How Augmented Reality Improves Car Shopping Online
August 6, 2021
The concept of shopping for a car online has become increasingly popular over the last several years. In 2018, only 1% of car buyers purchased their vehicle online, but this number increased to 10% by early last year. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of automotive consumers said they would consider purchasing their next vehicle online instead of in a dealership. Buying a car online is not the same as buying clothing, shoes, books, or other items. Because a car is so expensive, consumers typically spend a lot of time in the early stages of the buying cycle. During these stages, consumers focus on researching their options so they can make an informed purchase decision. For automotive consumers, the early stages of the buying cycle typically consists of visiting different auto showrooms to explore vehicles in-person. But if a consumer wants to purchase their vehicle online, they may worry that they will miss out on the chance to explore vehicles and learn more about their options. Fortunately, automotive companies are now using augmented reality to improve the car shopping experience online. Thanks to this technology, automotive consumers who want to purchase their vehicle online can still get the showroom experience without ever stepping foot in an actual showroom. How Augmented Reality Improves Car Shopping Online [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/How-is-Augmented-Reality-Used-for-Online-Car-Shopping.jpg] HOW IS AUGMENTED REALITY USED FOR ONLINE CAR SHOPPING? Augmented reality is incredibly helpful to automotive consumers who want to shop for their vehicle online rather than in a dealership. Instead of visiting a showroom in-person, these consumers can use augmented reality technology to project three dimensional virtual vehicles into their real world environment. They can choose to virtually place the vehicle in their driveway, on the road, in their garage, or even in the living room. The vehicle will appear true to scale, which means the virtual model will be the same size as the real vehicle. But users also have the option of adjusting the size to make the virtual model smaller or larger. This technology gives consumers the opportunity to explore vehicles from home. Once the virtual model appears, consumers can explore the vehicle just like they would if they were in a real showroom. After examining the exterior, consumers can also take a closer look at the inside of the vehicle. Thanks to augmented reality technology, consumers can finally get the automotive showroom experience at home. Even if they don’t plan on purchasing their vehicle online, this still allows them to research their options from home before heading to a dealership to make a purchase. OTHER EXAMPLES OF AUGMENTED REALITY ONLINE SHOPPING EXPERIENCES Automotive companies aren’t the only ones that are using augmented reality technology to improve the online shopping experience for consumers. A number of companies from outside the automotive industry are also taking advantage of this technology, including: * Sephora * IKEA * Nike * Warby Parker * Home Depot SEPHORA Shopping for cosmetics online has not always been easy. It’s hard to tell what a specific color of lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, or foundation will look like once it’s applied. However, Sephora revolutionized the world of online cosmetics shopping with the introduction of its “Virtual Artist” feature on its mobile app in 2017. This feature, which is powered by facial recognition and augmented reality technologies, allows consumers to virtually try on different cosmetics online. They can see what a specific shade of lipstick will look like on their lips, for example, before buying it. This allows consumers to shop for cosmetics online with confidence. Sephora also uses augmented reality technology to teach consumers how to achieve certain looks. For example, the app may highlight a certain area of the consumer’s face to tell them exactly where to apply a specific product. How Augmented Reality Improves Car Shopping Online [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/IKEA.jpg] IKEA Launched in 2017, IKEA Place is an augmented reality app that allows consumers to see what specific IKEA products will look like in their home. To get started, users simply need to take a picture of a room in their home. The app is designed to automatically measure the space and provide a list of recommended pieces of furniture based on these measurements. If the user finds a product they like, they can virtually place the furniture in their room to see what it would like in their home. The furniture will appear true to scale, so users can make sure that it is the right size before buying it. NIKE Nike’s app has been around for a long time, but an augmented reality feature known as Nike Fit was not added until 2019. Nike Fit is designed to help consumers figure out what size shoe they wear before making a purchase. This app doesn’t just measure the length of the foot–it measures the entire shape of each foot to calculate the user’s shoe size. All the user needs to do is open the app and point their smartphone camera at their feet. Once a size is calculated, the user can choose to save this information in their profile so they don’t need to go through the same process again in the future. The app may recommend different sizes for different styles of shoes. For example, if one shoe style runs slightly small, the app may recommend a larger size. How Augmented Reality Improves Car Shopping Online [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Warby-Parker.jpg] WARBY PARKER It’s hard to determine what style of glasses will look best on your face without trying them on, which is why shopping for glasses online has never been easy. However, Warby Parker solved this problem by developing an augmented reality app that allows users to try on glasses at home. To begin, the user simply needs to select a pair of glasses from the Warby Parker app. Then, choose the “Virtual Try-On” feature. Selecting this option will automatically open the front-facing camera. The app will then project the glasses onto the user’s face so they can see what they would look like. The glasses will stay in the right position as the user moves around or turns their head so they can see what the frame will look like from every angle. If the user wants a second opinion, they can even snap a photo of themselves wearing the glasses and send it to their friends or family for feedback. HOME DEPOT Home Depot updated its app to include an augmented reality feature in late 2019. Thanks to this addition, the Home Depot app now allows users to see what different products will look like in their home, just like the IKEA Place app. But IKEA only sells furniture and home decor, whereas Home Depot also sells appliances and other household goods. This means consumers can use the Home Depot app to see what a new refrigerator or washer and dryer will look like in their home. This feature makes it easy to find the perfect replacement for an old appliance or to map out kitchen remodels. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING AUGMENTED REALITY FOR CAR SHOPPING? There are many benefits to using augmented reality to assist with the online car shopping experience, including: * Convenience * Better Shopping Experience * Accessible CONVENIENCE Augmented reality makes the process of shopping for a car more convenient than ever before. It gives consumers the option to conduct comprehensive research on different vehicles without ever leaving home. It also allows consumers to get the showroom experience at any time, even if it’s outside of standard business hours. In other words, now automotive consumers can start the process of shopping for a car whenever it is most convenient for them. How Augmented Reality Improves Car Shopping Online [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Better-Shopping-Experience.jpg] BETTER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE There’s no question that augmented reality technology has the power to improve the experience of shopping for a new car. This is true regardless of whether the consumer plans on purchasing the car online or in a dealership. Either way, this technology can help automotive consumers research their options, explore different vehicles, and choose a vehicle that is right for them. If they plan on purchasing the vehicle online, they can move forward with the process with confidence knowing they have thoroughly researched their decision. If they want to purchase the vehicle in-person, using augmented reality to conduct research from home will save them a lot of time once they arrive at the dealership. They will already know what vehicle they want when they arrive at the dealership, so they won’t need to waste time touring the showroom or talking to sales representatives about their options. All they will need to do is negotiate the price, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and complete the transaction. ACCESSIBLE Automotive consumers don’t need a fancy headset or special device in order to use augmented reality technology to shop for a vehicle online. All they need is access to a smartphone with a functional camera to get started. Because no other equipment is required, this augmented reality showroom experience is accessible to the vast majority of automotive consumers. The benefits of using augmented reality to improve the online shopping experience are far too great to ignore, which is why this technology has exploded in popularity within the automotive industry. If you plan on purchasing or researching a vehicle online now or in the future, chances are that augmented reality will be a part of your car buying process.
Use the Power of Augmented Reality to Shop for a Car
July 29, 2021
Augmented reality is giving automobile manufacturers and maybe dealerships, too, new ways to create dynamic user experiences that transform the once tried-and-true car shopping journey. Augmented reality mixes real world environments with digital graphics. Now consumers can use the power of augmented reality to shop for a car. And these enhanced experiences are starting to be embraced by more and more businesses. Here’s what to know about augmented reality and how it can be beneficial to helping shoppers find their perfect vehicle. Use the Power of Augmented Reality to Shop for a Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Is-Augmented-Reality-Expensive-for-Consumers.jpg] IS AUGMENTED REALITY EXPENSIVE FOR CONSUMERS? Some tech experiences might require users to invest in special equipment. For example, virtual reality games require users to own a headset. These devices can range in price, but even the low-end options are a few hundred dollars. Augmented reality can be an accessible option for consumers who want a similar experience but don’t have the money to invest to fully enter a virtual realm. Businesses that incorporate augmented reality experiences online or via an app also tend to offer these experiences for free to consumers who want access to them. With the right device, anyone can experience augmented reality. HOW DO AUGMENTED REALITY APPS WORK? Apps or augmented reality experiences accessible online require access to a camera to launch the experience. For this reason, users need to have a smartphone or other device (like a tablet) that includes a camera. The camera shows the user’s environment and the app then displays the digital graphics within this environment. Users can aim the camera at their backyard to display a graphic element in that area. Use the Power of Augmented Reality to Shop for a Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Using-Augmented-Reality-for-Car-Shopping.jpg] USING AUGMENTED REALITY FOR CAR SHOPPING Augmented reality experiences can heighten the user experience when shopping for a new car. Instead of driving to a local dealership or just browsing photos via a dealership’s online inventory, augmented reality allows the browsing experience to be truly unique and immersive. Users can explore different cars visually in 3D. Photos are a two-dimensional depiction of a vehicle, and although dealerships can take photos of their inventory vehicles from many angles, those photos are still limited to how the user can explore the details of the car. Zooming in on a photo, for example, could allow the shopper to see details up close…or it could blur the image. Augmented reality experiences give the user more control of how they can view the vehicle. Graphic 3D models of vehicles appear in the user’s environment as they would and are more similar to an in-person experience. The vehicle appears wherever the user places it. Then, using the phone, the user can walk around the vehicle—just as they would in the dealership. Augmented reality also can let the user look inside the car. Or even change the color of the paint. GOOGLE’S AUGMENTING CARS MarketWatch reported that Google is offering augmented reality experiences for some vehicles when users search for those vehicles. The search engine giant also offers augmented reality experiences for animals and even popular anime characters (like Hello Kitty!). Not all vehicles may be augmented via Google. And finding vehicles that are accessible in 3D augmented reality may seem a bit like a treasure hunt. Some of the vehicle that appear in Google’s knowledge panel include the Toyota RAV4, Jeep Gladiator, Porsche Taycan, Porsche Cayenne, Toyota Supra, Toyota Sienna, and Cadillac Escalade. For those looking for a specific vehicle, Google might or might not offer the preview in 3D augmented reality. FINDING OTHER AUGMENTED REALITY CAR EXPERIENCES Some automobile manufacturers have launched augmented reality experiences for specific models. During Covid, these augmented experiences could have allowed consumers to check out these new vehicles from their home, offices or anywhere. There are many augmented reality vehicle experiences available. Consumers might want to do a quick search on the vehicle of their choice to discover and uncover augmented reality experiences. DON’T FORGET MANUFACTURERS! Shoppers looking for a new car but without a preference to make or model might have fun checking out augmented reality experiences offered by auto manufacturers. Not all brands offer interactive experiences on their sites, though. And these experiences may be limited to a specific model. Searching through the App Store (for iOS) and Google Play also brings up several experiences from different auto brands. For example, Toyota’s Supra has its own augmented reality experience via an app. Porsche also offers an AR Visualiser app. There’s also Experience VW (also an augmented reality experience) that lets users explore the Touareg. All experiences are free to download. HOW CAN AUGMENTED REALITY HELP SHOPPERS? While a virtual reality showroom allows shoppers to preview vehicles in a virtual space to gain more knowledge about that vehicle, what makes augmented reality valuable is that the vehicle appears in the user’s space and allows a unique interaction. With augmented reality, users can drop the car into their space and then explore while holding their phone or device to keep the vehicle in view. Users can then actually walk around this 3D model to see it as they would in a showroom (or on the lot). Each augmented reality experience may offer something different, though. Some may be more interactive than others. Maybe users can look inside the vehicle or interact in other ways. Since the vehicle appears in the user’s space, augmented reality could allow shoppers to better visualize the car in their possession. That is, users can drop the vehicle in their own driveway or garage. Seeing that vehicle parked outside their home might make the preview experience more true to life. These immersive elements simulate the in-person experience, too. Virtual reality showrooms can be a great way to figure out the look and design of a vehicle. However, augmented reality experiences provide that walk-around experience. While these augmented reality experiences and showroom options might be a bit more limited than virtual reality experiences, their potential for creating unique experiences that enhance the shopping experience shouldn’t be underestimated. Again, the walk-around element that augmented reality provides the shopper can really help capture the in-person dealership experience. This is valuable because many shoppers might now be accustomed to shopping online and researching purchases online. For large purchases like a new car, though, that dealership visit was—and is—often an essential element so that the shopper can interact with the car. While augmented reality doesn’t fully replicate the physical experience, it can help shoppers perhaps get a better idea if they prefer one model to another. Or maybe seeing the car in the driveway ends up eliciting a big “no.” THE FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY CARS Will more dealerships or auto brands begin to launch more augmented reality experiences? While many companies may still focus on the millennials as a key demographic for sales, Generation Z—the Zoomers—are growing up. And they may dominate purchasing decisions. Generation Z isn’t just tech savvy; they grew up with technology. They live with technology. They never knew a day without social media. AR Insider asked the question: “Will Gen Z be the AR Generation?” The article notes that 40 percent of this generation use augmented reality lenses via Snapchat. The article also cited statistics from a survey titled “20/20 Vision for Mobile Video” that noted that more than half of Generation Z respondents felt that augmented reality was “very important.” The augmented reality experiences referenced in the survey, though, were “…experiences that let you step inside scenes of your favorite shows or videos; AR experiences that let you experience video from all angles and get up close and personal with your favorite personalities or characters.” However, as more than half of Generation Z shows a pull towards this technology—even in social media or video experiences—augmented reality could be a unique technology to use to provide an immersive car shopping experience for this particular demographic. The pandemic also changed the way that many consumers were able to shop. With nonessential businesses closed, online shopping might have been the only option. For those looking for a vehicle, online experiences could have helped them find a car when dealerships weren’t open. Going forward, virtual and augmented reality could continue to provide alternative ways to explore vehicle models remotely. Both virtual and augmented reality car showrooms allow the user to browse from home at their convenience. And without pressure. Will more brands and dealerships embrace augmented vehicles? Perhaps if consumers begin to demand these experiences or show a preference to such options, then the industry will move into augmented reality, too. Or, at least, offer more vehicles that can be previewed via this technology.
A Look at the Automotive Augmented Reality Market
July 28, 2021
Immersive technological shopping experiences may heighten the user engagement on a website or an app. Augmented reality allows for digital graphics to appear in the user’s real world environment, and this can provide unique try-on experiences for beauty brands, furniture stores or even within the automotive industry. While these digital graphics can allow users to drop furniture into their home, swipe lipstick on the lips or even drop a car into the driveway, they also can be used to aid repairs, decrease downtime in manufacturing and more! Here’s a look at the automotive augmented reality market, and how the use of this technology could see a boost in the future. TRY ON THE CAR! Augmented reality and virtual reality are both part of extended reality. However, augmented reality and virtual reality are very different experiences. With virtual reality, users may need to use a headset to enter the virtual realm or experience (although this isn’t always the case). Augmented reality, though, uses a camera from a device (a phone or tablet) to show the user’s environment and projects a digital image into that environment. The real world environment is not a part of virtual reality; all surroundings in virtual reality are graphic simulations or depictions. But in augmented reality, the real world is a critical element of the experience. And this is what makes augmented reality so cool for the user. Virtual try-on experiences are a popular way that businesses deploy augmented reality. Stores like Ulta let shoppers use augmented reality to try on different colors of lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation and even hair colors to see if a product is right for them. The camera shows the individual in real-life, and the hues of products are digitally superimposed on the user’s face. IKEA offers a try-on experience for its products, too. Users can drop furniture into their rooms to see if the product is a good fit. Even paint colors can be previewed on walls with augmented reality. But how does this technology help car shoppers? Using augmented reality might help those on the hunt for a new car see if a vehicle model appeals to them, too. Augmented reality experiences can enable the user to drop a vehicle into their driveway, garage or backyard. Maybe the car doesn’t look so good sitting outside the home. Maybe the color isn’t right. Or the design just doesn’t look so appealing once it’s viewed in 3D. Once the car is dropped into the environment, the user can walk around it to view the vehicle from any angle. Maybe they can look inside. Or opt for a different paint color. Pictures don’t tell the whole story; photos are not always worth 1,000 words. Sometimes two-dimensional photos leave more questions about a vehicle. In the past, car photos or photo galleries were the only way for online shoppers to preview the vehicles before heading to the dealership. With augmented reality, shoppers can experience the vehicle in 3D. While they can’t actually physically interact with it in a tactile sense, augmented reality does provide an interactive and immersive way to explore the vehicle. Augmented reality experiences let users try on that car…or at least see the car in their own surroundings. A Look at the Automotive Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-Else-Does-the-Automotive-Industry-Use-Augmented-Reality.jpg] HOW ELSE DOES THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY USE AUGMENTED REALITY? Augmented reality isn’t just used to aid shoppers in their buying journey. Augmented reality also is used in the automotive industry in other ways, too. AIDING CAR REPAIRS Augmented reality can be used to help with car repairs. Technicians wear glasses that can send images from the ongoing repairs to a team of experts located remotely. These glasses also can help techs see small details, too. HELPING DRIVERS Car brands integrate augmented reality within their cars to help improve the driving experience and keep drivers safer on the road. Cars that have backup cameras often use augmented reality on those screens; while the camera shows the detail behind the car, the graphic gridlines are augmented reality at work! Some new navigation systems are getting incredibly AR-savvy! Newer car models may have augmented reality graphics showing where to turn and including directional augmented reality arrows. Others point out bikers on the road. Cars are getting smarter, and augmented reality may be further integrated into car features to enhance the journey and make drivers feel safer on the road. HOW TO FIND AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERIENCES Shoppers who want to use augmented reality to help them on their buying journey can search for different experiences via Google or via the manufacturers. Augmented reality experiences could vary in their features, and they also may be limited to featuring one specific model. Google has launched augmented reality experiences via its Search engine. Users can find augmented reality experiences for anime characters like Hello Kitty and even certain animals. However, not all animals are augmented via Google. The same holds true for vehicle models. While Google provides augmented reality experiences for some models, it’s really a guessing game as to what vehicles can be explored via augmented reality. A few Toyota models are augmented via Google. Porsche also has augmented vehicles on Google. The Cadillac Escalade also can be explored in augmented reality. Unfortunately, though, users can’t experience every model in augmented reality. While this immersive experience may replicate the in-person experience in a novel way, the augmented inventory isn’t as vast as it is via virtual reality. VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOMS While augmented reality showrooms are not extremely prominent via apps or online, virtual reality showrooms offer a massive inventory of models for users to preview. While augmented reality lets users integrate 3D graphic depictions of their favorite cars into their own environment, these virtual reality showrooms allow vehicles to be viewed in a virtual online setting. Sites like RelayCars include models dating back to 2016 or even 2015. So those looking for a preowned car can get a general idea as to what the vehicle looked like when it debuted. However, RelayCars does not include pre-owned inventory from any particular dealership. All earlier model vehicles are depictions of the vehicle when it was introduced. These images are for reference only. Virtual car showrooms do allow users to interact with vehicles in the virtual environment, however. Using the mouse, shoppers can turn the cars around to view it from different angles. They can even view the inside of the vehicle to see interior features. RelayCars also lets users swap out paint colors, so users can find what color suits their tastes. As a virtual reality showroom offers an extensive array of makes and models, visitors also can check out vehicles of all price ranges and designs. There is no pressure, and users can visit the site as often as they want. There’s also no limit on the number of cars that users can view on the site. And, of course, it’s free! A Look at the Automotive Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Will-There-Be-More-Augmented-Reality-and-Virtual-Reality-Experiences.jpg] WILL THERE BE MORE AUGMENTED REALITY AND VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCES? During Covid, dealerships were often closed to inside visitors. Those looking for a new car might have conducted their search online. While dealerships and other businesses have opened up, shoppers may be accustomed to the online realm and all the conveniences that it offers. Are these shopping enhancements here to stay? Generation Z is the upcoming generation that many businesses may look to for purchasing decisions as this group enters adulthood (the youngest members are in middle school). Generation Z may embrace all these new tech trends, because augmented reality and virtual reality are in many of their social and entertainment experiences. Instagram, for example, offers augmented reality lenses. In addition, virtual reality games can be downloaded via sites like Steam. Businesses including the automotive sector could pivot to more immersive and interactive experiences like augmented reality to reach out to younger buyers. However, not all car shoppers may embrace technology. Some may prefer the old ways of the new car shopping process; they may continue to do much of their business at the dealership. However, those who are interested in upgrading their shopping experiences can check out the many augmented and virtual reality experiences that await them. While some of these experiences are easy to find via search engines, some may take a bit more research. And phones may help, too! Whether a user has an Android, Windows or Apple phone, all offer stores to shop for apps. To find all the augmented reality experiences for download, just search for augmented reality. From there, users can find the experiences offered by different companies (including automotive) plus different games, too. For users unfamiliar with augmented reality, downloading an augmented reality game might be a great way to get acquainted with augmented reality. Popular games like Pokemon GO can help users explore how augmented reality enhances an experience and explore the tech at their own pace. From there, users can move on to using this technology for shopping or researching new cars. Thankfully, most of these experiences are fairly easy to navigate, and, once a user enters the augmented reality world, they might not want to leave!
Augmented Reality in the Car Buying Process
July 23, 2021
The car buying process has changed drastically over the years. In the past, the average consumer visited five dealerships before making a purchase decision, but now, 41% of automotive consumers only visit one dealership. Instead of traveling from dealership to dealership, automotive consumers now make more decisions online ahead of time. In fact, many consumers are ready to purchase a specific vehicle once they arrive at a dealership. This shift in the automotive consumer’s car buying process was made possible in large part due to augmented reality technology. Over the last several years, a growing number of automotive companies have started to use augmented reality to digitize the process of buying a car. How is augmented reality used in the car buying process? How can using this technology benefit automotive companies and consumers? Here’s what you should know: Augmented Reality in the Car Buying Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/What-is-Augmented-Reality.jpg] WHAT IS AUGMENTED REALITY? Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose elements from the digital world into their real world environment. Using this technology, users can project digital images, sounds, videos, and other elements directly onto their surroundings. In other words, it blends the digital world and real world together. Users may need to wear a special headset or pair of glasses in order to experience augmented reality technology. However, in some cases, an augmented reality experience can be accessed using just a smartphone or tablet. Perhaps the most famous use of augmented reality is Pokemon Go, which is an app that launched in 2016. The app superimposes Pokemon characters directly onto the user’s real world environment so they can “catch” as many characters as possible. HOW IS AUGMENTED REALITY USED IN THE CAR BUYING PROCESS? The automotive industry is currently using augmented reality in several different steps of the car buying process. Some of its many uses include: * Explore Cars * Access Important Information * Post-Purchase Support EXPLORE CARS Before the introduction of augmented reality technology, consumers used to have to travel to multiple dealerships to see cars in person, explore their features, compare different models, and decide which car was right for them before making a purchase. These were all important steps in the car buying process. But now, consumers can complete all of these steps from the comfort of their home thanks to augmented reality technology. Many automotive companies now offer consumers the opportunity to explore vehicles with augmented reality technology. Using this technology, consumers can project different vehicles into their real world environment. This gives consumers a chance to get up close and personal with different vehicles so they can learn more about their features and tour their interiors and exteriors. They can explore vehicles just like they would inside a real showroom, except they won’t need to step foot inside a dealer. Consumers can also use this technology to see how a specific vehicle would look in their driveway or garage. This feature is especially useful for consumers who aren’t sure whether a specific vehicle will fit in a tight space in their garage. Because of this technology, consumers can research all of their options from home so they won’t need to spend as much time at the dealership once they’re ready to make a purchase. Augmented Reality in the Car Buying Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Access-Important-Information.jpg] ACCESS IMPORTANT INFORMATION Sometimes, a consumer’s car buying journey may begin when they spot a car that they like in a parking lot or driving on the street. In cases like these, augmented reality technology is used to help consumers quickly access important information on the vehicle they have their eye on. One company that is using augmented reality in this manner is USAA. In 2019, USAA launched an app that allows users to point their smartphone at any vehicle located nearby in order to pull up information on the car. The app will provide the user with important information such as the average purchase price and cost of insurance. It will also provide the user with a list of local dealerships that currently have the vehicle in stock. All of this information will be superimposed onto the user’s real world environment using augmented reality technology. This app makes it easy for consumers to quickly get information on vehicles they are interested in purchasing. It also provides them with the information they need to determine if they can afford the car and if so, where they should go to purchase it. As a result, consumers won’t need to conduct this research on their own, which speeds up their car buying journey. POST-PURCHASE SUPPORT The car buying journey is not over once the consumer purchases a vehicle. The last stage in the car buying journey is the post-purchase experience, which is the stage where automotive companies try to convert consumers into loyal customers. A number of automotive companies are using augmented reality to transform the post-purchase experience for consumers. For example, some automotive companies use augmented reality to educate consumers on how to care for and maintain their vehicles. Automotive consumers can use their smartphone to scan their vehicles, which will launch virtual animations projected onto their real world environment that walk them through the steps of checking their oil, changing their tire, or diagnosing a fluid leak. The animations will be projected directly onto their vehicle so they can easily reference the information. After-market car parts suppliers are also using augmented reality to appeal to consumers in the post-purchase stage of their car buying journey. One company, Delphi, uses augmented reality technology to show consumers a full list of products that are available for the specific make and model of their vehicle. Augmented Reality in the Car Buying Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/What-Are-the-Benefits-of-Using-Augmented-Reality-in-the-Car-Buying-Process.jpg] WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE CAR BUYING PROCESS? There are many benefits to using augmented reality to change the car buying process, including: * Enhanced Shopping Experience * Convenience * Realistic Assets ENHANCED SHOPPING EXPERIENCE Augmented reality technology has taken the automotive shopping experience to a whole new level for consumers. Today’s consumers expect a high quality, unforgettable shopping experience regardless of whether they are shopping in person or online. By using augmented reality, automotive companies can provide a unique experience that fulfills this need. Using augmented reality to research vehicles early on in the car buying process helps automotive consumers save time at the dealership, too. Research shows that automotive consumers are unhappy with the current process of buying a new car. Their least favorite part of the process is the amount of time they are forced to spend at the dealership to complete the transaction. In fact, research shows that the less time a consumer spends at a dealership to purchase a car, the higher the consumer will rate the car buying process as a whole. To improve the consumer’s shopping experience, automotive companies must focus on helping them complete as many steps of the car buying process online as possible. This is where augmented reality technology comes in. Now, consumers can use this technology to narrow down their options and make a purchase decision at home. They don’t need to visit a dealer until they are actually ready to make a purchase, so they won’t need to spend as much time inside. Furthermore, using augmented reality technology allows consumers to take their time when it comes to researching vehicles. They won’t feel pressured by the presence of a sales representative since they can conduct this research on their own at home. For these reasons, augmented reality has led to significant improvements in the car buying process. Augmented Reality in the Car Buying Process [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Convenience.jpg] CONVENIENCE The use of augmented reality technology has made the process of buying a car far more convenient for consumers. Automotive consumers no longer need to spend hours or days visiting different dealerships to explore their options. They also don’t have to wait until a dealership opens in order to start conducting research. Now, they can get the showroom experience from the comfort of their home at any time. Using augmented reality in this manner makes the car buying process more convenient for auto dealers, too. Because consumers can use this technology to virtually tour a wide range of vehicles, auto dealers won’t need to keep as many vehicles on their lots. This can reduce the cost of transporting, storing, and maintaining dozens of vehicles on a dealer’s lot. REALISTIC ASSETS The vast majority of automotive consumers start the car buying process online. During these early stages of the buying cycle, automotive consumers expect to find a wealth of information on their options. This includes detailed information on each vehicle’s features in addition to high quality, realistic photos and videos. Automotive companies can no longer get by with standard still photographs of their inventory. Now, consumers expect to see realistic, three-dimensional assets of each vehicle they are thinking about purchasing. The use of augmented reality technology helps automotive companies exceed these consumers’ expectations. Augmented reality technology gives automotive consumers the chance to take 360-degree tours of different vehicles. They can walk around a car and see it from every angle just like they would if they were standing inside a dealership. Because augmented reality assets are so realistic, they allow consumers to get a real sense of what the vehicle looks like without ever seeing it in person. Augmented reality has helped the automotive industry enter a new age of car buying. As more companies begin to adopt this technology, it’s safe to say that the industry will continue to find new and exciting ways to use augmented reality to gain a competitive edge.
Augmented Reality Auto Showroom
July 7, 2021
The days of traveling from showroom to showroom to find the perfect vehicle are over. The automotive showroom experience is now available at your fingertips. RelayCars gives you the power to explore vehicles inside a virtual or augmented reality showroom without ever stepping foot inside a dealership. EXPLORE A CURATED SELECTION OF VEHICLES The RelayCars augmented reality showroom app highlights a curated selection of vehicles from our extensive automotive library. See some of the latest models from a wide range of automotive manufacturers, including Lexus, BMW, Audi, Ford, Mercedes, and Toyota. You can choose which vehicles you want to explore. The best part? You won’t have a sales representative pressuring you to make a decision. You are in control of your experience inside the augmented reality showroom. Simply select the vehicle category, year, make, and model to get started. Are you looking for a specific make or model? If it’s not already in our inventory, check back later. Our inventory within the augmented reality app is updated with new vehicles throughout the year, so you can continue to explore the latest models inside your personal showroom. SEE YOUR DREAM CAR IN YOUR DRIVEWAY Have you ever wondered what your dream car would look like sitting in your driveway? Or whether a specific make or model would fit comfortably inside your garage? The answers to these questions are just a few clicks away thanks to the power of augmented reality. Here’s how it works: 1. Open the RelayCars app and use your mobile device to scan your surroundings. 2. Select the make, model, and year you would like to explore inside the augmented reality showroom. You can customize your selection even further by choosing a specific color. 3. Place your selected vehicle in your driveway, garage, or anywhere else in your surroundings. To increase or decrease the size of the vehicle, use your fingers to adjust the scale on your mobile device. 4. Start exploring the vehicle. All you need is your mobile device and the RelayCars app to bring a vehicle into your home. Augmented Reality Auto Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Get-In-the-Drivers-Seat.jpg] GET IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT You can see vehicles from every angle inside your personal augmented reality showroom. To explore the vehicle’s exterior, use your fingers to rotate the vehicle on your mobile device. You can adjust the size of the vehicle to get a closer look at any angle. No showroom experience is complete without a look inside the vehicle. Use the RelayCars app to sit in the driver’s seat and take a look around the interior of the vehicle. You will get to see the same interior amenities and features you would if you were looking at the car in person. But thanks to augmented reality technology, you can see what it’s like to get behind the wheel of a vehicle without ever leaving home. SHARE PICTURES WITH FRIENDS There are no limits on how many vehicles you can see in your personal augmented reality showroom, so explore as many as you would like. If you find a car you love–or if you want a second opinion–use the “Share” feature to send pictures of the vehicle to family members or friends. Share pictures of multiple vehicles if you need help narrowing down your options. It’s just like sending your loved ones photos of a car from a dealership, but from the comfort of your home. EXPLORE AN EXTENSIVE LIBRARY OF VIRTUAL VEHICLES Step inside the virtual lobby within the RelayCars virtual reality showroom app to start exploring vehicles. Choose from our extensive vehicle inventory, which contains over one thousand different makes and models starting with model year 2015. You will have access to vehicles from a wide range of categories, including exotics, sedans, hybrids, full-size trucks, SUVs, and more. Once you select the year, make, and model, you can customize your vehicle selection even further by choosing a specific color. Our inventory is updated year-round to ensure you always have access to the latest models. Augmented Reality Auto Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Take-A-Virtual-Tour-of-the-Vehicles-Interior-and-Exterior.jpg] TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE VEHICLE’S INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR Once inside your virtual showroom, follow these steps to take a virtual tour of any vehicle: * Choose the make, model, and year of the vehicle you want to explore. * View high-resolution, realistic, 360-degree interior and exterior images of every vehicle in our inventory. The images are presented in a large-screen format to make it feel as if you are actually next to or inside of the vehicle rather than viewing it from your mobile device. * Move your mobile device around to explore different parts of the vehicle. The images will move along with the motions of your mobile device, which is part of what makes it such a truly immersive experience. You don’t need a virtual reality headset to enjoy this experience. All you need is your mobile device. LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH VEHICLE IN THE SHOWROOM There may not be an automotive sales representative inside your virtual showroom, but you can still learn everything you need to know about a vehicle within the RelayCars app. Use the app to learn more about each vehicle inside the showroom, including its trim detail, drivetrain, and other features. SAVE AND COMPARE YOUR FAVORITE VEHICLES If you find a vehicle you love, save it to your personal collection so you can quickly pull it up again in the future. The next time you step into your virtual showroom, you won’t have to start a new search to find the vehicle you had your eye on. All you need to do is visit your collection of saved vehicles to see it again. This feature allows you to keep track of which vehicles you like the most. Car shoppers can use this feature to compare different makes and models, narrow down their options, and choose the right vehicle for their lifestyle. Augmented Reality Auto Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Step-Into-A-Virtual-Showroom-From-Your-Computer.jpg] STEP INTO A VIRTUAL SHOWROOM FROM YOUR COMPUTER Now you have the option of exploring the RelayCars virtual showroom from a mobile device, tablet, or computer. This provides a more flexible experience and allows car shoppers and enthusiasts to visit their virtual showroom from whatever device is most convenient to them. ACCESS ALL OF YOUR FAVORITE FEATURES FROM THE RELAYCARS APP You can access all of your favorite features inside your virtual reality showroom regardless of whether you are visiting it from a mobile device or computer. The same extensive inventory of vehicles, customization options, views, and immersive experience. The same virtual reality automotive showroom–just on a different device. Ready to experience the new car shopping experience? Visit https://vr.relaycars.com.
Augmented Reality for Car Shopping
June 28, 2021
Augmented reality and virtual reality are elevating the online experience and amplifying the mundane habits that were once not so exciting or even maybe a hit-or-miss experience. Like trying to find the perfect paint hue for a wall, the ideal lipstick for a complexion…or even the perfect car. Now all of these shopping experiences are augmented with excitement…thanks to augmented reality. Yes, consumers can shop for a new vehicle by previewing it anywhere. Drop a 3D augmented reality into the garden. Plop it on the table. Augmented reality for car shopping is easy to use and so much fun! Here’s how consumers can use augmented reality for car shopping, immerse in technology…and enjoy the augmented journey! ALL ABOUT AUGMENTED REALITY Some consumers might be unfamiliar with augmented reality. This technology is considered part of extended reality (or XR) along with virtual reality. However, while virtual reality is viewed in a virtual realm with or without a headset, augmented reality projects graphic elements over a real-life environment. Augmented reality is present in everyday life, and it’s included in newer cars via features like the backup camera. The camera projects the scene behind the car while graphic gridlines detail the turning radius of the vehicle. The grid is augmented reality. GPS devices may also use augmented reality. According to Statista, the mobile global augmented reality market hit nearly $9 billion in 2021.The site also reported that 410,000 augmented reality glasses were sold in 2021. However, glasses aren’t a necessary tool for augmented reality. Unlike many virtual reality games and platforms where headsets may be a requirement for stepping into the virtual space, augmented reality sometimes only requires a camera. How does it work? Many apps and augmented reality tools use the camera from a device like a smartphone or tablet to show the real environment and project a graphic element into that space. So while an expensive headset isn’t a necessity, some type of device is needed to enjoy augmented reality experiences. However, smartphones have now become the standard phone for many users; in fact, Pew Research reported back in 2018 that 95 percent of teens have access to one. This means that for many consumers augmented reality is quite accessible. And owning a phone can open up a unique and extremely entertaining way to shop online and preview many different products from the comfort of home. Augmented Reality for Car Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Navigating-Augmented-Reality.jpg] NAVIGATING AUGMENTED REALITY For consumers new to using augmented reality, the technology is fairly simple to navigate and explore. When using the technology to simplify shopping online, augmented reality experiences are usually downloaded either via the business’ web site or app. Not every store or business offers augmented reality experiences but many do. One of the easiest ways to find out if a business uses augmented reality for shopping is to search in either the App Store or Google Play. Just type in ‘augmented reality,’ and scroll through the options. Need a cheat sheet on augmented reality shopping experiences? Here’s a list of some stores/businesses that offer augmented reality apps or online experiences as well as a few details about those offerings: IKEA Use augmented reality to preview furniture or other products in a room. The app is called IKEA place and is available on both the App Store and Google Play! WARBY PARKER Try on those frames in augmented reality using Warby Parker’s app. This is available on Apple’s App Store (for iPhone X and newer models). SEPHORA Sephora’s Virtual Artist experience recognizes your face and lets users try on different products…virtually. Or maybe, more accurately, augmentedly! Unfortunately, this app feature might not be available across the globe. ULTA Ulta’s GlamLAB also lets users preview shade. And, yes, this feature works…at least in the U.S. Have fun trying out tons of products…including cheek tints, lipsticks, eyeshadow, eyeliner and even foundation. This is a great way to shop for cosmetics at home without the fear of buying the wrong shade. Thinking about that goth black lipstick? Shoppers can get an idea if that dark hue will flatter. SHERWIN-WILLIAMS ColorSnap Visualizer lets shoppers preview paint hues right on their own walls. Try out a rainbow of hues to find the one that looks best in any room. This experience can get addicting, though. Shoppers might try out all different hues, because, really, who doesn’t want to see what their walls will look like when painted neon green? RELAYCARS Yes, augmented reality can help shoppers preview different car models, too! Download RelayCars’ augmented reality app via the App Store or Google Play and drop different cars into any place! Augmented Reality for Car Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Use-Augmented-Reality-When-Shopping-for-a-Car.jpg] HOW TO USE AUGMENTED REALITY WHEN SHOPPING FOR A CAR Using augmented reality to try on makeup products or even paint hues on walls seems pretty self-explanatory. Using augmented reality, though, when trying to find that perfect vehicle might sound foreign to some shoppers. So how do you use augmented reality apps like RelayCars during the car shopping experience? Augmented reality can be incredibly helpful for shoppers who want to look at different cars without going to a dealership. The benefit that augmented reality has over virtual reality is that it allows users to place items onto or into a real environment. When shopping for cosmetics, this means that the shopper can apply a lipstick hue onto their image even at home. Car shopping with augmented reality allows the shopper to explore the car at home…or anywhere. With RelayCars and other augmented reality experiences, users place or drop the vehicle into a location. This can be the living room, garage, basement or maybe even the backyard. The camera shows the real environment but drops in the 3D image of the chosen vehicle. However, this vehicle can appear nearly full-size (depending on the app or the technology). Augmented reality images allow the user to hold their phone or device to view the image in their space and then walk around this seemingly holographic image, exploring the interior and exterior of the vehicle. RelayCars even lets users swap out paint hues. The ability to explore the vehicle—even digitally—might be able to help shoppers gain a better perspective of the vehicle and whether or not it’s a good choice for their lifestyle. While augmented reality doesn’t allow shoppers to physically touch or interact with the vehicle, the technology does let users get a close up view of their favorite models. From there, shoppers can visit dealerships to see if their favorite vehicle is in stock and check out the price of the vehicle as well as other info. Augmented reality also has an interesting edge over virtual reality apps for car shopping. With the augmented reality app, users can place the car in their garage or in their driveway. This can help the buyer really visualize the car as their own. Maybe the deciding factor over two vehicles comes down to how they look parked in the driveway! With virtual reality, though, previewing the car usually takes place in a virtual showroom. WILL AUGMENTED REALITY BE A MUST-HAVE TOOL FOR CAR SHOPPERS? Not all shoppers might be proficient in using augmented reality or virtual reality, but both types of technology are seemingly easy to navigate for shoppers willing to explore extended reality. Automotive News highlighted how some automotive companies are using Snapchat to deliver augmented reality experiences. Shane Dwyer, the head of automotive for Snap Inc., was interviewed for the story and envisioned the possibilities for this technology for car shopping.Interesting to note that Snapchat Spectacles allow Snapchat ‘creators’ to create unique augmented reality content. Augmented reality experiences could become more prominent if/when more buyers head online for their purchases. Maybe these experiences are deployed via social media sites like Snapchat or on the stores’ or business’ website or apps. When car shopping during Covid, consumers might have been forced online as dealerships might have been closed in their area. The hunt for a new car might have required shoppers to click through photo galleries to gather info about their favorite models. Or shoppers could have utilized sites like RelayCars to preview vehicles in augmented reality or virtual reality. Covid also might have helped more buyers understand the comfortable convenience of online tools. Why waste gas visiting dealerships when you can go online and research cars in virtual and augmented reality? Plus, virtual or augmented reality showrooms don’t require a sales force. For buyers, this means that they can shop at their leisure. Without pressure. Will augmented reality for car shopping be the future? Possibly. Of course, the preference could simply depend on the individual buyer. And popularity of extended reality experiences also might impact the tools offered by companies and dealerships. If buyers embrace the augmented and virtual experiences, then companies and dealerships might wish to increase these offerings. Whether or not more dealerships or auto makers jump on augmented reality, sites like RelayCars will continue to offer these unique tools and experiences to shoppers. And, as COO, Evox Images Gina Callari points out in an article for WardsAuto, “As consumers continue to expect this elevated, online shopping experience, standard images or basic videos are no longer going to cut it.”
How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision
June 18, 2021
Augmented reality (otherwise known simply as AR) has to do with the art of superimposing computer-generated content over what we see in the real world. AR is possible through integrating digital information with our own real world environment occurring in real time. A majority of AR content can be viewed through the average smartphone. VR is becoming more and more accessible (not to mention affordable) for new industries to adopt it. VR can be applied beyond the video game and virtual realm, branching off into industries to create a more educational and engaging experience in areas like self-help, marketing, medicine, dentistry, as well as nurse training. Augmented reality is proving to be particularly useful in medical education and imaging. Popular AR solutions that are already available include AccuVein, ARnatomy, VA-ST, and VIPAR. WHERE DID AUGMENTED REALITY COME FROM? AR was first developed, to a certain extent, by someone in the film industry — a cinematographer named Morton Heilig… in 1957. Heilig invented a contraption called the Sensorama, a device that delivered visuals, sounds, vibrations, and, yes, even smells to the user. This first iteration of AR was not computer controlled, however the Sensorama remains the first example of an individual making an attempt to add sensory data to a virtual experience. In 1968, a man named Ivan Sutherland (an American computer scientist) invented a head-mounted display that could be used as a sort of window into a virtual world. However, this invention stumbled upon a primary problem in antiquated versions of VR and AR technology: these inventions were impractical for popular and wide use. Then, in 1975 Myron Krueger (a computer artist) developed the very first virtual reality interface, an invention called Videoplace. Videoplace gave its users the ability to manipulate (and even interact with) virtual objects in real-time. The very first properly functioning AR system is believed to be developed in 1992 at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab — by Louis Rosenberg. Virtual Fixtures was a complex robotic system that Rosenberg designed in order to make up for lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power that was available back in those times. Virtual Fixtures enabled the overlay of sensory information onto a common workspace, which was done in order to boost productivity. Of course, more recently, advancements like ARToolkit (an Adobe Flash design tool), Google Glass, and Mocrosoft HoloLens have helped make augmented reality a household name… and this technology is finally ready to reach the masses! How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AR-and-the-Medical-Industry.jpg] AR AND THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY As far as the medical industry goes, AR is being used in conjunction with smart glasses that can superimpose real-time data sent from a dental scanner, which gives dental practitioners the ability to build more precise crowns and caps. Nurses are now utilizing AR-enabled, tablet-based simulations that expose trainees to a variety of different patient scenarios. As a result, nurses are better able to connect with patients and are better prepared to handle daily work situations. AR can also help enhance CT and MRI visualization by superimposing stereoscopic projections, which can be used over the course of an actual surgical procedure. This information helps medical professionals better perform surgeries that require extremely precise navigation, especially when it comes to a very particular organ. AR can also be used during pre-operative planning, enhancing accuracy when it comes to locating tumors and surrounding structures, especially in instances where the anatomy of the vascular or nervous system ends up complicating a tumor removal procedure. AR AND THE VHA The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has partnered with Verizon, Medivis, and Microsoft in order to develop Project Convergence, which is an initiative to provide veterans with 5G medical campuses in the United States as well as sophisticated surgical visualization tools — campuses which will be the first of their kind. The initiative itself is led by the VA’s National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation. The way it works is by fusing together the following: * Verizon’s 5G technology * An FDA-approved use case in Medivis’ surgical augmented reality clinical visualization software (SurgicalAR) * Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset with Azure cloud service So what do all these awesome ingredients add up to? This initiative aims to improve healthcare delivery at VA facilities, and, ultimately, in the broader healthcare community at large. How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/More-on-Medivis.jpg] MORE ON MEDIVIS Medivis has developed a SurgicalAR platform that is truly groundbreaking, integrating augmented reality, artificial intelligence, as well as computer vision in order to help advance medical procedures like surgical planning. SurgicalAR leverages the Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset, which provides a holographic visualization for physicians, allowing for far better precision, helping drive effective real-time decision making. SurgicalAR is being used both in and out of the operating room as we speak. Neurosurgeon Osamah Choudhry and radiologist Christopher Morley are the pioneering physicians behind Medivis and SurgicalAR. The pair began laying their groundwork for SurgicalAR when they were still senior residents at NYU Medical Center. From the very beginning, these two doctors recognized the essential need for 3D technology and that this sort of technology could vastly improve surgical precision by providing surgeons with more comprehensive and immersive views of imaging. Today’s most commonly used imaging tools happen to be 2D currently. Surgical teams have struggled in the past to understand critical 3D anatomy while scrolling through 2D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) slices. Not only that, they’ve also struggled to mentally re-create what they’ve been able to see through a microscope. The obvious question for Dr. Choudhry and his colleagues was: Why use 2D imaging when solving a 3D problem? This problem put Dr. Choudhry and Dr. Morley on the correct path that led to the development of SurgicalAR, not to mention the use of AR (as well as AI) to create extremely exact 3D holographic images, images that are much more helpful for surgeons who need to perform their jobs and procedures with the utmost precision. Medivis has undergone a meteoric rise to prominence when it comes to the world of surgical visualization and that rise has partly been fueled by amazing partnerships with world-class technology companies — which includes Dell Technologies, NVIDIA, and other notable names. “The way we work is that we take our imaging and we reconstruct it using our software technology,” Dr. Choudhry explained in a recent case study by Dell Technologies. “And because the reconstruction is very compute-intensive, we do it using a Dell Precision 7750 workstation with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. That system uses parallel processing capabilities that allow the holographic rendering to be created in real time.” How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Gotta-Be-the-Glasses.jpg] IT’S GOTTA BE THE GLASSES Wait, we feel like we’re missing one important part of the SurgicalAR solution. Oh yeah, the Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset. Dell Precision workstation sends the data to the HoloLens, which helps the user visualize content in immersive 3D powered by the Verizon 5G network. But can AR be used beyond the operating room? With this new SurgicalAR solution, doctors will be better able to plan and prepare for surgeries of various types and complexities, not to mention view and orient themselves to the patient’s internal anatomy virtually. AR will only help the medical field create a more and more immersive learning environment for existing and training doctors, not to mention nurses and other professional clinicians. AR is proving to be especially beneficial and important for VA hospitals, which provide a training ground for over 70% of doctors in the United States. The SurgicalAR solution is scheduled to be deployed at VA sites in: * Palo Alto * Portland * Puget Sound * Philadelphia * Orlando However, the larger vision of this incentive is to bring these sorts of surgical precision improvements powered by AR to VA facilities and other healthcare service providers across the country and ultimately the globe. So, it’s clear that AR and VR are being used for far more purposes than simply creating an awesome video game or a convincing online/virtual experience. AR and VR have the capacity to touch and change a variety of industries and their applications are becoming more and more practical. Soon, even children will be able to use AR and VR technology with ease just as they do a smartphone. The medical industry itself is fertile ground for exploring the true uses and benefits that humankind stands to gain from augmented reality technology, especially when it comes to complicated operations and procedures like surgeries. Now that AR is being applied by the masses, it will continue to change the way we interact with our world and each other.
The Army’s Augmented Reality
June 15, 2021
Augmented and virtual reality platforms are often used to simulate real life experiences for training employees. Virtual reality platforms are also used in the medical field to help doctors safely expose patients suffering from anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder to experiences that make them anxious (this is called exposure therapy). Now the military is about to use extended reality to provide data and visual enhancements to troops. The Army’s augmented reality may be the future of military tech. In March, the Army announced a more than $20 billion augmented reality (known as “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” or IVAS) deal with Microsoft for augmented reality headsets that would include night vision and cameras among other features. CNBC reported that the new headset is similar to Hololens in that it overlays data on top of the actual environment; however, the IVAS also included (per a CNBC reporter’s demo in 2019) a compass, map, night imaging and could even include weapon data (e.g. aiming). The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/The-Armys-Announcement.jpg] THE ARMY’S ANNOUNCEMENT Media reported that the Army made its official announcement on March 31, and a press release from the Army announcing the contract was posted to the site. According to the press release, the contract had been officially awarded to Microsoft on March 26, 2021. The press release also detailed capabilities of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System: “The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train using a single platform. The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries,” the Army stated in the press release. “The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.” WHAT ABOUT OTHER MILITARY BRANCHES? Will the Marines, Navy, Army Reserves or other branches of the military also utilize augmented reality? Currently, only the Army has announced plans for augmented reality. However, according to The Drive: “The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. special operations forces might also piggyback onto those orders in the future.” THE HISTORY OF IVAS Back in 2019, ArmyTimes reported on the Army’s and Marine’s exploration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS); The Times actually was able to use some of the devices. The details on the technology’s capabilities—even two years prior to the Microsoft announcement—could showcase the future of military technology. According to ArmyTimes, IVAS could show the location of teammates or squads (this is in real-time) and users could also mark enemy sites and other information using symbols. Essentially, the maps could include data that could alert squads and aid them. ArmyTimes explained that these symbols or marks even show up on the real environment (without the map). So data doesn’t just disappear. As the story was reported back in 2019, technology has likely changed…and the new headsets could be even savvier. What the final product looks like might only be known to the military, however. The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/A-Look-at-Augmented-Reality-and-Training.jpg] A LOOK AT AUGMENTED REALITY AND TRAINING The development of IVAS for the Army could provide yet another tool for training, which could help soldiers better prepare for future scenarios. With augmented reality and virtual reality, training platforms are simulated to allow users to learn how to react and prepare…without, of course, putting anyone in danger. While the headsets for the Army could be used in different ways, augmented and virtual reality is often integrated by businesses as part of training platforms and perhaps even new employee onboarding. Virtual reality allows employees to enter a simulated environment with the aid of a headset that allows the employee or interviewee to experience aspects of the job or face tough situations…without the actual real-life stress of that situation. With virtual simulations, employees can learn how to handle a robbery or maybe just a tough customer. While a face-to-face real experience could leave an employee tongue-tied or maybe even flustered, virtual reality allows them to face these same issues in a safe environment. Screw-ups can mean that maybe the employee needs to rehearse and go over the situation again. For employers, these simulations could mean the difference between a really frustrated customer and a tense situation to a more relaxed interaction and a happy customer. A mistake in virtual reality isn’t the end of the world…or the end of the job. It could simply mean the employee needs more training or more practice. Augmented reality also has aided businesses during mechanical training. For example, augmented reality platforms can allow instructions to appear on top of machines or other equipment to help techs or others on the job. These tech platforms also could help reduce downtime. If a new employee has to learn how to fix new equipment, having the instructions via augmented reality means that they don’t have to hunt down a manual. They can simply do the job. Even automotive mechanics are using augmented reality glasses! Mercedes-Benz technicians are assisted with augmented reality glasses that can connect with a support team. The glasses can show the remote team what the tech sees to provide help to the tech during repairs. Once again, this saves the tech time flipping through a manual or halting repairs to call remote experts. The glasses seamlessly connect the service tech and the remote experts. The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmented-Reality-for-Everyday.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR EVERYDAY While the military and businesses embrace augmented reality, this technology is used by individuals every day. Whether they know it or not. Augmented reality can help keep drivers from backing into an obstacle and it may help navigation, too. Backup cameras don’t just show what’s behind the car, but they also show how that car will turn. Grid lines show the turning radius, and this can help a driver eyeball the best angle for backing out of a tight spot. Front cameras offer the same capabilities. Those small cameras could help drivers from nicking their bumpers or scratching another car while navigating tight parking lots. Some vehicles also include smart rearview mirrors that aid visual acuity at night. Instead of seeing the reflection in the mirror, smart rear view mirrors access the rear camera to show a well lit and clear image of the back of the vehicle. Even GPS systems could infuse augmented reality. Some systems include graphic overlays on top of the image of the real road or street view. Some may include arrows to indicate when to turn. In addition, some newer vehicles also could include navigation data that also shows augmented reality data that highlights bikers, speed and other information to help keep drivers safer on the road. AN AUGMENTED FUTURE REALITY Virtual and augmented reality may be upgrading jobs, training and even everyday activities like driving. As this technology is adopted by more industries, it may become an accepted norm. Not only will individuals find this technology as part of job training in some industries, but it also follows drivers on the road in many vehicles. Even online shopping experiences are upgraded with augmented (or virtual) reality features. Augmented reality can let consumers preview different products –including paint colors on their walls. Augmented reality, though, also can help individuals get fit. Apps like Zombies, Run! lets users run away from augmented zombies. Yes, the zombies appear in the environment…and this may help challenge runners or even fast walkers to pick up that pace. Ghost Pacer also can help runners beat their time and challenge their limits with augmented reality competitors. Augmented reality also can help individuals find out data about the world. Use apps to better understand the stars in the sky. Or even peek through the other side of the Earth and find more about what exists on the other side. In the future, augmented and virtual reality could be a part of the job interview process. Or maybe telehealth. Could doctors see patients virtually…in virtual reality? Maybe virtual conferences are held in virtual reality, too. Forget online conference platforms! Maybe, in the future, meetings will be held in virtual boardrooms with every employee appearing as their own personal avatar. Education could get augmented or go completely virtual, too. As Covid forced many schools to hold classes virtual, the idea of learning from home isn’t so foreign to many families any longer. Perhaps the future includes real virtual learning environments. Students don a headset and sit in a virtual classroom. Or maybe the teacher is augmented into the student’s environment. Even drives could be augmented to include friends and family, as avatars of companions may appear in the passenger seat during a long journey to keep the driver company (Nissan’s Invisible to Visible is working on this!). Augmented reality and virtual reality also could augment the world in ways we could only dream…because who knows what the future holds.
Get Playing with Google Search AR
June 11, 2021
Google’s augmented reality experiences bring anime characters like Hello Kitty, Evangelion, Ultraman and more into the user’s personal space. These anime additions join other augmented reality search animals that make finding info via the search engine a bit more entertaining. So what animals are available via Google’s augmented reality search? The full list might be a mystery, as Google hasn’t published a list of all the augmented reality wildlife. While The Verge sends readers to Android Police for an extensive list, we’re about to tackle an alphabetical list to find all (or hopefully…some!) of Google’s animals. Let’s get playing with Google Search AR! Will every animal be included? Is Google’s augmented reality search an AR Noah’s Ark of variety? You’re about to find out! AARDVARK The first animal to enter into Google’s search engine apparently does NOT bring up an augmented reality feature. So, no, users cannot place the aardvark on their bed. That aardvark also will not be able to work next to you at home. Aardvark’s are not AR-compatible. Bummer. AFRICAN ELEPHANT Not only are African Elephants lacking any kind of AR feature…but elephants (as a general search) also don’t pull up augmented reality or virtual reality. There might need to be a petition to AR the elephants. Imagine dropping one into the home! Thanks to augmented reality, everyone could have a pet elephant…in AR! ALPACA No fuzzy, fluffy augmented reality alpacas. Sorry. ANTEATER Google is now 0 of 2. Anteaters also are not, apparently, going to pop up in augmented reality or virtual reality. This could have been a really crazy augmented reality experience, too. Maybe the anteater could suck up some ants in AR. ANTELOPE The species native to Africa and Eurasia also is not going to gallop in the user’s backyard thanks to augmented reality. Antelopes also are not part of the AR experience. ARMADILLO Like most of the above animals that lack any augmented reality, there is a link that takes users to facts about this animal. However, yet again…no AR! BADGER Welcome to the B’s. Badgers do not include augmented reality features. BAT This is probably becoming monotonous to read. Bats also are not highlighted with augmented reality. BEAR HOORAY! Google allows users to bring a bear to life and view a brown bear in 3D! Augment the bear into your space. BEAVER The fact that the beaver isn’t given some type of fun experience is disappointing. The augmented reality beaver should be a reality! BLUE WHALE While the blue whale is the largest mammal in the world, users cannot augment this marine mammal into their environment. An augmented reality blue whale could have had so much potential. Get Playing with Google Search AR [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AR-Animals.jpg] GOOGLE’S ARK OF AR ANIMALS ISN’T QUITE SO PACKED The list of animals obviously does not end at ‘blue whale.’ Not even close. There are more than eight million animals across the globe, and searching each one on Google would be incredibly time consuming. However, in searching some of the most common animals, there seem to be many missing from Google’s augmented reality ark. Elephants aren’t augmented. Bats can’t fly around the room. What animals can come alive in augmented reality via Google Search? It’s time to cheat. It’s time to consult that masterful list via Android Police. Check out the site’s roundup of all the animals it found that could be augmented via the search. Many of the known animals are dog and cat breeds, which means many of the more unusual animals around the world aren’t augmented…at least not that the site has discovered. While Android Police offers a pretty comprehensive list of about 50 animals, it did miss ‘bear.’ And also lions. According to Android Police, Google doesn’t offer a list of the animals. There is no way of knowing how many are out there! What’s unusual, though, is that even some of the more popular animals—like monkeys—aren’t augmented. The discovered animals also don’t include many species of reptiles, birds or even fish. These missing species could be a missed opportunity for a really unique augmented reality feature. Think about a snake slithering in the house via AR. A fish swimming in midair. Or an eagle flying. Searching for boa constrictor, anaconda and rattlesnake only brought up typical search results…in addition to a section with more info. This doesn’t mean that snakes aren’t included; there could be a snake among the many species. Finding it means searching for every snake. However, even searching for the generic term “snake” failed to bring up augmented reality. An augmented reality experience featuring birds would be unique. Would the birds fly or just perch? Google could get creative! Currently, searches for Bald Eagle, owl, hawks, parrots and dove also turn up no additional augmented reality features. Fish aren’t very exciting, so it shouldn’t be shocking to find them without much augmented reality. Goldfish, barracudas, and even piranha resulted in zero augmented or virtual reality experiences. However, the Great White Shark does have its own augmented reality feature! The Great White can swim right into the home. Or hang out on the porch. Whatever works! Other marine life—including squid, whales and crabs—can’t drop into your personal space! At least not yet. Who knows, though. Maybe a crustacean is lurking in augmented reality in the abyss of Google. Augmenting Anime [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmenting-Anime.jpg] AUGMENTING ANIME While many animals are not featured on Google’s augmented reality search list, favorite anime characters can pop in to say hello. Sanrio’s popular characters–including Hello Kitty and Little Twin Stars—are among the many anime friends that can appear in the user’s space. The coolest character, however, might just be Pac-Man. While Google mentioned in an April 2021 blog that Pac-Man would be a featured augmented reality character in Search, the query yielded no yellow pellet-eating Pac-Man. However, searching for Pac-man did bring up the fun Google Doodle! THE POTENTIAL OF AUGMENTED REALITY SEARCH While many search queries failed to bring up an augmented reality experience, there might be a lot of room for Google to grow with this feature. With more than eight million animals, augmented reality could bring many more of them into the lives of the user. As augmented reality and virtual reality evolves, though, perhaps these experiences become more immersive. Could Google create more unique interactions with each animal? Maybe the augmented reality experience includes options for movement or, in the case of some species, even changing their fur or feather color. In birds, for example, males plumage is often more colorful. Dogs also could have different colorings. WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY SEARCH? Currently, search results via Google can include a 3D augmented reality experience for different animals and characters. But could Google or another platform create a virtual reality search? With the ever-evolving technology, search platforms could one day feature virtual reality. Maybe all users will wear glasses or a headset and search queries will pop up before our eyes. Searches might become interactive. Perhaps searching for a zebra takes the user on an adventure into the Serengeti. While virtual reality searches aren’t a reality, many apps are infused with virtual and/or augmented reality to elevate the user experience. For example, IKEA features an augmented reality experience that lets users preview furniture. Sephora and Ulta offer a virtual try-on experience. Even paint can be previewed in augmented reality. Whether a user owns an Android device or an Apple, each company offers many different augmented reality apps in their stores. And there are augmented reality apps for many favorite hobbies or interests. SkyView Lite uses the phone’s camera to view the night sky; the app then shows the constellations drawn into the stars. Augmented reality and virtual reality apps also can help shoppers looking for a new car. RelayCars offers both an augmented reality and virtual reality app that lets users preview different makes and models of cars. The virtual reality showroom doesn’t require a headset; users simply enter a virtual 3D showroom where they can rotate their favorite vehicle to view it from different vantage points, change paint colors and even look inside. The augmented reality app lets users drop a car into the real world environment. Users can see how that new car might look in the driveway. Or in the garage. Wineries even offer apps where customers can explore the wine label in augmented reality. Experiences can be tailored to the unique needs of each vineyard. Some might include mysteries! Even kids can use augmented reality apps to help understand the world around them. There are apps that help identify different flora and fauna. And apps that let children (and adults) explore the solar system in any space (augment the planets). Some apps like GeoGebra Augmented Reality augment math concepts. Google even offers unique augmented reality experiences beyond the Search bar. There’s Floom, which lets users create a portal to the other side of the planet. Another experience lets users augment social distancing. There’s even an app in the works that will augment a user’s photos! Unfortunately, these experiences can only be enjoyed by Android users. Search, however, can be used by anyone. While sites like Google Police have found many augmented reality animals on Search, there may be many more to explore. Bored? Search for an animal, and you might find a new augmented reality friend.
Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality
May 24, 2021
Facebook is no stranger to virtual or augmented reality. The company owns Oculus, which makes virtual reality headsets that are used for virtual reality gaming as well as other VR experiences. The Verge reported that about 20 percent of Facebook’s employees are contributing to virtual reality tech for the company and that about 10,000 work in the Virtual Reality Labs for the company. Facebook also has topped many lists of virtual reality leaders. However, Facebook’s world of augmented reality also is expanding. Facebook’s Reality Labs include innovations in the augmented reality sector. Facebook is hoping to introduce new augmented reality glasses but it also may be working on an augmented reality bracelet, too. FACEBOOK’S WEARABLE TECH In March 2021, Facebook posted a video and an article looking at the possibility of wearable wrist technology that incorporates augmented reality. The company explained that it’s busy working on augmented reality glasses and envisioned a future of human computer interactions (or HCI). The company further explained: “Two of the most critical elements are contextually-aware AI that understands your commands and actions as well as the context and environment around you, and technology to let you communicate with the system effortlessly….” The technology for HCI would need to involve deep understanding on the part of AI to understand or inference “…about what information you might need or things you might want to do in various contexts, based on an understanding of you and your surroundings, and will present you with a tailored set of choices.” However, the company believes that this technology won’t become a reality in the near future. What could possibly be on the horizon for augmented reality is wearable tech like a bracelet. Facebook originally conceived their envisioned tech as glasses, however the company felt that the technology would be more suitable for the wrist, as a type of bracelet. The technology could be used anywhere, but privacy also was an important concern. In addition, the company explained that the tech would need to be easy to use, but smart or, as Facebook notes “intuitive.” The ideal way that Facebook conceived that such technology could exist was in the form of a bracelet. The technology could be worn easily and could interact. So why was a bracelet the best choice? It’s close to the hands, which gives the wearer an easy way to interact with the device. The bracelet would include electromyography (EMG), which “…uses sensors to translate electrical motor nerve signals that travel through the wrist to the hand into digital commands that you can use to control the functions of a device.” According to Facebook, these “neural interfaces” would allow the individual to control the technology; so, in many aspects, this would be the opposite of the idea of AI taking over. So how would the bracelet be used? Hrvoje Benko, the research director for Facebook’s Research Labs (FRL), explained on the company’s web site that the wearable could interact with augmented reality glasses. “We believe our wristband wearables may offer a path to ultra-low-friction, always-available input for AR glasses, but they’re not a complete solution on their own — just as the mouse is one piece of the graphical user interface,” said Benko on Facebook’s tech site. “They need to be assisted with intent prediction and user modeling that adapts to you and your particular context in real time.” And the tech could be predictive. The device could understand that what you’ve done in the past would be done in the present, too. Daily patterns could translate into aiding this predictive technology. If you call your mother at noon everyday, the device could start to understand that this is a daily task worth a prompt. Suddenly, the user could be asked if you want to talk to your mother. On Facebook’s site, Tanja Jonker, Research Science Manager for FRL, talks about the tech predicting daily runs (if this is a habit)…and having the tech ask if it should stream the running playlist. Touch also may be a part of this wristband. One of the details that might be important is ‘haptic feedback,’ or physical signals to the user. Facebook explains that this could be used via separate pulses for important emails versus emails that aren’t such a high priority. Several wristband prototypes are being built that, according to Facebook, will help them delve deeper into the world of wristband haptics. The two prototypes currently include the Bellowband and the Tasbi (which was named for an acronym meaning Tactile and Squeeze Bracelet Interface). During development and research of all this technology, Facebook noted that it also was investigating all the privacy, security and safety issues and implications of the possible technology. “We think deeply about how our technologies can positively and negatively impact society, so we drive our research and development in a highly principled fashion,” said Sean Keller, FRL Research Science Director, via a story on Facebook’s site. “with transparency and intellectual honesty at the very core of what we do and what we build.” So when would the wristband or bracelet debut? The story is still unfolding, but the technology is obviously very much underway. Technology Review wrote a story about the wristband and noted that the bracelet has an appearance of “…a clunky iPod on a strap”. The writer wasn’t yet able to test it out. Still, this technology—and likely the look of it, too—is still in the prototype stage. That clunky appearance could evolve into something sleeker. As Facebook hasn’t formally announced any sale date or any date that the device could enter the market, anything is possible for the wristband. FACEBOOK’S SPARK AR Facebook also offers Spark AR, which allows users to create their own effects or augmented reality experiences that can be used on both Facebook and Instagram. Interested individuals need to take a Spark AR class, however, to learn how to use the technology. However, Spark AR is seemingly accessible for anyone with an interest. There is an entire curriculum for Spark AR that begins with the course “Introduction to Augmented Reality.” FAcebook also offers a community where creators can share their knowledge. The Spark AR Forum is a hub where creators or interested individuals can ask questions or post on topics related to augmented reality. For Spark AR, users will need a Facebook account. Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Facebooks-Smart-Glasses.jpg] WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK’S SMART GLASSES? The internet has been buzzing about different augmented and virtual reality products from different tech players. However, Facebook’s upcoming smart glasses may be the public’s introduction into what is to come for the company. The glasses will be in partnership with Luxottica, the company that owns sunglasses brands including Maui Jim and Ray Ban. Facebook x Ray-Ban smart glasses will not include augmented reality, however. The teaser video that was posted via YouTube offered little about the new glasses. Consumers don’t even know if these glasses will be in Ray-Ban’s signature Aviator or Wayfarer model, although the Wayfarer would probably be a great choice because of the model’s substantial frame. Consumers can be on the lookout for these new glasses, which should arrive sometime this year. Exactly when the glasses will drop, however, and how much the glasses will cost has yet to be announced. Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Future-is-Augmented-and-Virtual.jpg] THE FUTURE IS AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL Facebook is one of several companies working on new augmented and virtual reality products and/or experiences. Google has released several new augmented reality experiences—one which helps consumers socially distance themselves. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook talked to Kara Swisher via her podcast about augmented reality. For many in the tech sector, the biggest project in the works is the autonomous car. Many of the tech titans are in the midst of developing some type of self-driving vehicle. Currently, robotaxis are being tested in several cities. Amazon is testing its Zoox robotaxi in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Foster City, Calif. Waymo is already offering robotaxi services in Chandler, Ariz. Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. (aka Google’s parent company). Is Facebook building a car, too? According to a story published by CNBC, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, stated at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017 that the company was “…the only company in Silicon Valley not building a car.” Anything can change in the world of technology, however. In the meantime, Facebook may be changing how consumers interact on a daily basis. By creating a wearable device that can work with a pair of glasses, calls, emails and other activities could be predicted with our wrists. The technology could possibly have implications beyond just glasses, too. Again, as technology evolves, the devices evolve, becoming more complex, insightful and adaptive to our habits and our lives. There is no exact timeline for many of these developing technologies. While robotaxis are servicing one city in the United States, there may be some time before they become adopted into all cities as a mainstream form of transportation. Like the robotaxi, Facebook’s wearable band may be the beginning of more complex technology. Who knows maybe in the future a wristband could interact with the car. Perhaps augmented reality wristbands interact with our home, too. While the future is a question mark when it comes to technology, augmented reality and virtual reality may become a big part of our future world.