Virtual Reality Technology for the Newbie Gamer
November 8, 2021
Augmented reality might be getting more love in recent months (and years!); with all the talk about tech companies working on augmented reality glasses, this technology has definitely made headlines. Virtual reality, however, isn’t dead! In fact, for many consumers, this technology is the heart of the gaming experience. Virtual reality technology for gamers infuses the otherworldly experience of virtual reality with the action of the game. Virtual reality technology allows gamers to become part of the game. For parents who might be looking at virtual reality technology for their kids perhaps as a holiday or birthday gift, there are a lot of different options for headsets and games on the market. But anyone can enjoy the unique experience of virtual reality gameplay! Ready to get into the game—literally?!?! Here are some of the virtual reality offerings to try as a newbie VR gamer. Virtual Reality Gaming [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Virtual-Reality-Sensitivities.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY SENSITIVITIES Before delving into product and game options, it should be noted that some people (yes, gamers included!) don’t do well with the virtual reality experience. Some may feel disoriented, a bit queasy or have a headache. This experience isn’t the norm for everyone, but some individuals are just a bit more sensitive. This condition is technically called ‘cybersickness,’ and an optometrist interviewed by UNSW Sydney explains that it’s similar to motion sickness. However, while motion sickness—like feeling nauseated while driving or on a boat—happens because of motion, cybersickness, the optometrist explained, does not. Instead the sickness felt using virtual reality is essentially the body being confused. The body knows it’s not moving, yet in the virtual reality world, movement and action are happening. The senses are essentially jumbled, and this is termed ‘sensory conflict.’ UNSW’s article goes on to explain that newer headsets might be less likely to cause cybersickness, although some people could still experience it. Dramamine, the anti-nausea medication that helps with motion sickness, listed ways that gamers or anyone using virtual reality can help prevent and deal with cybersickness. The company recommends always reading instructions and warnings on virtual reality equipment, only using the tech for short periods to help acclimate, to give the body rest between uses and to stop using virtual reality if the user doesn’t feel well (or if the user is sick!). VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSETS Those who are looking at virtual reality headsets might not know what option to choose. Which is best? Virtual reality headsets come in different price points, but this high-tech equipment is not really available cheaply. Gamers (and their parents!), though, might be used to seeing and spending higher prices for the gaming experience. New consoles are priced higher when they are first introduced. While virtual reality isn’t necessarily a new technology, like most tech it is improving and evolving. Some users and gamers absolutely love virtual reality, but, as many gamers know, everyone has a personal preference for the gaming experience. For those interested in testing out the technology, here are a few things to consider: * The budget (sometimes there’s only so much to spend) * Age of user (parents might not want to invest top dollar for a young teen) * The use (is virtual reality being used with a particular console) * Individual interest (for young gamers, interest could fade) For virtual reality headsets, there are several on the market that are great for gaming. Some are on the high-end of price, but others are more budget-friendly. Keep in mind that when using a headset with a particular gaming console compatibility could be an issue (check this first!). Also, some parents when gifting a headset for their gamer might not want to spend a fortune for their first headset. There are many moderately priced options. And some younger players could move on to the next big thing (as kids do). For gamers, here are headset options and their prices: * Oculus Quest 2 (around $299) * HP Reverb G2 ($449) * Valve Index ($1449); PC Gamer recommended this as “the best VR headset for a premium experience on a gaming PC” * HTC Vive Pro ($799) * Oculus Rift (around $399) * HTC Vive Pro ($799) These headsets are recommended for PC gaming (thus why many are on PC Gamer’s list). Software Testing Help breaks down the compatibility for the headsets for buyers who need to know. For example, Oculus Quest requires Android, HTC Vive requires Windows 7, 8 or 10, and Valve Index is for PC. The only console listed that is compatible with a headset is Sony PlayStation VR, and, yes, it’s only compatible with PlayStation 4. Again, buyers need to understand each headset’s compatibility! Virtual Reality Gaming [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/What-are-the-Most-Popular-Virtual-Reality-Games.jpg] WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR VIRTUAL REALITY GAMES? Once buyers have selected their headset (and any necessary controllers and gear!), it’s time to play. For those new to virtual reality gaming, what are some of the best games? With virtual reality gaming, there are so many choices. Gamers might download games via Steam, which is a virtual reality gaming store. Steam lets users choose games via their headset compatibility, so titles could vary depending on the headset. However, Steam also lists its top-selling games. Currently, the 10 most popular titles include: * Pavlov VR * Blade and Sorcery * Beat Saber * The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR * Half-Life: Alyx * BONEWORKS * Into the Radius VR * Legendary Tales * Fallout 4 VR * 3DMark Prices for games via Steam are comparable to the cost of other video games. The top-selling titles range in price from $17.99 (for Fallout 4 VR…it’s on sale!) to $59.99 for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR and Half-Life: Alyx. Virtual Reality Gaming [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/What-About-Sony-PlayStation-VR.jpg] WHAT ABOUT SONY PLAYSTATION VR? For those who own a PlayStation 4, the Sony PlayStation VR headset could be alluring. PlayStation currently offers some bundle downloads via its website for the VR system. And buyers can still find headsets and bundles online. The bundle at some retailers is priced around $500 (these seem to be from online sellers, however). This includes the headset, accessories and some games. Again, for those with a compatible PlayStation, this headset could be a less expensive way to try out the technology. Used options also could be cheaper. AUGMENTED REALITY IS ANOTHER ACCESSIBLE OPTION For some buyers, a virtual reality headset may simply be too expensive. However, there is another way to experience immersive gaming! Augmented reality games are available via many smartphones and tablets. Unlike virtual reality, though, augmented reality games don’t require the gamer to purchase a headset or other equipment. Augmented reality combines the real world with graphic depictions. While virtual reality takes the gaming experience into another realm, augmented reality shows the real environment but includes superimposed graphic overlays. An example of augmented reality gaming is the incredibly popular game Pokemon GO. The camera of the phone shows the real world, and the graphic Pokemon appear within the environment. Download augmented reality games and apps via Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play. Titles may vary depending on the device. However, many titles are available for both Android and Apple devices. Augmented reality games also might not cause the same cybersickness as virtual reality. As graphics appear in the real space, there really isn’t any motion or sensory confusion. However, everybody could have a different experience. Even looking at a computer screen affects some people differently! So how much do augmented reality games cost? Many titles are free! Others might be nominally priced. Games could include the option to make in-app purchases; some users aren’t concerned about this. Others, though, might have children who don’t understand that they are charging their parent’s account. Disable the in-app purchase option via the phone or device for gamers that don’t want the hassle. OTHER WAYS TO EXPERIENCE VIRTUAL REALITY Gaming via virtual reality doesn’t have to mean that consumers must invest in their own headset. There are many places that offer virtual reality gaming experiences. Yes, these will come with a price. However, trying out these experiences also could help gamers better understand if they like the tech…or if they are sensitive to virtual reality. Even museums could offer virtual reality experiences. Check out the local history or art museum to find out if virtual reality is part of any exhibition. Details could be found online. Google’s in on the virtual reality experience, too. Google explains that smartphones can be transformed into virtual reality viewers. The experience is called Google Cardboard. And the phone is attached to a cardboard headset. These cardboard headsets range in price, but many are less than $20. Just be sure to find the viewer that fits the phone screen! While some Google experiences are only compatible with Android, many Google Cardboard apps can be used with both Android and iOS. Like all technology, virtual reality technology changes and evolves. Gamers that are interested in trying out virtual reality to heighten the gaming experience can choose from a variety of headsets and games. Those who are unsure about virtual reality can even try it out via their phone with Google Cardboard. When deciding on a headset, though, gamers might consider the price and the headset’s compatibility. Parents purchasing as a gift might also think about the interest of their teen. With virtual reality, though, gamers become a part of the game…and it’s a unique experience that can transform the gameplay.
VR Marketing Creates Consumer Experiences in a Virtual or Augmented Realm
October 18, 2021
The idea of using a phone to see virtual reality products and images in front of the consumer’s eyes seems fantastical, and years ago this was something that was virtually inconceivable. Tech evolves fast, though. Back in the 90s, virtual reality games were just hitting the arcade, and teens found them to be the coolest. Virtual reality gaming is now an at-home reality, and the headsets are now….affordable! There are augmented reality apps for phones, and companies are using this tech to their advantage, too. VR marketing lets consumers experience products in a virtual or augmented realm. This tech-savvy marketing creates an immersive and interactive experience, keeping the consumer intrigued and engaged. During the pandemic, however, augmented and virtual reality gave companies the best tools to reach consumers when they couldn’t visit stores. Augmented and virtual reality experiences helped recreate the in-person experiences like trying on products or even previewing them in the home. Other VR marketing experiences enabled customers to even check out new car models…from home! THE RISE OF VR MARKETING AND AR MARKETING EXPERIENCES In January 2021, ReseasrchandMarkets.com released a Covid-19 Impact Analysis for the augmented reality and virtual reality markets. The analysis estimates that the virtual reality market will more than triple by 2025—from $6.1 billion in 2020 to $20.9 billion in 2025. In addition, the augmented reality market will see overwhelming growth over five years, soaring from $15.3 billion in 2020 to more than $70 billion by 2025. While these are projections, the figures represent the changing patterns that reverberated when Covid hit the globe. While Covid might have accelerated the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences offered by companies, these offerings were becoming more widespread even before a pandemic threatened to shut down the globe. Businesses in different sectors have been experimenting with augmented reality experiences via online platforms; cosmetics brands and stores have introduced virtual try on augmented reality apps or experiences. Using a phone or tablet camera, the device can be transformed into both a virtual mirror and a virtual makeover studio. For example, Ulta’s GLAMlab lets shoppers click on different hues of eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick to try them on. With just a tap of a finger, the makeup magically appears on the user’s lips and eyes. Looking for a new hair hue? There are augmented reality apps and experiences for that, too! Consumers can even preview different haircuts using augmented reality before they hit the salon! For consumers, these experiences are both fun and a convenience that allows them to see a product before they commit. For businesses, augmented reality marketing experiences like the try-on offerings could help decrease customer returns and increase customer satisfaction. Customers might even make additional purchases if they find a new color or product that they simply can’t resist! VR Marketing in Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/VR-Marketing-in-Tourism.jpg] VR MARKETING IN TOURISM Virtual reality and augmented reality marketing also swept into the tourism industry during Covid. Museums across the globe shutdown, and while some already offered some virtual experiences, others might not have been so prepared. Survival could have required online adjustment and creating experiences that homebound tourists could enjoy via their devices. Museums provided virtual tours. Sitting at home, anyone could take a peek at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They also could view different exhibits at the Louvre. Some museums even offered more one-on-one experiences. Private virtual tours could have been arranged. Online classes also were offered; kids and adults might have been able to participate in a variety of cultural experiences. Outdoor exhibits or cultural sites might have been open, but areas that normally experienced heavy crowds might have closed. During Covid—and even still today—UNESCO offers virtual tours of World Heritage Sites. Experience distant lands and cultural sites from the comfort of home that can be accessed through Google Arts & Culture and/or YouTube. Virtual tours include Mudejar Architecture of Aragon, Spain; Pampulha Modern Ensemble in Brazil; Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape in Spain; Kilimanjaro National Park in the United Republic of Tanzania; Le Canal du Midi in France and several more! The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History even offers its own augmented reality experience for guests. Download the app Skin and Bones to use within the museum’s “Bone Hall.” The app projects details about the skeletons found within the exhibit. The app also can be used remotely for guests who can’t visit the museum; just print out pictures of the exhibits and the app will do the rest! Augmented and Virtual Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality.jpg] AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TO…RELAX After a year and several months of craziness, most Americans are zapped, stressed out and ready for life to go back to normal. Unfortunately, those day spas weren’t always open for business. Or perhaps some consumers just don’t feel comfortable venturing beyond essential errands. Some tech companies have even offered relaxing augmented reality experiences via apps. Need to chill out from home? Gardzen-AR Meditation is augmented reality meditation. The app projects calming images into the room and gives users wonderful relaxing sounds for calming meditation. FishingGO AR turns an area into an aquarium. Users can even get info about the fish. But sitting in a virtual aquarium might be soothing for those who need a mini tropical vacation…at home. Some spas, though, are offering their own augmented or virtual reality experiences to enable guests to immerse into a relaxed state. American Spa reports that several spas use Guided Meditation VR. Guests sit in a massage chair and can escape virtually to the environment of their choice. The spa also includes sensory features to add to the ambiance and experience. For guests in areas that are far removed from tropical paradise, this virtual escape may be a much needed getaway. For half an hour, guests are transported and soothed by the experience. Now, not only can guests just go to the spa for a massage, facial and mani/pedi, but they also can take a break from their daily reality in the tropics. No need for a plane ticket…just wear goggles! VR MARKETING AND AUGMENTED REALITY IN CAR SHOPPING The automobile industry probably wasn’t as prepared to pivot to online as the other industries during Covid. However, the industry was forced to spring into the web to offer online buying (in some areas) and other virtual experiences. But even before the pandemic, some companies were already jumping into augmented and virtual reality to heighten the user experience. Augmented reality has been used to allow customers to virtually interact with cars from their home…or anywhere. While the industry might have offered some virtual reality experiences, too, augmented reality has really been the standout technology because it’s so widely available via phones and other devices. For marketing purposes, augmented reality is used to allow customers to see vehicles up close…and even virtually interact with the models. This technology also has allowed consumers to gain additional information during the research phase of their buying journey. For example, sites like RelayCars allow customers to drop the vehicle into their environment. Customers can walk around the car, look inside at the interior and even swap out the paint hue. While pictures can help customers gain some perspective about the design of the car, photos don’t provide context in other ways. However, augmented reality showcases a model of the vehicle that can even be life-sized. The consumer can choose to drop their dream car anywhere; they can even preview the vehicle in the driveway or see it parked in the garage. VR marketing and augmented reality marketing is a benefit for both consumers and businesses. There isn’t a forced commitment expected from the consumer; swiping on a virtual blush could lead a consumer to a new favorite product. Or they could discover that the hue looks awful. For businesses, technology might help lower returns and dissatisfaction from customers. If they can see a product before they buy it, there is no surprise. They might even stay within the app or experience trying out other products. Augmented and virtual reality also lets individuals experience the unexpected…and perhaps even the once unattainable. The consumer also could visit faraway lands that introduce them to other sites and culture. Augmented and virtual reality opens doors and possibilities. That virtual tour could lead to a real-life tour years later. Even car shopping can be simplified thanks to augmented and virtual reality. The old cliché is that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But for cars, how much information can be gathered from a two-dimensional image? Buyers want to interact; they want to see that vehicle. During Covid, virtual or augmented reality experiences might have been a great resource in previewing and researching different cars. With augmented reality, the vehicle appears in the real environment. Users can change the paint color. They can walk around the car…and look inside. The car comes to life; the user is in control. The augmented reality and virtual reality market is expected to grow dramatically over the next five years. By 2025, the augmented reality experiences that consumers know today might have evolved into something beyond today’s imagination. Will sensory experiences be integrated into augmented reality? Will shopping become a virtual reality experience? Maybe those much anticipated augmented reality glasses will be the norm…and AR will appear before our eyes without an app. The virtual road might be augmented with all types of possibilities for the future!
Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend?
August 16, 2021
Virtual reality isn’t just for gaming but for enterprise use too—this is called Enterprise VR. What is ‘enterprise virtual reality?’ The term enterprise just means that it’s used for business or by businesses. And enterprise VR has been adopted in the business world for employee training and for collaboration or design. Back in 2019, data was already showing that enterprise use for virtual reality was far exceeding its use among consumers. Hypergrid Business reported on a study from VR Intelligence that revealed that enterprise virtual reality use was showing much stronger growth according to vendors in the field; while only 24 percent reported strong growth for consumer use, nearly half (46 percent) reported strong growth for enterprise virtual reality. Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Enterprise-vs.-Consumer.jpg] ENTERPRISE VS. CONSUMER For the consumer, virtual reality might only serve one purpose: gaming. While some consumers might use virtual reality apps for a more unique experience, the technology tends to be popular for gaming experiences. While these games are incredibly immersive, the virtual experience requires a headset. These headsets allow gamers to enter the virtual world, but many headsets come with a rather expensive price tag. Oculus Quest headsets cost a little less than $300. An HTC Vive Cosmos can soar to almost $700. Playstation also offers a virtual reality headset; the headset is usually bundled with other accessories and/or games and may cost more than $500. Even when consumers choose the least expensive virtual reality headset on the market, the experience is still a considerable investment. If the headset is being given to a teen, the concern could be that the trendiness of the tech might not hold interest for very long; after all, technology is constantly changing. ENTERPRISE VIRTUAL REALITY With Enterprise Virtual Reality, though, the price of the headset may be less of an issue especially for businesses that consider it an investment for training or other uses. Businesses may get more use out of the technology, and virtual reality also could help them improve internal processes like new employee training or interviewing. In this way, virtual reality might actually save money for businesses who invest a considerable amount of time for hiring and training. Strivr is a company that creates virtual reality training experiences for businesses; Strivr has been used by companies like Verizon and Fidelity. Strivr’s virtual reality platforms can be tailored to each business’s training needs . For retail customers, experiences could include virtual training sessions that include customer interactions. Virtual reality also could be used to simulate dangerous situations for which employees need to be prepared—like how to handle a robbery. In fact, one of the case studies highlighted on Strivr’s site included the work it did for Verizon; the immersive VR experience prepared employees on armed robberies. In the real world, this experience likely couldn’t be realistically simulated. In the virtual realm, Strivr explained that employees learned how to de-escalate the situation and also learned how to handle ‘snatch and grab’ events, too. Enterprise virtual reality also could be used for other employee training experiences, too. New employees could face difficult customers and learn how to handle confrontation situations without losing their cool. One of the greatest benefits about virtual reality is that it can be re-experienced. Maybe an employee didn’t handle the situation correctly; the manager could discuss other ways of handling the event, and the employee could re-enter the virtual realm and try again. Businesses could build their entire training program around virtual reality if necessary. The use of the technology also could free up other team members. For many companies, managers or other team members are pulled in to help train a new employee. With virtual reality, technology could manage the training. This allows other team members to continue to do their job, stay productive and keep the cost of employee training lower. VIRTUAL REALITY FOR COLLABORATION During Covid, companies used virtual reality for team collaboration. Ford used headsets to enter a virtual realm and critique new car designs. Team members could join the virtual experience from home, and, while executives might have been miles apart, virtual reality allowed collaboration to continue. Even after the pandemic subsides, teams may continue to work from home. Many companies might have realized that allowing employees to work from home helped reduce office costs…and maybe employees were happier. Virtual reality headsets could allow a unique space for meetings and conferences that require everyone to view the same data at once. Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Enterprise-Virtual-Reality.jpg] WHAT INDUSTRIES ARE USING ENTERPRISE VIRTUAL REALITY? Virtual reality can be used for training and collaboration, and many different sectors are embracing this technology. Automotive, healthcare, retail, tourism, real estate, architecture and even gambling industries use virtual reality. HEALTHCARE The healthcare industry has used virtual reality experiences for medical training. Some experiences could provide immersive environments for students. At University of California San Francisco (UCSF), medical students use virtual reality to explore anatomy; the technology lets students “…deconstruct and reconstruct muscles, organs, and bones layer-by-layer.” However, the healthcare industry also could use virtual reality to aid patients. Virtual reality provides a safe realm for those experiencing anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to engage in ‘exposure therapy’ to help overcome their fears. Someone who is afraid of spiders, for example, could enter virtual reality and deal with spiders in a virtual environment. The therapist remains by their side, and the patient could exit the experience at any time. Virtual reality can provide a gentle way to slowly build up a tolerance to fears. RETAIL Retail industries can use virtual reality for employee training or even as a customer experience. IKEA provides a virtual reality experience in the store that allows users to design their dream kitchen. In this virtual realm, users can actually interact with things in the kitchen. They can change colors of different features and create the kitchen they love. Even more amazing? The experience lets users transform themselves into kid-size…yes, you can shrink yourself! This could help parents figure out how their child would see and experience the kitchen and possibly help them find potential dangers, too. TOURISM The tourism industry also has embraced virtual reality. Some museums offer virtual reality experiences to interact with particular exhibits. However, during Covid, many news outlets (including the BBC) reported that virtual reality was providing unique tourism experiences. The BBC reported that Germany released tourism experiences for the Oculus Rift and a few for Hololens, too. Could virtual reality provide a tourism gateway for the future? Perhaps headsets provide a unique way to experience different parts of the world without investing in a plane ticket, hotels and transportation. Virtual reality could be the budget-friendly travel of the future! REAL ESTATE Real estate agents might have used virtual reality, too. Virtual tours of homes were popular even before the pandemic. However, touring a home during the height of Covid might have meant many restrictions. Virtual tours could provide a way for buyers to preview a home without actually walking through it in person. These tours also could have helped buyers narrow down their choices to homes that really ticked off all the boxes of their ‘must-have’ list. ARCHITECTS For architects, virtual reality can provide a unique way to enable clients to not only visualize but experience a design concept. Looking at a drawing may require clients to visualize the concept, while stepping into virtual reality actually lets them walk into the concept and potentially understand what they like…and maybe what they don’t like. GAMBLING & CASINOS Online gaming is ideal for virtual reality deployment. While many assume gaming is all about video games that immerse players into the action, virtual reality also can be a great platform for online casinos. Virtual reality can transport players from the screen into a virtual casino. They can play cards, play slot machines or just interact with other players. OTHER INDUSTRIES Virtual reality also has been embraced by many other industries. Spas may use it to create a relaxing escape for clients; these virtual experiences could transport spa guests to a tropical oasis or somewhere serene. Some industries—including automotive—use virtual reality to create virtual showrooms for a heightened user experience. Sites like RelayCars allow users to preview vehicles in a virtual environment with or without a headset. They can switch out the paint hues and look inside at the interior features. IS VIRTUAL REALITY DEAD? Virtual reality is clearly not dead. The technology is widely used across numerous industries for many different reasons. Some industries use virtual reality for employee training or collaboration between teams. Others use virtual reality to create unique experiences for customers, like virtual tours or virtual showrooms. This technology will likely evolve into more detailed and possibly more sensory experiences. Customers could soon begin to experience the smells of a destination or feel certain elements in the immersive environment. Virtual reality is not only alive and well but it will likely experience many different resurrections as its form and functions change, evolve and become more complex.
Using a Virtual Car Modifier
August 11, 2021
Car shopping has become an online experience. More shoppers are comfortable doing their early research online, and, for many, this could save time. Online browsing also is convenient; there are no trips to a dealership. Instead, shoppers can simply visit a website and search info about different models at their convenience…and then make that dealership trip. Kelley Blue Book noted that during Covid online tools helped internet savvy buyers cut down their time at the dealership to a few short hours. But beyond virtual showrooms or slide shows of inventory models, shoppers also may be using a virtual car modifier to build their new vehicles before that dealership visit. What is a virtual car modifier? Here’s what buyers need to know about this cool tool…and how to use it! VIRTUAL CAR MODIFIERS: NO HEADSET REQUIRED Shoppers who don’t own a virtual reality headset, take a deep breath…this tool can be used without entering the actual virtual space. The term virtual is sometimes used loosely to refer to experiences that take place online instead of in-person. Shoppers don’t need to purchase a headset or any special equipment. And these experiences are typically free! Virtual car modifiers can be found on major vehicle manufacturer’s websites. Toyota, General Motors brands, Subaru, Nissan, Honda and probably many others offer ‘build your own’ experiences or car configurator tools. Each model offered by the brand may allow different options for building or configuring a vehicle. Some may let the user select the Powertrain, paint color and any add-ons. Shoppers who are researching different vehicles might check out these experiences and look at the different options. In addition, some luxury auto brands might offer buyers a completely customizable car experience. Maybe shoppers can choose or customize every detail of their car and add unique features. Rolls Royce offers Starlight Headlining, which allows buyers to customize a celestial design on the roof created with fiber-optic lighting. Virtual Car Modifier Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Virtual-Car-Modifier-Showroom.jpg] VIRTUAL CAR MODIFIER SHOWROOM Those looking for a new car and using online tools to research their options also can use a virtual car modifier showroom. This is a tool that is fully interactive. While configurator or ‘build your own’ tools might show a photo of the car, the virtual showroom lets users explore the car virtually. So how does this work? RelayCars provides an online virtual showroom that allows users to interact with the car in unique ways. Using RelayCars, users will be presented with options of the site’s vehicle inventory. Visitors choose the vehicle they want to explore and also select the trim and year, too. The visitor will then be free to explore their vehicle in the virtual showroom. No special equipment is required to view the vehicles, although RelayCars does recommend a high-speed internet connection for the best viewing experience. In the showroom, visitors can use their mouse or their fingers (if accessing the site on a tablet or phone) to view the car from different angles. Visitors also can see inside the vehicle and navigate to view different aspects of the interior, too. For every vehicle model, users can select different paint hues (depending on which paint options are offered for that particular model). This option can help find the perfect shade for a new car! WHY SHOPPERS SHOULD USE A VIRTUAL CAR MODIFIER So what’s beneficial about a virtual car modifier? Online tools like virtual car modifiers can help create a more relaxed shopping experience. Car shopping has evolved greatly through the years, and the pandemic forced the industry to, hopefully, create more online-friendly shopping experiences. While not all shoppers want to buy a car online, for some this is now a viable option. Shoppers might use online tools to decrease the time they have to spend at a dealership. Virtual car modifiers and virtual showrooms both allow shoppers to explore their options without leaving home. With a car modifier, shoppers can virtually build their car. They can then save this data or maybe even print it out to take to the dealership. Car configurers might not always show the finished car in picture form but they will let shoppers build their own vehicle. Virtual showrooms also can be useful for shoppers to explore and maybe even compare different vehicle options. For example, RelayCars can be opened in two different web browser pages and the user can choose to preview a different vehicle on each page. In this way they may be able to compare and contrast different models. Even shoppers who aren’t serious in their hunt quite yet can take advantage of virtual showrooms. These tools can be fun to use to just explore different models and see all the options available. Looking at different brands and the models they offer can be a great way to gain more information about the choices available. After viewing different models and checking out their different features, shoppers can then start researching prices of their favorite models. For shoppers who love a particular model, online configurators also might let them tweak different options to fit their budget. This might mean removing leather upgrades or other features that were optional. Online tools provide power to the buyer. And prior to the digital revolution—and maybe even the pandemic—these tools were not always available. Buying a car once meant spending hours at a dealership or even traveling to multiple dealerships to find the best price or the right car. Even the hunt for a vehicle can be narrowed down on dealership websites. Site visitors can search for particular models or see if older models are in stock. Pre-owned inventory also could be viewable online. And customer service reps can usually be messaged on the website, too. Navigating Online For Digital Shy Consumers [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Navigating-Online-For-Digital-Shy-Consumers.jpg] NAVIGATING ONLINE FOR DIGITAL SHY CONSUMERS Some car shoppers might not be completely comfortable searching online or navigating the virtual tools. Not everyone loves technology, and some may be intimidated by tech tools and online resources. The good news, though, is that car brands make their configurator tools extremely easy to navigate. The tools tend to walk the customer through the experience. RelayCars also is incredibly easy to navigate. All users have to do is select the car they want to view. In the showroom, visitors can either explore using their fingertips or the computer mouse. The showroom also includes options to view the interior or change the vehicle’s color. There are no apps to download. For digital shy consumers, taking advantage of online customer service reps also might be a good idea. While they may be there for sales questions, they also could help answer any tech questions, too. It never hurts to ask! BUYING ONLINE Buying a car online was a trend during the pandemic. And dealerships might still offer this as an option to customers. There are other sites online where deals may take place virtually and the car is delivered to the home. Many shoppers, though, might still want to negotiate in person. Or finalize the deal and the details of their vehicle in person, too. Buyers also might want to visit the dealership to sit in the car or experience specific features firsthand. While virtual test drives could still be an option, some buyers might simply want to take that test drive at the physical dealership. The future of car shopping might include savvier virtual car modifier tools. There may be options to configure the car in a virtual realm and maybe shoppers can build the car before their eyes. Perhaps car buying becomes interactive in the virtual sense. Maybe buyers see the car model in front of them and can choose the paint color, interior color and type and other features as well. In the future, online tools for car shoppers could become high tech and completely interactive. Unless, of course, the self-driving car takes over. Then the car buying experience could be something else entirely! Maybe buyers pick out their virtual driver! Maybe buyers choose an avatar design or a unique voice. Plus all the details about their car. Or maybe the car becomes more like a comfortable entertainment area that buyers can customize to fit their needs. For now, though, online tools like virtual showrooms and car modifiers and car configure tools are the interactive answer to simplifying the shopping process. And those who want to take their time to look for and create the perfect car can do so online.
Virtual Reality in Car Dealerships
August 4, 2021
Virtual reality is taking over car dealerships and the car shopping process. But how is this technology used in dealerships? Are salespeople using headsets? Do customers need headsets? Before assuming that car buying has evolved into some futuristic landscape, understand that the term virtual can have many different meanings. However, virtual reality is being integrated into the shopping experience. How is virtual reality used in car dealerships? Here’s a virtual look! VIRTUAL VS. VIRTUAL REALITY The term virtual can be thrown around to describe different experiences. Virtual does not always mean virtual reality. For example, during Covid (and probably even now) car dealerships offered virtual test drives. Customers could go online and schedule a test drive remotely. The dealership would then deliver the car to the customer’s home, and the test drive would take place away from the dealership. The experience was virtual in that customers didn’t have to visit the dealership; the test drive took place remotely. Other virtual test drives could have been posted on YouTube. These were videos of sales professionals from the dealership taking the car for an on-the-road test drive. The experience was virtual, because it was online. Other test drives could be experienced using a phone or tablet; these experiences might have functioned like digital games. These, too, were another type of virtual test drive. Virtual reality also doesn’t always involve a virtual reality headset. Some virtual reality experiences are accessible online and can be enjoyed by anyone with internet access. Users navigate these experiences with their mouse…or maybe they touch the screen. VIRTUAL REALITY IN CAR DEALERSHIPS So how do car dealerships use virtual reality? Some dealerships offer virtual reality showrooms. Others may integrate the technology in other ways. The future might even lead to a virtual reality car dealership. Imagine if virtual reality headsets of glasses become the norm. This could allow for consumers to shop for a car just by wearing a headset or glasses. In the virtual space, perhaps they can choose from several local dealerships. Then the car shopping adventure would begin. Imagine having avatar sales professionals guide you during the experience. Could customers even visit a virtual reality car lot? Drop a car into the room! Walk around it. Peek inside! Anything is possible. Virtual Reality in Car Dealerships [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Virtual-Reality-Modifications-in-Car-Dealerships.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY MODIFICATIONS IN CAR DEALERSHIPS One of the most popular ways that car dealerships might be using virtual reality is via virtual reality showrooms. Before the Covid pandemic, car shopping might have begun online with research (maybe looking at Kelly Blue Book and dealership sites). However, many shoppers would then visit their dealership to see the vehicles in person and to maybe even take a test drive. When the pandemic forced many non-essential businesses to close to help stop the spread of the virus, car dealerships might have been forced to close, too. Virtual experiences then took the place of the in-person experiences. Virtual reality experiences might have been the preferred option, because it could closely replicate the in-person shopping experience. WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Some car dealerships could offer their own virtual reality showrooms, but others might have relied on third-party sites like RelayCars to give customers this experience. Virtual reality showrooms allow cars to be viewed in 3D in a virtual environment. Vroom’s virtual reality showroom is accessible using an HTC Vive headset. But, again, not all virtual reality showrooms require a headset to view inventory. RelayCars’ virtual reality showroom is accessible online via the website. On the website, users will see a hyperlink to enter the virtual showroom. There, users can choose the car they wish to explore in the showroom. Once their preference has been selected, they enter the showroom where they can use the mouse to navigate the immersive experience. In the virtual reality showroom, users can turn the car around to view it from different angles. The showroom also gives users the option to look inside the car to view and explore the interior and all the features. Another showroom option lets users change the paint color of the vehicle. Virtual Reality in Car Dealerships [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Virtual-Reality-for-Car-Repair.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY FOR CAR REPAIR? Some technicians are wearing special glasses to aid them during car repair. These glasses aren’t virtual reality, though. Instead, the glasses provide augmented reality graphics to aid them as they fix and diagnose problems. Mercedes-Benz techs use HoloLens during repairs. The glasses can connect them to a remote team that can help them during complicated repairs. The glasses let them show the remote team what the tech sees. Other dealerships also may use similar types of technology during their repairs. USING VIRTUAL REALITY FOR CAR SHOPPING When browsing the internet for a new car, shoppers may bump into virtual reality experiences like virtual reality showrooms. How can these virtual tools be used during the browsing or research process? VIRTUAL REALITY SAVES TIME! Browsing cars via virtual reality saves time. Shoppers don’t have to jump in their car and travel to a dealership just to look at a few car models. The process can be time-consuming, and virtual browsing can cut down on this time. STRESS-FREE! Using a virtual reality showroom to research vehicle models and explore all the options allows customers to just virtually window shop…stress free! With RelayCars, there are no sales team members who will send messages. Or ask you questions. Check out the Porsche without worry! But if there is a problem with the site, customers also are provided with ways to get in touch. So virtual showrooms are a customer-friendly experience. FIND FAVORITES Eventually, shoppers will find one or two models that are at the top of their list. After viewing them in the virtual showroom, users can then visit dealership sites to find out prices, promotions or other deals. They also can contact the dealership to schedule a test drive to see if it’s really the car they want. VIRTUAL REALITY: THE FUTURE OF CAR SHOPPING? Both virtual and augmented reality can elevate the shopping experience and the user experience, too. Virtual reality car showrooms provide convenient, tech-centric options to shoppers who might just want to stay at home and search for their favorite car. During Covid, virtual options became a bit more mainstream for businesses and even car dealerships. Not all virtual options were virtual reality, but many experiences allowed customers to buy from home. Even test drives were delivered to the customer. After all, a decade ago most people probably didn’t imagine that everyone would own a smartphone and that these handy devices would be used for shopping, watching movies…and everything else. Now the idea of being without a smartphone can spark a fear of missing out (or FOMO), as the phone is the constant connection to the social world…and even the retail world, too. Not all customers will embrace virtual reality or virtual shopping trends. However, Generation Z—the Zoomers—have never known a day without some type of device. They’ve grown up with social media. And, to them, virtual reality isn’t so unreal. As the younger generations move into adulthood, maybe virtual reality will take over. Not just dealerships and the shopping experience…but maybe other experiences, too. We could be living in a virtual reality!
How Virtual Reality Could Transform Major Cities
July 26, 2021
Virtual reality is technology that transports users to a three-dimensional, simulated environment. The technology simulates as many senses as possible to ensure the user is fully immersed in their virtual world. Although this technology is often associated with the world of gaming, it’s been used in a wide range of other industries. In the automotive industry, virtual reality is used to speed up the process of designing and testing new vehicles. Teachers often rely on virtual reality to transport their students to exotic destinations or periods in history. In the healthcare industry, aspiring surgeons are trained in simulated environments powered by virtual reality. This allows them to learn how to perform complex procedures in an environment where mistakes don’t have consequences. There’s no doubt that virtual reality has led to major changes in these industries. But now, experts believe that virtual reality technology has the potential to impact consumers’ daily lives by completely transforming major cities across the country. How? It has to do with the change in the way people work, which was largely brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you should know: How Virtual Reality Could Transform Major Cities [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-the-COVID-19-Pandemic-Impacted-the-Way-People-Work.jpg] HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IMPACTED THE WAY PEOPLE WORK Before you can learn how virtual reality may transform major cities, it’s important to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way in which people work. Many companies were forced to temporarily close their doors due to COVID-19 lockdown or stay-at-home orders. To keep their businesses running, these companies had no other choice but to allow their employees to work from home. This led to a massive shift to remote work in the U.S. workforce. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 20% of the workforce worked from home all or most of the time. But this number increased to about 71% of the workforce in the middle of the pandemic. Remote workers had to overcome some obstacles to get comfortable working from home. Some workers struggled to get their employers to provide the right equipment, whereas others had trouble creating a productive workspace in their home. But eventually, many workers grew to love working remotely. Most people enjoy the flexibility that remote work offers since employers often allow remote workers to work more flexible hours. By working remotely, workers can also avoid long, costly commutes to work. Remote workers also report that they find it easier to balance their work and family responsibilities now that they are working from home. Even those who enjoy working from home recognize that there are some drawbacks to remote work. Two-thirds of people who are currently working from home say that they feel less connected to their co-workers now that they don’t interact with them face-to-face. Over one-third of remote workers are also tired of spending hours on video calls, which have been used to replace face-to-face meetings. However, the benefits of remote work might outweigh the drawbacks for many workers. In fact, over half of the workforce said they would like to continue working from home at least part of the time even after the coronavirus pandemic is over. IS REMOTE WORK HERE TO STAY? The stay-at-home and lockdown orders that forced employers to close their doors were lifted months ago. However, that doesn’t mean that everything has gone back to business as usual. Many employers have chosen to continue allowing employees to work from home even though the restrictions have been lifted. It’s estimated that only one in 10 companies expect to return to the way things were before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of companies have already announced plans to make working from home permanent for some or all of their employees. Twitter, Slack, and Shopify, for example, announced that all employees would be allowed to work from home forever. Other companies, including Google, Intuit, Novartis, and Coinbase will allow employees to choose whether they want to work from home or in the office moving forward. Announcements like these have led many experts to conclude that remote work is here to stay. How Virtual Reality Could Transform Major Cities [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/The-Role-of-Virtual-Reality-in-Making-Remote-Work-Permanent.jpg] THE ROLE OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN MAKING REMOTE WORK PERMANENT Experts believe that virtual reality will play an important role in making remote work permanent. One of the biggest changes that remote workers had to get used to was the shift from in-person meetings to video conference calls. Over 80% of workers who were working from home all or most of the time during the pandemic used video conferencing services such as Zoom to communicate with co-workers. But research has shown that spending countless hours per week on video calls can be exhausting. Researchers have even coined the term “Zoom fatigue” to describe this phenomenon. There are several causes of Zoom fatigue. First, making eye contact for an extended period of time is unnatural and can quickly fatigue the human brain. It’s also unnatural–and exhausting–to stare at an image of yourself for hours during these video calls. Studies have shown that this can cause negative emotional consequences. Studies have also shown that participating in a video call requires more mental energy than participating in an in-person meeting or audio call. This is because nonverbal communication often does not translate well over a video conference call, so attendees must exert more energy to send and receive messages. To successfully switch to a state of permanent remote work, companies must address Zoom fatigue. Some experts believe that the solution to this problem is virtual reality technology. Experts predict that virtual reality technology can be used to simulate face-to-face interactions with co-workers. Instead of hosting video calls, companies can now use virtual reality technology to host virtual meetings. Because virtual reality creates a fully immersive, simulated environment, attendees will feel like they’re actually back in the office in a conference room rather than sitting in front of their computer. Using virtual reality technology in this manner can help remote workers experience the personal interactions with their co-workers that they sorely miss. Because it feels like a real meeting rather than a video call, it can also help remote workers avoid the burnout of Zoom fatigue. Shifting from Zoom video calls to virtual meetings powered by virtual reality technology might be the key to successfully making remote work permanent. How Virtual Reality Could Transform Major Cities [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-A-Remote-Workforce-Could-Change-Major-Cities.jpg] HOW A REMOTE WORKFORCE COULD CHANGE MAJOR CITIES If virtual reality successfully helps companies make the switch to remote work permanent, this could completely transform major cities from coast-to-coast. Fewer employees will be physically present in the workplace if companies allow most of their employees to continue working from home. As a result, companies will have a hard time justifying the need to spend thousands or even millions of dollars on office space per year. Many companies may downsize to smaller offices or decide to get rid of physical office space altogether. Either way, there will be a significant decrease in demand for office space. This could leave millions of square feet of office space vacant in big cities. Some office buildings may need to be torn down and converted into residential buildings. Other office buildings may be converted into multi-use buildings instead. Companies that used to occupy an entire building may decide to sublet some of their space to other employers. Now, office buildings are typically centralized in the downtown districts of major cities. However, this could change. Some experts believe that smaller office buildings will start to appear in other less populated areas now that companies no longer need as much space. These changes could affect where people live, too. Right now, many people live in suburbs on the outer edges of metropolitan areas so they can quickly commute to work. But if these changes occur, there won’t be a need to settle down in the suburbs. Remote work will give people the freedom to live wherever they want regardless of how many miles their home is from their workplace. Because of this, more people might move away from the city to less populated, rural areas. How Virtual Reality Could Transform Major Cities [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/The-Challenges-of-Implementing-Virtual-Reality-in-the-Workplace.jpg] THE CHALLENGES OF IMPLEMENTING VIRTUAL REALITY IN THE WORKPLACE If these predictions are true, using virtual reality to make remote work permanent could have huge implications for big cities across the country. But first, companies will need to overcome a few challenges associated with implementing virtual reality in the workplace. Employers must be willing to invest in virtual reality headsets for their employees. Without these devices, employees won’t be able to attend virtual meetings, so they will be limited to audio or video calls. Employers must also be willing to develop virtual reality platforms where they can host their meetings. This is a significant investment, but one that will pay off in the long run if companies are committed to making remote work permanent. Companies must also be willing to train employees on how to use virtual reality technology. Although it’s not hard to use virtual reality, there may be a learning curve for employees who aren’t very tech-savvy or willing to adapt to new technologies. Employers should also focus on educating employees on the benefits of virtual meetings compared to video conference calls. This way, employees will understand why it’s so important to take advantage of this technology. It’s too early to tell whether these predictions will come true, but it’s safe to say that virtual reality technology will continue to have a major impact on the world in the future.
Car Shopping: Virtual Reality Tips
July 21, 2021
Shopping at the car dealership might be so 20th century! Car shopping virtual reality-style might be the new trend in hunting for a new vehicle. Don’t go shutting the door to the dealership yet, though. Dealership trips can still be part of the process! If shopping for a car via virtual reality sounds a bit futuristic, well, this is the future! Get ready to step into a new reality! Here’s how to go car shopping in virtual reality. Buckle up and take a virtual ride! DOES A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR DEALERSHIP EXIST? While it’s possible to go car shopping using virtual reality, consumers may wonder if car dealerships have gone virtual. Does a virtual car dealership exist? While it might not be possible to put on a virtual reality headset and step into a local car dealership, there are virtual reality car showrooms that allow shoppers to preview and check out a huge inventory of vehicles. Local dealerships could offer their own virtual reality experiences. They also could offer a virtual tour of their own showroom online. Or they might even post a tour of their showroom via YouTube, and this experience also could be ‘virtual’…even if it isn’t virtual reality. Virtual experiences can take the place of the in-person experience, saving the shopper time and allowing them to browse at their leisure. Using a virtual showroom could be one of the first steps in the buying research process for consumers who might not know what type of vehicle they want. Or maybe a virtual showroom could be used to browse through many different vehicles just to virtually window shop. GO VIRTUAL FOR LESS PRESSURE While shoppers can still visit numerous different dealerships in their area or peruse their website, a virtual showroom can be useful for shopping without commitment or pressure. Do buyers love the high pressure of the dealership? Apparently…not so much. Edmonds.com conducted a survey of car buyers, and the results weren’t shocking. Ninety percent of those surveyed don’t want to negotiate, instead they’d rather just have the price set. More than 20 percent would go without sex for an entire month if they didn’t have to deal with all that negotiating! Meanwhile, Edmonds reported that 33 percent would choose that airplane middle seat, a visit to the DMV or handle their taxes instead of dealership negotiations. Millennials, though, disliked those negotiations more than Baby Boomers, according to the survey results. This could be because Boomers have more experience and the process of buying a car is more familiar to them. Or maybe their parents taught them a few tricks? Virtual shopping can help Millennials and all car shoppers delay those negotiations a bit. Instead of being pressured in the dealership, shoppers can take all the time they need trying to find the car that appeals to them. With the internet and virtual experiences, the computer can be shut down and shoppers can come back to the sites later. When researching online, shoppers can make notes about the cars and the features that they want and need. Then they can visit dealership sites to compare prices and prepare for their visit. Knowing what they want before the visit can help save time. However, shoppers still may have to negotiate at the actual dealership! Car Shopping: Virtual Reality Tips [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Navigating-Through-a-Virtual-Car-Showroom.jpg] NAVIGATING THROUGH A VIRTUAL CAR SHOWROOM RelayCars offers a virtual car showroom with a massive inventory of makes and models. Shoppers can visit the online virtual car showroom to explore all the virtual vehicles. When visiting RelayCars’ website, users can enter the virtual showroom on the site’s main page. They will see a form that allows them to select the make, model, year and trim. How far back do the model years run? That depends on the vehicle. When available, RelayCars may offer models as far back as five years…or maybe more. Once the user has selected their vehicle option, they can view it virtually. Using the mouse, the car can be viewed from different angles and turned around to view different vantage points. Users can even look inside the vehicle. RelayCars also lets users view the vehicle in different paint hues, however the paint options are based on the options for the make/model. WHAT ABOUT PRE-OWNED CARS? Many car buyers opt for preowned cars. While RelayCars allows users to look at past model years, the site does not provide images of a specific dealership’s pre-owned inventory. Shoppers that are interested in a specific model year can use RelayCars as a resource for reference purposes. When shoppers are looking at preowned options, they should contact their local dealer for more photos of their inventory. SHOPPERS DON’T NEED A HEADSET! Virtual reality might conjure up images of big bulky headsets and space-age environments. While headsets are used to access virtual environments, RelayCars’ online virtual reality car showroom does not require a headset or any special equipment. The virtual showroom is open 24/7 to anyone with access to the internet. However, a high-speed internet connection is recommended, and the user’s internet speed may affect the loading time of images. Car Shopping: Virtual Reality Tips [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Car-Shopping-in-Virtual-Reality.jpg] HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GO CAR SHOPPING IN VIRTUAL REALITY? Think of RelayCars as online, virtual window shopping. The experience is free, and users can check out virtual cars any time of the day or night. Shopping for a car virtually puts the buyer in the driver’s seat. Visit the virtual showroom when it’s convenient. RelayCars is meant to be a shopping resource. Research the look and design of different cars. Buyers can use the virtual showroom to weed out the cars that they don’t like so much and find the models of the cars that fit their needs. Sometimes shoppers may even discover new models that weren’t on their radar. Since RelayCars lets users decide what they want to view, the virtual experience can be fun and enjoyable. The site also offers many different luxury models; if visitors want to check out a Porsche, they are free to explore those models virtually. AFTER THE VIRTUAL VISIT During their visit to the site, though, car shoppers might want to make a list of the vehicles that they prefer. Then they can visit their local car dealership’s website to find out about any promotions and to research prices. Those who are looking for preowned models might need to search for that particular model year via local dealerships. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR RELAYCARS? Technology is always changing, and RelayCars is constantly adding new inventory to the virtual reality showroom. As new models roll out, these may be available in the virtual showroom. New experiences also may be added in the future. Augmented and virtual reality are part of extended reality. These experiences change how users interact with the world. And both augmented and virtual reality can provide unique car shopping experiences. Augmented reality showrooms allow users to actually place a graphic depiction of a vehicle in their own environment. Augmented reality uses the camera of a phone or tablet to showcase the real environment and overlay graphics within that space. This technology lets users preview cars in the backyard, the garage, the driveway or even on a bed! If the car fits, augmented reality can show it in any space! Check out RelayCars often to find updates about new virtual inventory as well as any new virtual or augmented reality experiences that will be available on the site.
Take a Celebrity-Guided Virtual Reality Cultural Tour with Google Perspectives
July 14, 2021
Google has amped up its augmented reality offerings and now it’s expanding virtual reality experiences, too. Google Perspectives is part of Google Arts & Culture and lets anyone at home, in the office or anywhere with computer access really take celebrity-guided cultural tours and experiences in virtual reality. Who are the tour guides? Lin-Manuel Miranda hosts a tour of New York, Venus Williams guides a tennis experience, Muzi hosts a tour of all the places in South Africa that hold meaning to his life and career, soccer player Danielle Espinoza showcases futbol history in Mexico and more. Each experience features a different perspective. WHO CAN TAKE THE TOURS? Google Perspectives can be viewed via a PC, a phone or tablet. High-speed internet will likely improve the experience, as tour guides showcase up close virtual looks at certain locations. Experiences include videos hosted by the guides, but they also include additional perspectives on specific topics. For example, Dani Espinoza hosts a video looking at different places in Mexico; viewers can see the historic arch formation that is visible every four years when the tide is low. Espinoza’s experience also includes a more detailed look at the history of futbol in Mexico. As with most Google experiences, Perspectives is free to view. And, while Perspectives includes some virtual reality-type visuals during tours, this doesn’t require any special goggles or headsets. Those who want to experience Perspectives via a phone or tablet should download the Google Arts & Culture app. The app is free. There are numerous experiences via Perspectives, and users might want to scroll through the options. Take a Celebrity-Guided Virtual Reality Cultural Tour with Google Perspectives [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Google-Arts.jpg] GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE: THE EXPERIENCES! The Arts & Culture app includes many virtual and augmented reality experiences, and, quite frankly, users can spend hours exploring all the offerings. Users can tour Paris rooftops, museums, create a blob opera and more! “WALK AROUND 5 PARISIAN ROOFTOPS!” The rooftop tours of the City of Lights include the Eiffel Tower, of course! Really, what is a Paris experience without views from atop the Eiffel Tower? Take a virtual walk on the roof of the Paris Opera, the Grand Palais, Philharmonie de Paris, and Saint-Jacques Tower. Users navigate through the rooftop tours via arrow icons. Just use your fingers to walk around and see different views of Paris. THE EASTER ISLAND MOAI Google Arts & Culture also gives users a close-up encounter with Easter Island’s Moai statues. This experience includes different tours of Easter Island. Users can explore Ahu Ura Uranga, Ahu Nau Nau, and the Moai. This isn’t just a picture experience or a slideshow. Users navigate the tours and can get an up-close look at the monuments. Google also provides information about the different sites, too. THE BLOB OPERA While not exactly virtual or augmented reality, the Blob Opera is entertaining nonetheless. Users create their own operatic experience featuring cute blog animations. Blobs drop in front of the user, and the pitch can be changed for each character. Record the masterpiece and send the blobs on tour, too! Take a Celebrity-Guided Virtual Reality Cultural Tour with Google Perspectives [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Museum-Tours.jpg] MUSEUM TOURS Multiple museums offer virtual tours via Google Arts and Culture. Parents who just don’t know what to do on a rainy day and who may be desperately trying to find something cool for kids stuck at home can schedule some virtual visits. Museums that offer virtual tours on the Google app include: ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO Users are given a street view of the museum, and then they can scroll down via the app to tour the museum. What does Google prompt users to find? That would be the painting “American Gothic” by artist Grant Wood. This painting features an elderly couple in front of their home; the husband holds a pitchfork. Unfortunately, other paintings are blurred.However, there also is an option to take a scavenger hunt at the museum…virtually! GUGGENHEIM The virtual tour of Guggenheim (in Bilbao, Spain) lets users explore different works featured in the museum. “The Renowned Orders of the Night” by Anselm Kiefer can be enlarged to see the details up close! Other works also can be viewed up close via the tour. ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS Walk up the staircase to view the Wohl Entrance Hall. The main page for the Royal Academy of Arts tour also includes tours of other galleries and even the Poster Bar. PERGAMONMUSEUM Located in Berlin, the museum tour includes a look at different pieces found in the museum, including the Quran Box, the Temple of Zeus Sosipolis from Magnesia on the Maeander, the Statue of Athena Parthenos and more. SNAP A SELFIE TO FIND ARTWORK One of Google Art & Culture popular features is the Art Selfie tool. The experience requires letting Google access the device camera. Users then snap a selfie to find out what famous artwork best resembles them. Google’s recognition tool will include several results sorted by the match percentage. The results can be really cool, maybe even a little horrifying and sometimes downright odd. It can be fun to find out what artistic masterpiece most resembles each individual, though! Results may differ depending on face angle, too. It can also be fun to make ridiculous faces and see what artwork the distorted selfie might twin. Art Selfie isn’t augmented or virtual reality…at least not completely. Graphic dots will appear over the selfie photo showing that the software is working to find an artful match. AUGMENTED REALITY AND GOOGLE While many experiences in Google Arts & Culture use virtual reality-type features to navigate the tours, Google also offers many augmented reality experiences worth highlighting yet again! To help individuals social distance, for example, Google offers Sodar (which is short for “social distancing radar”). Sodar creates an augmented reality circle around the individual to show where six feet ends in every direction. Floom is one of the newer augmented reality releases from Google. Users aim their camera anywhere in the home, outside or wherever. They can then dig a virtual hole or tunnel (although the swirling looks more like a vortex) to see the other side of the Earth. Users can then explore the new location. Floom lets users angle their vortex, too, so one location can actually show different new places on the flipside. Unfortunately, Google’s augmented reality features only work for those with Google devices…Android! Apple or Windows users are out of luck. Android users can explore all the augmented reality experiences for free. There is no cost to download or access them. AUGMENTED SEARCH RESULTS Anyone with a PC, smartphone or tablet can enjoy Google’s augmented reality search results, though. While there isn’t a comprehensive list of the vehicles, animals and other characters augmented in the Search engine, the mystery is kind of part of the fun. Media reported that famous anime characters like Hello Kitty, Ultraman, Pac-Man and others are part of the augmented world of search. But animals and cars tend to be hit or miss. Users will have to search for animals or other creatures to see if Google offers an augmented option. The augmented reality features can be entertaining. For example, dropping Pac-Man into the user’s environment showcases the anime character chomping away at pellets with a gang of ghosts following him. Hello Kitty says hello in Japanese and converses, too (also in Japanese and English) when dropped in the space, and she can be moved around, too. A shark also can be augmented, and it swims in the room (or wherever). Users can move it around, and the experience features the bubbling sound of its underwater habitat. An augmented reality lion moves its head a bit and roars. Take a Google augmented search scavenger hunt to see what new experiences can be uncovered. GOING VIRTUAL BEYOND GOOGLE? Virtual tours have likely increased in popularity during the year (and beyond) of the pandemic. Families and individuals were stuck at home and many didn’t want to travel…maybe even when mandates were lifted. While museums might have offered virtual tours before Covid, taking tours from home might be a new alternative form of travel. Many individuals are still working from home, and some simply don’t feel entirely comfortable exploring places where crowds congregate. During Covid, some museums offered virtual classes and tours. These experiences might have included a fee. However, the offerings allowed families stuck at home to enjoy cultural experiences from their couch, their office or even while working out on a treadmill. Virtual tours and experiences like those offered via Google also provide glimpses into places where some simply cannot travel. Finances could limit travel and cultural experiences for many families. These tours and ‘perspectives’ help introduce different sites and cultural experiences to a wider audience. Virtual experiences could be a way to create more equitable cultural tourism. While museums and even cultural sites rely on donations and ticket costs to help keep doors open (and employees paid), some could expand virtual offerings or maybe even offer paid virtual tours (perhaps at a more affordable cost). Augmented reality and virtual reality experiences will likely evolve both within Google and other platforms, too. Perhaps augmented reality will drive all search engines in the future. Perspectives could expand to include more narratives, tours and…perspectives. Popularity may drive demand, and the user’s adoption of these experiences could propel them into everyday use…and necessity.
How Virtual Reality is Used for Car Design
July 2, 2021
Virtual reality is a unique technology that transports users to a simulated environment. It creates a fully immersive experience by shutting out the user’s real world, so everything that the user sees, hears, and senses is part of the simulated environment. Many people associate virtual reality technology with the gaming industry. It’s true that virtual reality has been used to develop a wide range of fun games for consumers, but it has also been used in a multitude of ways outside of the gaming industry. In the automotive industry, for example, virtual reality technology has been used to completely revolutionize the process of designing new vehicles. How can automotive manufacturers use virtual reality for car design? What are the benefits of using this technology in this manner? Here’s what you should know: WHAT INSPIRED AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS TO DESIGN CARS WITH VIRTUAL REALITY? A few automotive manufacturers have been experimenting with using virtual reality to design vehicles for the last several years. But the COVID-19 global pandemic was the main factor that led to the widespread adoption of using virtual reality technology in this way. Stay-at-home orders and lockdown restrictions forced many companies, including automotive manufacturers, to temporarily close their offices for months in 2020. Automotive design teams were temporarily unable to work together under the same roof, so they were forced to find new ways to collaborate on future designs. As a result, many automotive manufacturers turned to virtual reality technology to design new vehicles. Even though COVID-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have now been lifted, many automotive manufacturers are still using this technology to simplify the design process. How Virtual Reality is Used for Car Design [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-Are-Cars-Designed-With-Virtual-Reality.jpg] HOW ARE CARS DESIGNED WITH VIRTUAL REALITY? Before learning how virtual reality is used to design new vehicles, it’s important to understand how automotive manufacturers designed vehicles in the past. The design process typically starts out the same regardless of whether or not virtual reality is used. It generally begins with several meetings where designers can share ideas and get feedback. After these meetings are over, the designers will create concept sketches to present to the company’s decision makers. The next steps will vary depending on whether the design team is using virtual reality technology. If the team is not using virtual reality technology, they will create a clay prototype of the design once the concept sketch has been approved by the decision makers. The design will then go through multiple rounds of edits based on the team’s input. Each time the design is revised, the team must create a new clay prototype to reflect the changes. This process continues until the design has been finalized. However, if the team is using virtual reality technology, they will not need to go through the trouble of creating multiple clay prototypes. Instead, the design team can use virtual reality technology to create a virtual model of the vehicle once the concept sketch has been approved. Design teams must use virtual reality technology to create these virtual models. Designers can put on a virtual reality headset to instantly transport to a three-dimensional work environment. They use handheld controls to sketch lines, make edits, and manipulate the design of the vehicle. Using these controllers, they can rotate the model so they can view it from any angle. Designers can even place a virtual driver behind the wheel or step inside the virtual model to view the interior. The design will still go through multiple rounds of edits, but all changes will be made directly to the virtual model rather than a clay prototype. How Virtual Reality is Used for Car Design [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/What-Are-the-Benefits-of-Using-Virtual-Reality-for-Car-Design.jpg] WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING VIRTUAL REALITY FOR CAR DESIGN? There are many benefits to using virtual reality for car design. First, the use of virtual reality can speed up the design process. According to Ford, the process of creating a model or prototype used to take weeks. But using this technology, an experienced designer can create a virtual model in under an hour. In other words, virtual reality technology can help automotive manufacturers quickly finalize new designs so they can start production on new vehicles right away. Virtual reality saves automotive manufacturers money, too. It eliminates the need to create multiple clay prototypes, which are costly and time-consuming to produce. Eliminating this step in the process leads to significant savings for automotive manufacturers. Virtually designing also gives designers the chance to get up close to a life-size model of the vehicle. This makes it easier for designers to spot design issues so they can be addressed earlier on in the process. For example, virtual reality software allows designers to adjust their perspective so they can put themselves in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. This gives them the opportunity to identify and address issues with the driver’s visibility in the early stages of the design process. It doesn’t take long to train designers on how to use this technology, either. Ford’s Design Manager, Michael Smith, has stated that it only takes about eight hours of training. Plus, many younger designers are already being taught how to use this technology in school. These are some of the many reasons why virtual design has become increasingly popular among automotive manufacturers. THE MANY APPLICATIONS OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY The automotive industry uses virtual reality technology outside of the design process, too. Some of its many applications in the automotive industry include: * Employee Training * Market Research * Virtual Showrooms * Virtual Test Drives EMPLOYEE TRAINING Many automotive companies now use virtual reality technology to provide training to manufacturing and maintenance employees. Using this technology gives these employees the chance to get hands-on experience in a simulated environment where mistakes don’t have consequences. Automotive companies also use virtual reality technology to train sales employees. Using this technology helps sales employees get familiar with the different features and selling points on a wide range of vehicles so they are prepared to interact with customers. It can also put sales employees in simulated environments where they learn how to respond to different circumstances that may occur during the sales process. This extensive training could help sales employees improve their sales techniques and close more deals. MARKET RESEARCH Automotive manufacturers often conduct market research by hosting car clinics, which give consumers a chance to review and provide feedback on different models. Manufacturers receive invaluable feedback on what consumers like and don’t like during these car clinics, but they are expensive to host. However, virtual reality technology allows automotive manufacturers to host these clinics at a fraction of the cost. Hosting a virtual car clinic allows a manufacturer to avoid the cost of booking a venue and transporting consumers and vehicles to the event. Eliminating these costs makes conducting market research far more affordable for manufacturers of all sizes. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS Ten years ago, automotive consumers used to visit an average of five dealerships before deciding which vehicle to purchase. But the days of visiting multiple dealerships to learn more about different vehicles are over. Thanks to virtual reality technology, automotive consumers can now step inside virtual showrooms to explore countless vehicles using only their smartphones or computers. A virtual showroom is just like a real showroom, except it exists in a simulated environment created by virtual reality technology. Automotive consumers can still walk around each vehicle, inspect the interior and exterior, and see it from different viewpoints and angles. Consumers can even see what the vehicle looks like in every color option available. This gives consumers the power to conduct extensive research on their options from home, so they only need to visit a dealership once they’re ready to purchase a vehicle. This is one of the reasons why the average consumer now only visits one or two dealerships before making a purchase. How Virtual Reality is Used for Car Design [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Virtual-Test-Drives-1.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Surveys reveal that the vast majority of consumers are open to purchasing a vehicle online. However, one of the main issues that consumers identified with buying a car online is the inability to take a test drive. Fortunately, there is a way to move the car buying process online without forcing consumers to sacrifice the test drive. Many automotive manufacturers now offer consumers the option to take virtual test drives of vehicles they are interested in purchasing. This gives consumers the opportunity to test out different vehicles without ever stepping foot inside a dealership. They can see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel and take the vehicle for a virtual spin from the comfort of their home. Taking a virtual test drive is easy, especially because it doesn’t require the use of a virtual reality headset. Instead, consumers can take advantage of this test drive option using just their smartphone or computer. Using virtual reality in this manner makes it easier for consumers to research and compare different vehicles, narrow down their options, and choose a vehicle that’s right for them. These are some of the many ways in which virtual reality technology is used in the automotive industry. The COVID-19 pandemic may have sparked the widespread adoption of virtual design, but there’s no doubt that this technology is here to stay in the automotive industry.
How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales
June 29, 2021
The automotive industry is known for its willingness to embrace new technologies. Over the last several decades, the industry has used GPS, bluetooth, electromagnetic sensors, on-board diagnostic systems, cruise control, and other technologies to create more advanced vehicles. Many major players in the automotive industry are now turning to another technology in an effort to boost their profits: virtual reality. Virtual reality is not a new technology. In fact, it’s been used in gaming, shopping, and other industries for years. However, it is fairly new to the automotive industry, and many experts believe that it will help automotive companies boost their sales. How are automotive companies using this technology? How will it impact automotive sales? Here’s what you should know: WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Virtual reality is a type of technology that is used to generate a simulated environment with scenes and objects that feel real. The user is completely immersed in this simulated environment and is even able to interact with their virtual surroundings. Because virtual reality is fully immersive, everything the user sees, hears, and experiences is part of the simulated environment. Users typically need a virtual reality headset in order to experience this technology. Some of the most popular virtual reality headsets include the Oculus and HTC Vive. However, sometimes it is possible to experience virtual reality using just a smartphone or computer. Virtual reality is often confused with augmented reality, but these are two very distinct technologies. The main difference is while virtual reality completely immerses the user in their simulated environment, augmented reality combines elements of the digital world with the user’s real world. How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-the-Automotive-Industry-is-Using-Virtual-Reality.jpg] HOW THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY IS USING VIRTUAL REALITY Automotive companies have found a number of different ways to use virtual reality technology. Some of its many applications in the automotive industry include: * Market Research * Automotive Design * Employee Training * Virtual Showrooms * Virtual Test Drives MARKET RESEARCH Before designing new models, automotive manufacturers often conduct market research by hosting car clinics. During these clinics, automotive consumers are asked to provide feedback on the latest models. This gives automotive manufacturers an opportunity to find out what consumers like and don’t like about the newest designs. Hosting a car clinic is not cheap. Manufacturers must book a venue, pay for the consumers to travel to the selected location, and transport vehicles to the area as well. But now, manufacturers are drastically cutting costs by hosting virtual car clinics. At these virtual car clinics, consumers can evaluate countless different makes and models of vehicles using a virtual reality headset. They can explore the interior and exterior just like they would if they were seeing the vehicle in person, but at a fraction of the cost. In fact, using this technology allows manufacturers to solicit feedback on a wider range of vehicles since they are no longer limited by space or budget constraints. Using virtual reality technology in this manner has significantly enhanced the market research process for automotive manufacturers. How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Automotive-Design.jpg] AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN Designing a new vehicle is not easy. Every design may go through dozens of rounds of edits and tests before it is finalized. Every time the design changes, the design team must take the time to create a new clay prototype that reflects the latest revisions. This is why designing a new vehicle is so time-consuming and expensive. But now, automotive manufacturers are streamlining the design process with virtual reality technology. The design may still go through dozens of rounds of edits, but the team doesn’t need to take the time to create new clay prototypes for each round of revisions. Instead, the design team can quickly create a new virtual model. This is far less expensive and much faster than building a new prototype, which allows manufacturers to speed up and save money on the design process. Using virtual models also allows teams to collaborate on a design from thousands of miles away. This brings global design teams together in a way that was not possible before. EMPLOYEE TRAINING Automotive manufacturers are also using virtual reality technology to improve employee training programs. In the past, maintenance and manufacturing workers were trained under the supervision of more experienced employees. Because of the complex nature of the work, new employees often made costly errors even though they were supervised. But now, these employees can receive hands-on training in a simulated environment thanks to virtual reality technology. This gives them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment before they start working on vehicles in the real world. Maintenance and manufacturing workers aren’t the only ones who are being trained in virtual environments. Some automotive companies are also using virtual reality technology to provide training to sales employees. In this virtual environment, sales employees are taught about each model’s different features and selling points. They are also trained on how to interact with customers, guide them through the sales process, and close the deal. This virtual training thoroughly prepares sales employees for the showroom sales floor. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS Before the introduction of virtual reality technology, automotive consumers had to visit multiple dealerships in-person to research different vehicles and narrow down their options. However, it’s no longer necessary for consumers to travel to different dealerships to explore vehicles they are considering purchasing. Now, they can use virtual reality technology to visit a virtual automotive showroom without ever leaving home. Inside this virtual showroom, consumers can explore the interior and exterior of countless vehicles just like they would if they were in a dealership’s showroom. They can see what a vehicle looks like in different colors, from different angles, and even see what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat. This makes it far more convenient for consumers to research and compare vehicles when deciding which one is right for them. It also makes it easier for automotive dealerships to cater to consumers. Because of this technology, consumers can explore a wider range of vehicles, so dealers don’t need to pay the costs of keeping as many on-site. Virtual Test Drives [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Automotive consumers can use virtual reality technology to do more than just explore the interior and exterior of the vehicle. This technology also gives automotive consumers the power to take a virtual test drive without ever stepping foot inside the actual vehicle. Because virtual reality technology creates a fully immersive experience, a virtual test drive feels just like a real test drive. Automotive consumers will still get the chance to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle, but they won’t have to travel to the dealership to get this experience. They can also test drive as many vehicles as they want without spending hours in a dealership’s showroom. Plus, consumers won’t need to invest in a virtual reality headset to take a virtual reality test drive. All they need is a smartphone or computer to hit the virtual road in a car of their choice. Many automotive manufacturers are already using virtual reality technology in this manner to make the car buying journey more convenient for consumers. WHAT CHALLENGES WILL VIRTUAL REALITY PRESENT TO THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY? There are always challenges associated with using new technologies, and virtual reality is no exception. Automotive companies must be willing to invest in virtual reality technology in order to experience its benefits. Even if the upfront costs are steep, using this technology could translate to higher sales, so companies could recoup the money they invested in the long run. It could also be a challenge to get certain segments of consumers to adopt this technology. For example, researchers asked consumers of all ages to rate the usefulness of different information channels at automotive dealerships. Thirty-six percent of younger consumers were able to obtain useful information from an augmented or virtual reality headset provided by a dealer. However, only 6% of Baby Boomers found this information channel useful. This could indicate that older consumers are less likely to adopt new technologies like virtual reality, which could present a challenge to automotive companies targeting this demographic. How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-Will-Virtual-Reality-Impact-Automotive-Sales.jpg] HOW WILL VIRTUAL REALITY IMPACT AUTOMOTIVE SALES? There’s no question that the automotive industry has warmly embraced virtual reality technology. Although utilizing a new technology is always risky, many experts believe that the decision to use virtual reality technology in so many different ways will pay off for the automotive industry. Using virtual reality technology to streamline employee training, the design process, and market research will save automotive companies a significant amount of money. By reducing these operating costs, automotive companies can boost profits or allocate the money toward other areas of importance. Other uses of virtual reality technology, including virtual showrooms and test drives, may have a direct impact on automotive sales. The idea of purchasing a vehicle online is becoming increasingly popular among automotive consumers. In fact, 60% of automotive consumers in the U.S. are at least interested in the concept. These consumers are interested in moving different parts of the sales process online in order to minimize the amount of time they spend at the dealership. By offering virtual showrooms and virtual test drives, automotive companies are giving consumers exactly what they want. Offering these virtual experiences may help automotive companies set themselves apart from their competitors, win new customers, and increase automotive sales.
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