How Will We Interact With Cars in the Future?
February 25, 2021
New technologies have always played a major role in the automotive industry. In fact, the automotive industry’s willingness to embrace new technologies can be traced all the way back to 1913, when the invention of the chain conveyor made it possible for Henry Ford to produce a vehicle for the masses for the first time. A lot has changed in the automotive industry since then. New technologies have transformed the way vehicles are manufactured, designed, powered, and operated. But the technological changes in the automotive industry are far from over. Now, experts believe that technology will start to change the way in which humans interact with their vehicles. Here’s what you should expect in the future: THE CURRENT STATE OF CAR-DRIVER INTERACTIONS In today’s world, drivers typically interact with their vehicles in one of two ways. The first method of interaction is pushing buttons or adjusting mechanical knobs and switches inside the vehicle. For example, if you want to adjust the temperature on your air conditioner, you may need to push a button to turn the heating and cooling system on. Then, you may need to turn the mechanical knob to the right or left to select the desired temperature. You may also need to push a button to tell your vehicle to direct the cool air to the vents aimed at your face. This means you will need to use three different mechanical controls to issue this simple command to your vehicle. Every system within the vehicle must have its own set of mechanical controls, which means there are dozens of buttons, knobs, and switches that are used to control a vehicle. Each switch, button, and knob is marked with a unique symbol or label to help the driver identify what it is used to control. How Will We Interact With Cars in the Future? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image-3.jpeg] The second method of interaction is issuing commands to your vehicle through a touchscreen, which is often built into the vehicle’s center console. You can use a menu to navigate to various pages on the touchscreen. Each of these pages will feature controls for different systems within the vehicle, such as the music, navigational system, phone, and heating and cooling system. All of these systems are controlled directly through the touchscreen, which eliminates the need for dozens of mechanic controls. Most vehicles today are designed with touchscreens rather than mechanical controls. However, many consumers still own older vehicles without touchscreens, which means the only way they can interact with their vehicle is by using mechanical controls. THE FUTURE OF CAR-DRIVER INTERACTIONS There are a number of technologies that could completely change the way drivers interact with their vehicles in the future, including: * Speech Recognition * Gesture Recognition * Biometric Scans * Wearable Connectivity * Vision Artificial Intelligence (AI) * Mind Reading SPEECH RECOGNITION Future vehicles may use speech recognition technology to identify and respond to voice commands. For example, you might be able to use your voice to ask your vehicle to change the radio station or look up directions to a specific address. This is the same technology that supports Siri, Alexa, and other virtual assistants. But rather than speaking to your phone, you may be able to issue voice commands to your vehicle instead. GESTURE RECOGNITION Gesture recognition technology is similar to voice recognition technology. But instead of voice commands, this technology identifies and responds to hand signals and other types of gestures. This technology would allow you to roll down the window, open the sunroof, turn on the windshield wipers, place phone calls, and control the music simply by making different hand gestures. Each command would be associated with a unique hand gesture. Moving your left hand up and down could tell your vehicle to roll down the window, whereas moving it back and forth in front of you could indicate that you want the windshield wipers turned on. How Will We Interact With Cars in the Future? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image-4.jpeg] BIOMETRIC SCANS Drivers may be able to interact with their vehicles in the future using biometric identifiers such as their fingerprints, facial patterns, hand geometry, and irises. For instance, the vehicle may be designed to use facial recognition technology to scan your facial pattern once you sit down in the driver’s seat. The vehicle could use your unique facial pattern to identify you as the driver. Then, the vehicle could automatically make certain adjustments to fit your needs. This might include adjusting the seat to the proper position, turning the air conditioner down to the temperature you prefer, and playing your favorite song. This technology could also be used for other purposes, such as accessing locked vehicles and starting the engine without a key. WEARABLE CONNECTIVITY In the future, vehicles may be designed with technology that allows them to connect to the driver’s Apple Watch, FitBit, or other wearable devices. This would allow your vehicle to closely monitor your vital signs and overall health while you’re behind the wheel. After an accident, this technology might enable the vehicle to quickly assess your injuries to determine whether or not you are in need of emergency medical assistance. VISION ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) Vision AI, which is often referred to as computer vision, may also be included in the design of future vehicles. This type of technology allows a computer to identify and process its surroundings just like a human does. In other words, it gives a computer the power to see the world through a human’s eyes. Some experts believe that this technology could be used to determine whether or not passengers are wearing their seat belts properly. Knowing who is in the vehicle and if they are wearing their seat belt will help the vehicle determine which airbags to deploy in the event of an accident. This technology could also be used to monitor your eye movements to look for signs of fatigue while you are behind the wheel. If your eye movements indicate you are getting drowsy, the vehicle might keep you alert by making your seat vibrate or setting off a loud alarm within the cabin. MIND READING Experts also believe that automotive manufacturers are currently researching how to develop technology that would allow the driver to control their vehicle using only their thoughts. But unlike the other technologies on this list, mind-reading technology may not ever come to fruition. How Will We Interact With Cars in the Future? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image-5.jpeg] WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHANGING THE CAR-DRIVER INTERACTION? Using new technologies to change the car-driver interaction could benefit drivers in many different ways, including: * Allows for a hands-free driving experience. Speech recognition technology would allow you to interact with your vehicle without taking your hands off of the wheel. You could use your voice to issue commands instead of taking your eyes off of the road to search for the right mechanical control. This will ensure you stay focused on the road, which could lead to fewer distracted driving accidents. * Reduce drowsy driving accidents. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents today. In the future, vision AI technology could be used to keep fatigued drivers awake and alert behind the wheel. If successful, vision AI technology could keep the roads safer by reducing the number of drowsy driving accidents. * Sleeker car design. Emerging technologies such as gesture recognition, speech recognition, and vision AI may eliminate the need for mechanical switches, buttons, and knobs inside the vehicle. Getting rid of these mechanical controls would make the interior of the vehicle look sleeker and more sophisticated. * Creates a more personalized driving experience. Future vehicles may use biometric identifiers to verify your identity and automatically adjust to your preferred settings. In other words, this technology would be capable of personalizing the driving experience for every driver, thus making it more enjoyable. * Convenience. Biometric scanning technology could make the entire driving experience more convenient. Being able to access and start your vehicle by scanning your face, iris or fingerprint would eliminate the need for keys. Thanks to this technology, you may never have to worry about scrambling to find your lost car keys again. Using speech or gesture recognition technologies to interact with your vehicle is also far more convenient than searching for the right button to push or switch to flip. Thus, these technologies can create a more positive user experience for the driver. * Accident assistance. In the future, your vehicle might be able to help if you are unable to call for emergency assistance after a car accident. Your vehicle may be capable of detecting when you are injured by connecting to your wearable device to access your vitals. This feature could save countless lives. * Increases fuel economy. Replacing mechanical controls with new technologies that enable car-driver interaction could drastically reduce the weight of the average vehicle. A vehicle’s weight can affect how much fuel it consumes. The less it weighs, the less fuel it will need to operate. Not only will this make the car more energy-efficient, but it will also save you money on gas. These are some of the many reasons why drivers should get excited about technologies that could potentially change the car-driver interaction. WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF CHANGING THE CAR-DRIVER INTERACTION? There’s no doubt that there are benefits to utilizing emerging technologies to change the way drivers interact with their vehicles. However, there are also some drawbacks to changing the car-driver interaction, including: * Drivers must learn new commands. You will need to make an effort to learn how to communicate with your vehicle once these technologies replace mechanical controls and touchscreens. For instance, you may need to learn specific voice commands or hand gestures to ensure you know how to control every system within your vehicle. Failing to learn these commands could leave you unable to interact with your vehicle at all. * Technology must be able to correctly identify commands. Speech recognition and gesture recognition technology may not be advanced enough to easily identify a driver’s command. The technology may struggle to determine the difference between a driver who is attempting to issue a command and a driver who is speaking or making hand gestures for an unrelated reason. Furthermore, the technology may not be able to quickly understand what the driver is saying or gesturing, which may lead to confusion and frustration. * Privacy concerns. Some drivers may not be willing to consent to facial, retina, or fingerprint scans due to concerns over their privacy. They may also fear that someone is listening to their conversations through the use of speech recognition technology. They may not want to provide this personal data to the automotive manufacturer without knowing how it will be protected and where it will be stored. * Noise concerns. Having to use voice commands to interact with your vehicle may not be ideal for some drivers. For instance, if you have a baby sleeping in the backseat, speaking loudly to your vehicle could disturb them. * Difficult to repair. Because these technologies are so new, it may be difficult to find a qualified mechanic to perform repairs in the event that something breaks. The mechanics that are capable of performing these repairs may charge more for their services. These are some of the many challenges that the changes to the way cars and drivers interact could bring. It’s up to automotive manufacturers to either overcome these challenges or ensure that the pros of using the new technologies far outweigh the cons. How Will We Interact With Cars in the Future? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image-6.jpeg] WHAT ARE CONSUMERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS THESE CHANGES? Automotive manufacturers may start to introduce some of these changes in the next few years. In fact, Ford executives predict that over 90% of new vehicles will be equipped with speech recognition technology by 2022. It’s clear that these changes are right around the corner, but it’s not clear how automotive consumers will respond to them. Researchers have conducted several studies designed to measure consumers’ attitudes towards these new technologies. One study found that only 44% of consumers between the ages of 15 and 18 prefer using voice commands over physical inputs to control their devices. These results indicate that young drivers may not want to use their voice to interact with their vehicles. Another study focused specifically on gauging consumers’ attitudes toward gesture recognition technology. The participants were asked to rank various types of advanced interactive features. Gesture recognition technology was ranked last, which means participants ranked all other advanced interaction features higher than this technology. Furthermore, 16% of participants tried gesture recognition technology but quickly abandoned it. However, it’s not clear whether they gave up on the technology because it was too difficult to use or because they didn’t like it once they figured it out. Either way, the results of both of these studies indicate that consumers may not be ready to change the manner in which they interact with their vehicles. There’s no way of knowing whether or not these attitudes will change once consumers are given an opportunity to use the technologies to interact with their vehicles. But one thing is certain: the way consumers drive and communicate with their vehicles will look a lot different in the near future.
Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry
February 24, 2021
The world is growing and expanding at a rapid rate, and the auto industry is especially at a crossroads in regard to corporate diversity and inclusion across leading brands. The expansion of women and diversity, inclusion, and equality in the automotive industry is more important than ever. Not only is the world opening up to include equality as a primary tenet for many corporate brands and entities, but consumers are also starting to demand diversity as a prerequisite. Leadership positions, branding representation, and even opportunity for investment can differ greatly for people of color – particularly women. Auto retailers are striving to change this is a major way, and some brands are leading the way when it comes to trailblazing corporate diversity and inclusion. Read on to learn more about key findings from women at the wheel in regard to diversity, equality, and inclusion in the automotive industry. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Corporate-Bias-in-the-Automotive-Industry.jpg] CORPORATE BIAS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Women make up just half of the general labor force, but only a quarter of the automobile industry is made up of women. Professionals in an industry can dictate the entire culture, discourse, and success of the commercial sphere as a whole. Adding more diversity into the mix is a proven way to maintain a competitive advantage by: * Reducing groupthink * Bringing a wide variety of ideas to the table * Preventing an echo chamber of similar thoughts and practices * Keeping a company fresh and progressive in virtually any industry Eliminating this gender discrepancy can completely revolutionize the automotive sphere as we know it. Giving an equal opportunity to everyone provides a path for the most talented individuals, of any demographic, to enter the doors of top auto brands. More than 90 percent of women believe that corporate bias toward men adds to the lack of diversity in the industry. Men, on the other hand, think that this trend is a result of a shortage of qualified candidates. In the past five years, there has been a major shift in the way automotive professionals think in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the car business. But, women participating in these studies suggest that there is still a lot of catching up to do. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Progressive-Innovation.jpg] PROGRESSIVE INNOVATION, SCALABILITY, AND GROWTH As it stands, auto brands have been overwhelmingly male and are still struggling to attract women to this growing but stigmatized industry. According to Tesla’s recent report on diversity and inclusion, even electric brands are behind the times. Additionally, this discrepancy is a major reason why many women who are currently in the auto industry would change spheres if given the chance to start again. Additionally, almost two-thirds of women in automotive express a lack of diversity and inclusion as the main reason why they don’t want a career in the industry to begin with. This lack of talent inclusion has led to a lack of innovation and growth among many leading brands. In comparison, brands that show a value of diversity and inclusion typically offer better: * Work/life balance * Promotion opportunities * Growth potential * Perks and benefits Along with that, those who work in more equitable organizations can experience a faster path toward creative development, innovation, and overall scalability as a whole. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Diversity-and-Employee-Inclusivity-in-Automotive.jpg] DIVERSITY AND EMPLOYEE INCLUSIVITY IN AUTOMOTIVE Changing up the internal structure of an organization doesn’t just affect the people who work there. Customers and potential clients can carry a heavy opinion of inequitable brands, and this can affect those brands’ bottom lines in a big way. Inclusion and diversity in automotive workplaces is not a “benefit” or “perk,” but rather a fundamental tenet upon which an entire company is built and organized. Additionally, there are multiple strata used to explain each level, and how valuable these pillars are for new applicants and current employees. Corporate social responsibility is a major buzzword in 2021, and the impact of systemic racism and discrimination in recent events has brought this issue to the attention of mainstream consumers. From civil rights to social justice to brand recognition, exclusivity poses a risk to the integrity and growth of both large and established brands. More than 86% of the youngest members of the employment pool cite a clear commitment to workplace diversity would impact their decision to work with a certain company – or apply for certain roles within that organization. While at least a quarter of the men who participated in this recent report didn’t cite inclusivity as an important aspect of the modern workplace, the majority understood the value of diversity in regard to decision-making and growth over time. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Customer-Perspectives-Regarding-Automotive-Diversity.jpg] CUSTOMER PERSPECTIVES REGARDING AUTOMOTIVE DIVERSITY Inclusivity in the automotive industry isn’t just directed at attracting, maintaining, and supporting current workers and staff within top car brands. This critical piece of any company’s mission can also impact the way consumers view their brand, services, and products. Simply put, the world is valuing equality more than ever before – and this is playing a huge role in customer decision making. Whether they’re shopping for an alternative energy vehicle, fully electric, or a standard gas-powered 4X4, customers are more inclined to shop from brands that align with their own personal values. A recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that diverse companies are 45% more likely to increase their market share on a year over year basis. This metric covers a variety of factors, including: * Two-dimensional diversity: Ex. Gender identity and work experience * Inherent traits: Gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. * Acquired traits: Experience, innovation, professional status, etc. Diversity stems from a wide range of criteria that, when applied congruently, can create a completely new and innovative corporate culture – and customers notice these changes more than brands might expect. Across virtually every commercial industry, there is a positive relationship between diversity and customer retention. Promoting inclusivity is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost consumer engagement and sales conversions. LEADERSHIP DECISIONS DEFINE CORPORATE CULTURE The people who run a company have a lot of power over the growth and future of that company’s culture, customer satisfaction rate, and overall reputation. As a result, prioritizing a diverse workforce can reflect positively on that company’s leadership – as well as the organization as a whole. Everything from the dress code to promotional benefits to employee turnover is impacted by the integrity of a company’s business culture. These facets of any organization are also incredibly influenced by who works there. Including more women and people of color into the leadership tiers of these top automotive brands is the first step toward recreating a previously exclusive corporate sphere. Leadership defines the corporate structure, and the workforce responds to those pillars and standards in kind. Opening up the manufacturing, design, and even merchandising facets of the auto industry to everyone is an essential component that is driving consumer interest, talent retention, and innovation over time. As with any expanding industry, it’s always important to read the room. Today, the workforce and consumer sphere at large is tired of putting up with homogenous and exclusive organizations that don’t represent the contemporary world as a whole. The automotive market is no different, and the intersection of technology, innovation, and growth is brewing the perfect environment for a major cultural shift. General Motors and Toyota are two of the brands that are spearheading this change in the commercial dynamic, and the rest of the automotive industry needs to take note fast. The more we’re learning about each other and who makes up the world around us, the more consumers are paying attention to the brands and companies they’re spending money on. Employees are also taking notice, and this is having the largest impact on the companies that are currently leading the automotive market. By facilitating an inclusive and open workspace, auto brands can also open their potential worker pool to the best talent across all demographics. Limiting commercial talent to certain groups, in short, will only harm the brand in the long run. As brands across the entire online and physical marketplace adapt to these long-overdue societal and cultural changes, their bottom line, reputation, and recognition as a whole are showing the effects. When it comes to the companies that are still behind the curve, the market is reaching a now-or-never point of no return. These are just a few of the aspects that are driving inclusivity and diversity initiatives throughout the automotive industry. Women and people of color are starting to show a higher interest in this growing sphere, and this is a direct result of these values being applied internally from the top down. Stay tuned with your favorite leading auto manufacturers to see the wave take over, or watch brands that don’t get on board get left in the dust.
A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress
February 22, 2021
Explore a virtual room. Then explore an elevated alleyway with a step that suddenly has you plummeting. Next, using a virtual flashlight, walk around a dark maze with a figure lurking in certain places. Sounds like a bad dream? It’s actually a science experiment that utilizes virtual reality to test stress response. Each of the above scenarios was what participants experienced during the study. Each scenario progressively injected more stress. The individual’s response was measured throughout each virtual experience. Virtual reality to test stress levels is actually pretty convenient, and, obviously, a safer option than placing an individual in a possible stressful real-life situation. HOW WAS STRESS MEASURED? The study—or experiment—relied on the first two virtual simulations to predict the stress response in the third. Apparently, analyzing the heart rate during the first two stressful situations allowed scientists to guess how participants would react and respond during the, arguably, most stressful situation. Stress was measured via heart rate. According to an article in Science Daily, the stress response also was used to predict the stress outcome of participants when they engaged in another virtual challenge. This time, they had to answer questions (math!) and they were shown the results of other participants. If they answered incorrectly, the virtual floor started to disappear. Researchers concluded that “…the present study emphasizes the power of behavior to predict HRV responsiveness to a subsequent stressful challenge. Thus, in addition to highlighting behavior as a potential stress vulnerability marker, our study contributes a relevant approach to develop diagnostic tests based on VR immersion and machine learning modeling.” While the study looked at stress response to predict future responses, virtual reality also has been used in other—somewhat similar—ways by doctors. A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Virtual-Reality-Test2.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY TO DESENSITIZE FEARS AND HELP PTSD Virtual reality has been used in the treatment of anxiety disorders to help individuals gradually overcome fears and anxiety. Virtual reality provides a safe environment, and allows the therapist to remain in control (in case the patient becomes too stressed). The book “Virtual Reality Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Advances in Evaluation and Treatment” discusses ways that this technology can be used to help those who suffer from agoraphobia or fears of spiders, driving, flying, heights, etc. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) also is being studied regarding effectiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. This type of therapy allows safe exposure to sounds or scenes of combat. In 2010, the United States Army announced “… a four-year study to determine the effectiveness of VRET on active-duty servicemembers returning from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom who are suffering from PTSD.” The study would enroll 120 servicemembers. VIRTUAL REALITY AS A RELAXATION AID While virtual reality is being used to help those who have anxiety or service members who suffer from PTSD, the technology also may be used as a means to guide relaxation. The virtual realm provides a safe way to experience and face events or scenes that create a stress response, but it also can be used to help individuals enjoy some stress-free experiences. In fact, Oculus offers Relax VR, which is a program/experience that allows the individual to enter the virtual realm for guided meditation. Scenes and sounds from the beach, chirping crickets, calming wind and even a relaxing stream can lull a sense of calm during meditation and relaxation. The experience also can be used in spas or maybe even wellness centers. A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Virtual-Reality-Test3.jpg] VIRTUAL RETREATS? Living through a pandemic has forced many individuals to get creative with their social lives. Virtual chats via Zoom or other platforms have taken the place of face-to-face meetups. Even dates have gone virtual. When museums were closed, virtual tours became the next best thing. Maybe you couldn’t walk through the Louvre, but you could take a virtual stroll through the museum’s notable galleries. Even the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling can be viewed virtually. Virtual might not replicate the in-person experience, but when it was the only option, the virtual world was probably a welcome escape from the four walls of home. And with the normalization of the virtual experience, perhaps the future could be marked by more virtual activities. Not everyone has access to the financial means to take luxurious vacations or visit remote retreats for a week of relaxation. That private bungalow on an exotic beach that was once reserved for the one percent might, in the future, be accessible to the other 99 percent, too. Could virtual reality be a ticket to a world that was unknown to many? Especially to those who had limited financial means? As technology becomes more affordable, more individuals have been granted access to the digital realm via the internet and cell phones. Years ago, owning a smartphone was a luxury. Today, the majority of teens have a smartphone. In fact, nearly 100 percent of teens have one. Virtual reality headsets are not owned by everyone, and their price point may be out of range for many budgets. However, as this technology becomes the norm—and it might become the norm—the access to virtual reality may come at a price that many can afford. The movie “Strange Days” depicted a future world where virtual reality experiences became an addictive drug. Users wore a headpiece (a bit like a skull cap) that tapped into their brain. Compact discs held memories, events or activities that users could experience. While virtual reality likely won’t become an addiction, the technology could become a window into new experiences. Imagine using a headset to walk through a museum in Europe. Have the kids put on their headsets, too, and everyone can take a tour. A virtual family outing! Or imagine going on a virtual retreat in a remote island with access to the best fitness experts. Or practice guided meditation with a group of individuals from across the globe. Want to learn how to surf? Maybe you can do that safely with a virtual instructor. Does virtual reality somehow tap into our senses in the future? Can we feel the waves? Smell the ocean? Today’s virtual reality might not have all the sensory experiences of real life, but we also might not be too far off in developing a heightened technology that can recreate the sights, sounds and smells of life. A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Virtual-Reality-Test.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOPPING, GAMES & EVEN TRAINING Those with access to a virtual reality headset can already take advantage of many cool virtual experiences—even guided meditation. The Climb, for example, allows users to take on virtual climbing challenges, including buildings. Walkabout Mini Golf is a mini golf experience…perfect for quarantine! But virtual reality isn’t just about games. The technology also lets users step into other experiences. Businesses use virtual reality experience during employee training; simulations help employees confront situations they may face on the job. And using virtual reality lets employees safely handle stressful experiences. Virtual reality even may help an employee learn how to handle a robbery. Kentucky Fried Chicken uses a virtual escape room format in its training program. KFC also is apparently developing another virtual reality program called “The Hard Way.” A virtual Colonel will be giving directions, per Viar360. While shopping isn’t necessarily a stressful situation, shopping online isn’t quite the same as shopping at the store. Virtual showrooms can provide a simulated in-person experience when the option to venture out is limited. RelayCars allows car shoppers the opportunity to explore their favorite makes and models virtually. Through a virtual showroom, RelayCars lets consumers do a virtual walk around, peek inside the car at all the features and even change the paint hue. This virtual experience was a great resource for new car buyers when dealerships might have been closed to foot traffic during the pandemic. VIRTUALLY DECREASING STRESS ON THE ROAD Virtual reality is even about to creep into our cars. Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible technology might bring virtual avatars into the passenger spaces. Wearing special glasses or goggles, the driver could visualize these companions next to them. Friends and family may join the drive, even when they are across the country. While I2V is still in development, the idea of virtual passengers could be quite comforting for those who are traveling alone. The stress of solo trips cross country and/or long business trips might be reduced if the driver could invite virtual passengers during the drive. In addition, I2V also would allow virtual experts to join the drive to provide instruction on the road. If a driver needed assistance, help would be one seat over. This “service scenario” would allow for drivers to get help during the drive. The technology also would offer a “tourism scenario;” a virtual guide would appear in the vehicle to provide recommendations…maybe they could suggest a restaurant or a museum. While researchers have studied virtual reality as a means to measure stress responses, this technology has wide-reaching and beneficial uses. Virtual reality therapies can be used to help individuals confront fears or even help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Virtual reality also can be used to help provide an immersive relaxation experience in spas. The future of this technology may lead to everyone having access to a headset to explore many new activities, visit different countries or even enjoy the privilege of luxe experiences virtually. Virtual companions or passengers also may be in our future. In all these scenarios, virtual reality can be used to (hopefully) help decrease stress and increase happiness.
Apple’s Augmented Reality is Getting Better
February 19, 2021
Augmented reality is a type of technology that allows users to superimpose digital elements onto their real world environment. Essentially, it gives users the power to combine the digital world with the real world. Many people assume that they need a headset, pair of goggles, or some other type of special equipment in order to experience augmented reality technology. But fortunately, that’s not the case. The only tool you need is your iPhone, and the augmented reality technology on these devices has become increasingly advanced over the years. A BRIEF HISTORY OF AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY ON THE IPHONE The iPhone 8, which was released in 2017, marked Apple’s first steps into the world of augmented reality technology. This smartphone featured built-in cameras, motion sensors, and gyros that were designed to roughly map out spaces by identifying floors, walls, and ceilings within a close range. Apple also introduced ARKit, a new augmented reality platform, in 2017. ARKit allowed developers to build unique augmented reality apps for iPhone and iPad users. Since its introduction, ARKit has been used to create thousands of augmented reality apps that are compatible with most iPhones. Apple recently took another step further into the world of augmented reality by incorporating lidar technology into its iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Lidar, which is light detection and ranging technology, has been around for quite some time, but this marked the first time it was ever built into an Apple product. If you look at the back of either one of these phones, you will see the lidar sensor, which is a small black dot located near the camera lenses. This black dot emits infrared lasers that are invisible to the naked eye. The sensor is designed to measure how long it takes these lasers to bounce off of objects and return to the phone. Lidar technology then uses these measurements to map out the space surrounding the phone. It is capable of mapping out the size of objects in the room and where each of these objects is located at a range of up to five meters. For example, say you are standing in front of a chair in an otherwise empty room. By measuring how long it takes the infrared lasers to bounce around the room and return to the phone, lidar technology would be able to determine the exact size and positioning of the chair. This technology is used to improve the quality of night portrait mode photos on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. But more importantly, lidar technology is used to enhance the augmented reality experience for iPhone users. Lidar technology can be used as part of the augmented reality experience to superimpose digital objects in complicated real world settings. It also makes it possible to hide digital objects behind objects in the real world, which is called occlusion. Including this technology on the latest iPhone models drastically improves the augmented reality experience for iPhone users. It has also established Apple as a major player in the augmented reality industry. Apple’s Augmented Reality is Getting Better [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Apple-Augmented-Reality2.jpg] HOW TO EXPERIENCE AUGMENTED REALITY WITH AN IPHONE There are countless augmented reality apps currently available for download in the App Store. These apps offer thousands of different ways to experience augmented reality technology. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some popular augmented reality apps to get you started: * Complete Anatomy: This augmented reality app gives you an opportunity to learn more about the human body. It is often used by teachers in a classroom setting and by healthcare providers hoping to educate their patients. * Snapchat: Perhaps one of the most popular augmented reality apps is Snapchat, which is a photo messaging app. You can use augmented reality technology to apply various digital elements to your photos before sharing them with friends. * iScape: Use this augmented reality app to see how different landscaping designs would look in your yard. The app superimposes digital landscaping designs onto your real world so you can see exactly how it would all come together in your outdoor living space. * Warby Parker: See how hundreds of different eyeglasses and sunglasses would look on your face using the Warby Parker app. This app uses augmented reality to superimpose digital eyeglass and sunglass designs on your face so you can shop with confidence. * Hot Lava: Turn your living room into an obstacle course surrounded by hot lava using this entertaining app. You will have to carefully navigate around physical and digital objects to successfully complete the course without falling into the digital hot lava. * IKEA Place: This app, which is similar to the Warby Parker app, allows you to try IKEA products before you buy them online. It uses augmented reality to superimpose digital furniture items from IKEA into your real world environment so you can see what each piece would look like in your home. * JigSpace: Deepen your understanding of space, historical events, science, and other topics using this app. The app uses augmented reality to help you explore these topics in a completely new way. These are some of the many augmented reality apps that are currently available in the Apple App Store. Apple’s Augmented Reality is Getting Better [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Apple-Augmented-Reality3.jpg] WILL APPLE MAKE AUGMENTED REALITY ACCESSORIES? For years, it has been rumored that Apple was on the verge of releasing an augmented reality or mixed-reality headset. It was reported that the headset would cost nearly $3,000 and feature 8K displays, eye tracking technology, and cameras to enhance the augmented reality/virtual reality experience. However, the company has never publicly commented on these rumors, so there’s no way of knowing the truth. A number of other companies, including Sony and Facebook, have already released mixed reality headsets. But sales of these headsets have been sluggish, which is why some experts believe that Apple won’t enter the accessories sector of the augmented reality market. But the fact that Apple has not released accessories yet does not mean that the company isn’t serious about augmented reality technology. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Apple has been quietly building more advanced augmented reality tools for its iPhones and iPads, which indicates that the company plans on focusing heavily on this technology in the future. Apple consumers can experience augmented reality using only their iPhones or iPads, which means it’s not necessary for the company to also create augmented reality accessories. However, experts still believe that Apple’s next step will most likely be releasing phone-powered augmented reality/virtual reality headsets or glasses. Because all of the computation would occur within the phone, the headset or glasses would only need small cameras and sensors to function properly. As a result, the Apple device could be far lighter than other models available on the market today. This would attract many consumers who are turned off by the bulkiness and weight of the current selection of mixed reality accessories. But this is all just speculation for now since the company is remaining tight-lipped regarding its future plans to release augmented reality accessories. Apple’s Augmented Reality is Getting Better [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Apple-Augmented-Reality.jpg] THE FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY ON THE IPHONE There are many predictions as to what Apple will do next with augmented reality on iPhones. Some of the most popular predictions include: * Sharing 3D scans: Some industry experts believe that in the future, augmented reality will allow users to scan and share 3D objects with others using their iPhones. Think of it as scanning and sending a 3D object instead of a PDF file or image. * Taking higher quality photos: It’s also predicted that augmented reality technology will be used to help users take better photos using the camera on their smartphone. For instance, this technology could help users choose the best angle to take photos from. * Vision assistance: The technology could be used to scan the user’s surroundings and measure the distance between the user and objects or people in their immediate surroundings. Using augmented reality technology in this manner could turn the iPhone into a helpful tool for the vision impaired. * Plant digital objects in real world locations: Apple’s Location Anchors technology could allow users to use their iPhone to leave digital objects in real world locations for others to see. For instance, someone could leave a digital version of the Mona Lisa painting hanging in front of the Eiffel Tower for other iPhone users to see. There’s no telling what Apple will do next. But one thing is for certain: augmented reality technology will play a major role in the company’s future. WHAT CHALLENGES WILL APPLE FACE WITH AUGMENTED REALITY? Even though augmented reality has been around for years, a lot of people still aren’t sure what it is or how it is used. Many people are even completely unaware that they’ve used augmented reality apps before. For example, hundreds of millions of people around the world downloaded and used the Pokemon Go app at the height of its popularity. But it’s safe to say that many of these active users were not aware that they were using an app powered by augmented reality technology. This lack of awareness could make it more difficult for developers to get users to download their augmented reality apps. If users aren’t aware of the exciting possibilities presented by this technology, they may not be motivated to search the App Store for the latest augmented reality apps. Both Apple and app developers must focus on educating users about augmented reality in order to get them excited about this technology. There’s no question that Apple’s effort to take augmented reality mainstream is still a work in progress. But Apple is a resourceful and innovative company that will undoubtedly overcome these challenges and successfully introduce augmented reality technology to the mass market.
Why Augmented Reality is Set to Transform Retail in 2021
February 17, 2021
While we’ve been barreling towards online shopping as the new standard for years now, it’s become exponentially essential during the ongoing pandemic. As more and more people look to the internet for a semblance of normalcy, ecommerce retail has come in to bridge the gap. Online shopping becoming the norm has been expedited by the need for fast, contactless commerce – while making up for the closed brick-and-mortar stores across the country. As a result, the growth of augmented reality (AR) technology has helped the ecommerce industry to thrive in a major way. By driving the increased dependency of online shopping, online retailers have been faced with a wide set of challenges – and advantages – as they rush to meet consumer demand. Keep reading to learn more about the ways augmented reality is set to transform retail in 2021. Augmented Reality is Set to Transform Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Augmented-Reality-is-Set-to-Transform-Retail2.jpg] MARKETING AND PRODUCT LAUNCHES If anything has been completely transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the way we’ve been able to meet and converge with each other. This means that live events, including product launches and grand openings, have been severely limited by social distancing regulations and accessibility issues. Augmented reality in retail is helping to recreate this corner of the commercial sphere by allowing customers and brands to connect with each other digitally, with many of the features included in live, in-person events. Using AR-enabled programs and immersive technology, brands can easily set up a virtual product launch, live video chat, or even holographically projected event regardless of anyone’s physical location. As long as there is an internet connection and the right compatibility between each user’s respective apps or programs of choice. Allowing online users to take part in these major steps of the ecommerce life cycle also gives brands the ability to open their events to a wider audience. International users are no longer impacted by their proximity to their favorite pop-up shops or products. With something as simple as an access code or shared URL, it’s possible to link up via mobile or desktop devices using capabilities like: * Omnichannel interconnectivity * Remote access * Encrypted data via cloud-based access points * Hybridization of online and in-person shopping Launch events, client parties, and even new product lines can be unveiled to the cybersphere – which has the potential to change the ecommerce industry as we know it. Augmented Reality is Set to Transform Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Augmented-Reality-is-Set-to-Transform-Retail3.jpg] PERSONALIZED SHOPPING EXPERIENCES Today, we’ve become so used to getting what we want when we want it. Augmented reality has revamped this special brand of instant gratification in a way that can make shopping easier, faster, and more streamlined in the long run. AR apps allow shoppers to manipulate digital versions of their favorite products, and can give users the power to: * Virtual try-on features * Customize products instantly (specs, colors, and other details) * View stock levels * Connect with support and sales staff via live chat * Utilize AI-enabled shopping features for heightened experience individualization Rather than limiting support features and in-store assistance to the hours when there is someone “in the office,” augmented reality with AI capabilities can make up the deficit and give shoppers 24/7 support access. Providing shoppers with more agency during the buying and research processes, while also giving them a higher level of support to simplify the process, can boost sales conversions and return customers significantly across multiple specializations and demographics. Augmented Reality is Set to Transform Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Augmented-Reality-is-Set-to-Transform-Retail4.jpg] IMPROVED CUSTOMER FEEDBACK FOR PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT While augmented reality isn’t a new concept, it has drastically changed consumer habits regarding shopping and researching new products and brands. More than 70% of consumers in a recent study stated that they would shop more often if AR apps were presented as an option. Virtual showrooming solutions have opened doors for shoppers, retailers, and manufacturers alike. Not only can customers try on personal items like clothes, jewelry, and glasses, but they can also see what larger items can look like in their own spaces. Take a photo of your driveway to see how your new car will look in it’s prospective home, or test out a new furniture setup with similar technology. Augmented reality isn’t only used to customize products based on customer selections and user-initiated content. Shopper data can also be collected by these systems and repurposed into personalization filters to bring the right products and services to their right set of eyes. Instead of spending hours browsing through an online or in-person store, having only the most targeted recommendations on the screen can cut a lot of time from each individual shopping session. Additionally, augmented reality can be applied to in-store experiences as well – which is ideal for businesses that plan to scale in a post-pandemic landscape. Mobile AR apps and in-store interactive displays can provide brick-and-mortar shoppers with the same level of personalization as ecommerce retailers. Linking user profiles with proprietary apps and accounts is one easy way to connect shoppers with their personalized content. Additionally, QR codes, links, and even biometric software can be utilized in a similar way, while providing an added layer of data security. Augmented Reality is Set to Transform Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Augmented-Reality-is-Set-to-Transform-Retail.jpg] VIVID COMMERCIAL STORYTELLING AND MERCHANDISING From dish soap to apparel to even real estate, storytelling plays a major role in the customer acquisition and retention lifecycles. Augmented reality shopping has made it easier than ever before to express your brand’s vision, purpose, and offerings in an efficient and accessible way. Just like mixed reality experience provides a more vivid and immersive way to consume media, it’s also helping merchandisers and advertisers reach target consumers on a granular level. This type of blending reality with constructed imagery can help online users to enjoy advertising content without necessarily processing that they’re being marketed to. Creating a fun and immersive experience while integrating valuable informational and branding information has built a sweet spot for individuals who traditionally stray away from brands that rely on marketing and hard sales to generate conversions. Favoriable online experiences, such as immersive social media posts and videos, change the way customers and prospective buyers interact with the products and services they’re seeking. Additionally, immersive marketing promotes critical thinking and curiosity among those who might not otherwise associate with the brand in question. Some concrete benefits of using augmented reality to generate retail interest include: * Reshaping brand narratives using customized media * Hyper-specific targeting with AI-enabled data collection * Emotional connection building * Hybridization of in-store and online features * Ability to siphon audience participation for research and development From immersive videos to games and more, there are an endless amount of options brands can employ to utilize augmented reality technology for lead generation, increased adoption rates, and overall profitability. SUSTAINABILITY AND COST-SAVING BENEFITS One of the main reasons why augmented reality is reshaping the retail sphere is the reduction (or elimination) of physical resources in the sourcing, shopping, and merchandising processes. Rather than utilizing sample products, physical prototypes, and brick-and-mortar office locations – augmented reality has all but digitized the entire retail experience. Typically, online shoppers are limited by their ability to try before they buy. This leads to double-purchasing becoming a norm in the ecommerce sphere, which leads to product waste and storage costs to accommodate the inevitable returns. For example, shoppers might purchase a product in two sizes or colors to decide which one they’d rather keep. By utilizing virtual product testing, try-on features, and instant customization, shoppers are less inclined to double up on their purchases and retailers can expect online returns to drop to less than 2% (as shown by top brands in 2020). For large products like cars and furniture, eliminating the need for physical product merchandising and try-before-you-buy options is a great way to reduce costs for brands AND customers. Additionally, the time saved by rebuilding this process instantly can be translated to saved wages and operational costs over time. Eco-friendly shopping has taken over in recent years, and augmented reality is facilitating the trend exponentially. As more people search for sustainable ways to enjoy the commercial world from home, augmented reality is becoming a leader in the tech, ecommerce, and brick-and-mortar retail spheres. From increasing product accessibility to disabled and affected populations to simply making shopping more fun for target consumers, retail brands have adopted augmented reality in a variety of ways. Even after the coronavirus comes to an end, experts in the industry expect this type of immersive technology to stick around long past the pandmeic. Food delivery, clothing shopping, and even furniture delivery as we know it is being rebuilt by this form of mobile data management and media consumption. Receiving highly tailored marketing and advertising, as well as having tangible instant access to the brands they love, is solidifying augmented reality as the preferred method of ecommerce and in-store shopping across the world. Keep an eye out for the growth of these systems next time you go to buy something, and watch how augmented reality is set to transform retail in 2021.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Cars
February 16, 2021
Augmented reality is technology that allows users to superimpose digital elements such as images, text, and sounds onto their real world environment. Perhaps the most well-known use of this technology is the Pokemon Go app, which took the world by storm several years ago. Due to the popularity of this app, many people now associate augmented reality technology with the gaming world. It’s true that this technology is widely used in gaming, but it has also been embraced in a number of other fields, including the automotive industry. Even though the technology has been around for decades, augmented reality is still fairly new to the automotive industry. But it’s already made a significant impact, and experts believe that augmented reality will continue to shape the future of cars in the years ahead. Here’s what you should expect: HOW COULD AUGMENTED REALITY BE USED IN CARS? There are endless ways for automotive manufacturers to incorporate augmented reality in vehicles, including: * Navigational Tool * Identification of Points of Interest * Hazard Detection * Parking Assistance * Smartphone Notifications The Future of Augmented Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/The-Future-of-Augmented-Reality-in-Cars2.jpg] NAVIGATIONAL TOOL Several automotive manufacturers have started to design vehicles with navigational tools powered by augmented reality technology. One of these automotive manufacturers is Cadillac, which included an augmented reality navigational tool in its 2021 Escalade. This vehicle is designed with a 14.2-inch center screen that displays a live video feed of the road ahead whenever the navigation system is in use. The system uses augmented reality technology to superimpose digital elements such as arrows and chevrons onto this live video feed. These digital elements make it easier for the driver to clearly see where they need to go to reach their final destination. Using augmented reality technology in this manner ensures that drivers won’t need to squint their eyes to read street signs or make dangerous maneuvers if they miss a turn. IDENTIFICATION OF POINTS OF INTEREST Automotive manufacturers can also use augmented reality technology to help drivers identify points of interest located nearby. For example, say a driver is running low on gas and needs to find a gas station as soon as possible. This technology could be used to superimpose digital pins marking the location of nearby gas stations directly onto the driver’s windshield. This way, the driver could quickly see where the closest gas station is without taking their eyes off of the road. The Future of Augmented Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/The-Future-of-Augmented-Reality-in-Cars3.jpg] Of course, this feature can be used to pinpoint more than just gas stations. It can also help drivers quickly find restaurants, shopping malls, schools, and other points of interest that they may pass on the road. HAZARD DETECTION Automotive manufacturers can use augmented reality technology to help drivers avoid dangerous collisions. Built-in sensors are now found in the front, rear, and sides of many vehicles. These sensors are designed to detect changes in the driver’s environment that could indicate danger. For example, the sensors may detect that the vehicle directly in front of the driver has suddenly come to a complete stop. If a change like this is detected, it will be immediately reported to the augmented reality system, which will use this technology to display digital warnings on the driver’s windshield. In this example, the warning might consist of a red alert symbol superimposed onto the vehicle that has suddenly stopped. These sensors can also help drivers avoid colliding into a pedestrian or bicyclist. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is detected, the system can use augmented reality to visually highlight them. This ensures that the driver is aware of their location. PARKING ASSISTANCE Augmented reality has the power to completely transform the process of parking a vehicle. This technology can be used to help drivers quickly locate parking spots that are large enough for their vehicle. For example, if a driver is slowly traveling down a road lined with parallel parking spots, this technology can scan the vehicle’s surroundings to look for empty parking spaces. If a spot is detected, the system can highlight it directly on the driver’s windshield so it grabs their attention. The system may even project digital arrows and other elements to guide the driver as they safely maneuver into the parking spot. This feature can benefit all drivers, especially those who operate large vehicles. SMARTPHONE NOTIFICATIONS Drivers often take their eyes off of the road if they get a phone call, text, or another type of notification on their smartphone. But augmented reality can be used to help drivers stay focused even when these notifications come in. These systems can use augmented reality technology to superimpose notifications directly onto the driver’s windshield. For example, a phone icon may be projected onto the driver’s windshield whenever they receive an incoming call. The icon may also be accompanied by the name of the contact who is calling. If a notification appears, the driver can respond to it using voice commands. This may mean answering the call and having a hands-free conversation or using their voice to dictate a response to a text. This ensures that drivers don’t need to take their eyes off of the road in order to check a notification on their smartphone. WHAT FACTORS SHOULD AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS CONSIDER WHEN DESIGNING VEHICLES WITH AUGMENTED REALITY? There’s no question that the future of augmented reality in the automotive industry is bright. Automotive manufacturers will undoubtedly find countless other ways to incorporate this technology into the design of new vehicles. But there are a number of factors that they must consider when designing vehicles with augmented reality in the future, including: * Placement * Recognizable Icons * Smart Use of Animations * Color Usage * Hands-Free PLACEMENT No augmented reality system should be placed in a position where it could accidentally interfere with the driver’s view of the road. This is especially important when designing heads-up displays, which could severely obstruct the driver’s view if not positioned correctly. No matter how helpful the augmented reality feature, it cannot interfere with the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. The Future of Augmented Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/The-Future-of-Augmented-Reality-in-Cars4.jpg] RECOGNIZABLE ICONS Augmented reality systems in vehicles convey a wealth of information through the use of icons. But in order for the system to effectively convey this information, it must be designed with recognizable icons. Drivers should immediately understand what an icon signifies simply by glancing it. They should never have to consult a user manual to figure out what the augmented reality system is trying to tell them. Doing this would not only make the system ineffective, but it would also distract the driver and put them at a greater risk of getting into an accident. SMART USE OF ANIMATIONS It is important for automotive manufacturers to think carefully about the use of animations when designing augmented reality features inside vehicles. Animations are moving digital elements, so they could potentially draw the driver’s attention away from the road. As a result, these digital elements must be used sparingly and only when appropriate. For example, it would not be appropriate to use an animation to alert a driver that they are approaching a random restaurant on their right. However, it would be appropriate to use an animation to alert a driver of potential danger such as a pedestrian or bicyclist in the street in front of them. In the first example, the animation is not providing crucial information, so it should not be used because doing so would take the driver’s eyes off of the road for no good reason. But in the second example, it is appropriate to use the animation since doing so could help the driver avoid a potentially dangerous situation. COLOR USAGE Another factor that automotive manufacturers should consider when designing vehicles with augmented reality is the use of color. People tend to associate certain colors with specific emotions or meanings. For instance, the color red is often associated with danger or the need to take immediate action. If a driver sees a stop sign, they know that they must come to a stop to avoid getting into a collision. The color green, on the other hand, typically means go because it is associated with a green traffic light. Automotive manufacturers must keep these associations in mind when designing augmented reality features. Warnings that are designed to alert drivers of potential danger should be red, for example. This way, the driver will know that the warning is serious and requires their immediate attention. HANDS-FREE Automotive manufacturers should ensure that drivers can use all features supported by augmented reality without taking their hands off of the wheel. In other words, manufacturers should develop augmented reality features that are automated or controlled by voice instead of touch. For example, if a vehicle is designed with an augmented reality navigation system, it should automatically display arrows and other symbols whenever the navigation system is in use. The driver should not have to touch the screen to activate the augmented reality feature of the navigational system. Developing hands-free systems ensures that the driver does not have to sacrifice their safety in order to take advantage of one of their vehicle’s augmented reality features. THE OTHER USES OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Incorporating augmented reality technology into the design of vehicles will be a huge trend in the automotive industry in the years ahead. But this industry has already found countless other ways to use this technology, including: * Virtual Showrooms * Design * Repairs * Manufacturing VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS In the past, consumers visited multiple dealerships to conduct research on vehicles before deciding which one to purchase. But now, the vast majority of consumers conduct automotive research online without ever stepping foot in a dealership. In response to this shift in consumer behavior, many automotive manufacturers now use augmented reality technology to create virtual showrooms. Virtual showrooms give consumers the opportunity to explore the inside and outside of a vehicle from their home. For example, they can use augmented reality to project a true-to-scale digital vehicle into their driveway. Then, they can explore the vehicle just as they would if they were looking at it in a real showroom. Using this technology in this way makes it easier for consumers to get the information they need to narrow down their options and make a purchase decision. DESIGN Several automotive manufacturers, including Ford, are currently using augmented reality technology to assist with the design process. Engineers typically make clay models of every new vehicle design. If a change is made to the design, they must make an entirely new clay model that reflects the change. Multiple changes are usually made before the design is finalized, which means engineers usually have to make a number of different clay models during the design process. But at Ford, engineers now only make one clay model. Then, they use augmented reality technology to superimpose digital elements onto this clay model to reflect changes to the design. They don’t need to waste time or money building a new clay model for each change. Instead, they simply adjust the design of the digital element that is being superimposed on the clay model. Not only does this save Ford money, but it also drastically reduces the amount of time that it takes to finalize the design of a new vehicle. The Future of Augmented Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/The-Future-of-Augmented-Reality-in-Cars.jpg] REPAIRS Some automotive manufacturers currently use augmented reality technology to assist auto technicians with repairs. Technicians at Mercedes-Benz can seek remote assistance from experts by putting on an augmented reality headset. The experts will be able to see exactly what the technician sees. Then, the experts can use augmented reality technology to project digital elements onto the technician’s screen to help them make the necessary repairs. For example, the experts may spot a loose plug or frayed wire that needs to be repaired. In this case, they can use augmented reality technology to highlight these issues so the technician can quickly identify what needs to be repaired. MANUFACTURING Augmented reality is changing the way vehicles are manufactured, too. Assembly line workers can now use augmented reality headsets to access information on a specific vehicle, vehicle part, or manufacturing process. For example, if an assembly line worker doesn’t remember how to put together a specific part, they can project digital instructions or a how-to video directly onto their real world environment. This way, the assembly line worker can easily reference the instructions while working on the specific part. They won’t need to ask someone for help or waste time looking through instruction manuals—they can quickly access the information they need thanks to augmented reality technology. These are some of the many ways in which augmented reality is currently used in the automotive industry. Experts predict that automotive manufacturers will continue to find new and exciting ways to use this technology to streamline production, market new vehicles, and create a safer, more enjoyable driving experience for consumers. [https://contentgm.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/content_uploads/App%5CDynamicModules%5CItem/44509/the-future-of-ar-in-cars.png]
How the Automotive Sector is Linked to Video Games
February 15, 2021
Need for Speed, Gran Turismo and Forza are all popular video games that pit players against each other in virtual races. Their commonality, however, drives their influence. These games are beyond just fun race competition. All three include branded vehicles from the major automotive manufacturers, making the games important marketing vehicles for the brands…while also keeping players captivated. The automotive sector is linked to video games, and both sectors might seem to share characteristics and technology with the other. Video games may drive interest in certain cars because of the user experience on the screen. And the automotive sector might use certain shared technology from video games to elevate the driving experience in vehicles, too. Although, this shared technology might be more coincidental…and a sign of the changing technological times. Not all racing games or video games influenced by the world of auto feature big names like Alfa Romeo, Ford, Acura, Aston Martin, Audi , BMW, Chevrolet, and Ferrari (and many more). And those that don’t have the rights to recreate these cars and their iconic emblems have to get a little creative in building their virtual vehicles. While seeing and racing iconic car models may drive interest in those brands, there are a few modern vehicles that seem almost like something out of a video game. And many new vehicles use technology that is often found in video games. Automotive manufacturers use virtual reality for car design and augmented reality to aid technicians in making repairs. How else do games and real life mirror automotive? Here are features, designs and implementations found in both the automotive sector and video games. VIRTUAL REALITY Gran Turismo Sport can use virtual reality in game play via “Arcade mode.” This takes the race to an immersive experience. Players can pick their cars and choose from nearly 30 different tracks. While donning a headset to enter the virtual realm is linked to game play, this technology also has become integral in automotive design. Ford used virtual reality during Covid lockdowns to keep the design and development rolling even while execs were working from home. Virtual reality technology allowed them to review the car’s design as a team. Using laser pointers, team members could highlight features of the car during meetings. Industry Week reported in 2017 that General Motors, like Ford, also used virtual reality for design purposes. The technology “…played a key role in redesigning the Chevy Traverse, one of GM’s most popular and profitable family-haulers….” Virtual reality also was used—often without headsets—as a way to help consumers shop for new cars in the digital space. When dealerships might have been forced to close their doors during the pandemic, virtual showrooms displayed the available inventory. Dealerships that didn’t launch their own virtual showrooms could direct shoppers to RelayCars, which offered virtual experiences for numerous makes/models. Those on the hunt for a new car could see inside the vehicles and even change paint hues and other features. The automotive industry also channeled the video game world when BMW launched its virtual test drive on Mars back in 2017. The BMW X3 could take on the terrain of the Red Planet, and consumers could step into the driver’s seat to control the navigation of the virtual trip to Mars. Only in the virtual space could humans explore Mars without a supply of oxygen from behind the seat of a new BMW! VIRTUAL REALITY AND AVATAR PASSENGERS! Nissan, on the other hand, is developing virtual reality with virtual companionship. With its Invisible-to-Visible technology, Nissan would allow for avatars of virtual passengers to enter the car. This would require the use of special goggles, however. These companions could be family members or friends and could help drivers feel less lonely during long car trips. I2V also could allow for driving professionals to virtually take a passenger seat and provide instruction. The I2V is still in the works, but the possibilities could be amazing, and this technology also has many other components…but it’s still in development. VIRTUAL REALITY FOR REPAIRS In September, Autoweek reported that Mercedes-Benz planned to use virtual reality to aid technicians in making repairs. While wearing special virtual reality goggles, the technician could show repair specialists in another location the mechanics (and the issues) for the vehicle. The article shows a screen of the remote specialist appearing before the technician. This new technology is called Virtual Remote Support and is in partnership with Microsoft, per Autoweek. VIRTUAL REALITY IN SAFETY Gaming and automotive collided for Volvo, as the company is using augmented reality to test cars via a simulator. The driving experience would be used to test out vehicles in real life driving situations. However, the simulation involves a real car, a real road but simply imagined scenarios. Automotive World explained that “Testers can be exposed to imagined active safety and driver assistance features, upcoming autonomous drive user interfaces, future car models and many other scenarios. It can be used on real test track roads or in the test lab, and every scenario is fully customizable.” AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality video games include Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive and many more. These games use the real world environment and overlay graphics to transform players into a new augmented world. The automotive industry uses augmented reality technology to improve the driving experience, market new products and help consumers shop, too! AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE How does this technology improve the driving experience? Augmented reality is actually wired into many parts of new cars, and augmented reality is often a standard feature, too! Drivers who use backup cameras might be using augmented reality. Many backup cameras include overlay grid lines that show the turning radius of the vehicle. These lines can show drivers a more precise view and may help them avoid backing into an obstacle. Front cameras may offer similar features, showing the proximity of the front end to other vehicles. GPS features also may use augmented reality. These convenient navigational devices and apps may show the real world with overlays for directions or other instructions. Many GPS devices and programs also include voice command, and, while voice prompts aren’t true augmented reality, they are a type of artificial intelligence. How the Automotive Sector is Linked to Video Games [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Augmented-Reality-for-Repair.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR REPAIR Automobile manufacturers also use augmented reality for aiding technicians during repair. The company Re’Flekt created a solution for Jaguar Land Rover to use augmented reality to provide instructions digitally over parts of the cars’ mechanics. For car mechanics anywhere, the WorxAR app allows augmented reality assistance to aid in making repairs. The app was developed by Tradiebot (in Australia). AR Post reported that “…enthusiast DIYers will be able to perform simple troubleshooting work with ease. For example, they can access the digital service manual of the car while working on their car. Instead of stopping at every step to check the instructions, they see the information overlaid onto the car itself.” WorxAR also announced its partnership with General Motors in November “to address a nagging issue.” The issue was related to the Silverado (those prior to 2018). Tradiebot’s blog on its website explained more about the project: “General Motors’ commitment to the safety of their customers was critical in driving the project so when traditional methods of information dissemination were still ineffective, Tradiebot’s groundbreaking work in Virtual and Augmented Realities was critical and Collision Hub’s social media presence and a stellar reputation for promoting proper and safe repairs was essential in getting the message out to repairers.” AUGMENTED REALITY IN MARKETING Augmented reality has been used during Covid in marketing new vehicles. The immersive experience of augmented reality was integral in the launch of Lamborghini’s Huracán RVO AWD Spyder. With an Apple device, consumers could access an augmented reality experience that allowed them to drop the new vehicle in any environment. Even on a bed! Users could walk around the car and explore the vehicle. How the Automotive Sector is Linked to Video Games [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Augmented-Reality-Buying.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY & BUYING Buying a car used to be an in-person process. Typically, new car shoppers would visit a few dealerships to find their ideal car. They might sit inside different models and take a test drive of their favorite choices. Negotiations would lead to financing discussions and possibly securing a loan through the dealership. With Covid, however, car dealerships might have been forced to close to shoppers. Car buying went virtual, and the process that was once in person became a digital experience. While virtual reality allowed for buyers to preview cars in simulated dealerships, augmented reality might have aided buyers, too. Back in 2017, BMW was the first company to use Snapchat’s Try-Before-You-Buy lens. This allowed users to preview the X2 from the comfort of home. But virtual and augmented reality showrooms aided buyers who were on the hunt for a new vehicle during the pandemic. Even those who could visit a dealership in person (and not online) might have benefited from augmented reality during their shopping experience. The Ferrari AR app lets potential buyers visit a showroom and then use the app via a tablet to augment aspects of the actual cars. They can switch the paint color and get an xray look at the vehicle. While racing games feature models of actual vehicles, heightening the awareness of these brands, the games also share the same technology that is being used in the industry. Or vice versa. Augmented reality and virtual reality allow for immersive experiences during game play, but in the automotive industry they can enhance safety features, create interactive marketing experiences and aid buyers on their hunt for a new car. In many ways, the gaming world and the automotive world overlap, and, who knows, in the future, a self-driving car could allow for the gaming experience to hit the road as drivers take the passenger seat!
Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augmented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning
February 12, 2021
In 2020, many industries saw a significant increase of remote interconnectivity and seamless integration to keep businesses running while much of the country was stuck at home. This same pattern of growth took over the auto industry, and many brands jumped on the bandwagon to increase productivity, boost revenue, and reduce costs across the board. Using augmented reality solutions, Audi is one of the leaders in the industry that has applied the innovative technology to help logistics professionals execute plans efficiently – independent of their physical location. Eliminating the need for physical workspaces and equipment has been used by Audi to improve product accuracy, cut the need for costly adjustments to physical models, and promote fast innovation across the entire enterprise. Read on to learn more about how Audi is using augmented reality to increase efficiency in logistics planning. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality2.jpg] INCREASED PLANNING EFFICIENCY In addition to saving time, augmented reality is effectively making the automotive workplace safer for everyone involved. Particularly among the logistics team, the application of augmented reality in logistics has led to a reduction in errors over the length of a typical workday by more than 33% among top auto retailers. By using digital, cloud-enabled files and data, users are able to see each other’s changes and edits in real time. This allows multiple people to work on the same virtual asset, without losing work hours and money as a result of the standard downtime. Audi, in particular, has taken AR auto technology and ran with it in a huge way. Augmented reality has given off site workers a hands-on way to visualize and assess three-dimensional digital products with a higher level of detail and scrutiny than clay, polymer, or plastic renders. Additionally, adding realistic tactile elements with the help of inexpensive and accessible wearable equipment allows individual technicians to pick up, rotate, move, or replace fragmental or whole parts of the product sample without a hitch in their workflow. Since digital testing removes the need to remake, rebuild, and adjust physical products, logistics teams are able to make changes in less time. This has expanded the ability for additional technicians and decision makers to enter the logistic chain with ease, while giving individual specialists more input throughout the entire development process. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality3.jpg] REDUCED REDUNDANCIES While logistics structures are built around the idea of efficiency and resource maximization, no analog functions are immune to redundancy – and this goes for virtually every workplace environment. Using digital tools like augmented reality provides workers with a higher level of reporting and data generation based on the manipulation of virtual renders. By tracking the lifecycle of logistics objectives, augmented reality systems have helped auto brands to shave hours from each respective employee’s weekly workloads. Once repetitive or unnecessary tasks have been removed from the workflow, it’s easier and more practical for logistics technicians to apply their efforts elsewhere throughout the production chain. This has the potential to lead to improved accuracy rates, faster product innovation, and even improved employee satisfaction among participating brands. This use of augmented reality technology has shown that digitization can be used as a powerful tool for business growth and longevity. As Audi has shown, building an auto brand in the same vein as such an influential tech development will produce an enterprise that can stand the test of time AND innovation standards across the industry as whole. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality4.jpg] COST-EFFECTIVE MODELING AND TESTING Traditionally, auto manufacturers have relied on models and prototypes to handle a wide range of review criteria. Common uses for physical, and often expensive, work samples include: * Design layout * Functionality testing * Safety review * Bug identification * Future planning based on corrections By eliminating the need for an actual product to conduct these tests, auto manufacturers are able to save millions throughout the initiation and execution of new models. Simulators have proven to be the preferred method of product testing and design generation during the pandemic, but the ease of use has shown why this trend is becoming established as a staple in the industry. Opening up the modeling and testing processes into the digital sphere gives auto brands more bandwidth and creative leeway to develop more models and produce vehicles much quicker than traditional testing methods. Wearable technology like smart glasses and visual assistance utilizes augmented reality by applying digital elements over the user’s direct line of sight. This is another method that gives specialists a closer look at interior and exterior elements of the car, at the level of the detail they need to get the job done. Audi has shown the efficacy of these methods by applying augmented reality throughout the manufacturing process. Boosting the research and development lifecycle with readily available digital tools is set to become a standard, and not simply a trend, throughout the entire industry. IMPROVED ACCURACY AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Working on an expensive physical model of a large product like a motor vehicle comes with its own set of challenges and pitfalls. The auto industry has maintained a significant error margin over the years, with recalls continuing to pepper this field on a regular basis. What if it was easier to prevent bugs and errors in the very beginning? Just like a digital twin of the product in question, these augmented reality models can be easily understood on the user’s terms. This means that logistics professionals can comb through every element of a prototype with a higher level of detail than ever before. Augmented reality as a virtual tool emphasizes the need for precise measurements, which can be accurately projected on a screen, through a headset, or holographically onto a physical surface. This level of detail can be applied to all aspects of the supply chain, including containers, workspaces, accessories, and more. Since it’s fully digital, augmented reality as a manufacturing technique is completely scalable, portable, and applicable anywhere there is a connected network and property authorization from the retailer. Since there are no physical products to transport and maintain, this aspect of the planning process can relieve a considerable amount of stress from workers throughout the entire car making process. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality5.jpg] MULTI-DEVICE SYNCHRONIZATION Working remotely means communicating with internal and external teams without the nuance of face-to-face collaboration. However, traditional digital tools limit the ability for multiple individuals to work together seamlessly from separate networks and devices. Augmented reality bridges the gap, and allows logistics professionals to work better together in a shorter amount of time. Using multi-device synchronization, augmented reality has the potential to transform the online workplace as we’ve known it. This capability allows specialists along the logistics chain to access digital information from their respective connected devices, streamlining the workday for all levels of management and staff. Since all of the elements of the production process are stored remotely via cloud-based database systems, multiple users are able to access the same assets simultaneously. This method is more flexible, and much faster than limiting each phase of the testing, design, and initiation processes to a small team of in-house technicians. Opening up the logistics and planning processes to all necessary parties gives more people input and decision-making power throughout the supply chain. As we’ve seen with AR/VR tech over the last few years, this change alone has the potential to transform the culture and overall success of even the largest auto brands. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augmented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR SPACE-SAVING PRODUCTION The use of mixed reality can also be applied to maximize the amount of space available for each individual employee. Those who are working in smaller or shared home office locations are able to project their workstation onto an area of their choice using certain add ons. CAD design data, presentations, and even live communications can be projected onto a desk or table top using holographic imaging. Rather than working through a headset, this option opens up creative opportunities for all technicians – no matter where they’re working. Eliminating the need for a spacious group setting is another aspect of augmented reality use that is reducing costs for automotive companies and employees alike. While augmented reality has been a mainstay in the auto industry for a few years now, Audi has taken the reins by applying this immersive technology to the logistics sphere. Using virtual car configurator, digital render manipulation, and other remote development tools is connecting at-home and in-office specialists like never before. Whether you’re in the market for a new car or you’re interested in the growth of this groundbreaking technology, Audi has solidified its place on the tech map for the foreseeable future. The growth of immersive imaging and the development of AR/VR technology in the auto industry is set to keep the industry growing rapidly, while expelling common costs at the same time.
Virtual, Augmented Reality is the Future for Many Industries
February 10, 2021
Sports Video Group reported back in November that augmented and virtual reality is where many companies are investing; SVG cited a report that stated that these tech platforms “…recorded more than $2 billion in total investment so far in 2020.” Augmented and virtual reality is the future for many industries. While the use of augmented and virtual reality has grown in recent years, the sudden shutdown of many businesses because of Covid might have fueled interest in this type of technology. Customers might not have been able to visit stores or even tour museums. However, virtual and augmented reality served to enhance a seemingly one-dimensional online visit and helped recreate the in-person experience that was lacking during the pandemic. The rise of virtual and augmented reality points to an ever-changing dynamic in the realm of user experience. This technology extends beyond bulky headsets used to play video games or even augmented reality online features that allow shoppers to virtually try on shades of lipstick or maybe even clothes. AR and VR is used across numerous industries, including healthcare and automotive. Smart glasses give technicians insight to a car’s mechanics and they also may provide assistance to surgeons and medical professionals. For example, some platforms act as simulations for surgeons. Yet, the use of this technology is being eyed by other industries that may have more interest in dipping a foot into the deeper end of the virtual pool. So who’s looking at expanding or even introducing virtual and augmented reality offerings? Here’s some predictions and insight about the future role of AR and VR in fashion, the beauty industry, and mental health. Virtual, Augmented Reality is the Future for Many Industries [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Future-for-Many-Industries2.jpg] FASHION In October, Vogue Business asked the question: “Smart Glasses: Should Fashion Buy In?” The article was accompanied by a sketch of a mannequin standing on a platform with smart glasses highlighting different aspects of the outfit, including the price and stock quantities. The article (which is behind a paywall) delved into “…the risks and rewards of wearable AR.” The question of fashion’s involvement in augmented reality or virtual reality experiences is extremely relevant, especially as the industry grapples with the limitations of the ongoing pandemic. While the use of smart glasses could provide instant feedback about the availability of a shirt or provide data on the price, the use of the technology could be more immersive. Before Covid, fashion editors and perhaps other industry insiders, too, (and celebrities) took their seats at Fashion Week events, as they watched show after show of new collections from designers. These events were hosted in New York, Milan, Paris and other major cities. During 2020, though, these shows went virtual…and online. While the pandemic might not have changed Fashion Week for good, what if it ushered in the potential for virtual experiences? What if editors used virtual reality goggles or smart glasses to watch fashion shows from their offices? Attendance could be a virtual experience, with every editor now securing a front row seat at exclusive events. Sound futuristic? According to FashionWeekOnline, it’s already in the works. Apps from fashion publications also could be a future hub for virtual or augmented reality experiences. Vogue offers its Runway app, which allows users to peruse items from every major designer’s collection. Users also can view videos of runway shows, and, for each collection, they also can view reviews. While the app is interactive, it doesn’t provide augmented or virtual experiences. However, Vogue dipped into augmented reality experience back in 2018; partnering with Apple, Vogue offered an experience that elevated iMessage with Vogue Effect. With this experience, per Vogue, “…your ho-hum reality will instantly morph into a fully functional world of glinting lights and thumping music.” Vogue Singapore also recently let readers experience an augmented reality element of a fashion show. Model Fiona Xie could be placed anywhere to have her showcase Valentino right in the user’s own surroundings. The experience was the work of HoloMe. Virtual, Augmented Reality is the Future for Many Industries [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Future-for-Many-Industries3.jpg] THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY Going to the spa or the salon is a relaxing experience, but with augmented reality and virtual reality the decadence of that relaxation is now elevated. In 2019, Professional Beauty reported that Bellacures has introduced virtual reality experiences for patrons. During manicures and pedicures, guests can be transported to beautiful spaces in Hawaii, New York or Iceland. To enhance the virtual experience, scents, sounds and even the treatments complement the chosen location. However, remote beauty appointments also have become a reality. The company 10to8 wrote about how professionals can provide virtual experiences to guests. But these experiences didn’t require goggles or a headset, although maybe in the future they will. Instead, 10to8 focused on webinars or other types of services to help clients. Then there are virtual ‘try-on’ experiences. Ulta and Sephora both offer these features to users via their apps. Many cosmetic companies also offer their own ‘try-on’ experiences, too. But what might the future look like for the beauty industry, especially post-Covid? The use of augmented and virtual reality might become extremely user immersive. Depending on the gadgets that individuals own at home—VR headsets, smart glasses, etc.—the user experience might become part of the action. That is, what if the future allows for a stylist to enter the home as an avatar, giving makeup tutorials or other guidance one-on-one. Maybe the user has products at home and takes lessons on styling their hair or trying out new makeup looks. What about try-on experiences related to actual clothing? Could the future include avatars that are displayed before us and virtually model new dresses, shirts, shoes or other wardrobe essentials? This could include a perfect representation of the individual, right down to the exact measurements. Then choosing the right size or fit wouldn’t even be a problem! Of course, these hypothetical situations are simply…hypothetical. We don’t know where augmented and virtual reality will take the beauty industry. But, as technology is changing every year, maybe the industry moves towards these virtual or augmented experiences. Virtual, Augmented Reality is the Future for Many Industries [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Future-for-Many-Industries.jpg] HEALTHCARE: VIRTUAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES Scientific American wrote about virtual reality being used to aid services for mental health. The publication explained that virtual reality is used as a safe means of “exposure therapy” for some patients. This means that those struggling with anxiety or specific phobias can enter a virtual realm to help treat these fears and, hopefully, overcome them. Scientific American cited the fear of heights as an example and how virtual reality may be used to expose someone who is afraid of heights to buildings of increasing height. The patient wouldn’t actually be standing on top of a real building. Instead, they will be safely exposed to the idea of these heights in a virtual realm. Their therapist would be right next to them to help as needed. Scientific American also noted that virtual reality can help with diagnoses, too. In fact, virtual reality experiences may help clinicians in diagnosing autism and Alzheimer’s Disease. Virtual reality can help with assessing a patient for certain conditions because it mimics actual real life circumstances; per the publication, “…because VR imitates the patient’s everyday environment, it also lets clinicians test symptoms that are usually out of reach.” Scientific American talked to a researcher who noted that virtual reality might not be in every neurologist’s office, but that the technology would be most useful for clinical drug trials (for Alzheimer’s). The article also talked about one of the more obvious ways that virtual reality could affect mental health treatments: AI and virtual sessions. While the idea behind virtual sessions might sound appealing, especially for those who might not have the financial means to pay for weekly sessions, one expert cited in the article pointed out a potential concern for allowing patients to seek virtual help…especially if that help was sought after a self-diagnosis: “When people start to self-diagnose and self-treat, buying software off the web, you’re opening the door to a slippery slope of mistreatment,” Albert “Skip” Rizzo, director for medical virtual reality at University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies, said in an interview with Scientific American. “The next biggest controversy [in] psychology is going to be: How far can we go with AI and virtual therapists?” Maybe that is the big question at hand for all industries in general. How far can we go with virtual reality? And AI? More importantly, how far should we go with this technology? The door is wide open for engineers and scientists to explore new ways to use virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual and/or augmented reality experiences already assist doctors, and they also help consumers, too. Major technology companies are exploring new ways to integrate this technology into everyday gadgets like glasses, and our phones already include artificial intelligence in the form of virtual assistants. Technology could advance to the point of machines or AI taking over; in the automotive industry, the self-driving car is in the future. Maybe retail stores will use virtual reality to allow for customers to try on clothes virtually using a personal avatar. And, in the world of healthcare and especially mental health, virtual visits may be the norm during Covid. But there are potential downsides to using this technology, too. So how far is too far? Perhaps this is the question many experts may need to answer in the future.
Nissan Shifts to Digital to Adjust to Post-Pandemic World
February 8, 2021
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted the global economy. The economic effects of the pandemic can be felt in nearly every sector, including the automotive industry. In this industry, the global health crisis has led to supply chain interruptions, assembly plant closures, production delays, and ultimately, lower automotive sales. But now that vaccines are being distributed, the automotive industry must focus on planning for a post-pandemic world. One automotive manufacturer that is already adapting to the changing times is Nissan. It was recently reported that Nissan informed its board that the company was building a “complete, end-to-end digital journey” that would allow automotive consumers to purchase vehicles online. What will this shopping experience look like? How will consumers respond? Here’s what you need to know about Nissan’s bold shift in strategy: THE EVOLUTION OF THE AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMER’S BUYING JOURNEY The way in which the average automotive consumer shops for a vehicle has drastically changed over the years. In the past, consumers who were interested in purchasing a new vehicle started their buying journey by visiting local dealerships. During these visits, consumers would learn about different vehicles, compare and contrast models, ask questions, take test drives, and discuss pricing and financing. They worked one-on-one with sales representatives at local dealerships and had the opportunity to explore vehicles in person. They wouldn’t limit themselves to one dealership, either. The average automotive consumer used to visit five dealerships before making a purchase decision. Visiting multiple dealerships would help consumers gather as much information as possible before deciding which vehicle to purchase. The entire buying journey—from conducting research to completing the transaction—took place inside local dealerships. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Nissan-Shifts-to-Digital2.jpg] But now, times have changed. Today’s automotive consumers typically start their buying journey online, where they conduct research, compare and contrast models, and look up information on local dealerships. In fact, Google estimates that twice as many automotive consumers start the car buying process online instead of in a dealership. They complete the information gathering stage of the buying process online, so they don’t need to visit as many dealerships before making a purchase decision. Now, the average consumer only visits two dealerships before purchasing a vehicle. Even when today’s consumers visit dealerships, they use their smartphones to connect to the internet for real-time advice and information. As they walk through the showroom, they may look up prices at other dealerships located nearby to make sure they are getting the best deal. This means the buying journey for the average automotive consumer now occurs in two places: online and in dealerships. HOW COVID-19 AFFECTED THE AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMER’S BUYING JOURNEY The automotive consumer’s buying journey shifted further into the digital world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is primarily because many consumers are still hesitant to visit automotive dealerships in person due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. These concerns have led to a rise in demand for online vehicle sales. McKinsey recently surveyed automotive consumers on their attitudes toward shopping for and buying a new vehicle. Forty-five percent of U.S. consumers surveyed said that they purchased their last vehicle in-person at a dealership. But only 35% of U.S. consumers surveyed say that they plan on purchasing their next vehicle in-person at a dealership. Nissan Shifts to Digital to Adjust to Post-Pandemic World [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Nissan-Shifts-to-Digital3.jpg] The survey revealed that 38% of U.S. consumers plan on purchasing their next vehicle via an app or website. Another 27% of these consumers intend on completing their purchase over the phone or through email. Based on this data, it is clear that automotive consumers prefer shopping online for a vehicle over shopping for a vehicle at a dealership. This preference for online vehicle sales was strongest among the youngest consumers surveyed. Less than one-third of these consumers want to buy a vehicle in-person at a dealership. Instead, this demographic would like to complete the entire process either online, over the phone, or via email. This results of this survey also revealed that today’s consumers expect automotive companies to offer a digital buying experience that is equivalent to the in-person buying experience. For example, the respondents showed a very strong interest in contactless services such as virtual test drives and home car deliveries. About half of the respondents even indicated that they were willing to pay more for these services in order to avoid making a trip to a dealership. The fact that these consumers are willing to pay more for a positive digital buying experience shows how strongly they feel about this issue. HOW IS NISSAN RESPONDING TO THE SHIFT IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR? The message from consumers couldn’t be clearer: they want the option to buy a vehicle online. At least one automotive manufacturer is listening to these consumers. During a board meeting last year, a board member asked Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta what the company was planning on doing to address consumers’ hesitancy to visit showrooms in-person. Gupta informed the board that the company was in the process of creating a “complete, end-to-end digital journey” for consumers who were interested in purchasing a vehicle online. He explained that this would allow consumers to conduct research, compare models, schedule at-home test drives in vehicles delivered directly from a local dealership, and complete their purchase all from the comfort of their home. In other words, it would eliminate the need to visit a Nissan dealership in person to purchase a vehicle. Gupta acknowledged that the decision to create this digital buying experience was made with the post-pandemic world in mind. He explained that the shift in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic will not disappear once the global health crisis has been resolved. Instead, he believes that they will become permanent, meaning consumers will continue to prefer shopping online for vehicles even when it is safe to visit dealerships in person. This doesn’t mean that consumers won’t be able to purchase a Nissan vehicle in-person at a dealership. The manufacturer will still offer in-person dealership sales, but now consumers will also have the option of purchasing a vehicle online if that’s what they prefer. Nissan Shifts to Digital to Adjust to Post-Pandemic World [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Nissan-Shifts-to-Digital.jpg] THE BENEFITS OF CREATING A DIGITAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE FOR AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMERS Nissan could benefit from creating a digital shopping experience for automotive consumers in a number of ways. The most obvious benefit is that this digital shopping experience will allow Nissan to target consumers who prefer shopping online as opposed to at a dealership. There are still a lot of automotive manufacturers who don’t offer online sales, so for now, Nissan has the opportunity to sell to these consumers without much competition. The shift to online sales also benefits Nissan from a profitability angle, according to two sources who spoke to the media. These sources revealed that building this digital platform would drastically reduce Nissan’s operational and marketing expenses. It would also give the automotive manufacturer the chance to gather more data on consumers who are shopping for vehicles online. This data could help Nissan gain a deeper understanding of their target audience so they can finetune their marketing strategies to better meet these consumers’ needs in the future. Shifting to online sales also ensures that Nissan customers won’t be limited to purchasing the vehicles that are in-stock at their local dealership. The automotive manufacturer will allow online customers to search inventories from all Nissan stories in a specific area. Since online customers won’t be limited to searching through a single store’s inventory, they will have a better chance at finding the vehicle they want. THE CHALLENGES OF CREATING A DIGITAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE FOR AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMERS There are certainly benefits to launching a new digital shopping experience for automotive consumers. But Nissan will also face a number of challenges when implementing this new strategy. Nissan will likely face some resistance from franchise dealers, who typically rely on the standard showroom strategy to sell to automotive consumers. Moving to the digital world—in addition to offering contactless services for digital consumers—is a big jump for these dealers. Nissan must be willing to work closely with them to help them see the benefits in this strategy shift and successfully adjust to the changes. However, sales representatives typically work on commission, so they may view this shift to digital sales as a threat to their livelihoods since it may lead to fewer in-person sales. Nissan must also be willing to invest in the technologies to build this digital platform for consumers. Certain technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, can greatly enhance the online shopping experience for consumers. For example, virtual reality technology can provide consumers with the opportunity to take virtual test drives. Augmented reality, on the other hand, can be used to help consumers explore the interior and exterior of a vehicle without ever leaving their home. Investing in these technologies could help Nissan stand out among other competitors who are also shifting to digital sales. There’s no question that digital sales will play an important role in the future of the automotive industry. Even though shifting to digital sales presents certain challenges, it’s safe to say that many other automotive manufacturers will follow Nissan’s lead to create a unique digital buying experience for their consumers. This shift to the digital world doesn’t spell death for the automotive dealership. But dealers must work with manufacturers to understand their new role in the ever changing automotive industry.