How Volkswagen is Using Augmented and Virtual Reality
Experts have predicted that augmented and virtual reality technologies will completely transform the automotive industry in the future. But some companies aren’t waiting for the future. Instead, these companies are already starting to use augmented and virtual reality technology to gain a competitive edge. One of these companies is Volkswagen, which is one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world. This German automotive manufacturer was founded over 80 years ago. Throughout its history, Volkswagen has been known for embracing new technologies and setting trends in the industry. Now, it is one of the first automotive companies to lead when it comes to using augmented and virtual reality. Here are some of the many ways Volkswagen is using these innovative technologies: DESIGN PRODUCTION LINES Earlier this year, Volkswagen began preparing for production of the new Atlas Cross Sport in its factory located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Part of this preparation process involved designing production lines within the factory. To complete this task, the Volkswagen Virtual Engineering Lab created innovative augmented reality software based on feedback submitted from technicians and other workers. The software allowed the factory’s team to plan where each piece of equipment would go so they could create the most efficient production line possible. How did it work? To use this software, the team simply had to put on an augmented reality headset. Then, the software used augmented reality technology to project each individual part of the production line onto their environment. This allowed the team to figure out the best way to arrange the individual parts within the factory to create an efficient and functional production line. It also helped the team identify and address potential safety issues. For example, the team was able to identify pinch points between machinery that would have otherwise not been visible. Identifying these areas in advance gave the team time to adjust the design and resolve these issues before production began. Using augmented reality technology in this manner helped Volkswagen create a safer, more productive workplace. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-151.jpeg] CREATE PROTOTYPES Virtual reality technology has simplified the design process for engineers at Volkswagen. In the past, these engineers built clay prototypes of new Volkswagen models. Then, the entire team would have a chance to explore the clay prototype, identify issues, and make necessary changes. If changes were needed, the team would have to build a new clay prototype that reflected these changes. This process would continue until the design of the new model was finalized. But now, the team relies on virtual reality technology to build digital prototypes of new models. The engineers can still explore the vehicle, identify issues, and make necessary changes just like they used to do. But they no longer need to waste time on building multiple clay prototypes. Instead, they can quickly make changes to the digital prototype until the design has been finalized. Using virtual reality in this manner allows Volkswagen to reduce the amount of time that it takes to design new vehicles. It also reduces the cost of designing a new vehicle since engineers no longer need to build expensive clay prototypes. Plus, since the process is virtual, designers from around the world can all collaborate on the same design with ease. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-75.jpeg] IMPROVE SAFETY FEATURES The ID.3 is Volkswagen’s first mass-produced electric car. It’s also the first Volkswagen vehicle that is designed with a heads-up display supported by augmented reality technology. This heads-up display has a number of different features that will keep drivers safe on the road. First, the heads-up display will help drivers stay focused on the road ahead by projecting navigational directions directly onto the driver’s windshield. Drivers will no longer need to look down at their smartphone or GPS device to see where they need to go to reach their final destination. For example, digital arrows may be projected onto the driver’s windshield to let the driver know when and where they need to turn to get to their final destination. They won’t need to glance at their phone to see these directions. As a result, this feature could prevent traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers. The system is also designed to project flags, warning signs, and other digital objects onto the driver’s windshield whenever potential hazards are detected on the road. This will alert drivers to pedestrians, bicyclists, sharp turns, and other potential dangers that they may encounter. Using augmented reality technology in this manner allows Volkswagen to create a safer, more enjoyable driving experience for their consumers. ALLOW CONSUMERS TO EXPLORE NEW MODELS The Volkswagen T-Cross was released in 2018 in select markets around the world, including Brazil. To get consumers excited about the T-Cross, Volkswagen partnered with a marketing firm to create a unique augmented reality app that would allow consumers to explore the vehicle before it arrived at dealerships. The app uses augmented reality technology to project a 3-D digital rendering of the T-Cross onto the consumer’s real world environment. Then, consumers can explore the vehicle in this virtual showroom just as they would if they were viewing it in a real showroom. Using the app, consumers can walk around the outside of the vehicle, open the doors, pull back the sunroof, and explore the interior of the T-Cross. They can also test out certain design features, including the vehicle’s park assist system. After exploring the vehicle, consumers could also snap a photo of the 3-D digital rendering of the T-Cross to save to their phone’s photos. This made it easy for consumers to share their augmented reality experience with their loved ones. Launching this augmented reality app was a great way to build excitement and ensure that consumers had the information they needed to make a purchase decision right at their fingertips. TRAIN NEW EMPLOYEES In 2018, Volkswagen announced plans to use virtual reality technology to simplify the process of training new employees. The company revealed that the technology would be used to train over 10,000 employees of Volkswagen, Audi, SKODA, and other brands owned by Volkswagen Group. The virtual training courses cover a wide range of topics, including vehicle assembly, general new employee training, and customer service. New content is uploaded on a regular basis, so employees can continue to participate in training courses as needed. There are several benefits to using virtual reality technology to train employees. First, employees can attend virtual training sessions from anywhere, so there’s no need to travel to an on-site location. This makes training employees far less expensive and more convenient for both the company and workers. If a new factory is being built, Volkswagen does not have to wait until it is complete to start training workers. Using virtual training, Volkswagen can make sure that all new employees are completely trained and ready to start working as soon as the factory is open. It also gives employees the opportunity to complete training courses at their own pace. If they want to spend more time on a certain topic, they have the option to do so. Thanks to virtual technology, Volkswagen has now found an easier and more efficient way to train employees. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-152.jpeg] GET ASSISTANCE WITH REPAIRS Volkswagen is one of the few automotive manufacturers that now uses virtual reality technology for maintenance and repair issues. The company sent virtual reality headsets to select dealerships around the world. If the dealership runs into a complex issue while performing maintenance or making repairs, they can use their headset to get help in real-time from experts at the company’s headquarters. For example, say a repairman is having trouble identifying the cause of an electrical issue on a Volkswagen vehicle. In this case, he can put on the virtual reality headset to get help from an expert. The expert can then project certain images, step-by-step instructions, or how-to videos onto the repairman’s field of view so they know how to identify the issue and make the necessary repairs. Using this technology can drastically reduce the amount of time that it takes to make complex repairs. However, Volkswagen is only using virtual reality technology for maintenance and repairs assistance for commercial vehicles. But if this test run is successful, it’s possible that Volkswagen may decide to roll this service out to maintenance and repairs assistance on all vehicles. HOST VIRTUAL AUTO SHOWS Many automotive manufacturers, including Volkswagen, introduce new makes and models at auto shows. These events typically attract thousands of consumers, but consumers who don’t live close to the location of the auto show may not be able to make the trip in order to attend. To expand its reach, Volkswagen now uses virtual reality technology to host virtual auto shows that take place at the same time as the in-person auto shows. In April, Volkswagen hosted one of its first virtual auto shows. Visitors were able to virtually walk into the Volkswagen exhibition booth, explore vehicles from every angle, and customize vehicles by changing the exterior color, wheels, and other features. Basically, these virtual guests were able to experience the auto show in the same way that they would have if they had attended the event in person. By hosting these virtual auto shows, Volkswagen is able to reach and engage with a wider audience. This is a great way to get consumers around the world excited about the release of new makes and models of Volkswagen vehicles. Volkswagen may be one of the first automotive manufacturers to embrace the use of augmented and virtual reality, but it certainly won’t be the last. In the years ahead, many other companies will follow Volkswagen’s lead and find new and exciting ways to use these technologies in the automotive industry.
How Nissan is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
During Covid lockdowns, automotive manufacturers were forced to find quick solutions that allowed design and engineering teams to continue moving forward with model development and conceptual innovations. What many don’t know is that augmented and virtual reality played an active role in design and safety innovation for years prior to the pandemic. While Covid might have accelerated the adoption of this technology for automotive design, manufacturers like Nissan have actively embraced augmented reality and virtual reality to develop innovative mechanical advancements and elevated safety features within automobiles. Here’s how Nissan is using augmented and virtual reality to improve driver/passenger safety and simplify design methodologies. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-138.jpeg] HOW NISSAN IS USING AUGMENTED & VIRTUAL REALITY FOR AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN For some manufacturers, the virtual space became the perfect platform conducive to fluid connectivity between team members separated by miles or even an entire ocean. Executives could wear a headset and step into a hyper-realistic space displaying the newest automotive model conceptualized in 3D graphics; design critiques pivoted to this virtual space, and, even as the world seemingly shut-down, the design process continued without interruption. In March 2019—a year before the pandemic—Nissan announced a partnership with Haptx that would incorporate virtual reality technology into the design process. According to a press release announcement by Haptx, Nissan team members would utilize Haptx gloves to interact with models in the virtual space. The gloves provide a tactile component to virtual design; while clay models allow designers to touch and feel a concept, the virtual space lacked this sensory experience. The partnership between Haptx and Nissan could be a prelude of what the future holds for automotive design. There is a need for designers, executives and other team members to feel out the concept of an in-process design. As Joel Piaskowski noted in an interview with Automobile magazine, there may always be a need for clay for automotive design. Clay provides the 3D tactility that, in the past, was not feasible in virtual reality. However, gloves or other accessories could allow for virtual reality design processes to incorporate an integrative sensory experience similar to clay. While clay models might be the norm for the foreseeable future, virtual reality accessories may one day mimic reality so concisely that they allow virtual reality platforms to overthrow clay as the preferred design medium. Pehraphs 3D printing could become a secondary technology to assign in creating these models while remaining fully virtual? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-139.jpeg] HOW NISSAN IS USING AUGMENTED & VIRTUAL DESIGN REALITY TO IMPROVE SAFETY FEATURES Augmented reality is found in many standard and upgraded automotive safety features. Backup cameras display the rear view of the vehicle when drivers put the car into reverse; however, the backup camera screen featured in the dashboard also shows grid lines so drivers can visualize their turning radius. These helpful graphics are an example of augmented reality. When drivers plug their smartphones into the vehicle, they can utilize GPS functions from apps on their phone. The screen may show surroundings as they normally appear but display the vehicle’s path in computerized graphics. This combination of real-life imagery and graphic overlays are the hallmark feature of augmented reality. Nissan is elevating its augmented reality safety features with its Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) technology that is forecasted to rollout in Nissan models in 2025. How does this new technology work? I2V utilizes sensors located throughout the body of the automobile. These sensors collect info and data from the location, but the Omni-Sensing Cloud system also collects data about the location. Together, these sensors and data structures piece together the environment ahead to provide crucial information to the driver about road hazards, construction and more. Drivers can receive ample warning about pedestrians who may be crossing the street ahead or even a recent accident. This allows the driver to take necessary precautions to slow down and take measures to prepare for an incident. I2V also can predict and show drivers other random obstacles located around a street corner; maybe a garbage can rolled onto the road or a group of employees are lingering on the sides of a building chatting about the day. Nissan’s Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) technology also would provide drivers with up-to-date traffic info, which may be a bit like a constant stream of traffic reports. There will be no more surprises about congestion during the morning commute, and those once-standard messages via Waze users may be obsolete. I2V AND PARKING ALERTS + AVATARS What else can I2V do for drivers in the future? Nissan explains that this technology also can alert drivers about an open parking space! That mad rush to find one parking spot at a sporting event or at major stores for holiday shopping may be simplified. The new technology also would generate personalized avatars that are programmed to resemble friends and relatives. Driving alone? Grab a friend or parent to provide conversation and companionship during the road trip. Avatars could help ease driver tension and stress. I2V also would allow avatars to be generated to provide guidance when a driver is in a new area. Nissan explains that these virtual tour guides could give recommendations on places to visit or maybe even provide directions to restaurants, historic places and museums and galleries. For drivers lacking confidence or perhaps even permit drivers needing extra assistance, an avatar also could be utilized to provide driving instructions. These avatars would be real driving professionals and would offer help during the drive-time. Imagine parents having the ability to request an avatar to help during those grueling early lessons. While Nissan doesn’t provide a full rundown of avatar limitations, the potential for what they could do is incredible. I2V IMPROVING THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE I2V also can improve the ambiance of the driving experience by changing visual elements of the driver’s surroundings. The dark dreariness of a rainy day can be transformed into a cloudless blue sky, as I2V would create a perfect picture of ideal weather onto the windows. This could possibly lower the stress of driving in bad weather or maybe improve the driver’s mood. How would Nissan provide a pro driver or tour guide within this technology? The answer is found in the way that users of I2V communicate. Nissan’s site on this innovative technology explains that to visualize and experience all elements of I2V, the driver would wear augmented reality glasses while an individual in the “metaverse” would use a virtual reality headset. So pro drivers would wear the virtual reality headset, and the driver would see the pro appear thanks to the augmented reality glasses. BEYOND 2025: AN AUGMENTED REALITY FUTURISTIC DREAM SCENARIO We are years away from Nissan’s I2V from becoming a reality, yet 2025 isn’t as far off as it seems. Once I2V launches and users begin to experience all these multi-dimensional components of augmented reality, driving might never look or feel the same again. The predictive technology encapsulated within I2V’s design has the potential to improve driver and passenger safety and even ease tension during the drive time. Changing the appearance of the weather via the windows may be a small graphic detail, but relieving the driver of the darkness of a drizzly day could potentially boost the driver’s mood and, ultimately, improve that long drive. Predictive technology that alerts the driver of dangers ahead has far-reaching implications related to safety. The driver could always be prepared for upcoming hazards, word work or even a pedestrian about to cross the road. This technology might be able to notify drivers of crazy obstacles lurking in areas unseen; many drivers have faced a situation where they needed to quickly navigate around a hazard without much warning. A mattress that fell from a truck might be known to drivers for miles in advance instead of at the last minute. PERSONALIZING DRIVING Avatars bearing the appearance of family members or friends can make the travel much happier and less stressful. That drive across the country solo for a new work venture can now be shared with someone else. Not only does this improve the driving experience, but, when another individual is connected to the car and the drive, they can be aware of the driver’s stress or any possible issues during the travel time. Communication between the avatar and the driver would be virtually free of distraction, as conversation wouldn’t involve a screen or a phone. Imagine in the not-so-distant future that personalized avatars become the norm. Maybe these avatars aren’t just driving instructors, tour guides or friends but other professionals and service providers. If the car suddenly starts making a strange noise, maybe a mechanic could listen in. Want to order a pizza or make a dinner reservation? Perhaps a host or hostess appears in the car to put your name on the waiting list. Maybe during the drive you need to schedule a night in a hotel. The desk assistant may suddenly appear and book your room hours before you drive into town. Is your head pounding? Do you feel feverish? Are you hours from an urgent care facility? Maybe a doctor can appear for a virtual visit. The driver could simply pull into a rest stop and schedule a check-up. No waiting necessary. NISSAN AND THE FUTURE OF DRIVING New technologies could be predictive of what the future could hold. While I2V doesn’t feature virtual doctors, hotel staff or other virtual car mechanics, the technology could evolve to be inclusive of these types of conveniences. If I2Vs rollout is successful, embraced by consumers and without glitches, other companies may follow Nissan’s lead and develop their own multimodal virtual and augmented reality system. Who knows? Car models may begin to communicate with each other. All of Nissan’s models may one day communicate car-to-car. So if a husband and wife both drive Nissans, their cars and their driving experiences could one day be synced. Maybe all cars, regardless of make/model, are wired to communicate. Perhaps law enforcement vehicles are wired to digitally connect, too, and this could improve safety protocols during traffic stops and perhaps ensure greater transparency. I2V could be the beginning of a virtual and augmented reality revolution in the automotive industry, and the invisible connectivity between vehicles could be more tightly tethered than we could ever imagine.
Mercedes-Benz Technicians in the US will now Use Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Augmented Reality to Fix Cars
The automotive industry has already been experimenting with augmented reality (AR) in many different sectors. This is especially true in the sales field as a tool to use at dealerships such as virtual showrooms to help customers explore different vehicles and features including optional extras. However, now automakers are finding new innovative ways to improve cars with augmented reality. Mercedes-Benz has introduced this innovative technology into their dealerships in another way other than showrooms. The luxury automaker is changing the auto repair process by using augmented reality to fix cars. They have begun equipping their dealerships in the US with Microsoft HoloLens 2. Using this enhanced technology, technicians at Mercedes-Benz are now able to use augmented reality to fix cars at a faster service speed and in a safer way. Through the HoloLens 2 technology, Mercedes-Benz technicians can simply put on the AR headset which is powered by Dynamics 365 Remote Assist tech and see remote assistance in real-time from specialists all over the world including engineers at the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Germany. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-134.jpeg] INITIAL TRIALS Initially, Mercedes-Benz had a small trial of 13 dealerships to try the technology. Now, they have released the technology to 383 of their dealerships to utilize. Mercedes hopes that the mass distribution of augmented reality to fix cars will help make the process of vehicle repairs easier and safer as technicians are able to receive guided support from experts in real-time. The process of repair will also become more streamlined and quicker for Mercedes-Benz auto technicians. Mercedes-Benz has a very specialized repair process that can often take a long time for some repairs. When a vehicle in the United States needs to be repaired, the first step the car owner will take is to bring it to a dealership for repair. Usually the technicians are able to easily make repairs, but if the vehicle has a complex issue or the technician is not able to figure out the issue, they will contact a company specialist in Florida. The remote specialist will then have to diagnose the issue over the phone or via email with the local technicians. However, if they can not resolve the issue, they would need to send a field expert to travel to the dealership and fix the vehicle in person. This will all change thanks to HoloLens and augmented reality technology. With HoloLens, the field specialists, engineers, and experts are able to diagnose problems more accurately. They are able to actually see that the dealership technicians are actually seeing and in real-time. While HoloLens will surely help cut the costs of repairs and labor, the technology itself is not cheap. Mercedes-Benz is making a big investment by equipping hundreds of dealerships with the technology as the headset alone costs about $3,500 plus the cost of the Microsoft software, Dynamic 365 Remote Assist, being used to implement the tools. The implementation of augmented reality to fix cars is not a first for Mercedes-Benz. The company had originally utilized HoloLens headsets to train mechanics using 3D models of vehicles and parts. The success of using it as a training tool led to it actually being implemented in dealerships for actual auto repairs. Mercedes-Benz is not the only major automaker turning to the innovative technology of augmented reality to fix cars. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-135.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY TO FIX CARS Using augmented reality in the process to repair cars, is a big investment for these automakers. However, it seems to be an investment that many of them are finding to be worth it. It is not just luxury automakers that are getting into augmented reality tools either. Companies like Ford and Toyota are also providing their dealerships with the technology to help technicians improve their repair process. * Toyota has also used HoloLens on its vehicles. Although not included in dealership repairs, the automakers has utilized the augmented reality technology on a more experimental level with speeding up the process of measuring the thickness of a vehicle’s paint and ensuring consistent color and coating for rust-prevention. * Porsche as well is tapping into augmented reality to fix cars at their dealerships. Starting with 189 dealerships in the US, Porsche will outfit their repair technicians with augmented reality glasses similar to the HoloLens. Technicians will be able to contact a specialist from Porsche’s headquarters in Atlanta. Through the augmented reality called Tech Look Live, Porsche’s repair technicians and specialists can work together on a vehicle in real-time and remotely. * BMW is another luxury automaker that is providing their dealership technicians with augmented reality to fix cars. At all 347 dealerships, BMW has provided their technicians with TSARAVisian Smart Glasses that work similarly to the HoloLens. Technicians will be able to directly contact and work with specialists from the BMW North America headquarters to repair vehicles remotely. Just like HoloLens, these smart glasses also allow for overlaying and projecting instructions and information directly in the technician’s field of vision, so they can easily see their next steps for repair. Using AR for auto repair will likely be the new standard as more and more dealerships take on the technology as it appears to streamline the repair process and increase safety for workers. The push for augmented reality also comes as COVID regulations across all industries demand more out of remote working. However, with such success in the field, the practice of using augmented reality tools to help with car repairs will likely stay and continue to be utilized by major automaker dealerships. While augmented reality to fix cars is fast becoming the new innovation among dealerships, augmented reality in the auto industry is nothing new. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-136.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Augmented reality has been utilized within the automotive industry for years, but is now reaching a new level of innovation when it comes to commercial vehicles. Originally heavily used for military vehicles, augmented reality is helping to make every part of the auto industry much more convenient, engaging and safer for consumers of commercial vehicles. The auto industry might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to augmented reality. However, the industry has been at the forefront of incorporating this technology into every sector of their market. From design and production to the sales floor, augmented reality has found a home with automakers. Major automakers like Ford and Honda are already using augmented reality at the very beginning of their production process. The two major automakers are utilizing augmented reality to help their designers and engineers to work together to create innovations in new models. Using augmented reality technology like smart glasses, they are able to overlay designs over previous models and make instant changes and modifications. This has helped to streamline the design and production process as previously designers would need to send their designs to engineers for approval and review then wait for feedback. Through augmented reality designers and engineers can work in real-time and remotely to develop projects together. The most common way augmented reality is being utilized is at dealerships where virtual showrooms are the new norm. Virtual showrooms allow for potential buyers to see a dealership’s inventory and their buying options before even going into a dealership. Through high quality photos and augmented reality technology companies like RelayCars help potential buyers shop for cars conveniently from their own home. Potential buyers can also use these virtual showrooms to apply the different features and add-ons to their vehicle to see how they will look in real-life and also get a price estimate. Even within the cars themselves, augmented reality is changing and updating what it feels like to drive. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-137.jpeg] The next step for augmented reality for vehicles seems to be headed towards creating intricate and immersive heads-up displays (HUD) in commercial vehicles. Today, HUDs implemented with augmented reality are quite simplified. They display similar information as a dashboard such as a speedometer, gas levels, and turn signals. However, advancements in augmented reality technology is pushing to bring more tools to heads-up displays. Now, AR developers are working to make heads-up displays actually overlay the view of the driver more naturally. For example, navigation would actually curve arrows in the same way the street curves. The newest models of these advanced heads-up displays are also including more safety features such as obstruction detections and blind-spot alerts. They are also developing heads-up displays to span across the entire windshield and have split screen capabilities so that the driver can have driving features displayed on one side of the windshield but a passenger can be viewing a movie on their side of the windshield. Augmented reality to fix cars is the latest innovation for commercial vehicles and is likely the beginning of a widening trend to incorporate more advanced and engaging technology to the auto industry. Major automakers like Mercedes-Benz and AI startups like RelayCars are leading the industry into making augmented reality an important tool in every aspect of commercial vehicles.
How GM is Making Driving Safer with Augmentative and Virtual Reality
Augmentative reality and virtual reality has been making waves in the automotive industry for years, and General Motors has taken the revolutionary technology one step further. The leading auto retailer is making the manufacturing, buying, and driving processes safer and more enjoyable for everyone using AR/VR capabilities. Read on to learn how GM is using augmentative and virtual reality to reach customers and improve the driving experience. WHAT IS AUGMENTED REALITY? If you remember the digital explosion that was Pokemon Go, you’ve been exposed to the basic idea of augmentative reality. This technology uses digital visual elements superimposed over the user’s line of sight to enhance the real-life experience with responsive, mobilly accessible digital elements. In the auto industry, this technology is being used to help manufacturers and drivers interact with cars using a higher level of detail and control – without blocking or impeding their line of sight. In GM vehicles, drivers can use augmented reality from their smartphones to shop for vehicles in a higher level of detail than ever before. Additionally, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this same technology is being used to connect designers, sellers, manufacturers, and potential buyers without the need for a brick-and-mortar dealership. This phenomenon can be made possible using mobile apps, responsive in-person demonstrations, or even reactive imagery via any internet-connected device. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-127.jpeg] WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY? While augmented reality works by combining reality and a virtual landscape seamlessly, virtual reality involves a completely manufactured digital environment that is independent from the real world. Virtual reality technology often uses auxiliary equipment, such as sensory-cancelling headsets, to remove the user from reality in order to transport them to a digitally created environment. This can be used to make video games more realistic, or to improve the accuracy of training and educational programs. In the automotive industry, car makers and technicians can test vehicles virtually without the need for a full outdoor course. This has great potential to improve safety, while saving money by lowering overhead and reducing operational costs for the manufacturer. Virtual reality is also being used by leading automakers to improve the passenger experience by providing them with safe, fully immersive entertainment. Everyone in the vehicle (with the exception of who’s in the driver’s seat) can dive into realistic games, videos, and even music by removing themselves from the “real world.” Passengers can truly enter a completely digital landscape using connected headsets, glasses, or even their mobile phone. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-128.jpeg] AUGMENTATIVE REALITY IN THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS Leading car brands like GM are using augmented reality to save money, increase safety, and streamline processes across the entire manufacturing process. This technology has made it easier than ever before for remote employees, onsite employees, and digital elements to communicate from any physical location. Allowing technicians to work on realistic digital models using augmented reality has reduced costs associated with operations by giving remote employees even more agency and control. This lowers the amount car retailers need to spend on office space, as well as equipment required for physical models as opposed to digital renders. Augmented reality has greatly improved the auto manufacturing process in three key ways. TESTING Vehicle safety and operational testing is easily the most critical part in the manufacturing process. Since augmented reality superimposes digital elements over actual sensor points and physical cues, workers don’t need to use physical test vehicles or drive tracks. Additionally, digital renders can be created to show how the car can perform in different terrains and driving conditions. Eliminating the need to test physical vehicle models in dangerous environments makes the process accurate, but safer, for everyone involved. PROCESS AUTOMATION Traditionally, the auto manufacturing process has been expensive and variable, leading to a dramatic shift in value and innovation across the industry. Working in a secure digital environment makes it easier to determine whether or not employees are staying on task, while reducing the amount of time workers spend on repetitive, rote tasks. Augmented reality systems are able to track a dynamic production schedule, while controlling machines remotely to increase the amount of time workers are able to spend on creative engineering and tasks that require human innovation. Additionally, AR-enabled tools can provide assistance and training in the absence of a human manager or educator. This reduces company spend on employment costs, while giving each worker control over their learning speed and style. On demand digital assistance, corporate training resources, and communication tools give workers more power to utilize their unique skills to help the company grow as a whole. STREAMLINED PRODUCTION Social distancing measures have largely limited workers’ ability to collaborate efficiently. Augmented reality has made it easier than ever for technicians, designers, and retailers to collaborate effectively on new models. By building and connecting individual parts digitally, technicians have more control than ever on the models they’re working on. Augmented reality gives them the ability to zoom into small details, manipulate the positioning of individual parts and features, and test functionalities virtually using responsive visual elements. HOW IS AR/VR IMPROVING DRIVER SAFETY? How many times have you taken your eyes off the road to check your GPS navigation or find driving directions? Just a few seconds with your attention off the road is all it takes for a devastating accident to change (or take) your life. Augmented reality gives drivers a way to see upcoming accident alerts, road construction, blockages, and even nearby businesses without taking their view off of their windshield. Augmented reality is also changing in-car entertainment for the better. Drivers no longer need to distract themselves with changing the radio station or adjusting the temperature in the vehicle. Now, augmented reality shows all of these features in the driver’s natural line of sight using visual projections that appear on the road. Additionally, voice-controlled technology makes it easier than ever for driver’s to enjoy a fully hands-free experience. Although we all need to pass a test to get a driver’s license, it’s no surprise that many drivers forget the rules of the road over time. Auto manufacturers like GM have developed realistic road simulators using virtual reality to help drivers sharpen their real-life skills, without the real-life risk. Whether it’s being used in the road or off the street, augmented and virtual reality technology has reduced driver risk significantly in just a few short years. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-129.jpeg] WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? The Coronavirus has changed the way Americans interact with commercial brands in a major way, and the auto industry has responded by increasing their virtual shopping tools to boost sales. General Motors is just one of the brands that has created digital showrooms with virtual and augmented reality to allow prospective buyers to shop safely from home. A virtual showroom is essentially what it sounds like. Using their desktop or mobile device, shoppers can tour all of the retailer’s inventory using 360-degree product photography and interactive digital renders of their prospective purchase. Fewer automotive shoppers are heading to the dealership, and this has opened up a major opportunity for AR/VR tech to enter the market. Now, buyers can complete the entire buying process in just a few minutes – from their initial research period to applying for financing. As more businesses respond to the changes caused by the ongoing pandemic, augmentative and virtual reality is becoming integrated into the showrooms of large and small companies across the auto industry. Using a virtual showroom eliminates the need for dealers to keep a vast physical inventory on site, dramatically cutting overhead costs and the need for a large commercial space. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-130.jpeg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTATIVE REALITY DRIVING FUTURE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT When it comes to product innovation, AR/VR tech has helped developers perfect upcoming vehicle models in far less time. GM is using augmentative and virtual reality capabilities to fine tune their products and provide buyers with an even more reliable shopping (and driving) experience. Before digitally rendered models eliminated the need for physical product testing, bugs had to be predominately addressed with trial and error. Multiple physical testing trials and recalls could be necessary to improve the car’s features, from aesthetic changes to safety measures. Now, cars are hitting the marketplace with fewer design and functionality flaws because they’ll be released after rigorous virtual testing and prototype development. Instead of building costly prototypes to make these adjustments, technicians can work on an infinite number of virtual models until the product meets set specifications. Additionally, virtual reality tools allow designers and technicians to immerse themselves in their work environments without spending time in an expensive lab or warehouse. Augmentative and virtual reality technology is making waves across a wide variety of industries, but the automotive sphere is largely paving the way. GM is using this growing tech system to keep their staff, and buyers, safer than ever before while also reducing costs and boosting value for the corporation as a whole. Immersive media is likely to become the next major medium for consumers and companies to interact and communicate, no matter their location. Take a closer look at how high-quality automotive images and responsive mobile applications are helping auto shoppers and manufacturers go through each transaction with more safety and ease.
How Honda is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
The use of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies is expected to completely transform the automotive industry. These technologies have already been embraced by some companies in the automotive industry, including the Honda Motor Company. Over the last several years, Honda has started to incorporate augmented and virtual reality technologies into the creation, promotion, and use of their vehicles. Here are some of the many ways that Honda utilizes augmented and virtual reality technology: SHOWCASE NEW VEHICLES Honda is one of many automotive manufacturers that has utilized augmented and virtual reality technologies to introduce and promote new vehicles. At the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the automotive manufacturer used augmented reality technology to introduce consumers to the redesigned Honda Accord sedan. Attendees were asked to put on a Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset. Then, they were presented with a brief history of the Accord sedan presented on an augmented reality timeline. The next part of the experience used augmented reality to show attendees how the design of the Accord has evolved over time. Attendees were able to see digital projections of the various designs. Then, attendees were able to sit behind the wheel of the new Accord sedan. Using augmented reality technology, Honda showed attendees how the vehicle’s new safety technology helped drivers navigate through dangerous road conditions. After this augmented test drive was over, attendees were able to learn about other features of the new Accord, including the turbocharged engine, Wi-Fi capabilities, and Honda Link app-based platform. Augmented reality technology was used throughout this portion to keep attendees engaged with the content. By the time the experience was over, attendees had learned everything they needed to know about the redesigned Accord. Augmented reality was also used to promote the new 2021 Acura TLX. To promote this vehicle, Honda launched the “Inside Track” campaign, which allowed consumers to use augmented reality to project a small version of the TLX onto their surroundings. Then, consumers could challenge their friends to a race through various environments, including the streets of a big city or windy roads on a mountaintop. The entire experience—from the small-sized TLX to the environment—was powered by the use of augmented reality technology. In this case, using augmented reality helped Honda create buzz around the TLX and engage with consumers in an interesting and compelling way. GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY Honda used virtual reality technology in a way that many other automotive companies have not: to give back to the community. In 2018, the automotive manufacturer used virtual reality technology to create “The Magic Snow Globe” experience for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The technology was used to transport kids inside a snow globe, where they could interact with various holiday-themed characters and other elements. For example, kids could work with the characters inside the snow globe to create a virtual snowman using virtual snow. Kids could also interact with virtual clouds in order to make it snow inside the virtual globe. Thanks to virtual technology, Honda was able to create an unforgettable holiday experience for the pediatric patients at this hospital. INTERACT WITH AUTO SHOW GUESTS Honda used augmented reality technology to make its exhibit stand out and appeal to more attendees at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Anyone who attended this event could visit the manufacturer’s exhibit to use the augmented reality photo booth, which the company called the “Honda Winning Moment.” Once inside the photo booth, attendees were able to take pictures of themselves participating in a selection of historical sports moments. For example, attendees could take photos of themselves celebrating with the National Hockey League winners of the Stanley Cup. Using augmented reality technology in this manner allowed Honda to interact with guests at an auto show in a unique way. It also created a memorable and fun experience for guests, who were able to take home photos of themselves as souvenirs. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-118.jpeg] ENHANCE THE PASSENGER’S EXPERIENCE Honda revealed its Honda Dream Drive prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2017. This prototype, which is supported by virtual reality technology, was created in an effort to make riding in a Honda more fun and exciting for passengers. How does it work? Using a virtual reality headset, passengers would be transported to a virtual world. The prototype, which was created in partnership with DreamWorks Animation, took passengers to the fantasy world depicted in the studio’s animated movie Trolls. The motion of the vehicle triggers what the passenger experiences in the virtual world. For example, if the car accelerates forward, the passenger may start to glide forward through the virtual world. Honda Dream Drive has not been incorporated into vehicles yet, but if it is, it could completely transform how passengers experience riding in a Honda. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-119.jpeg] OFFER VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Honda uses virtual reality technology to give consumers the opportunity to test drive certain Honda vehicles without ever visiting a dealership. This virtual test drive feature is available on most local Honda dealerships’ websites. To take a test drive, consumers simply need to visit a Honda dealership website and click on “Take a Virtual Test Drive.” To get the full experience, it’s best to visit the dealership website on a mobile device. Then, consumers will get to choose which vehicle they would like to virtually drive. After making a selection, consumers will get to watch a short video shot from behind the wheel of the vehicle. As the video plays, consumers can rotate their phone to explore the vehicle and its surroundings. This virtual reality test drive is perfect for today’s consumers, who typically start the process of searching for a new vehicle at home. BETTER SAFETY FEATURES In 2016, Honda quietly filed a patent for a new safety system supported by augmented reality technology. According to the patent filing, the system would use sensors placed around the outside of the vehicle to detect pedestrians in all directions. If a pedestrian is detected, the system would use augmented reality technology to display an avatar on the windshield. This would alert the driver of the location of the pedestrian to help them avoid a collision. Because the sensors detect pedestrians in all directions, the system would also improve drivers’ situational awareness by helping them locate pedestrians they otherwise would not have seen. Honda is far from the only automotive company that is taking advantage of these technologies. But Honda is one of the few companies that continues to find new and exciting ways to use augmented and virtual reality technology to stand out from its competitors.
How Ford is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
Augmentative and virtual reality has long been talked about as the way that will propel the automotive industry into the future. More and more consumers are demanding for more enhanced safety and driving features in their vehicles. The demand for autonomous vehicles such as for ride-sharing services is also increasing. The way to get to this future for automobiles? Augmentative and virtual reality is how automakers are going to make these car fantasies reality. Many automakers are investing billions into tech companies that are hoping to create programs and tools to enhance future vehicles. Ford is one of those automakers that hopes that spending money on tech will help them build a stronger consumer base and put them at the lead in the race for autonomous vehicles. Ford is one of many leading automakers that are embracing augmentative and virtual reality. The automaker is utilizing new advances in technology in almost every aspect of their vehicles. From designing and manufacturing to selling and displaying, Ford is incorporating both augmentative and virtual reality features to help enhance their manufacturing and buying experiences. DESIGNING CARS In order to create a more efficient and streamlined design process, Ford has started using Microsoft’s augmented reality tech, HoloLens which can be used for commercial and industrial applications. For Ford, HoloLens has given their designers and engineers the ability to work together seamlessly to quickly create new car designs. Using holographic goggles, designers can overlay 3-D elements onto a clay model of a vehicle then quickly evaluate and create new car designs. For the most part, the program is only being used to work on details on a vehicle. The overall design of the vehicle is still done through clay modeling and then designers can manipulate, add, and alter detailed designs. They can work simultaneously with engineers to help streamline the process. According to Craig Wetzel, Ford’s manager of design technical operations, the process of designers implementing changes then sending it off to engineers then getting feedback than having to redesign is the main reason designing a new vehicle is such an arduous process. “That takes time, and we find ourselves out of phase there a lot. But placing engineering and design in the same space, a process we call co-creation, streamlines that interaction,” Wetzel says. The process not only becomes more efficient but allows for much more creativity, and according to Wetzel also makes the creating process much more fun for designers and engineers on the team. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-103.jpeg] DISPLAYING / SELLING CARS Ford is not only using augmented and virtual reality in their design process, but they are also implementing advanced technology into the way they display and sell their vehicles. In 2017, Ford demonstrated how augmented reality can be used in a way to help buyers experience the features of a vehicle from a whole new way. “Think of augmented reality as the blending of virtual reality with real life,” says Garett Carr, Ford global auto shows manager. “It’s like having x-ray vision with the power to take people deeper into our product and technology stories- it feels a little like magic.” Ford is betting on that augmented reality magic to help sell their vehicles in an innovative way. Through augmented reality, the cars appear transparent and show all the features hidden beneath the car. Offering viewers a high-tech view of all the inner workings and features of the Ford vehicle. Carr had mentioned that part of the challenges of selling and introducing a new vehicle at an auto show was that consumers were previously only able to view the outside of a car. They had no way to view the actual final parts of the inner workings of a vehicle. However, with the new augmented reality technology has allowed consumers to see anything and everything they want of a vehicle without having to wear headsets or even seeing it physically. Ford also displayed the use of virtual reality by creating a virtual space to display the new features of their vehicles such as the 10-speed automatic transmission on the F-150 and created a wind-tunnel effect over the Ford GT Supercar to exhibit the car’s active aerodynamics. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-104.jpeg] The overall experience allows consumers to get a more interactive and engaging experience when viewing new vehicles without having to test drive them. This helps consumers learn about the new features of a car and also allows Ford to gauge consumer wants and save on vehicle mileage on new models. These same technologies are similar to their virtual showroom where consumers can build and price their potential vehicles. You can get a complete view and pricing of the exact vehicle that you want. While the experience on their retail site might be a paired down version of their auto show display, it still helps consumers view a vehicle inside and out. This can help them make a more definite purchase when they finally do visit a dealership. You can even view how some cars would look in your driveway! Many Ford dealerships are also utilizing virtual reality to enhance their showroom experience online. Using programs such as RelayCars, dealerships can sell and display vehicles using a virtual showroom. Shoppers can view and see all the details of a vehicle before even stepping foot into a dealership. This can help sellers lock in sales right away as the buyer comes in more informed and likely more committed to buying or leasing a vehicle. MAINTENANCE AND TECHNICIANS Ford is also utilizing virtual reality to help with maintenance upkeep in cars and to assist technicians to repair vehicles, especially newer models that require more and more technological programming to repair. In a partnership with automotive supplier Robert Bosch, Ford will provide training for service technicians at dealerships to work on the new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. This vehicle will include tech that many current technicians might not be trained to work with including a new high-voltage system. Auto repair technicians are starting to need to become computer programmers as well with the amount of software being implemented into vehicles today. However, Ford is working to make auto repair easier and quicker by outfitting their technicians with virtual reality programs that can help them identify problems on a vehicle and repair them quickly. Ford is also implementing them in training programs for technicians. This gives them a chance to see the actual details and understand the components and steps before working on an actual vehicle. Making new Ford technicians even more knowledgeable and experts before even working in the field. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-105.jpeg] IN-VEHICLE FEATURES & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES While much of the augmented and virtual reality that Ford is introducing is relatively new, the automaker has been incorporating this very same technology into their vehicles little by little. Their vehicles include features that many automakers already implement such as rearview cameras to assist with parking, blindspot detection, and more. Eventually, the company hopes to introduce augmented reality to create a windshield dashboard that would help enhance the driving experience. However, Ford is also hoping to get their foot in the game with autonomous vehicles. The automakers have invested $1 billion in a startup tech company, Argo AI to help make autonomous vehicles a reality. Although the company hoped to have an autonomous vehicle service on the road by 2020, they have recently pushed that deadline to 2022. But the company has been testing pilot vehicles and programs in the meantime. As the demand for autonomous vehicles rises, the race to get their vehicles on the road relies solely on perfecting the technology. The most important feature when considering autonomous vehicles using augmentative and virtual reality is safety. A feature that Ford takes seriously and has prioritized in creating their cars. Ford might not be the only major automaker embracing augmentative and virtual reality, but they are certainly using the technology in innovative ways. Their use of the technology will likely have a strong influence in the automotive industry to utilize augmentative and virtual reality more regularly. Many dealerships already are following suit by using virtual showrooms that allow consumers to view more features of a vehicle from the comfort of their own homes. Companies such as RelayCars are helping consumers to view and purchase Ford vehicles before they even go physically to a dealership. A virtual reality showroom can help get consumers to learn more about a vehicle and helps them to make a decision quicker. Augmentative and virtual reality is changing the automotive industry for the better. It allows for more safety features in vehicles and also helps to keep the creating and manufacturing process of vehicles safer as well. Even repair technicians such as Ford’s are utilizing the technology to make their work safer and more streamlined. Although augmentative and virtual reality is still in the early stages of working with automakers, we are likely to see more innovation and influence of this tech in the field for years to come.
How Toyota is Using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
Toyota has long been one of the leaders in the mainstream auto industry, providing models that appeal to a variety of audiences. Now, they’re applying the newest technological trends to enhance their hybrid models like never before. By integrating the car’s computer interface and the driver’s mobile device, Toyota is bridging the gap between human and machine. IMPROVING ONLINE SHOPPING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY In general, car owners are holding on to their vehicles longer than in previous years. The average car buyer spends more than 6 years between purchases, which would seemingly be bad news for car brands. Toyota has discovered a way to entice buyers in an increasingly narrow market. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, online car shopping rose to more than 75% in 2020. In response to this uptick, Toyota has revamped their showroom experience to better accommodate home-based consumers. To improve the process even more, this AR tool will be accessible without needing to download an app or program. Users can instead just click on a social media post or banner ad to experience an immersive demo from their desktop or mobile device. This interactive digital media tool has the potential to change the way car brands advertise to their audience base, as well as the online shopping behaviors of their consumers. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-91.jpeg] 3D DIGITAL MODELING Since COVID-19 has reduced operations for car lots and dealerships, it’s difficult for a potential buyer to get an accurate walk around of their prospective purchase. Augmented reality imaging technology gives mainstream consumers the ability to see the exterior of a virtual floor model in unprecedented detail, without setting foot in a physical showroom. The majority of car shoppers prefer to conduct at least part of the process digitally in 2020, and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions drive more and more consumers online. AR provides each customer with an immersive virtual showroom and realistic test-drive experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-92.jpeg] ENHANCED PERSONALIZATION AND CUSTOMIZATION Traditionally, prospective auto buyers were shoe-horned into whatever generic, canned shopping experience the dealer was able to provide. With AR/VR displays and mobile networking capabilities, every user is able to personalize their shopping experience to their liking. If someone is shopping for a rugged off-roading vehicle they’ll probably be looking for different features than a soccer mom who wants a practical minivan with a low carbon footprint. From the color of the interior to the paint job and horsepower, Toyota is virtualizing the entire car-buying experience. Buyers with different lifestyles and goals are also typically willing to spend more or less time to handle the process. Someone looking for a niche, lifelong investment might require a higher level of customisation compared to someone looking for a baseline commuter car. Using VR/AR and AI to build the customer’s experience as it learns about their behaviors and preferences allows car brands to remove the fluff from their marketing and selling strategies. MIXING REALITY WITH THE DIGITAL WORLD Toyota is one of the leading car brands that is partnering with growing tech innovators to expand their market reach. Using devices created by both Unity and Microsoft, Toyota is providing customers across their diverse customer base with more connectivity and personalization power than ever before. 360-degree imagery, motion-responsive mobile tech, and external noise cancellation are just a few features that make it possible to really imagine yourself in the media you’re consuming. Buyers can virtually park the car in their garage or in front of their house to see how it will look in real life. They can also rotate, zoom, and manipulate the digital 3D image for an even more detailed look. To tap into multiple facets of the augmented reality and virtual reality markets, Toyota is targeting wearable and smartphone users. This means that shoppers have even more options when it comes to interacting with Toyota’s ecommerce platforms, customer service teams, and even social media advertisements. CUTTING COSTS FOR DEALERS Augmented reality and virtual reality are not only improving the ownership experience better for buyers and manufacturers, but dealers are also saving money with this innovative tech development. By extending the browsing, testing, and auto financing processes to the consumer’s home, sellers can reduce operating costs by eliminating the need to keep a vast physical inventory or an in-person showroom. Dealers and sellers can also cut costs by trimming their employee training programs. Replacing in-person labs and classes with virtual reality-hosted training sessions will reduce the amount of money companies need to spend on staffing and operational expenses. A single teacher can conduct a presentation for countless students simultaneously, whereas capacity is limited in a physical classroom. Also, everything from the furniture to the electricity that runs a dealership showroom comes out of the parent company’s budget. Using VR/AR to build a digital environment allows dealers to create all of these elements virtually – at no additional cost. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-93.jpeg] IMPROVING SERVICE AND SUPPORT The automobile sphere is a dynamic industry that’s always changing the way it designs, produces, and distributes new products. Stiff competition and a driving need for tech innovation places a high level of stress on the creators behind the scenes. Toyota is connecting remote and onsite employees more seamlessly than ever before by using augmented reality and virtual reality to improve collaboration. Building a responsive virtual environment for employees to interact digitally has been proven to: * Reduce wait times between approvals * Speed up the project timeline with faster responses between team members * Improve office morale as more and more teams move offsite * Boost communication efforts between remote and in-house staff On part of the consumer, new owners will be able to use AR-integrated apps to learn more about the vehicle. The app accomplishes this by overlaying digital renders of the car’s physical attributes over a virtual 3D model of the vehicle. Buyers can improve their knowledge of their new purchase, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the functionality of their new hybrid or alternative fuel system. This is a great way to understand which parts of the car’s system are running at different points during the drive. Additionally, drivers can view information about the car’s “hotspots” on demand – or key areas like the motor, battery and fuel tank. Having better access to critical performance information makes it easier for owners to meet scheduled maintenance and repair guidelines. Identifying the car’s real-time functions using AR can also prevent minor problems from progressing by going unnoticed. This integration has also improved support rates and customer satisfaction. Reducing lag time between team members gives each employee the ability to address more client requests. ENGAGING MARKETING AND ONLINE PRESENCE DEVELOPMENT The world is moving online, and the automotive market is not exempt from this major market shift. The majority of the country spends at least a few hours per day on social media, which has created a lucrative mass audience for car companies to direct their advertising efforts. Digital media is exponentially less expensive compared to traditional or print marketing methods. Social media cuts costs even more by giving the audience the power to join the conversation. Users that share or comment on your content are just adding more power and visibility to your posts. Not only have car companies embraced digital marketing in recent years, but brands like Toyota are taking that a step further by integrating AR/VR experiences into their social media feeds and advertisements. Car companies have also incorporated augmented reality and virtual reality tech into their marketing directives. Examples include fully immersive situation-driven simulations and test sessions in the form of interactive games. Using AR/VR tech to build brand awareness combines a multitude of sales tactics into one affordable marketing tool. LASER-FOCUSED CONSUMER TARGETING Pay-per-click advertising saw a significant uptick during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, and marketers continue to use this tool to connect with social media users within their target audience. Virtual reality and augmented reality take that function step further by enhancing the immersive quality of every post and ad. Using vision tracking and face-scanning apps, brands can use interactive elements like filters and on-screen masks to entice consumers. Additionally, consumers get more out of ads that are created with them in mind. Ads that incorporate augmented or virtual reality improve the user experience, and draws in customers with a higher likelihood of spending more than 1.5 seconds on the page. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-94.jpeg] STAYING COMPETITIVE IN A CHANGING INDUSTRY The world of consumer products is shifting everyday, and online retailers are dominating nearly every sector of the commercial market. No matter the audience or target demographic, car brands are facing the same challenges as a variety of other industries – incorporating technology is a necessity if you want to stay competitive. Augmented reality and virtual reality systems have already made a significant impact within the gaming, homebuying, and photography industries. Plus, online shopping gives buyers around the world the ability to purchase products from anywhere and not just their local dealerships. Auto manufacturers, dealers, and sellers have applied this growing trend to have an edge against the dozens of other brands around the world. In fact, using AR/VR as a marketing tool has been proven to increase sales for top brands like BMW and TopShop. This technology is only becoming more present in our daily lives, and more consumers will be seeking this is a media staple in the online shopping experience. Like usual, the automotive industry is paving the way in this growing but influential digital realm. Combining augmented/virtual elements with actual reality is giving consumers a way to immerse themselves into the content they’re consuming about this major, milestone purchase. Cars are synonymous with lifestyle in the current marketplace, and AR/VR tech is giving auto brands an effective tool to convey their message to an engaged target audience.
Nissan Rogue 2021 Production Starts in Tennessee, U.S.
The long-awaited Nissan Rogue 2021 is coming to America. Production has already kicked off at the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee. This high-tech vehicle is being produced in an award-winning facility. While the factory itself is quite advanced, this production is being led with some of the most advanced technologies and approaches possible for automobile production lines. The Nissan Rogue contains a lot of technology itself, but this time its development process will be using cutting-edge virtual technology and assistive robots are going to be used in its development. NEW CHALLENGES FROM THE NEW NORMAL COVID19 has placed new requirements on many companies across all industries. This was no different for the Nissan factory, after months of not being able to work in the factory at all, returning to work recently presented new challenges to the way staff could operate. The staff didn’t stop working while the factory was shut either. Instead, they helped to make thousands of face masks to protect the local community, a tribute to the brand and its commitment. The factory was opened up slowly in stages, allowing for adjustments to be made and new measures introduced. COVID19 meant it was in for more things such as plexiglass barriers, social distancing areas, and of course the beloved masks. However, for the workers at the factory, masks and other safety gear such as goggles are often a normal part of working on the production line. Even areas for relaxation had to be changed drastically since the start of the pandemic. Social distancing is maintained, and barriers are used in areas where masks are removed for eating or drinking. In addition to all of this, there is the necessity to sterilize the factory. And so, frequently throughout the day (approximately every two hours) production needs to be halted and all tools and areas that are touched frequently need to be fully sterilized. Despite all of this, the staff is upbeat about the new production of the Nissan Rogue coming to their facility. WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE 2021 NISSAN ROGUE PRODUCTION? Over the years we have seen increased automation of production lines across many industries. With virtual reality, augmented reality, and 5G, the possibilities of both automation and human collaboration are increasing. Robots are even collaborating, and able to adjust to scenarios as required. David Johnson, vice president, Production Engineering and New Model Quality for Nissan North America stated “Not only have we improved the way we build the new Rogue, the team is using this new technology to build all the vehicles in our U.S. plants with better efficiency and quality for customers,” In this sense, two key aspects were mentioned in a recent press release: 1. Virtual Reality – While this has been used for a while for design and training purposes, this time the use was taken a step further. Virtual reality with realistic properties was used to not only design aspects of the new cars but to test them as well. Potential issues were refined and fixed before production even began. This was due to virtual collaboration and reviews as a part of the development. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-70.jpeg] 1. Cobots – This launch sees the largest number of collaborative robots used on the production line than on any other car created by Nissan. The robots are generally used to perform repetitive tasks to improve quality and safety. However, they also mean that existing staff are free to be reassigned to areas that require a more human touch. With these two areas combined, considerable amounts are saved in time and costs. By working out issues virtually, it saves wasted resources, delays, and possible vehicle issues down the line. The Cobots also help to increase safety, reduce chances of RSIs (repetitive strain injuries), and speed up production. This time, due to restrictions and the staggered return to production after COVID19, most of the training was also done remotely. HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING AUTOMOBILE PRODUCTION LINES Virtual reality is steadily changing how we can experience digital objects and scenarios. In the automobile industry, there have been some great usage cases for these virtual approaches: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-71.jpeg] * Factory Planning – The perfect factory floor layout can be planned in virtual reality. Not only can it be planned, but it can also be tested and refined * Car Design & Testing – Cars are being both effectively designed and tested in a virtual environment. As things are to scale and interactions realistic, often faults can be found and fixed before production or real-world models begin * Reviewing & Collaboration – Although many issues are detected during virtual design, some issues can occur when in the production stage. When this happens, the best minds can instantly collaborate on the issues and resolve them quickly via virtual meetings or redesigning in a virtual space. * Assembly Training – The best minds of the project can create standardized training for existing and new employees. This helps onboard them faster and develop the skills needed for production. * Maintenance Training – Whether maintenance of vehicles or factory machinery, virtual reality is perfect for this. * Increased Safety – As people can train as much as they need virtually, it reduces the risk of untrained staff being on production lines. Virtual mistakes don’t cost the company and don’t injure staff. * Remote Assistance – If there is an emergency or a specific skill is needed, instead of calling a specialist in, they can often offer remote assistance via augmented or virtual reality devices. * Remote Workers – Once 5G is rolled out across all areas, the possibilities of ‘live’ remote actions open up. This means that a specialist could work remotely in a virtual environment, and a robot or machine on the other end performs their actions. It may not be cost-effective for some aspects, but for dangerous environments or specialist skill sets, it could be extremely useful. In some places, augmented reality is also being used to detect anomalies, track stock, and more. The possible uses are continuing to be discovered. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-72.jpeg] WHAT IS THE NEW 2021 NISSAN ROGUE GOING TO OFFER? The Rogue is not new to the market as such, but this next model is packed with some exciting features. It is one of the best sellers for Nissan and in fact, this Smyrna assembly plant is getting another five to produce. A testament to their abilities and quality product approaches. Of course, as a best seller, it goes without saying that the 2021 Rogue needed to exceed 2020 expectations. So, here we take a look at what the new Rogue will offer: Engine-wise, buyers can expect a decent drive from the 181-horsepower engine. It is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder design that is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission. This engine is more powerful than the last model and puts out 181 lb-ft of torque. There is also a choice between front-wheel or intelligent all-wheel drive. To keep buyers interested, the exterior has also had a redesign with some sleek features, focusing more on the family market by incorporating more in-car entertainment, safety -features, and comfort. Two-tone color options will also be available. According to NissanUSA, the car comes with 3 high-tech displays, a digital dashboard, and even a heads-up display that can project useful information onto the windshield, such as sat-nav directions. The Standard Safety Shield 360 is a major selling point of the vehicle. It is an advanced collection of driver’s assist and other safety features to both make driving a pleasure and the vehicle considerably safer. Safety Shield 360 includes: * Blind-spot warnings * Lane departure warnings * High beam assistance * Reversing automated braking * Rear alert for crossing traffic or pedestrians * Automated emergency braking that includes pedestrian detection NissanUSA also states that the intelligent all-wheel-drive system is advanced enough to tackle the trickiest of driving surfaces. It can adjust as required to allow safer driving on gravel, dirt, wet surfaces, and even snow and ice. The Nissan Rogue also comes with all of these included, even from the basic trim: * Keyless entry * Push-button startup * Hands-free and text messaging assistant * Apple CarPlay * Android Auto * Satellite radio * Heated front seats * Heated steering wheel * Heated mirrors * Automatic headlamps * Tire pressure monitoring (plus Easy Fill Tire Alert for correct pressures) * Two-tone exterior paint This is quite an inclusive range of technologies to be included at all trim levels. TO WRAP UP The Nissan Rogue is both full of the latest technology and also using the latest approaches in its development and production. Nissan is not the first company to take on virtual reality approaches in the automobile industry and is unlikely to be the last. Virtual reality, assistive robots, and modern work approaches via 5G is changing how we live and work.
Check Out the Latest Audis Inside and Out with Audi Virtual Reality
The way that people experience cars and the world in general, has been changing. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality are adding new ways of interacting with and experiencing the world around us. The German car manufacturer Audi saw the potential for how these technologies could change the automotive industry. It isn’t just that they can be used in cars for entertainment, but that these virtual elements are being used to enhance almost every step of the process. This is because these technologies can be used for almost everything, from training to the showroom. Numerous manufacturers are already using virtual reality as a way to train staff safely, allowing them to practice virtually before working on machinery or the production line. Audi has been using some level of virtual reality in its dealerships since 2016. Part of the experience has required staff adjustment, moving away from real world cars, and yet enabling sales through virtual experiences. Moving towards real-time and interactive visualizations takes dealerships to a new model. A headset can allow visitors to view car models in full detail and full size. However, what’s possible goes far beyond that. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-62.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS IMPACTING AUDI SHOWROOMS Some think that virtual reality could replace real-world showrooms. However, it is unlikely to do that in the near future. Instead, the trend seems to be a combination of remote testing and view at home by potential customers, as well as in-store virtual reality experiences. Most shoppers nowadays will start with online research. Even those in actual stores considering a product will often look for reviews online before buying. The confidence in online shopping has dramatically grown since the early years, to the point that people are willing to buy cars and even houses online. However, for the sellers, the challenge has always been providing an end to end experience. With virtual reality, it is now possible for buyers to research, experience, and even test drive virtually – eventually leading to purchase, sometimes without even seeing the car. That said, it is not the end of showrooms. Many still like to be able to talk to someone, compare products, and get ‘expert’ advice. After all, not everything you read online is a fact. This is where virtual reality is becoming a powerful bridge and tool for salespeople in real-world showrooms. As reported by sytner.com “[Virtual reality] also opens up the possibility for small dealerships – that may only be able to store a small number of Audi new cars”. The use of virtual reality may reduce showroom sizes, but could also significantly increase showroom numbers as setup costs are greatly reduced, possibly allowing for previously unviable areas to get their showrooms. As an example of how this can work, the Audi virtual reality experience allows potential customers to view the full range of cars and options from one location. It isn’t a case of “sorry sir, we don’t have that model in stock” anymore. Instead, all models and upgrades can be stored virtually at every showroom, reducing stock requirements. The Audi system uses stereoscopic 3D rendering and real car construction models to develop its system with Zerolight. The result is virtualized cars that look real, inside and out. Even the inner workings of the engine and mechanisms are included in the experience. Customers can see more of the car than was possible with real-world demonstrations. As cars in the virtual world include every detail of their real-world counterparts but aren’t solid like their brothers and sisters, customers can see inside engines, doors, and more. While for many it isn’t a major selling point, it certainly is interesting to be able to view absolutely any aspect of a car. For those with experience and mechanical knowledge, this x-ray style insight into the mechanics behind the car’s features can also help to inspire confidence and increase interest. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-63.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING CAR SALES Audi has developed its virtual reality application and for most areas, this will run on the Oculus Rift headset. This allows for advanced car models that are realistic and explorable in every way. The graphics, as previously mentioned, are backed by the high-performance technologies of Zerolight. Taking the viewing any part of the vehicle aspect further, it does allow for sales staff to be able to not only show off the car, but also any new technologies that are built into the models being viewed. Instead of only being able to say the door as a new comfort seating system, it is possible for the customer to actually see it and even compare it to other vehicles. Most of the time, however, visitors want to see just a few models they like. While this was often possible from a normal showroom, for sales staff virtual reality expands things further. For example, say that a customer would like to see an Audi RS5. Before virtual reality, the sales staff could show off the RS5 in stock and any possible other models of interest that were in the showroom. With virtual reality as a sales tool, they can now show off the Audi RS5 and any Audi in the entire range that might be of interest to the customer. What’s more, not only can they show every vehicle of interest, but also every possible adjustment. This is because all of the virtualized cars are based on the real development plans of the real cars, carefully adding almost every detail to size and perfectly displayed. This means that should a customer want to see the sports trim, with a few extra add-ons, they can do so almost instantly with a few selections within the virtual reality experience. This is an incredibly powerful tool for selling upgrades, as instead of just hearing about the benefits, customers can visually experience exactly what they are considering buying. Audi is going full-on into incorporating virtual reality with its “Customer Private Lounges” across the region. To date, there are hundreds of dealerships with fully kitted lounges that show off the Audi range virtually. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-64.jpeg] This means that potential buyers can put on a headset in a safe environment to explore any car they choose. It allows them to configure the car as they please, within the available options. As the virtual world is fully immersive, the scale and vehicles in the virtual environment feel extremely realistic and to size. Even the lighting can be changed, so the car can be seen shimmering on a summer’s day, or looking aggressive in twilight lighting. This might seem a strange feature at first, but it is a great way for a buyer to see how the car ‘feels’ at night, particularly from the driving seat perspective. AUDI – A FOCUS ON VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCES Despite all of the above points being great, for Audi, there is a strong desire to provide a real experience to their customers. Sure, being able to show off all of the features of all possible models is a step, but ideally, you want visitors to be inspired. After all, this is intended to be a sales tool, and nothing sells better than an amazing experience. It is for this reason that Audi took things one step further, but creating not only virtual environments to view cars, but also virtual experiences that relate to the cars. This isn’t just related to being in a car, or the environment where the car is set, but with Audi’s history and related experience. Customers can get to feel like they are at the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, even to the extent of experiencing an ‘up close and personal’ pit stop via “special Audi moments”. OTHER WAYS AUDI IS USING VIRTUAL REALITY Audi has embraced extended reality (XR) for business. Extended reality is all forms of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. They are looking at how it can revolutionize the automobile industry. However, Audi isn’t just considering how it can assist with learning, guidance, and virtual meeting. They are also looking to the future, a future where soon we will likely be spending a lot more time in cars where vehicle engagement isn’t required. These extended realities will likely play a big part in keeping people entertained and connected while on the move. 5G is going to make real automation and even remote operation possible. However, with that bandwidth comes the possibility of live streaming games, events, and more to headsets or other virtual devices. This can be anything from making the journey more fun with mixed reality games or characters being added along the route, to being able to watch the game live in full virtual reality while being seated in the driver’s seat returning from work. How cars are seen and how the automotive industry works could be almost unrecognizable in the not too distant future. Assembly line workers could be both trained and able to work remotely with virtual or mixed reality, cars will become autonomous, and sales rooms could shrink and no longer need stock, and that’s if showrooms don’t eventually become entirely virtual … with the test drive vehicle autonomously delivering itself to your door.
Top 10 Most Loved Car Brands
Every year, the data analytics and consumer intelligence company J.D. Power conducts a study to determine the car brands that are the most appealing to consumers. To conduct the 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, J.D. Power analyzed responses from nearly 90,000 owners of new 2020 model year vehicles in the U.S. The study is designed to measure how owners feel about their new vehicle using 37 different attributes. For example, owners were asked to evaluate the feeling they got when accelerating in their new vehicle and the sense of luxury they felt while behind the wheel. These scores were then added together to calculate a total APEAL index score that could range from 1 to 1000. The results of this study revealed that these automotive brands had the highest scores, which makes them the top 10 most loved car brands in 2020: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-50.jpeg] HYUNDAI With 842 points, Hyundai came in at #10 on the list of the most loved car brands of 2020. This includes multiple brands under the Hyundai parent company, including Kia and Genesis. Hyundai may not have topped this list, but as a parent company, it did receive more awards than any other automotive manufacturer. This year, APEAL Awards were given to the Genesis G70, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Stinger, and Kia Telluride. HONDA Soichiro Honda founded Honda in 1949, and over 70 years later, it is still one of the most popular car brands in the United States. There are a number of reasons why consumers love Honda vehicles. The manufacturer has a reputation for producing high-quality, reliable vehicles, which is a quality that consumers will always appreciate. But reliability by itself isn’t enough to secure a spot on this list. Honda edged out the competition by upgrading its design with more sophisticated technology and higher-end materials. This might not be the only year that Honda lands a coveted spot on this list. Another study found that Honda has some of the most loyal consumers of all manufacturers in the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-51.jpeg] NISSAN With 844 points, Nissan tied with two other automotive manufacturers for the #8 spot on this list. This may come as a surprise to automotive industry insiders since the company has seen a decline in sales over the last several years. Similar to Hyundai, Nissan won a number of awards for the brands under its parent company, including the Nissan Armada, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Sentra, and Nissan Versa. Nissan earned a respectable position on the list for this year, but it may climb even higher in the years to come. This is because the manufacturer has announced plans to update the designs of many of their models over the next few years. If consumers respond well to these updates, the automotive manufacturer could soar to the top of next year’s list. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-52.jpeg] MAZDA Mazda’s three-way tie for 8th on this list may seem like a modest accomplishment, but it’s no small feat for this automotive manufacturer. Last year, Mazda was ranked nine spots lower on the list. But this year, consumers responded more positively to 2020 Mazdas, especially the Mazda 3, Mazda 5, and Mazda Miata. J.D. Power isn’t the only company that noticed the shift in consumers’ perception of this automotive brand. The U.S. News & World Report named Mazda the Best Car Brand for 2020. Mazda’s higher APEAL score could be attributed to its high safety score, which is a quality that consumers always look for when purchasing a new vehicle. But the updated interior design, which now includes an upgraded infotainment system, could also have lifted Mazda’s scores this year. KIA The final automotive manufacturer in the three-way tie for 8th place is Kia. Two Kia models, the Stinger and Telluride, helped its parent company, Hyundai, win a number of APEAL awards this year. But even though Kia falls under the Hyundai parent company, this automotive manufacturer has strong enough scores to rank on this list on its own. This year, consumers responded well to a number of different Kia models, including the Cadenza and Forte. Both of these Kia models are designed with stylish exteriors and luxurious interiors complete with UVO infotainment systems. Kia also offers one of the most consumer-friendly warranties in the automotive industry, which could be another reason why it ranked so high on this list. Kia may be tied for 8th place on this list, but it actually placed first in the Initial Quality Study, which is also conducted by J.D. Power. These scores indicate that Kia could continue to climb higher in the years ahead. MINI Scoring an impressive 846 points, Mini secured the #5 spot on this list of the car brands that consumers love the most. As its name suggests, this manufacturer initially offered consumers a smaller, luxurious vehicle with a unique look. But now, Mini models are not so mini anymore. The larger size may not make sense given the manufacturer’s name, but it does seem to be a hit with consumers, who appreciate the additional space offered in the newer models. Mini vehicles are also known for their reliability, speed, and stylish designs. These vehicles may have higher price points than others on the list, but this doesn’t seem to bother consumers, who may be willing to pay more in order to experience these unparalleled vehicles. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-53.jpeg] FORD Perhaps the most recognizable name on this list, Ford ranked #4 on the top 10 most loved car brands of 2020. Some industry experts may be surprised that Ford is not higher on this list, especially because the Ford F-150 consistently ranks as the most popular pick-up truck in the country. Ford may produce the most popular trucks on the market, but it also manufactures other types of vehicles. For example, the Ford Mustang is one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. The Mustang has been around for decades, but it continues to rank high on the list of the best sports cars year after year. The Ford Escape, a sports utility vehicle (SUV), is another popular vehicle produced by this manufacturer. In fact, the Escape even earned an APEAL award this year. Other Ford vehicles, including the mid-size Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, have not been as well-received by consumers. This could explain why Ford was unable to land the top spot on this list despite its successful line of pick-up trucks and SUVs. GMC General Motors Company, or GMC, was ranked #3 by consumers who responded to the J.D. Power 2020 APEAL study. A number of the GMC parent company’s vehicles won awards in this study, including the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Blazer, and GMC Sierra HD. These are some of the many GMC vehicles that appealed to a vast number of consumers this year. GMC may have ranked near the top on this list, but it did not fare so well in another J.D. Power study. It ranked #8 in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which measures the number of problems that owners of new vehicles experience within the 90 days of ownership. Perhaps addressing these issues and improving the overall perceived quality of GMC vehicles could help GMC secure the top spot next year. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-54.jpeg] RAM The runner up on this year’s list is Ram, which scored 871 points in the 2020 APEAL study. Ram scored well in the Initial Quality Study as well, landing the #3 spot on that list. Unlike other manufacturers on the list, Ram solely produces trucks and vans. Despite their limited product line, consumers responded incredibly well to Ram vehicles, showing a deep emotional attachment with their newly purchased 2020 models. Scores were high for Ram vehicles across the board, but one model that scored high enough to earn an APEAL award was the Ram 1500, which is a full-sized pick-up truck with a luxurious interior. Ram’s high ranking may not come as a surprise to many since the company reported the highest sales growth among all automotive manufacturers in the first half of 2019. Studies have shown that Ram consumers are also very loyal. More than half of previous Ram owners who purchased a new vehicle in the last year chose to buy another Ram. Based on these statistics, it’s clear that most consumers are currently more than satisfied with their Ram vehicles. DODGE Dodge scored 872 points, which is enough to secure the top spot on the list of the 2020 car brands that consumers love the most. This isn’t the only top spot that Dodge secured this year—it was also the top-ranked manufacturer in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. This makes Dodge the first domestic automotive manufacturer to secure the top spots in the mass market segments in both lists during the same year. Many Dodge vehicles received positive ratings from consumers this year, but the Dodge Challenger, a muscle car, scored high enough to earn a model-level APEAL award. This vehicle is consistently ranked one of the top sports cars on the market due to its spacious, luxurious interior and powerful V8 engine options, some of which top out over 700 horsepower. Dodge’s reliability, safety, upgraded designs, and speed have helped the manufacturer beat out its competitors and win the top spot on this year’s list. Automotive manufacturers from around the world rely on the results of this study to help them make better business decisions and design vehicles that are more appealing to the modern consumer. For this reason, it is safe to say that these results could impact the way that new models of vehicles are designed and marketed to consumers in the year ahead.