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10 Best Virtual Reality Games

10 Best Virtual Reality Games

December 17, 2021

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

Augmented Reality Architecture Software Shows Designs in the Natural Environment
before Construction

Augmented Reality Architecture Software Shows Designs in the Natural Environment before Construction

December 1, 2021

Augmented reality is used to allow consumers to preview products on their faces, in their homes, and, in the case of automobiles, in their garage or driveway. This technology also immerses gamers into the adventure by transporting characters into the user’s natural environment. Augmented reality also is used to showcase building designs before they are even built. Augmented reality architecture programs overlay new design concepts over the existing space to show homeowners the renovation transformation before it even happens. These programs also can preview a new building in an open space, too. Augmented reality programs that can help architects and those in the construction industry better help clients understand plans and perhaps any changes to the development of their project, too. There are even augmented reality experiences that can showcase architecture as an artform. Here are examples of different augmented reality programs and how they can be used by the industry or just to appreciate the beauty of architecture: MORPHOLIO AR SKETCHWALK Bring sketches to life! AR Sketchwalk showcases sketches in AR and overlays them into the actual environment. This program can help clients understand how the idea on paper will translate into 3D reality. Clients also can also take an augmented reality tour of the sketch designs. Like most augmented reality programs, when the concept is dropped into the real world, users can actually walk around the 3D image. ARKI ARki is classic augmented reality in that it allows architects to showcase the design in the real environment. ARki drops in the model and allows clients to see the concept before construction. The program also can be used in presentations. The app is available via both Google Play and the App Store. WIREFRAMES AR This app isn’t for presentations or even to aid in the visualization of a project. Wireframes focuses on displaying architectural art. The app showcases many different projects in an exhibit format and tells the story behind the artistic concept. Participating artists include dBox, Studio AMD, Neoscape, Mir and more. Augmented Reality Architecture [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Augmentecture.jpg] AUGMENTECTURE This app is compatible with Google Sketchup and Autodesk Revit to showcase blueprints as three-dimensional models. Augmentecture takes the two-dimensional blueprint and brings it to life as a building, as constructed in model form by the architect! The app is available via Google Play and the App Store. AUGMENTED Listed by ArchDaily among its list of augmented reality programs for architects, Augment lets users view 3D models of projects. Like many augmented reality programs, Augment can be used to take the guesswork out of a final outcome. While things change often in design, the program is a great resource for previewing. AUGMENTED REALITY MEASURING TOOLS ArchDaily listed augmented reality measuring tools as a resource for architects, too. These handy apps will overlay digital graphics to help accurately measure rooms and other spaces. It’s a bit like an augmented reality tape measure! But perhaps a bit less cumbersome! GAMMA AR Another program mentioned by ArchDaily, GAMMA AR is a construction app that can be downloaded via Apple and/or Android devices. The app can be used at construction sites to project BIM model data via augmented reality on in-progress builds…or even before construction begins. Augmented Reality Architecture [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/How-Augmented-Reality-Helps-Clients.jpg] HOW AUGMENTED REALITY HELPS CLIENTS Augmented reality apps used by architecture firms enable clients to visualize projects before construction begins, and, with some software, as it’s in progress. This takes the guesswork out of understanding the final outcome. However, some software programs like GAMMA AR also note that they can help reduce costs associated with errors during the build process. Visualizing data throughout the process could help architects and builders understand if something has gone amiss. For example, GAMMA AR explains that the graphic data can be projected during a walk through and comparisons can be made between the projected data and the actual construction. AUGMENTED REALITY IN DESIGN Augmented reality isn’t just used to showcase the architectural designs of a project, but this technology also can be used for interior design, too. While architects can use augmented reality to compare construction to the original project design or to even preview a sketch in 3D for a client, interior designers can use the technology to help clients to graphically transform the look of a space. Some augmented reality interior design apps are intended for consumers, while others might be meant for enterprise (business) implementation. Apps for the consumer can be found via both the App Store and Google Play. So how do these interior design apps work? These apps are actually really easy to use, and quite fun to implement…even if the consumer isn’t ready to make any lasting changes. PAINT PREVIEW Some stores and paint manufacturers let consumers use augmented reality to preview paint colors in any room’s walls. These apps let consumers choose from any hue; if it can be mixed, it can likely be previewed on walls. Paint magically swipes onto any wall via augmented reality. This helps the consumer determine which hue will flatter the room, or what colors might clash with furniture. FURNITURE PREVIEWS There are a few stores that let consumers use augmented reality to drop furniture or other items into their space. These apps help the consumer understand if a table, couch or other item will fit or flatter the room. Apps usually allow for consumers to select many different styles of furniture and different items. So consumers can play around with different looks and find out what looks best. This isn’t just fun, but it also can help consumers find a look that doesn’t result in a design fail…for businesses, this could mean fewer returns. ROOM MAKEOVERS Interior designers and design professionals also could use augmented reality apps in similar ways that architects use them…to preview final designs. Some homeowners want to transform a room or space. This could mean removing a wall, adding crown molding or other design elements into the room. Augmented reality could be used to help the design ideas come to life. For those who watch shows like Property Brothers, 3D previews are often used to show homeowners how the final design should look. This helps homeowners decide between different plans or ideas. The app Myty lets users choose from different furniture and give rooms a complete makeover. Change walls, the ceiling and even add floor coverings! Myty also can create doors or windows in a space to provide homeowners with an understanding about how these additions could add in light or maybe even the feeling of an open floor plan. Augmented Reality Architecture [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/What-About-Virtual-Reality.jpg] WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY? Virtual reality also may be used by both architects and design professionals. However, augmented reality could be more accessible, as it doesn’t often require bulky headsets. Although, some augmented reality programs may require the use of augmented reality glasses like Hololens. Many augmented reality apps, however, are accessible via phones and tablets. Many can be deployed using these handheld devices. This means that designs could be viewable to clients without carrying any extra equipment. Virtual reality, though, could be used in the office environment during meetings between clients and the design firm. With virtual reality, collaborations also could take place remotely meaning that firms with designers in different spaces could meet up even with thousands of miles between them. The same could be true for client meetings. Automobile manufacturers used virtual reality to design vehicles during the pandemic. This allowed executives to collaborate in a virtual space and analyze the 3D designs of new models, critiquing what worked and what might need to be changed. In this way, virtual reality also could be used among architects and other designers. Enscape is a virtual reality platform used by architects; it works with Revit, Sketchup, Rhino, Archicad, and Vectorworks. The platform allows architects to create virtual reality experiences for client meetings and presentations. While augmented reality overlays a rendering in the real space, virtual reality actually transports users into another realm. In this virtual realm they can interact with designs. HOW AUGMENTED REALITY AUGMENTS ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN Using augmented reality apps can aid architects in showcasing project ideas and bringing these ideas to life before a client. Apps can allow clients to walk around a building or even show if a project is progressing according to plans. Graphic overlays can be used not only to show 3D depictions of buildings but to also show what an area should look as construction is progressing. Augmented reality could help architects, designers and those in construction ensure that the updates are following the design protocol. In addition, interior designers can use augmented reality apps to show how a space can be transformed with new carpeting, a different wall hue and furniture. Apps can let designers or homeowners add in windows or even doorways. Some stores offer their own augmented reality tools that are designed for the consumer to preview products in their space. These tools let homeowners virtually add paint to walls and furniture into a room. Augmented reality provides an immersive experience that can aid design and build processes by showcasing the vision before it is even built or executed. Clients can even dive into design concepts through virtual reality and explore the architect’s vision. With the aid of augmented reality, architects can bring their ideas to life and transform their drawings into the conceptual reality that only existed in their imagination or within their 2D sketches. Augmented reality displays the reality of the mind and allows the dream to take shape and, eventually, become a reality.

What’s The Best Soccer Mom Car?

What’s The Best Soccer Mom Car?

November 15, 2021

Fall is soccer season, and, for many kids, the season is filled with weekend games and weekday practice sessions. Meanwhile, parents are tasked with hauling all that gear to and from the fields. If mom and dad act as a coach, the car might be filled with nets, balls, and other equipment for practices and games. Parents of athletes might be lugging extra equipment, a cooler filled with snacks and drinks, or extra clothes for their children to change into after practice. What is the best soccer mom car? While the choice of vehicle can vary depending on mom (or dad!), the car will need room for gear and other necessities. Here are a few picks for the best soccer mom car for practice, and tournaments and to hit the road for daily errands, too. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Volvo-Station-Wagons.jpg] VOLVO STATION WAGONS As a nod to the song from Everclear, a Volvo station wagon (or any Volvo) might just be the ideal and perhaps even stereotypical soccer mom car. Wagons offer enough room for the family and extra team members, too (for the carpool). Plus the back storage provides plenty of space for coolers and equipment. Opt for leather seats for easier clean up after games and practices. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Tesla-Model-3-SR.jpg] TESLA MODEL 3 SR+ Why Tesla? Players whose teams are competing at the select level may be visiting multiple tournaments per season. And, for parents, these tournaments may or may not be near the home. If the team schedule requires that parents drive hours out of the way for tournaments or for seasonal games, opt for a Tesla. The 2020 Tesla Model 3 SR+ boasts 140+ MPGe. In addition, other Tesla models also achieve more than 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). Electric vehicles are the most energy-efficient options, and they can be the best choice for soccer moms and dads who need to travel cross-country for the next soccer tournament. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Honda-Odyssey.jpg] HONDA ODYSSEY As one of the most popular minivans on the market, the Honda Odyssey is the perfect family vehicle for shuttling kids to and from school and sports games. For soccer players who need space for extra gear, the Odyssey also has plenty of cargo room for equipment. Moms or dads in charge of carpooling players to practice and games also have enough seating capacity for multiple players. In addition, the 2021 model features Magic Slide seats for easy access to the back row of seating. And seats fold down, too! Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Toyota-RAV4.jpg] TOYOTA RAV4 Kelley Blue Book ranked the RAV4 as best safety-rated SUV for 2020. The RAV-4 is considered a small SUV, but it still offers plenty of cargo space for basic soccer gear…plus enough seating for five passengers. While this might not be ideal for those with large families, the RAV-4 could be ideal for those with smaller families or who just need to carpool a few players. Buyers also could opt for all-wheel drive for additional control and performance…and for those field parking possibilities! Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Audi-e-tron-SUV.jpg] AUDI E-TRON SUV Families who want a full-size luxury SUV to trek to games and tourneys in style can opt for one of IIHS’s top safety picks. The Audi e-tron is an electric-powered SUV, which means that this SUV isn’t prone to the gas-guzzling tendencies often associated with larger SUV models. The e-tron can get more than 70 miles per gallon (equivalent). The e-tron has space for five passengers. However, the full-size e-tron also features four-wheel drive. Do parents necessarily want to off-road with the e-tron? Likely not. But can the car tackle obstacles? Yes, it can! Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Best-Midsize-Sedans-for-Soccer-Moms.jpg] BEST MIDSIZE SEDANS FOR SOCCER MOMS Looking for a moderately priced mid-size sedan to get to and from all those games and tournaments? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated these 2021 models as Top Safety Pick+ winners in the midsize sedan category: * 2021 Honda Accord (4-door) * 2021-2022 Kia K5 (4-door) * 2021 Mazda 6 (4-door) * 2021 Nissan Altima (4-door) * 2021 Nissan Maxima (4-door) * 2021 Subaru Legacy (4-door) * 2021 Subaru Outback (4-door wagon) * 2021-2022 Toyota Camry (4-door) BUDGET-CONSCIOUS CHOICES Some moms might just want a car that is ideal for the travel between practices, games and home. The car might just be a convenient commuter option with space for gear and the family. Every family might have a different budget, and when finances are a bit more limited, used vehicles can be the best way to save money. Families need to figure out how much they can spend and their cargo/space needs, too. Soccer isn’t necessarily an equipment-laden sport, although for certain positions, there could be more gear. In addition, coaches may need space for practice nets, extra balls and cones for drills. SUVs and minivans may be the best choices for those who need a lot of cargo space. Used vehicles can be found for a range of prices; while low, low prices might be available (less than $5K), these budget options could be older or have high mileage. Parents who have a minimal budget also can find their safest model options by consulting the IIHS web site, which offers a tool for looking up the safety ratings. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Shopping-for-the-Best-Soccer-Mom-Car.jpg] SHOPPING FOR THE BEST SOCCER MOM CAR Every family has their own preferences for what defines the ideal vehicle for their needs. Some may want luxury, others might want electric (and luxury!). There are those who are shopping on a budget and some who just want a safe midsize sedan. If the search results are too plentiful or even too limited, RelayCars lets buyers get more specific in their criteria by adding specifications or even expanding their search radius (for more results). The toolbars help buyers find exactly what they want or even just modify their search to find more other options. Buyers could start out searching for a specific model, for example, but then they can opt to expand their search to include all SUV options or certain size sedans with specific features. RelayCars simplifies the car buying process and allows buyers to do all the research work from home. This allows them to spend less time at the dealership and be more purpose-driven. Visiting the dealership can be reserved for test drives and for completing the credit application and finalizing the deal. Buyers don’t have to wander around the lot or the showroom. They don’t have to spend hours waiting to be qualified for financing. The process can be much less stressful.

8 Applications of Augmented Reality in Retail

8 Applications of Augmented Reality in Retail

November 10, 2021

Augmented reality is technology that allows users to modify their real world by adding sounds, images, and other digital elements to it. In other words, this technology gives users the opportunity to blend the digital and real world together. Augmented reality is often associated with gaming. In fact, one of the most well-known uses of this technology is the Pokemon Go app, which challenges users to locate and capture Pokemon characters in their real world environment. However, augmented reality isn’t all fun and games. This technology has been widely used outside of the world of gaming, including in the retail industry.  How is this technology used by retailers? Here are 8 applications of augmented reality in retail: TEST/TRY ON PRODUCTS A number of retailers use augmented reality technology to allow consumers to test or try on products using their smartphone, tablet, or computer.  Warby Parker, an online glasses and sunglasses retailer, is one company that uses augmented reality technology in this manner. In 2019, the company launched its “virtual try-on” feature, which uses augmented reality to overlay Warby Parker glasses onto the user’s face. This gives the consumer the chance to try on different styles of glasses to see how they will look on their face before placing an order.  Many clothing retailers, including H&M, Macy’s, Gap, and Asos, offer similar virtual try-on experiences. Retailers in the beauty and cosmetics industry, including Sephora, L’oreal, Garnier, and Redken, have also jumped on board with this trend.  Using augmented reality in this way benefits both the consumer and the retailer. It allows the consumer to shop with confidence since they can now test or try on a product prior to buying it online. They won’t have to worry about not liking the way the product looks on them once it arrives since they’ve already tried it on.  This also reduces the number of returns that are made to retailers, which can benefit their bottom line.  Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Preview-Product-Placement.jpg] PREVIEW PRODUCT PLACEMENT Purchasing furniture, home decor, appliances, and other items online can be challenging. It’s hard to visualize what a specific piece of furniture or home decor item will look like in your home, but augmented reality makes it easier than ever before. Thanks to the power of augmented reality technology, consumers can now preview what various items will look like in their real world environment.  For example, if a consumer is interested in purchasing furniture or home decor from IKEA, they can download the IKEA Place app to see what it would look like in their home. This app uses augmented reality technology to project a true-to-size, digital model of the selected item into the user’s real world environment. This way, the consumer can see if the item fits and if so, if they like the way it looks with the rest of their decor and furnishings.  IKEA isn’t the only retailer to use augmented reality in this way. Other retailers, including Wayfair, Home Depot, and Houzz, all offer similar product placement experiences powered by augmented reality technology.  Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Access-Product-Information.jpg] ACCESS PRODUCT INFORMATION E-commerce retailers aren’t the only ones who have taken advantage of augmented reality technology. Many brick-and-mortar retailers use this technology to enhance the in-store shopping experience for consumers.  One of these retailers is American Apparel. In-store shoppers can download the American Apparel app on their smartphone to access more information about the retailer’s products.  For example, consumers can use their smartphone camera to scan a specific American Apparel item while shopping. Then, the app will immediately pull up relevant information about the product, including reviews from consumers, color and size options, and a detailed product description.  Being able to access this information from a smartphone makes it easier for consumers to make purchase decisions while shopping in a store. They won’t need to go home and research their options to make a decision. Instead, they can make it within seconds while standing in the store. It also allows them to gather the information they need to make these decisions without interacting with a sales associate.  CUSTOMIZE PRODUCTS  Retailers also use augmented reality technology to give consumers the chance to customize products from their smartphones, tablets, or computers. This puts the consumer in control of their shopping experience.  One retailer that uses augmented reality in this way is BMW. The automotive manufacturer launched an augmented reality experience that allows consumers to enter an automotive showroom using their smartphone or tablet. Once inside the showroom, consumers can use augmented reality technology to customize various BMW models.  For example, consumers can customize the exterior paint color, interior seat color, wheels, rims, and other features to create the car of their dreams. This gives the consumer a unique opportunity to visualize what different customization options would look like before deciding which vehicle they should purchase. It also makes the entire car buying process easier by allowing consumers to shop for a new vehicle online rather than in a dealer’s showroom.  EDUCATE CONSUMERS  Some retailers use augmented reality technology to teach consumers how to use their products.  Sephora, an international beauty and cosmetics retailer, launched its augmented reality Virtual Artist feature in 2017. In addition to letting consumers virtually try on cosmetics, this feature also uses augmented reality technology to provide helpful tutorials. For example, say a consumer wants to learn how to use cosmetics to contour their face. In this case, they can access a step-by-step tutorial in the Sephora app. The Virtual Artist feature uses augmented reality technology to show the consumer exactly where to apply each product on their face to achieve the look they desire. Being able to see where they should apply each product on their face makes it much easier to recreate the look. Now, thanks to augmented reality technology, the consumer will know the best way to use their Sephora products to achieve this look. BUILD BRAND AWARENESS Many retailers have incorporated augmented reality technology into their marketing and advertising campaigns in an effort to build brand awareness and generate sales.  Airwalk is one example of a retailer that used this technology as part of a successful marketing campaign. The retailer used augmented reality to create an “invisible” pop-up shop to celebrate the limited edition release of the Airwalk Jim shoe.  If a consumer wanted to purchase this popular limited edition shoe, they needed to travel to one of the two pop-up shop locations. Once they arrived, the consumer could use their smartphone to enter the augmented reality pop-up shop and purchase the shoes.  This marketing campaign was a huge success for Airwalk. It generated an estimated $5 million in earned media, helped Airwalk build brand awareness, and drove traffic to the Airwalk e-commerce store. In fact, the Airwalk e-commerce store had its busiest weekend of all time thanks to this innovative augmented reality campaign. Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/In-Store-Navigation.jpg] IN-STORE NAVIGATION Several brick-and-mortar retailers use augmented reality technology to provide in-store navigation assistance to consumers.  Lowe’s is one retailer that uses augmented reality technology in this manner. Lowe’s stores are massive, which can make it hard for consumers to figure out where to go. That’s why the retailer launched an in-store navigation app powered by Google Tango that helps consumers find what they are looking for in Lowe’s stores.  In-store shoppers can create a shopping list of the items they need within the Lowe’s app. Then, the app will automatically show them exactly where each item is located within the store. The app tracks the consumer’s location in order to provide accurate, step-by-step directions. The app even creates a custom route that users can take to pick up all of the items on their list as quickly as possible. Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Sizing-Assistance.jpg] SIZING ASSISTANCE One of the hardest parts about shopping online for clothing or shoes is figuring out what size to purchase. Every item may fit slightly differently–even those that are made by the same brand. Thanks to augmented reality technology, retailers can provide sizing assistance to online shoppers. In 2020, Nike launched its augmented reality in-app feature known as Nike Fit. To use this feature, consumers simply need to download the Nike app and tap on “Nike Fit.” Then, they can point their smartphone camera at their feet to start measuring their size. The app uses innovative technology to scan the consumer’s foot and calculate their size. Once the scan is complete, the app will tell the consumer what size they should purchase in every style of shoes sold on the Nike app. The sizing recommendations may vary depending on the style. For example, the app may tell the consumer to go one size smaller when purchasing a specific style that tends to run big. This ensures that the consumer purchases the right size so they don’t need to go through the trouble of exchanging their purchase for a different size.  So far, retailers have found a great deal of success by using augmented reality technology. Because of this, it’s safe to say that retailers will continue to find new and exciting ways to implement this technology in the years ahead.

Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream?

Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream?

November 5, 2021

Many people think of virtual reality and augmented reality as futuristic technologies that are inaccessible to most consumers. In the past, the average consumer may not have had the opportunity to experience these technologies, but that’s all changed over the last several years. In fact, International Data Corporation, a global research firm, recently declared that virtual and augmented reality have officially gone mainstream. How are virtual reality and augmented reality used today? What does the current virtual and augmented reality market look like–and what will it look like in the future? Here’s everything you need to know: HOW ARE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGIES CURRENTLY USED? Both virtual and augmented reality technologies have been embraced in countless industries, including: * Gaming * Automotive  * Healthcare * Retail Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Gaming.jpg] GAMING Virtual and augmented reality technologies are often associated with the gaming industry, and it’s not hard to see why. There are hundreds of different virtual reality and augmented reality games that are accessible via a headset, smartphone, or tablet.  One of the most well-known augmented reality games is Pokemon Go, which is an app where users can search for and capture Pokemon characters in their real world environment. This app gives consumers the opportunity to experience augmented reality technology using their smartphone. Half-Life: Alyx is one of the most popular virtual reality games. In this survival game, players must go on missions to seize weapons from aliens. Unlike Pokemon Go, Half-Life: Alyx is not accessible via a smartphone. Players must use a virtual reality headset. AUTOMOTIVE These technologies have transformed many aspects of the automotive industry. Both virtual and augmented reality technologies are now used to speed up the design and production of new vehicles.  On the assembly line, workers can use these technologies to quickly access information they need to perform their job duties.  Many automotive companies have also used these technologies to create virtual showrooms, which are online showrooms that consumers can visit to explore cars in lieu of a trip to the dealership. Automotive manufacturers are also using augmented reality technology to enhance in-car features. In fact, some cars are now designed with an augmented reality heads-up display, which presents information to drivers directly onto their windshield. HEALTHCARE Both augmented and virtual reality are widely used in the healthcare industry, too. Some healthcare professionals use virtual reality technology to treat anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. This technology allows healthcare professionals to put their patients in simulated environments where they can work to resolve their issues. Both technologies are also used to train aspiring healthcare professionals. This gives aspiring healthcare professionals the opportunity to train in an environment where mistakes don’t carry grave consequences.  Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Retail.jpg] RETAIL Numerous retailers have used virtual and augmented reality technologies to enhance marketing campaigns and generate buzz around new product launches and events.  Retailers have also used these technologies to improve the in-store and online shopping experience for consumers. For example, many retailers now use augmented reality technology to give consumers the chance to try on or test out products online before they buy them. Online shoppers can now see how they would look in a specific product prior to purchasing it. Thanks to augmented reality, in-store shoppers in certain retailers can use their smartphones to quickly access information on products they are interested in purchasing. All they need to do is point their camera at the product to pull up relevant information. THE FUTURE OF THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET International Data Corporation predicts that the virtual reality, augmented reality, smart home, and wearables market will reach $369.6 billion by the end of 2021. The researchers at International Data Corporation also believe that this combined market will grow exponentially over the next few years. They predict that this market will be valued at nearly $525 billion by the year 2025. The virtual reality and augmented reality segment of the market will account for most of this growth. According to these researchers, the virtual and augmented reality category will experience a 67.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2020 to 2025. Researchers predict that the virtual and augmented reality category of the market will be valued at over $18 billion by 2025. In short, these experts believe that the future of the augmented and virtual reality market is bright. WHO ARE THE MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET? There are countless companies that are currently doing business in the virtual reality and augmented reality market. However, a handful of companies dominate the market, including: * Facebook: Facebook is a leader in the virtual reality market thanks to its line of Oculus headsets. The company has also invested heavily in augmented reality products for Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps within the Facebook family. * HTC and Valve: These two companies teamed up to produce one of the most popular lines of virtual reality headsets on the market, the HTC Vive.  * Apple: Apple’s ARKit makes creating new augmented reality apps easier than ever before. Thanks to this kit, augmented reality apps are more accessible to consumers. There are also rumors that Apple will release an augmented reality headset in the near future. * Google: Similar to Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore simplifies the process of designing new augmented reality apps. Google also entered the virtual reality space with Google Cardboard, a virtual reality platform. * Microsoft: Microsoft’s HoloLens is a virtual reality and augmented reality headset. Unlike other headsets, the HoloLens does not require the use of a computer or controller.  WHAT FACTORS ARE DRIVING GROWTH IN THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET? A number of factors are responsible for driving growth in the virtual and augmented reality market, including: * New Applications * Remote Collaboration * Device Compatibility  Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/New-Applications.jpg] NEW APPLICATIONS Companies across various industries have found new and exciting ways to use virtual and augmented reality technologies. These technologies are now used to provide unique learning experiences for students in classrooms, train aspiring healthcare professionals, improve the efficiency of designing new vehicles, and make online shopping easier for consumers.  Every time a new application is discovered, the demand for augmented and virtual reality technologies increases. As long as companies continue to explore the use of these technologies, the market will continue to grow.  REMOTE COLLABORATION Demand for augmented and virtual reality technologies increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, most companies had no other choice but to allow workers to work from home. Despite their physical distance, remote workers still needed to collaborate with one another, which is why they turned to virtual and augmented reality for help. These technologies are now used to bring people together regardless of how far apart they are. Both technologies make it easier for teams to collaborate even if they are located across the globe from one another. Experts predict that the remote work trend won’t die down even when the pandemic is over. In this case, the need for remote collaboration tools will drive a significant amount of growth in the virtual and augmented reality market. DEVICE COMPATIBILITY Most virtual reality experiences are only accessible via a specially designed headset such as the Oculus or HTC Vive. However, consumers can now access a wide range of augmented reality experiences using only their smartphone, tablet, or computer. They can download augmented reality apps directly on the device they already own. There’s no need for them to spend hundreds of dollars on a special device to enjoy augmented reality technology. More consumers will be introduced to this technology because it is so accessible. They will finally start to see the many benefits that augmented reality technology has to offer. Over time, this will lead to a higher adoption rate and drive growth in the market. Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Virtual-Reality-and-Augmented-Reality-Market.jpg] WHAT CHALLENGES WILL THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET FACE? Even though it is expected to grow exponentially, the virtual and augmented reality market will face a few challenges along the way, including: * High Development Costs * Business vs. Consumer Use HIGH DEVELOPMENT COSTS Experts predict that one of the main challenges the market will face is high development costs. Developing headsets and the virtual reality and/or augmented reality platforms to support these devices requires a lot of capital. Larger companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google won’t have any trouble coming up with the necessary capital. However, the high development costs could make it harder for smaller companies to enter the market, which could affect the market’s ability to grow.  BUSINESS VS. CONSUMER USE Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will not truly go mainstream until they have been adopted by the vast majority of consumers. But unfortunately, it’s currently businesses, not consumers, that are driving most of the growth in this market. This is because businesses have found ways to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency by using these technologies. To take these technologies mainstream, it’s important for companies to get more consumers on board and excited about using them. Despite these challenges, experts believe that the virtual and augmented reality market will experience significant growth in the years ahead.

The Rise of Extended Reality Tourism

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.

An Eye on Smart Contact Lenses

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.

Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality

Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality

September 10, 2021

The augmented and virtual reality market is expected to grow by over $162 billion by the year 2025. Furthermore, analysts predict that there will be a 75% consumer adoption rate of these technologies within the next two years. Many companies are hoping to profit off of the expected growth of this market, including Facebook.  Although Facebook is one of the biggest social media companies in the world, it has also quietly become a major player in the virtual and augmented reality industry.  The company’s virtual and augmented reality efforts have ramped up over the last several years. In 2017, roughly 5% of Facebook employees were working on virtual and augmented reality projects. But now, Facebook Reality Labs, which is the company’s augmented and virtual reality division, employs about one-fifth of Facebook’s workforce. Facebook has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality technologies. In fiscal year 2020, the company reported that 21% of its annual revenue, or about $18.45 billion, was allocated to research and development. According to the company, augmented and virtual reality efforts account for a major portion of these research and development costs.  How exactly is Facebook using virtual and augmented reality? Here’s what you need to know: Oculus Virtual Reality Headset [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Oculus-Virtual-Reality-Headset.jpg] THE OCULUS VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSET One of Facebook’s first virtual reality initiatives was the acquisition of Oculus VR, a virtual reality headset manufacturer, for over $2 billion in 2014. Two years later, the company released its first virtual reality headset for consumers, the Oculus Rift. The next model was the Oculus Go, which was released in 2017. Unlike the Rift, the Oculus Go was a standalone headset and did not need to be connected to a PC to operate.  A higher-end virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest, was released in 2018. The headset connected to Oculus Touch controllers, which allowed the user to navigate in their simulated world. The headset also allowed consumers to access the Oculus Store, where they could download virtual reality games built specifically for the Oculus device. All of these Oculus models have since been discontinued, though. Only the most recent model, the Oculus Quest 2, is still in production. It is similar to the original Oculus Quest, but designed with better technology, a longer battery life, and more comfortable handheld controllers.  Facebook has never revealed sales numbers for any of the Oculus models. However, the company did announce that they sold over $100 million in Oculus Quest content through the Oculus Store in the device’s first year. If the content was this successful, it’s safe to say that the device itself was a success as well. Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Facebook-Portal.jpg] FACEBOOK PORTAL Facebook Portal, a line of smart displays and videophones, was released in 2018. Portal devices allowed consumers to communicate with one another via video chats powered by Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. According to Facebook, Portal created a more realistic, intimate video call experience thanks to its wide-screen display. It was also designed with a Smart Camera, which would automatically rotate, pan, or zoom to follow the action and Smart Sound, which would enhance the voice of the person speaking. This created a hands-free experience and made consumers feel like they were really in the same room with their friends or family even if they were actually thousands of miles apart. Even though Portal was initially released in 2018, it exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many consumers relied on Portal to connect with loved ones that they couldn’t see in person due to social distancing guidelines.  As a result, Facebook announced plans to expand the capabilities of Portal in 2021. The company revealed that Portal would soon have virtual and augmented reality features that would make it easier for remote workers to connect, communicate, and collaborate.  SPARK AR Spark AR is a Facebook platform that allows users to create and publish their own augmented reality effects on Facebook, Instagram, and other apps within the Facebook family. In the past, this platform was only available to a small test group of Facebook users. But now, anyone with a Facebook account can access and use Spark AR.  Spark AR is designed for users of all skill levels, so you don’t need to know much about augmented reality or coding in order to take advantage of its features. The platform has dozens of different tutorials and step-by-step guides that provide all of the information you need to get started.  You can either import your own digital assets or browse through the hundreds of audio files, three-dimensional objects, and other digital assets within Spark AR. You can even upload sound files to create a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory augmented reality effect.  The effects you create within Spark AR can be published as Instagram and Facebook filters. Effects can also be applied to Facebook ads to create eye-catching ads that will stop users in their tracks.  Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-Reality-Wearables.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY WEARABLES Facebook has been in the process of developing augmented reality wearables for years. Its biggest project is a pair of augmented reality glasses, which are still in development. Facebook hasn’t released very many details about the glasses, however executives have acknowledged that the glasses will ultimately eliminate the need to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer. One executive also suggested that the glasses would use facial recognition technology to provide users with face ID security.  Facebook will also release a line of “soft, wearable systems” to pair with the augmented reality glasses. For example, Facebook plans on releasing a wristband that will connect to the augmented reality glasses. The wearer will be able to use this wristband to control what is shown in front of them. The wearer might be able to select an item from a menu screen simply by tapping on their wristband, for instance. Facebook is also producing haptic gloves that will connect to the company’s augmented reality glasses. Wearing these gloves would allow the user to access a virtual screen and keyboard projected directly in front of them.  Facebook has not announced a release date for its augmented reality glasses or other wearable accessories. But these products have the potential to completely disrupt the virtual and augmented reality industry.  FACEBOOK HORIZON Horizon is another virtual reality product developed by Facebook Reality Labs. Unlike its other products, Horizon is a virtual reality universe where users can create their own environments, interact with other virtual players, or just walk around and explore their simulated world.  Players who enter the Horizon virtual universe can design their own avatars. Then, they can jump to different locations within the simulated world using Telepod portals. If a player gets lost or confused, they can rely on one of the local guides, known as Horizon Locals, for help.  The game even allows players to establish personal space boundaries to prevent other virtual avatars from getting too close for comfort. If a player starts to feel overwhelmed, they can quickly tap on a button to escape the public world and enter a private virtual oasis. This game is designed for users of all skill levels, so players won’t need coding skills to start constructing their own virtual world. FACEBOOK ACQUISITIONS There’s no telling what Facebook will do next with augmented and virtual reality technologies in the future. However, a string of recent acquisitions indicate that Facebook is fully committed to the world of virtual and augmented reality. Two of Facebook’s earliest acquisitions were Pebbles Interfaces and The Eye Tribe, which occurred in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Pebbles Interfaces develops sensor systems, computer vision, depth-sensing systems, and other technologies whereas The Eye Tribe produces eye-tracking technologies. All of these technologies are used to create virtual and augmented reality experiences. Facebook then began acquiring virtual and augmented reality gaming companies, including Ready At Dawn and Beat Games, which are two leaders in the extended reality gaming industry. Facebook also acquired two other gaming companies, Downpour Interactive and BigBox VR. All of these acquisitions occurred over a short period of five or six years, which indicates that Facebook is moving full steam ahead in its quest to dominate the world of virtual and augmented reality. Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Metaverse.jpg] THE METAVERSE During a recent earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company would focus on building a “metaverse” in the future. The term “metaverse” has become somewhat of a poorly defined buzzword in tech circles. In general, it is defined as a shared online space where physical, augmented, and virtual realities meet. However, Zuckerberg described his vision of a metaverse as “a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces.” In other words, it would allow users to experience the internet by being inside it rather than looking at it through a computer screen.  Zuckerberg went on to say that the creation of a metaverse could greatly benefit creators, artists, remote workers, and people located in remote areas who would otherwise not have access to educational or career opportunities. He even said that if done correctly, a metaverse could serve as a teleport device. Zuckerberg may face a number of obstacles in his quest to build a metaverse, including competition and government regulations. But for now, Zuckerberg believes that Facebook is more than capable of transforming from a social media platform to a metaverse company.

Snap’s Acquisition of Vertebrae Could Transform Online Shopping

Snap’s Acquisition of Vertebrae Could Transform Online Shopping

September 3, 2021

The Verge recently reported that Snap—the parent company of Snapchat—acquired Vertebrae, a company that creates 3D models and augmented reality experiences for online retail. Snapchat already offers augmented reality features for its creators, and some businesses have used Snapchat’s lenses for augmented reality enhanced shopping experiences. However, the acquisition of Vertebrae could place Snap in a very unique position in leveraging these tools and features to businesses that wish to create a more immersive shopping experience for their customers. And Snap’s acquisition of Vertebrae could transform online shopping…here’s how! WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT VERTEBRAE Vertebrae’s website opens up a glimpse of what the company can bring to Snap’s augmented reality bottom line. Yes, Snapchat already allows businesses to access augmented reality features (including a ‘try-on lens’). However, Vertebrae takes these high-tech experiences to another level. The company creates 3D models of products for customers (i.e. businesses). This allows shoppers to not just view products as photos but to turn them around and view them at different angles. Vertebrae also can create unique try-on experiences via Space AR and Face AR. With SpaceAR, users can check fit (think furniture). With Face AR, users can virtually try on products. Face AR could include cosmetics, sunglasses, hair color preview, etc. The company has worked with Toyota, Tenth Street, CB2 and others. In fact, Vertebrae helped create the augmented reality experience that allowed Toyota shoppers to view vehicles in their environment. This augmented reality car showroom of sorts without downloading an app. Instead, users could access the experience via a banner ad. AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE CONSUMER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE Augmented reality experiences can heighten the user experience. When shopping online, consumers can use augmented reality to explore products beyond static photos. With these experiences, consumers can enter a unique showroom experience in their own home. Or the face may become the canvas to preview products. Companies have deployed augmented reality shopping experiences in a variety of ways. For example, Gucci used Snapchat to create an augmented reality try on experience for some of its most popular shoes. It also deployed a virtual shoe that could only be purchased via the Wanna or Gucci app; users could post photos of themselves wearing the unique virtual shoe, too! Cosmetics brands like Chanel have used augmented reality to let users try on products without leaving home. The augmented reality experience requires access to a camera to show the user’s face. Then products can be chosen to preview. Eyeshadow or lipstick appears on the user’s image…a bit like magic. Ulta’s GLAMlab can even show multiple products at once. This is an easy way for consumers to determine if a product suits their complexion, their style or their personal taste. Warby Parker even lets users try on frames via augmented reality to find the best shapes and styles for their unique face structure. Why are these experiences so useful for consumers? Augmented reality lets consumers take the guesswork out of their purchase. In the past, buying cosmetics or even ordering paint colors online could be hit or miss. Would the color or product actually look good? Shoppers might have received their purchase, and tried it on only to realize it was a huge miss. Maybe the lipstick really clashed with the complexion. Perhaps swiping the paint hue on the wall didn’t showcase a robin’s egg blue but really something far more electric…and much too bold for the room. Shopping went online during the pandemic for many consumers. But online shopping isn’t a new fad. Online retail has been around for years. And many shoppers enjoy the convenience of ordering products from home. The problem with online shopping, however, might be related to the barriers in exploring the products. In the early days of online shopping, many stores or businesses were only able to show pictures of items via their website. Maybe clothes were displayed on models. But there were limitations on how customers could explore the products; photo slideshows or photos of models might have been the only preview options. Now, though, 3D models of products can let users explore the item from all angles. And maybe augmented reality even lets the item appear in the environment. This means that shoppers aren’t just looking at a sofa; instead, augmented reality experiences let them place it in a room. Now, homeowners can see if a new piece of furniture matches the room…or fits the space. Augmented Reality and Car Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-Reality-and-Car-Shopping.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND CAR SHOPPING Vertebrae helped create the augmented reality experience for Toyota that was designed a bit like an augmented reality showroom. These experiences are becoming more prominent in the automotive industry, and this might be because even car shoppers have been forced to shop online during the pandemic. Now online shopping might be crucial to staying competitive. In fact, Cox Automotive reports that online shopping (i.e. “digital retailing”) “…is key to a long-term winning strategy—with 75% of dealers acknowledging that they won’t be able to survive without it.” Even before Covid, though, car shoppers were researching via the internet. Back in 2018, Cox Automotive’s 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study noted that “…car buyers spend 60 percent of their time online, and more than three quarters (78 percent) of car buyers use third-party sites, like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.” While third-party sites can provide data regarding car prices and other details, augmented reality experiences can allow customers to virtually explore vehicles. Augmented reality experiences, apps and sites can possibly minimize the time shoppers spend at the dealership, too. While shopping for a new car used to include visiting several dealerships, strolling through the lot and looking at different models, the online augmented reality experience can provide a similar experience. Using augmented reality, shoppers can’t physically touch or interact with the vehicle, but they can explore it visually in 3D. Using the camera from a smartphone or tablet, users show the environment where they wish to preview a vehicle. The consumer can then drop the car into this environment. Augmented reality auto showrooms and experiences can let users walk around the car, look inside, see the car from different vantage points or even change the paint color. The consumer can use these experiences as a means to explore different vehicles, too. Some augmented reality showrooms aren’t focused on one brand, but they allow users to preview many different makes and models. This can be helpful for shoppers who are in the beginning of their new car hunt. Maybe they don’t know what they want, but these sites or apps can let them explore many different options. Virtual Reality Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Virtual-Reality-Shopping.jpg] WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY SHOPPING? While augmented reality experiences for shopping could be the future of the online retail experience, technology could bring surprises. Many companies are aiming to create consumer-driven augmented reality glasses, and the buzz around these glasses have existed for quite some time. If the glasses become a reality, could they integrate augmented reality shopping experiences? Would glasses show apps for different stores and bring up unique augmented reality experiences to preview products? Of course, augmented reality also could be bumped by virtual reality. Currently, virtual reality headsets can be purchased at a semi-affordable price. While the buzz around augmented reality is hot, virtual reality can’t be ignored. However, virtual reality shopping experiences would require retailers to create virtual environments accessible via headsets. So perhaps it would become like a virtual retail space. Virtual reality could allow users to have their own personalized avatars or characters that appear in the realm. Maybe they include the exact measurements of the individual. Of course, augmented reality could create something similar, too. While future shopping experiences could incorporate augmented or virtual reality, right now augmented reality experiences have been a popular way to enhance the user experience and provide a way for users to explore products at home. Try-on experiences show products on the face (like swiping on blush), the walls (paint!), or even the space (dropping furniture in the living room!). These experiences also include augmented reality showrooms that let users preview automobiles. Snap’s acquisition of Vertebrae positions the company to create and leverage more immersive experiences. While Snapchat lenses can allow users to enter augmented reality experiences, perhaps the integration of Vertebrae’s expertise allows Snap to take online shopping or app-based shopping to a new level. No matter how Vertebrae’s technological ingenuity is utilized, though, the future of shopping might be immersive. After all, when users have the choice between previewing products in two-dimensional photos or using augmented reality to view products in 3D or even try them on, the choice might be obvious. As Generation Z begins to position itself as the most coveted demographic for retailers, these immersive experiences may be vital to the shopping experience. Gen Z has never known life without technology, the internet and social media. AR Insider reported that 40 percent of Zoomers used AR lenses via social media. The site also cited a National Research Group study that found that more than half of Zoomers stated that AR was “very important” for both social and entertainment. AR Insider’s headline asked: “Will Gen-Z be the AR Generation?” Perhaps companies pivot to augmented reality experiences to cater to this generation. And maybe all generations may be forced to embrace the AR future.

Millennials Prefer Digital, Have Severed the T.V. Cord

Millennials Prefer Digital, Have Severed the T.V. Cord

August 2, 2021

MarketingDive dove into the millennial preference for digital experiences as they are known as this demographic has seemingly severed the once ubiquitous tether to advertising: the television. Yes, millennials watch television but not in the standard cable or basic channel type of way. Are the days of advertising on local channels zapped by tech? Not necessarily, at least not for all audiences. Millennials may prefer digital media offerings though. So what does this mean for dealerships? A LOOK BACK AT YE OLDE DEALERSHIP ADVERTISING Dealerships that have stood for generations—maybe run by the same family for years—remember the old days of advertising. There were newspaper ads. And television commercials. It’s the television commercials—especially on local channels—that those dealership families and their customers might remember best…and fondly, too. Back in ye olden days before the rise of the internet and the ads that dominate the internet, television commercials gave dealerships their way to shine. Commercials might have been gimmicky. They might have included the dealership owner, a mascot, a particular phrase. But there was likely something, some special detail that made each dealership’s commercials stand out. Some commercials may linger, still, in the memory of customers. These commercials aren’t necessarily dead. Commercials are still effective. And they are still memorable. But these advertisements might not reach all the intended audiences that dealerships need to target. MarketingDive talks about millennials as cord cutters. This term is used to describe the generation’s preference for digital experiences. Yes, millennials watch television screens. However, those screens might not be tethered to a satellite or a cable box. Chances are probably high that those millennial televisions are digitally connected to the internet and have been downloaded with streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc. Even cable experiences are streaming. For example, Charter doesn’t require a box anymore. Subscribers can opt for streaming services to watch all their favorite channels. However, on these streaming channels, commercials air as they would while watching via a television tethered to a cable box. In this way, viewers may still see traditional commercials. Hulu, Netflix and other services don’t work this way. So how do dealerships and other businesses reach consumers like many millennials who have cut the traditional television cord? This is how businesses and dealerships need to think outside traditional channels. Millennials Prefer Digital, Have Severed the T.V. Cord [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Over-the-Top-Advertising.jpg] OVER-THE-TOP ADVERTISING Streaming services generate revenue from their monthly subscription fees, but many of these services also allow advertisers. So, yes, dealerships can still reach millennials via commercials or digital advertising. However, these ad options are a little bit different. They may be called over-the-top advertising, which is a type of advertising that is only for streaming services. Messages may need to be concise. However, the benefit of this type of advertising is that it does not give the viewer the option to skip the advertisement. Why is it called ‘over the top?’ The term refers to going over television providers. Forbes explains that the term “…refers to streaming companies’ ability to bypass TV providers.” Choosing to invest in over-the-top advertising could help dealerships reach consumers who opt not to be tethered to a cable cord. Statista notes that only 28 percent of Americans have never invested in a streaming service. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of adults in the U.S. are streaming subscribers! Millennials Prefer Digital, Have Severed the T.V. Cord [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Digital-Experiences.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY & OTHER DIGITAL EXPERIENCES RetailDive also explored how manufacturers are using “buzzy campaigns” to get the attention of millennials and maybe anyone else that has cut the cable cord. While RetailDive highlighted Toyota’s launch of its 2021 Sienna and Hyundai’s augmented reality collaborations with National Geographic, we’ll explore several other campaigns and experiences that might be tech-centric and unique for the digital savvy consumer. NISSAN Nissan’s Invisible to Visible technology has been highlighted in many publications (and on this site!). It’s worth mentioning over and over again, because the potential of I2V is so far-reaching. This technology isn’t a launch experience but a driving transformation. I2V embraces digital completely, which could be a massive selling point for millennials who fully embrace tech. This is, after all, the generation that has grown up with cell phones. Invisible to Visible technology would allow for avatars to sit in the car for companionship; parents or friends can join the ride, in case the driver is going cross-country solo (or for whatever reason). Don’t like that it’s rainy outside? Change the windows to a sunny day! I2V also lets drivers understand obstacles ahead and even summon driving help! Mashable refers to I2V as “Nissan’s freaky AR concept.” However, the concept isn’t so freaky…it could be revolutionary, though. PORSCHE Back in 2019, Porsche launched the “Porsche Augmented Visualizer App.” The app can be used at home or anywhere to create the user’s dream car. Augmented reality allows for the car to be previewed in the user’s real environment. Drop the Porsche in the driveway, the garden or wherever. These unique experiences let customers explore different features, looks and designs…and, of course, have fun with augmented reality. Download the app via Google Play or the App Store. CADILLAC CNET highlighted the 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s cool new augmented reality features. The dashboard takes augmented reality to a new driving level. The augmented reality dashboard provides a camera view of the road ahead and lets the driver know exactly when to turn as digitized graphic arrows appear to show the direction of the turn. The AR feature is directly behind the wheel. CNET points out that the Escalade even offers night vision, so drivers can see anything ahead…even in the darkest of nights. DODGE Dodge recently introduced the Know & Go app to help new Dodge Ram owners navigate the infotainment system in the vehicle as well as other features. But this isn’t just any app—it’s augmented reality! Using the phone camera to view a feature and augmented reality options will help the owner explore what they need. HYUNDAI’S OUTSIDE ACADEMY RetailDive mentioned Hyundai’s partnership with National Geographic for a series called Outside Academy. The experience is all about exploring the National Parks in the U.S., and it features immersive augmented reality navigation. And, of course, Hyundai vehicles feature prominently. Users can explore all the National Parks online…and maybe plan a trip of their own. LAMBORGHINI What is an automaker to do when Covid has kept the world inside? Launch a new luxury model online, of course! And augmented reality boosted the experience! Lamborghini launched its Huracán EVO with an augmented reality experience that allowed users to place it anywhere and explore the vehicle. Once the car was placed in the user’s environment, the user could walk around it and check out other features. KIA’S THE FEATURES FILM Forget standard commercials. Kia took advertising to the movies. The Features Film mixes Kia vehicles with a thrilling, adventure-packed movie. Eight different cars also are stars of the movie, and the movie even shines a light on some key features in those cars, too. Multiple dealerships have posted the video, so it’s easy to find via YouTube. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS OR AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOMS Manufacturers and dealerships also may provide customers with online tools to preview different models in either a virtual environment or using augmented reality. These virtual and augmented reality showrooms could let users view the vehicles from different vantage points and even look inside at the interior features. Some might even give customers the option to view the car in different paint colors! WILL DIGITAL EXPERIENCES CUT THE CORD TO STANDARD ADVERTISING? If many millennials prefer digital streaming services and enjoy immersive experiences like augmented reality, could the industry pivot to these demands? While not all generations prefer the digital experience, this could be the way of the future. As statistics show, more than half of adults in the United States subscribe to a streaming service. If they have cut the cable cord, the only way to reach this audience may be via digital experiences or through over-the-top advertising. Augmented reality and virtual reality also are becoming more commonplace. Users may enjoy these experiences as they nod to a game experience in some ways. For example, augmented reality experiences that allow users to create their own car can keep the individual on a web site. So if that augmented reality or virtual reality experience is featured on a dealer or manufacturer site, maybe the consumer checks out other pages on the site, too. These unique tech-savvy experiences could provide a way for customers to also do more car research online. Younger shoppers could prefer online experiences to in-person shopping, even when looking for a new vehicle. Virtual and augmented reality showrooms allow consumers to preview cars without leaving home; they can understand if that vehicle appeals to them and if it fits their needs. After their virtual experience, they may then visit dealership sites for information on pricing, promotions or other details…or they may even schedule a virtual test drive online. Cutting the cable cord might become the norm as streaming gains even more popularity. Generation Z is right behind the millennials. And when Zoomers become the key demographic for car sales, preferences may change once again.