroys the cornea). Another lens featured by the AAO also could help eye fatigue that is tied to staring at screens. One of the most interesting lenses featured, however, were contact lenses that could work with the smartphone, but the AAO notes that these lenses are very much a future development; don’t expect smartphone lenses to hit the market anytime soon!. Smart Contact Lenses [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Glasses-vs.-Contacts.jpg] GLASSES VS. CONTACTS: AN EYE ON THE FUTURE? Smart glasses, especially augmented reality glasses are one of the more hyped tech products. Many companies are working on this technology, and no one really knows which tech giant will unveil the first augmented reality glasses for the mainstream consumer market. But could augmented reality or smart contact lenses provide wearers a clearer vision of an augmented future? Individuals with vision impairments have often found themselves choosing between contacts or glasses. Some opt for contacts during the day and wear glasses at night to give their eyes a break. Others can’t stand to pop lenses in their eyes, while others don’t like to wear glasses. But imagine if the average consumer were forced to make this choice in how they wished to use technology, including augmented reality. Glasses or contact lenses could sync up or control smartphones. With glasses, maybe the user taps the frame to connect to their phone, but with contacts the eye movement might be used for controls (like the in-development Samsung lenses that could control a smartphone). With glasses, it’s easy to understand how the frames can connect to a virtual assistant (like Siri or Alexa, etc.); the glasses simply have microphone and speaker technology. However, contacts might be a little more difficult to create for this type of interaction. Still, anything is possible. Augmented reality glasses could include different experiences. Maybe they allow the consumer to interact with products while shopping. Perhaps controls appear in front of the wearer and users can opt to take a call via their glasses or send a text message. Maybe consumers can game with the glasses. Contact lenses displaying these same capabilities could be interesting…and intricate. Maybe the lenses sync to the smartphone to deliver augmented reality experiences. Or maybe another device connects to them. The question of contact lenses might be related to control. The user wouldn’t want to touch their eye to make choices. The eye movements can be reactive at times; imagine wearing augmented reality contact lenses and dealing with an eyelash stuck beneath it. Contact lens wearers may already know the pain and annoyance this causes. Rubbing the eye could help, but sometimes the solution requires the wearer to remove the lens. If smart contacts or augmented reality contact lenses require control to be based on eye movement or some other motion, could this be impaired by everyday habits? Sometimes lenses get dirty; maybe the wearer blinks hard. What happens to the control of the lens? What happens to the augmented reality experience? These lenses are mostly in development. Currently, there isn’t a consumer contact lens that delivers augmented reality or connects to the phone. However, if this is the future of technology, it will be interesting to see how the user controls these lenses. Maybe movement wouldn’t affect the lens experience at all. Smart Contact Lenses [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Visualizing-Augmented-Reality.jpg] VISUALIZING AUGMENTED REALITY While the future could include augmented reality or smart contact lenses, consumers might also get to experience augmented reality glasses. These will—hopefully!—drop sometime in the future. Who will launch them first, though, might be the big question. The good news for consumers is that perhaps the most convenient portal into augmented reality is one that is accessible to most individuals: the smartphone. While phones aren’t necessarily as unique as a pair of glasses or some seemingly invisible contact lenses, smartphones are mainstream. Whether consumers own an Android, Apple or Windows phone, augmented reality experiences are fairly plentiful. There are augmented reality games that mix the user’s world with graphic elements. Shopping experiences often mix in augmented reality elements, too. Before committing to a product, check and see if the store’s website or app offers a try-on experience or an augmented reality showroom. Stores can let consumers preview different products via augmented reality experiences. Looking for a new car? Check out an augmented reality showroom that lets users drop a vehicle into their environment. Walk around the car in a home, the backyard…anywhere. Users may be able to peek inside at the interior, too. Or maybe even change the paint colors! While the future of augmented reality is exciting to the eye, there are still many ways to experience this technology right now. Open up Google Play or the App Store and search ‘augmented reality.’ The apps are vast…and some are really off the wall. Make UFO videos, pretend to tape the Tooth Fairy or even interact with augmented reality spiders! Although many smart contact lenses might be pending further studies, this wearable technology could be our future. For individuals who suffer from allergies, a contact lens that releases medication could mean seasonal relief from itching and red eyes. And if a contact lens hits the market that accurately measures glucose, individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes might get to say goodbye to blood testing. Could consumers eventually choose between augmented reality glasses or smart glasses and contact lenses? Will augmented reality experience be controlled by lenses and wearable technology? Looking to virtual reality, which relies on a headset, experiencing augmented reality might be tied to lenses—either in glasses or via contacts. No matter what the future holds, consumers might want to keep their eyes open to the possibilities. While no one can see into the future, the visions of many companies might augment reality right before our eyes.