A Look at the Automotive Augmented Reality Market
July 28, 2021
Immersive technological shopping experiences may heighten the user engagement on a website or an app. Augmented reality allows for digital graphics to appear in the user’s real world environment, and this can provide unique try-on experiences for beauty brands, furniture stores or even within the automotive industry.
While these digital graphics can allow users to drop furniture into their home, swipe lipstick on the lips or even drop a car into the driveway, they also can be used to aid repairs, decrease downtime in manufacturing and more! Here’s a look at the automotive augmented reality market, and how the use of this technology could see a boost in the future.
Try On the Car!
Augmented reality and virtual reality are both part of extended reality. However, augmented reality and virtual reality are very different experiences. With virtual reality, users may need to use a headset to enter the virtual realm or experience (although this isn’t always the case). Augmented reality, though, uses a camera from a device (a phone or tablet) to show the user’s environment and projects a digital image into that environment.
The real world environment is not a part of virtual reality; all surroundings in virtual reality are graphic simulations or depictions. But in augmented reality, the real world is a critical element of the experience. And this is what makes augmented reality so cool for the user.
Virtual try-on experiences are a popular way that businesses deploy augmented reality. Stores like Ulta let shoppers use augmented reality to try on different colors of lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation and even hair colors to see if a product is right for them. The camera shows the individual in real-life, and the hues of products are digitally superimposed on the user’s face.
IKEA offers a try-on experience for its products, too. Users can drop furniture into their rooms to see if the product is a good fit. Even paint colors can be previewed on walls with augmented reality.
But how does this technology help car shoppers? Using augmented reality might help those on the hunt for a new car see if a vehicle model appeals to them, too. Augmented reality experiences can enable the user to drop a vehicle into their driveway, garage or backyard.
Maybe the car doesn’t look so good sitting outside the home. Maybe the color isn’t right. Or the design just doesn’t look so appealing once it’s viewed in 3D. Once the car is dropped into the environment, the user can walk around it to view the vehicle from any angle. Maybe they can look inside. Or opt for a different paint color.
Pictures don’t tell the whole story; photos are not always worth 1,000 words. Sometimes two-dimensional photos leave more questions about a vehicle. In the past, car photos or photo galleries were the only way for online shoppers to preview the vehicles before heading to the dealership.
With augmented reality, shoppers can experience the vehicle in 3D. While they can’t actually physically interact with it in a tactile sense, augmented reality does provide an interactive and immersive way to explore the vehicle.
Augmented reality experiences let users try on that car…or at least see the car in their own surroundings.
How Else Does the Automotive Industry Use Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality isn’t just used to aid shoppers in their buying journey. Augmented reality also is used in the automotive industry in other ways, too.
Aiding Car Repairs
Augmented reality can be used to help with car repairs. Technicians wear glasses that can send images from the ongoing repairs to a team of experts located remotely. These glasses also can help techs see small details, too.
Car brands integrate augmented reality within their cars to help improve the driving experience and keep drivers safer on the road. Cars that have backup cameras often use augmented reality on those screens; while the camera shows the detail behind the car, the graphic gridlines are augmented reality at work!
Some new navigation systems are getting incredibly AR-savvy! Newer car models may have augmented reality graphics showing where to turn and including directional augmented reality arrows. Others point out bikers on the road.
Cars are getting smarter, and augmented reality may be further integrated into car features to enhance the journey and make drivers feel safer on the road.
How to Find Augmented Reality Experiences
Shoppers who want to use augmented reality to help them on their buying journey can search for different experiences via Google or via the manufacturers. Augmented reality experiences could vary in their features, and they also may be limited to featuring one specific model.
Google has launched augmented reality experiences via its Search engine. Users can find augmented reality experiences for anime characters like Hello Kitty and even certain animals. However, not all animals are augmented via Google.
The same holds true for vehicle models. While Google provides augmented reality experiences for some models, it’s really a guessing game as to what vehicles can be explored via augmented reality. A few Toyota models are augmented via Google. Porsche also has augmented vehicles on Google. The Cadillac Escalade also can be explored in augmented reality.
Unfortunately, though, users can’t experience every model in augmented reality. While this immersive experience may replicate the in-person experience in a novel way, the augmented inventory isn’t as vast as it is via virtual reality.
Virtual Reality Showrooms
While augmented reality showrooms are not extremely prominent via apps or online, virtual reality showrooms offer a massive inventory of models for users to preview. While augmented reality lets users integrate 3D graphic depictions of their favorite cars into their own environment, these virtual reality showrooms allow vehicles to be viewed in a virtual online setting.
Sites like RelayCars include models dating back to 2016 or even 2015. So those looking for a preowned car can get a general idea as to what the vehicle looked like when it debuted. However, RelayCars does not include pre-owned inventory from any particular dealership. All earlier model vehicles are depictions of the vehicle when it was introduced. These images are for reference only.
Virtual car showrooms do allow users to interact with vehicles in the virtual environment, however. Using the mouse, shoppers can turn the cars around to view it from different angles. They can even view the inside of the vehicle to see interior features. RelayCars also lets users swap out paint colors, so users can find what color suits their tastes.
As a virtual reality showroom offers an extensive array of makes and models, visitors also can check out vehicles of all price ranges and designs. There is no pressure, and users can visit the site as often as they want. There’s also no limit on the number of cars that users can view on the site. And, of course, it’s free!
Will There Be More Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Experiences?
During Covid, dealerships were often closed to inside visitors. Those looking for a new car might have conducted their search online. While dealerships and other businesses have opened up, shoppers may be accustomed to the online realm and all the conveniences that it offers.
Are these shopping enhancements here to stay? Generation Z is the upcoming generation that many businesses may look to for purchasing decisions as this group enters adulthood (the youngest members are in middle school). Generation Z may embrace all these new tech trends, because augmented reality and virtual reality are in many of their social and entertainment experiences. Instagram, for example, offers augmented reality lenses. In addition, virtual reality games can be downloaded via sites like Steam.
Businesses including the automotive sector could pivot to more immersive and interactive experiences like augmented reality to reach out to younger buyers. However, not all car shoppers may embrace technology. Some may prefer the old ways of the new car shopping process; they may continue to do much of their business at the dealership.
However, those who are interested in upgrading their shopping experiences can check out the many augmented and virtual reality experiences that await them. While some of these experiences are easy to find via search engines, some may take a bit more research. And phones may help, too!
Whether a user has an Android, Windows or Apple phone, all offer stores to shop for apps. To find all the augmented reality experiences for download, just search for augmented reality. From there, users can find the experiences offered by different companies (including automotive) plus different games, too.
For users unfamiliar with augmented reality, downloading an augmented reality game might be a great way to get acquainted with augmented reality. Popular games like Pokemon GO can help users explore how augmented reality enhances an experience and explore the tech at their own pace. From there, users can move on to using this technology for shopping or researching new cars. Thankfully, most of these experiences are fairly easy to navigate, and, once a user enters the augmented reality world, they might not want to leave!