Here’s How to Utilize Virtual Car Shopping During COVID-19

Here’s How to Utilize Virtual Car Shopping During COVID-19

April 17, 2020

As we all navigate through the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the closure of non-essential businesses, including car dealerships. This may have temporarily thrown a wrench in the plans of those whose lease was ending or those immediately due for a new vehicle. The act of social distancing is more important now than ever, and as we commit to staying home and safe, there are ways to use this time to still properly prepare for future vehicle purchases. In fact, the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to change the entire car shopping experience, right from home, is huge. The New Stay at Home Process The history of the car dealership goes back over 100 years, and despite the huge advancements we have seen in vehicle technology, the customer’s car buying journey has remained largely unchanged up until now. According to a recent study by Cox Automotive, 83% of consumers want to do one or more steps of the car purchase process online and 7 out of 10 are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online. As these shopping habits show just how significant the online process has become, utilizing new technologies will significantly help cater to the needs of us staying at home right now. During self-isolation, the way consumers are able to educate themselves on potential vehicles ahead of time is crucial to cutting down time spent on the dealer lot once they do open back up. These consumers are already using platforms like third-party automotive websites, and the likes of Google and YouTube to research their next car and begin the process online. These customers rely on the internet to keep them informed, and now, there is great opportunity to offer even more informative ways to shop for cars. The Wonders of a Virtual Showroom For those not as familiar with the difference between the two, virtual reality uses a headset or mobile device to create a fully immersive 3D experience. Augmented reality places digital images onto a user’s view of the real world, most often through a smartphone. Both VR and AR create digital worlds that take the user on a journey, whether they are playing a game or shopping. And when it comes to car shopping, simply just looking at images of cars online ahead of a dealership visit is no longer going to cut it. Consumers will want to view vehicles features up close, examine every angle, and truly experience a potential car before purchase. With virtual and augmented reality technologies, this process is entirely disrupted — for the better. By using virtual reality car shopping technology, consumers can view 360° views of any car they are interested in, right from their homes. These views include interior and exteriors shots, and can be accessed from mobile phones, tablets, or even simply through a website. With this simple step added, users are transported to that virtual car showroom, completely transforming how they view and interact with potential cars and turning research into a full experience, rather than just a basic process with standard imagery or video. Apps such as RelayCars are already offering these services, including thousands of stereoscopic vehicle views. In fact, a high-quality VR library of assets is essential to helping out customers who cannot go to the dealer right now, and ultimately changing the future of car shopping as we know it. And it doesn’t stop at VR. With augmented reality technology, users can project and view a potential car from their phone straight into their living room or driveway, viewing it in a real-life setting within moments. Even just 10 or 15 years ago, this type of research taking place before ever stepping foot on a dealership lot was unheard of. This process brings the dealership to the customer during a time when they cannot leave home. Think of how many steps there are once you arrive onsite at the dealership – there’s the initial viewing of vehicles, a test drive portion, paperwork, price negotiation, and even more. With the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to view vehicles right from home, customers are now entering a whole new world. These processes help customers to optimize time then spent on the dealer lot, and create a way to be respectful of not only their time, but the dealer’s time too. Once you are able to finally get behind the wheel of a car for a test drive, any questions you had during this research phase will immediately start to be answered, making this process truly come full circle. Researching your future car doesn’t have to take a back seat while physical dealer locations are closed. In fact, proper preparation through AR and VR is key to changing the future of the overall dealership experience as we know it. Once lots open back up, the days of spending hours upon hours at a car dealership will be behind us. RelayCars is available online and for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. ### The potential of virtual and augmented reality car shopping is vast, whether a car shopper is exploring the latest models in their living room or being guided through a virtual tour of a vehicle’s features in the showroom. However, to fully harness the possibilities of virtual reality car shopping, it is essential to choose the best applications and assets to build flexible, functional virtual showrooms. By partnering with pioneers in automotive VR technology, such as RelayCars and EVOX, dealers can ensure they have the resources they need to create compelling VR experiences. EVOX® Images offers the largest automotive virtual reality library, available for consumers to view through the RelayCars app. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.



June 3, 2019

BY SASHA LEKACH – 05/01/19 With Tesla test drives scaled back, your options to check out a Model 3 or Model S sedan are limited enough that you may need to turn to virtual reality to see the car before you buy it.  Oculus’s new VR headset could become the next best way to check out cars without going to a dealership or car lot — or in Tesla’s case, without buying the car sight unseen. The Oculus Quest was officially announced this week at Facebook’s F8 conference and when it arrives on May 21 for $399 most of the attention will be on how it performs for gaming apps. For the non-gamers out there, however, the headset can give you a glimpse at what thousands of cars look like. It’s one of the many non-gaming uses for VR that’s getting a boost with the new device. RelayCars has a vast library of car imagery that lets you take a look at each one from all angles and while sitting in the driver seat. With images of 13,000 vehicles and counting, you can take a peek at the Tesla Model 3, a Mini Cooper, or even a Prius.  During a demo, COO Gina Callari compared the app to a “virtual auto show” where you can hop from car to car, getting a feel for the vehicle without driving it. The library is stocked with luxury vehicles, big trucks, and everyday options like a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. It’s available for free on Oculus Go, Samsung’s Gear VR, HTC Vive, and other VR platforms (there’s also a mobile and tablet app with 360-degree images available for perusing for the VR-disinclined among us), but with the new Quest, the viewing experience will greatly improve. Currently you can explore the front seat of a Tesla, or any of the available cars, from a fixed point of view in VR. You can look all over, but you can’t see what the car is like from the back seat or from other positions.  With the Quest the RelayCars VR app will give what’s known as 6DOF, or six degrees of freedom, instead of the usual 3DOF: pitch, roll, and yaw. The additional three are forward/backward, left/right, and up/down.  This means you can move around the space, kneel down, get closer to the steering wheel, check out a decal on the trunk — much like you’d do when walking around a real car. It gets you that much closer to a realistic experience. So instead of trudging to a litany of different dealerships when looking for a new car, you can browse through various options the same way you shop for everything else: online. SOURCE:



May 24, 2019

By Gina Callari – 05/23/19 Today’s fragmented and increasingly digital landscape presents greater challenges for dealerships to meet the needs of car shoppers. According to a 2016 AutoTrader study, only 17 out of 4,002 surveyed customers were satisfied with the current car-buying process. Just a few years ago, shoppers could visit up to five dealerships before deciding on a car, now they’re visiting just one. Today, people demand to be as informed as possible before stepping foot on the dealer lot. However, dealers can draw more of these consumers to their dealership by supplementing the research process with more immersive and interactive experiences that increase shopper engagement. With this idea, augmented reality and virtual reality are positioned to be key factors driving the future of automotive research and shopping. For those not as familiar with these terms, augmented reality refers to an enhanced image or environment as viewed on a screen or other display, produced by overlaying computer-generated images in a real-world environment, while virtual reality is a realistic and immersive simulation of a 3D environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by body movement. Research shows that 80% of car shopping interactions prior to visiting the dealership are now digital. YouTube and Google are providing much of that research content and augmented and virtual reality applications can bridge the gap between online research and visiting the dealership. Millions of people are using mobile AR technology every day with applications like Snapchat and games such as Pokemon Go. Consumer-friendly glasses are rumored to be shipping in late 2019 or early 2020 from Apple, Facebook, Samsung, Google and others. Cell phones and tablets support these experiences for the time being until those headsets or AR glasses do come to market. The benefits of augmented reality is that it allows shoppers to bring the vehicle off of a flat 2D screen and into their space to view color changes, trim levels and hundreds of cars, all from the comfort of home. Virtual reality transports the user to a virtual dealership where they can experience many of the same benefits. In addition to the home, this technology is useful for portable dealerships or pop-up stores in larger locations, such as shopping malls. Through this technology, the research experience becomes immersive and consumers can customize a potential car within moments. On-site, the dealer may compare vehicles side-by-side and show models that they don’t have on the lot currently. When browsing without a guide, the consumer is able take their time and pace their research. The time is now for dealerships to become mindful of this changing landscape and find ways to utilize technology to help aid in the car selling process. Virtual and augmented reality platforms leverage the next wave of computing to drive engagement, win customers’ interest and improve sales. SOURCE:



March 8, 2019

By Auto Success Staff Writers – 03/08/19 RelayCars, the virtual reality automotive experience that puts consumers in the driver’s seat of thousands of vehicles, has announced the expansion of their VR suite of applications with the launch of the new RelayCars, now in room-scale. Room-scale allows users to move freely and naturally around the virtual showroom while customizing car options and researching their next car. Furthering the future of vehicle research and shopping, this technology gives consumers a more efficient way to shop for cars that may not physically be on the dealer lot or even browse from the comfort of their homes. Dealers will now have the ability to instantaneously showcase a wider range of vehicles and help consumers to make informed purchasing decisions through the realistic environment. RelayCars in room-scale is available via digital distribution platform, Steam. While wearing a headset, car shoppers and dealers are able to select vehicles from the expanding model selection and place them in one of three designated spaces on the showroom floor. Users can interact with the environment and the showcased vehicle models to view them from any angle, change the vehicle color, enter the interior, step back to check out the vehicle in full, or walk right up to the vehicle for a more in depth look at the design and detail. “This is the first time we are offering our users the opportunity to walk around their customized virtual showroom to observe, compare and interact with the vehicles on another level,” Gina Callari, RelayCars COO, said. “The technologies enabling virtual reality are evolving at such a pace that being able to provide more interactive and realistic experiences for our customers is of the utmost importance to us at RelayCars.” RelayCars in room-scale is available on Steam-supported VR headsets including Windows Mixed Reality, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Link: RelayCars SOURCE:



November 27, 2018

By Peter Graham Last updated Nov 27, 2018 Magic Leap One may still be in its infancy but that’s not stopping developers from making new, or bringing pre-existing content to the fledgeling head-mounted display (HMD). The latest to announce support is RelayCars LLC, the creator of virtual reality (VR) app RelayCars, working the application into an augmented reality (AR) experience. The RelayCars app originally launched in 2015 for Samsung Gear VR, with the studio expanding support to Oculus Go and Google Daydream, whilst upping the content with new versions – the latest is RelayCars 8.  For the Magic Leap One edition RelayCars partnered with Kia Motors America with a customised Kia Stinger GT available for consumers to experience. The app will allow users to not only customise their own virtual Kia Stinger GT, but also take the Stinger out for a virtual drive. “Stinger is like nothing anyone has ever seen from Kia and RelayCars for Magic Leap allows us to bring this award-winning sports sedan to everyone, so they can experience the vehicle when and where they want on the social platforms they use most,” said Kimberley Gardiner, director, marketing communications, Kia Motors America. “Stinger is a testament to what Kia can – and has – achieved and this innovative way to interact with and experience Stinger allows consumers to take their time getting to know both Stinger and the Kia brand.” Besides the Stinger, RelayCars has thousands of vehicles to explore, with the option to admire the vehicles inside and out in full 360° stereoscopic 3D. The detailed showroom experiences feature vehicles ranging from exotics to hybrids, to sedans and full-size trucks. “We are proud to be the first automotive application available specifically for the Magic Leap One,” said David Falstrup, RelayCars CEO in a statement. “It is an exciting time to be in the industry and be able to provide new and improved product offerings on a regular basis. We hope that the integration of the Kia Stinger GT into the RelayCars for Magic Leap will ultimately lead our team to create more immersive experiences that will allow customers to experience the car in its entirety, up to the power and drive of it.” RelayCars is available now for free download via Magic Leap World. The Magic Leap One Creator Edition can only be purchased by developers currently with a retail price starting from $2,295 USD. For further content updates for the headset, keep reading VRFocus. SOURCE: