Blog

RELAYCARS

The Best Car Apps for Consumers

The Best Car Apps for Consumers

October 27, 2021

There is an app for almost everything that a consumer might want. Car manufacturers also offer their own car apps for consumers. In addition to pursuing what every major brand might offer, there also are car apps to help consumers shop for a new vehicle, navigate the road, find inexpensive gas…and more. Here are the best car apps for whatever a driver might need on the road, when relaxing at home or even when they are traveling off the beaten path! THE BEST CAR APPS FOR SHOPPING Shopping for a new car is a process for many buyers. In fact, the Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study: Pandemic Edition detailed that, on average, buyers spend more than 13 hours buying that car…but more than seven hours was spent online shopping…and researching. Using apps can help navigate the shopping journey and help consumers research and find the car they want to purchase. Apps from manufacturers are often free and allow buyers to peruse new models at their convenience. Websites like RelayCars let consumers research their favorite models via augmented reality. Drop a car in the real-world environment and explore it inside and out! RelayCars even lets consumers view the vehicle in all the model’s available paint hues. Augmented reality and virtual reality showroom apps can help buyers preview different cars without traveling to the dealership. If apps are advertised as augmented reality, the camera will be used to project the real environment and show where the user wants the graphic element to be dropped. Virtual reality car apps don’t necessarily require a headset, although some might. Instead, many virtual reality apps might just show the cars in a virtual environment within the app. Users might select a car that they want to preview in the virtual showroom; like augmented reality apps, virtual reality apps might let users see inside the car and/or change paint colors. However, many manufacturers often use augmented reality for these types of preview experiences. Looking for how much a vehicle is worth or other specs? Kelley Blue Book offers its own app via the App Store or Google Play for convenient, on-the-go research. Find details on any car! Car Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Car-Apps-for-Owners.jpg] CAR APPS FOR OWNERS Apps can be tailored for owners to help them navigate their vehicle or to even receive updates about the mechanics of their vehicle. Manufacturers often offer personalized apps to car owners. General Motors brands (like Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac), BMW, Kia, Toyota, Honda and many other manufacturers offer apps! Apps might link to the vehicle to allow owners to view data related to diagnostics; apps also could allow owners to remotely access other info, too. CAR APPS TO FIND CHEAP GAS Gas and fuel prices might be on the rise. However, consumers can use apps to help them find the cheapest gas nearby. Try these apps to make the hunt for inexpensive fuel much less of a drive: * GasBuddy (available for Apple and Android devices!) * Gas Guru (available for Apple and Android) * Cheap Gas Anyplace For consumers who have rewards for a specific fuel station or to even pay for gas via a mobile device, download apps for BP, Circle K, Speedway, Chevron, Shell, Sunoco and more. Search for a favorite brand or filling station on Google Play or on the App Store. CAR APPS FOR RENTALS AND RIDESHARES Car in the shop? Heading on vacation and need a rental for the week? There are apps for the major car rental companies to  help secure that rental. Consumers can download Hertz, Enterprise, Expedia and more. Don’t want to pay for a rental? Download Uber or Lyft to hail an email service! Car Apps for Navigation [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Car-Apps-for-Navigation.jpg] CAR APPS FOR NAVIGATION Not all car owners have a brand new vehicle or a more recent vehicle that is equipped with an infotainment system that connects to smartphones. Some are driving older vehicles without this data. However, those who own a smartphone can buy an adapter that plugs into an older vehicle. This can mean that drivers could access convenient apps to aid their navigation. While they might not have a convenient screen to see GPS data, they can still use apps that can help them navigate via their drive…or just alert them to any issues up ahead. For help getting to an unfamiliar destination or for other traffic information, try these apps: * Waze (available for Apple and Android) * Sygic GPS Navigation (available for Apple and Android) * GPS Live Navigation (also available for Apple and Android) In addition, local state Departments of Transportation also could offer apps that show accidents, road closures and more. These apps could be beneficial when traveling in inclement weather. CAR APPS FOR LOCATING A PARKED CAR Parking lots can be a zoo. When parking at major attractions like theme parks, resorts, massive shopping centers and concert venues, drivers might be in a hurry to get to their event causing them to not pay attention to where they parked. Once they leave their venue, they might be absolutely stumped as to where their car is located. Some drivers might just have more difficulty remembering their surroundings than others, and they might be accustomed to losing track of their parking spot. Thankfully, there are apps to help locate a missing vehicle. Car owners can search for apps like ParkGo, Find My Parked Car (aptly named!), and Find My Car. There are many different options available via both Google Play and the App Store. In addition, car owners might be able to locate their vehicle via OnStar or another service. AUGMENTED REALITY CAR APPS FOR FUN Not all car apps are focused on consumer needs—like finding gas, shopping or even getting directions. Searching for car apps also can bring up fun experiences like augmented reality or even racing games. Using the Google app, consumers can hunt for augmented reality vehicles thanks to Google Search AR. A full list of augmented reality vehicles isn’t published by Google, and Google Search AR also includes anime characters like Hello Kitty, animals and even bugs (like the ladybug!). Augmented reality features on Google Search are a bit of a thrilling hunt…there’s no telling what might be uncovered! Vehicles (and other objects) via Google Search AR can be viewed in the user’s real-life environment. Drop a vehicle into the backyard or on the porch. See how it looks in the garage. These interactive and immersive tools can be used for fun…or to help consumers check out the car before going into the dealership. Car apps also can be fantasy-based—like racing games. Check out AR Race Car or Lightstream Racer (available on Apple’s App Store) for augmented reality racing! The app AR Toys: Playground lets users control remote controlled cars and create their own experience. Not interested in augmented reality? The race experience expands widely. There are many different car apps focused on racing; these range from popular apps like Mario Kart to races and apps aimed at adults. As with many game apps, some might be free while others come with a cost. Even free apps, though, might offer in-app purchases. Adults who know that snagging extras in the game will charge their account might know to be mindful, but children might not understand that those clicks could rack up some unexpected charges for parents. Turn off in-app purchases if kids are playing! CAR APPS FOR AUTO PARTS Some car owners might be completely fine with a few easy DIY repairs like changing out wiper blades or replacing a headlight. Car owners, though, also might need a little touch up paint (for tiny rock dings on the hood), new floor mats or other basic accessories. Shop auto parts and accessories via car apps from Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and NAPA Auto Parts. All three major auto parts store apps are available via both the App Store and Google Play. CAR APPS FOR PRACTICING FOR THE WRITTEN TEST AND STATE DMV APPS Car owners with teens who want to get their permit can find apps to help them practice their driving and road safety knowledge. Try apps like DMV Permit Practice DMV Driving Test Driver Start and others. For already licensed drivers, some states offer apps for their DMV. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles helps users find their local office, test their knowledge with practice tests, and even renew vehicle registration. While not all states offer an app, a quick search via Google Play or the App Store can help drivers figure out if their state has an app for their DMV needs. CAR APPS GALORE! Car owners can find car apps for almost any need. It’s nearly impossible to hunt down every car app for Android and Apple devices. There are car apps to find gas, to practice written tests for a new driver permit, to find auto parts, to help with navigation…and of course, there are car apps that are just for fun.

Augmented Reality Car Dashboard Transform the Driving Experience

Augmented Reality Car Dashboard Transform the Driving Experience

October 25, 2021

Car manufacturers are integrating more high-tech upgrades in newer vehicle models in response to both the ever-evolving digitization trends and perhaps consumer demand as well. As smartphones have become the dominant personal communication device, manufacturers have opted to include compatible infotainment systems as standard features. Augmented reality also has become standard in some aspects of automobile design. In addition, manufacturers also have designed sleeker, smarter augmented reality car dashboards that transform the driving experience with enhanced safety features and advanced navigation systems. Augmented Reality Car Dashboard [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Standard-Augmented-Reality-Features.jpg] STANDARD AUGMENTED REALITY FEATURES Augmented reality showcases the user’s real world environment and transposes digital graphics within that environment. While augmented reality has been mainstream thanks to the wildly popular video game app Pokemon GO, this technology also has been incorporated within daily life for many consumers…perhaps without them even realizing that what they use is, in fact, augmented reality. Vehicles have included backup cameras for more than a decade; these cameras have aided drivers in seeing hidden obstacles lurking behind them or even in navigating tight parking lots or garages. While the earlier backup cameras merely showed the real-world view directly behind the driver, over time and thanks to tech advancements, these cameras have evolved to feature digitized grid lines that show the driver their predicted turning radius. These gridlines and other graphics displayed on the screen are an everyday example of the use of augmented reality. Many cars also include front cameras that show the driver the view from the front end, and other cameras also could be positioned around the vehicle to give a full-view of the vehicle as it navigates tight spaces. Drivers can easily discern if their wheels are turned at the correct angle to avoid contact with another vehicle (or obstacle). In many vehicles, sensors will detect these obstacles and alert the driver with a beeping sound or other warning noise. Newer vehicles might even incorporate augmented reality into the rearview mirror. These ‘smart rearview mirrors’ also access the rear camera to show the driver a more accurate view behind them. These mirrors are especially useful during night driving or in rainy conditions. While the smart rear view mirror isn’t always augmented reality enhanced (although it can feature AR), it does provide the driver with clearer views behind the car. Nissan introduced its smart rear view mirror in 2015; the mirror enables users to switch between the camera view and a traditional mirror. However, back in 2010, the Ford Fiesta was incorporated with augmented reality into its rear view mirror. This is how drivers were viewing the data from the backup camera! Augmented Reality Car Dashboard [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Augmented-Reality-Heads-Up-Displays.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY HEADS-UP DISPLAYS Infotainment systems in most vehicles are standard now. They can sync with smartphones, and this compatibility and connectivity allows drivers to answer calls without grabbing their phone. In addition, data from the phone can be displayed and streamed via the infotainment screen. Drivers can play their favorite music from their playlist on the go. They also can send texts via voice command or even just pull up the map app from their phone. However, the infotainment system isn’t the only site within the car that’s interwoven with technology. Cars are getting smarter, and as many drivers have likely enjoyed the convenience and enhanced safety capabilities of augmented reality features, more aspects of the vehicle are incorporating this virtual-type experience. Augmented reality heads-up displays are lighting up the windshield–and perhaps the dashboard—to provide drivers with even more digital data during their drive. These displays are not simply just graphic elements projected onto the dashboard; newer heads-up displays are incorporating artificial intelligence to provide drivers with advanced data about what obstacles and/or hazards might lie ahead. PANASONIC Panasonic’s augmented reality dashboard is in development and might drive into new vehicle models by 2024. This advanced HUD could provide drivers with a safer driving experience and is programmed to warn them of impending issues ahead of them. Panasonic’s HUD will showcase the car’s speed and will integrate digital graphics (AR) to help show drivers the route ahead of them. The HUD also will point out obstacles and pedestrians; for example, a biker on the side of the road is marked with a digitized yellow bike! There also will be predictive directions provided to drivers, much like a traditional GPS system. Drivers will be provided with data (via graphics) about how close their next turn is and where to turn. In addition, the HUD will adjust when the driver’s gaze changes. MERCEDES-BENZ SlashGear reported on Mercedes-Benz’ heads-up display, which debuted back in 2020, and the new innovative HUD was noted as being the first with augmented reality. The HUD displays pertinent driving data in AR to help driver’s safely navigate the road during night…or day. HUD data shows speed and directional arrows to prompt drivers on when to take that turn. In addition, there are lights that help drivers understand how far to distance themselves from other drivers. Since the release, many Mercedes-Benz dealers are highlighting the HUD for potential buyers. What makes these displays so cool is that they don’t need a separate screen; data is via the windshield. CADILLAC The new Lyriq also features an augmented reality HUD. The Lyriq will use the Envisics AR HUD to display data for drivers. Envisics’ HUD technology also marks obstacles for drivers; it seems that the HUD could include a very graphic-heavy interface with all the pertinent data drivers need. BMW BMW also offers a heads-up display that incorporates augmented reality. BMW’s HUD offers drivers the following data: driver speed, the speed limit, warnings, lane guidance, directional assistance, entertainment menu and more. The HUD is an option for newer BMW models. NISSAN While manufacturers might be focused on augmented reality HUDs to help enhance and improve the driving experience, Nissan is taking augmented reality to another level. Invisible to Visible (I2V) is an in-development technology that utilizes augmented reality, and it could transform the driver’s journey. While I2V would provide warnings about impending obstacles and other future road hazards, it also would incorporate avatars to keep drivers company and even help them drive. Drivers would wear glasses that allow them to see avatars in the car. These avatars could be family or friends who would keep the driver company on their journey. Or the avatar could even be a driving instructor or another type of guide. I2V also would let cloudy skies be transformed into beautiful clear skies…with the help of augmented reality! And drivers having an issue finding a place to park also could get help from I2V. Augmented Reality Car Dashboard [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Will-an-Augmented-Reality-Car-Dashboard-Become-a-Standard-Feature.jpg] WILL AN AUGMENTED REALITY CAR DASHBOARD BECOME A STANDARD FEATURE? Luxury manufacturers offer these high-tech digitized dashboards as an option, but what about other vehicle models? Will an augmented reality car dashboard heads-up display one day become a standard feature? As technology evolves, what was once considered an upgrade or a high-end option eventually becomes standard or mainstream. For example, the smartphone was not always an affordable type of cell phone. When it was first introduced, the smartphone was considered a luxury product. Now, however, most everyone owns some type of smartphone. In fact, almost every teenager owns a smartphone! Flip phones and other standardized cell phones are almost considered obsolete. When backup cameras were first introduced they were an upgraded feature. Cars did not include these high-tech options as a standard. Now, though, cars do include a backup camera as a standard feature. Most buyers expect their vehicle to include reverse guidance of some sort. And these camera-guided options also likely helped prevent some fender benders or parking lot scrapes. The augmented reality HUD is very much an upgrade now. Luxury manufacturers are offering them as an enhanced feature, although some could be making them standard. However, economical vehicles that are lower priced or even moderately priced vehicles likely are not offering this high tech upgrade as an option. Eventually, though, as more buyers become acquainted with this type of technology and as newer, more advanced HUDs are introduced, these earlier models might be included in more economical models…and they could one day even become a standard feature. DRIVING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY While a standard augmented reality dashboard might be years away, drivers can still enjoy augmented reality assistance on the road. Many current models are equipped with standard backup cameras that feature digitized augmented reality gridlines. Some drivers might even enjoy multiple cameras that give them projections showcasing multiple vantage points of their vehicle. In addition, some infotainment screens will project GPS maps that feature real world environment views with digitized arrows and other graphics that offer directional assistance. And those with vehicles that offer smart rear view mirrors also might see augmented reality data within their mirror. Augmented reality was projected to be a $9.5 billion market in 2021 for mobile. As augmented reality begins to be embraced as a mainstream technology, more auto manufacturers might utilize it for enhanced vehicle safety and navigational features. However, the more advanced augmented reality HUD might not be available into a wider market range until this tech evolves further and the once advanced AR HUD becomes less expensive and more accessible for the average consumer.

8 Exciting Features Found On Real Futuristic Cars

8 Exciting Features Found On Real Futuristic Cars

October 20, 2021

The first automobile was created in 1885 by Karl Benz, a German engineer. Automobiles have changed drastically since this first model was introduced. From the seat belt to the electric motor, innovative technologies have led to significant improvements in the design, efficiency, and performance of modern vehicles.  Most vehicles on the road today are loaded with advanced technologies and incredible features that make the driving experience safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable for consumers. These vehicles may not fly in the air like those seen on The Jetsons, but they are built with futuristic, imaginative features. Here are 8 exciting features found on real futuristic cars: VEHICLE-TO-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION Some vehicles are designed with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology. This sophisticated technology allows vehicles to send and receive information to and from one another up to 10 times per second. Sharing information in this manner can help warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations ahead. For example, say a driver approaches an intersection where the visibility is limited. The driver may not see any cars coming due to this limited visibility, but the vehicle may be able to use this technology to detect another car that is quickly approaching the intersection. As a result, the V2V system can warn the driver to wait for this car to pass before traveling through the intersection. In other words, the system can warn the driver about a vehicle that isn’t even visible to them yet. This technology has the potential to make the roads much safer. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V communication technology could prevent over 600,000 accidents per year. Driver Monitoring [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Driver-Monitoring.jpg] DRIVER MONITORING A number of automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, and Volvo, sell vehicles with built-in driver monitoring systems. Each of these systems is unique, but in general, they are designed to monitor the driver’s behavior to look for signs that the driver could be putting themselves in danger. For example, the Subaru DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System (DMS) uses a camera located in the dashboard to track the driver’s head and eye movements. If the driver takes their eyes off of the road for more than three seconds, the system will issue a visual and audible warning telling them to focus. If the driver does not heed this warning, the system will begin to slow the vehicle down until it has come to a complete stop. The system will also call for emergency help if the driver remains unresponsive after these warnings.  Some Mercedes-Benz models are designed with a driver monitoring system that looks for signs of drowsy driving. If the system believes the driver is tired, it will suggest that the driver pull over and take a break before getting back on the road. Systems like these are designed to make the roads safer by reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving and drowsy driving.  TRAFFIC SIGN RECOGNITION Many real futuristic cars on the market today are built with traffic sign recognition systems. These systems use front-mounted cameras to scan the vehicle’s surroundings for traffic signs such as speed limit signs, stop signs, merge signs, and more. If the system detects a traffic sign, it will display the information directly in front of the driver in their digital instrument panel.  These systems keep drivers informed of the changing rules of the road, which can help them avoid tickets and traffic accidents. For example, if a driver is traveling in an area they aren’t familiar with, they may not realize that the speed limit changes frequently. They may not even see the speed limit signs if they are traveling at night.  However, if they are driving a car with traffic sign recognition, the system will display speed limit signs on the driver’s instrument panel to let the driver know what speed they should be traveling at all times.  Augmented Reality Heads-Up Displays [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Augmented-Reality-Heads-Up-Displays.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY HEADS-UP DISPLAYS Augmented reality heads-up displays (HUDs) are fairly new, but they are becoming increasingly popular. HUDs are systems that use augmented reality technology to project important information onto the windshield or a specially designed panel located underneath the windshield. The information that is displayed is only visible to the driver and will not affect the driver’s visibility.  These systems are used to keep drivers informed of their surroundings and their driving habits. For example, a HUD may project blind spot warnings to tell the driver when someone is traveling alongside them. A HUD may also alert the driver that they are running low on gas and need to find a gas station. Some HUDs are built with traffic sign recognition technology, which means traffic signs that are detected are displayed directly on the driver’s windshield. HUDs provide the driver with all of the information they need to stay safe as they travel to their final destination. Because the information is displayed in such a visible spot, the driver won’t need to look down or take their eyes off of the road to access it. AUTOMATIC PARKING Some drivers find it very difficult to safely park their vehicle, especially in situations that involve parallel parking. Fortunately, automotive manufacturers now sell vehicles with built-in automatic parking systems.  The BMW 7 Series is designed with Parking Assistant Plus, which helps with parallel and perpendicular parking. The system uses sensors to scan the vehicle’s surroundings for available parking spots. Once the system finds a spot, the driver must turn on the Parking Assistant Plus system by pushing a button on the dashboard.  Holding this button down allows the system to take control over the vehicle’s accelerator, brakes, and steering so it can safely maneuver into the parking space. All the driver needs to do is hold the button down until their vehicle is safely in the space. Not all parking systems are this advanced, though. Some automatic parking systems will simply provide the driver with step-by-step instructions on how to park in a space. For instance, these systems will tell the driver when to apply the brakes and which direction to turn the steering wheel. In-Car WiFi [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/In-Car-WiFi.jpg] IN-CAR WIFI Many vehicles on the road today are designed with in-car WiFi to help passengers stay connected at all times. Some of the vehicles with this feature include the Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Dart, Audi A3, and Mercedes-Benz C Class. The number of devices that can connect to in-car WiFi will vary depending on the model. The Chevrolet Cruze, for example, allows you to connect up to seven devices to the in-car WiFi. However, up to 10 devices can connect to the Chrysler 200’s in-car WiFi.  Even though the internet speed won’t be as fast as it is at home, in-car WiFi allows passengers to surf the web, watch videos, respond to emails, and more without eating into their limited data plan.  Most vehicles that are designed with in-car WiFi offer consumers a free trial period to test out this feature. Then, consumers must pay a small monthly fee in order to continue accessing their in-car WiFi.  WIRELESS CHARGING Being able to charge your phone while driving is not new. In the past, you could charge your phone by connecting your charger to your vehicle’s USB port or cigarette lighter charging port. But this only worked if you remembered to bring your charger with you on your trip.  Now, however, consumers don’t need to carry around these cords to charge their phones while driving. This is because many vehicles are now designed with wireless chargers installed directly in the center console or within the dashboard. All you need to do to charge your phone is place it on one of these wireless chargers. There’s no need to connect it to a charging port–it simply needs to lay flat on the wireless charging pad.  These chargers aren’t as efficient as standard chargers, though. In fact, if your phone has a thick, protective case, you may need to remove it before using the wireless charging pad. But despite this, the addition of a wireless charging pad has made traveling by car more convenient. Enhanced Navigation Systems [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Enhanced-Navigation-Systems.jpg] ENHANCED NAVIGATION SYSTEMS It’s much easier for drivers to get where they need to go thanks to the enhanced navigation systems found in many of today’s vehicles. Unlike older systems, today’s navigation systems provide drivers with a wealth of information as they travel to their final destination.  These systems are designed to provide turn-by-turn directions, speed limits, and traffic warnings. Some systems are even capable of re-routing the driver if a traffic accident or traffic jam is detected ahead. Today’s navigation systems also tell drivers more about their surroundings, including where to go to find electric car chargers, gas stations, and rest stops. Because these systems provide so much information, there’s no need for the driver to take their eyes off of the road to look something up on their phone. These are some of the many exciting features that are found in today’s real futuristic cars, but there’s no telling what cars of the future will look like. Because the automotive industry is constantly evolving, it’s safe to say that manufacturers will continue to come up with new and creative ways to improve vehicles even further in the future.

VR Marketing Creates Consumer Experiences in a Virtual or Augmented Realm

VR Marketing Creates Consumer Experiences in a Virtual or Augmented Realm

October 18, 2021

The idea of using a phone to see virtual reality products and images in front of the consumer’s eyes seems fantastical, and years ago this was something that was virtually inconceivable. Tech evolves fast, though. Back in the 90s, virtual reality games were just hitting the arcade, and teens found them to be the coolest. Virtual reality gaming is now an at-home reality, and the headsets are now….affordable! There are augmented reality apps for phones, and companies are using this tech to their advantage, too. VR marketing lets consumers experience products in a virtual or augmented realm. This tech-savvy marketing creates an immersive and interactive experience, keeping the consumer intrigued and engaged. During the pandemic, however, augmented and virtual reality gave companies the best tools to reach consumers when they couldn’t visit stores. Augmented and virtual reality experiences helped recreate the in-person experiences like trying on products or even previewing them in the home. Other VR marketing experiences enabled customers to even check out new car models…from home! THE RISE OF VR MARKETING AND AR MARKETING EXPERIENCES In January 2021, ReseasrchandMarkets.com released a Covid-19 Impact Analysis for the augmented reality and virtual reality markets. The analysis estimates that the virtual reality market will more than triple by 2025—from $6.1 billion in 2020 to $20.9 billion in 2025. In addition, the augmented reality market will see overwhelming growth over five years, soaring from $15.3 billion in 2020 to more than $70 billion by 2025. While these are projections, the figures represent the changing patterns that reverberated when Covid hit the globe. While Covid might have accelerated the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality experiences offered by companies, these offerings were becoming more widespread even before a pandemic threatened to shut down the globe. Businesses in different sectors have been experimenting with augmented reality experiences via online platforms; cosmetics brands and stores have introduced virtual try on augmented reality apps or experiences. Using a phone or tablet camera, the device can be transformed into both a virtual mirror and a virtual makeover studio. For example, Ulta’s GLAMlab lets shoppers click on different hues of eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick to try them on. With just a tap of a finger, the makeup magically appears on the user’s lips and eyes. Looking for a new hair hue? There are augmented reality apps and experiences for that, too! Consumers can even preview different haircuts using augmented reality before they hit the salon! For consumers, these experiences are both fun and a convenience that allows them to see a product before they commit. For businesses, augmented reality marketing experiences like the try-on offerings could help decrease customer returns and increase customer satisfaction. Customers might even make additional purchases if they find a new color or product that they simply can’t resist! VR Marketing in Tourism [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/VR-Marketing-in-Tourism.jpg] VR MARKETING IN TOURISM Virtual reality and augmented reality marketing also swept into the tourism industry during Covid. Museums across the globe shutdown, and while some already offered some virtual experiences, others might not have been so prepared. Survival could have required online adjustment and creating experiences that homebound tourists could enjoy via their devices. Museums provided virtual tours. Sitting at home, anyone could take a peek at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They also could view different exhibits at the Louvre. Some museums even offered more one-on-one experiences. Private virtual tours could have been arranged. Online classes also were offered; kids and adults might have been able to participate in a variety of cultural experiences. Outdoor exhibits or cultural sites might have been open, but areas that normally experienced heavy crowds might have closed. During Covid—and even still today—UNESCO offers virtual tours of World Heritage Sites. Experience distant lands and cultural sites from the comfort of home that can be accessed through Google Arts & Culture and/or YouTube. Virtual tours include Mudejar Architecture of Aragon, Spain; Pampulha Modern Ensemble in Brazil; Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape in Spain; Kilimanjaro National Park in the United Republic of Tanzania; Le Canal du Midi in France and several more! The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History even offers its own augmented reality experience for guests. Download the app Skin and Bones to use within the museum’s “Bone Hall.” The app projects details about the skeletons found within the exhibit. The app also can be used remotely for guests who can’t visit the museum; just print out pictures of the exhibits and the app will do the rest! Augmented and Virtual Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality.jpg] AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TO…RELAX After a year and several months of craziness, most Americans are zapped, stressed out and ready for life to go back to normal. Unfortunately, those day spas weren’t always open for business. Or perhaps some consumers just don’t feel comfortable venturing beyond essential errands. Some tech companies have even offered relaxing augmented reality experiences via apps. Need to chill out from home? Gardzen-AR Meditation is augmented reality meditation. The app projects calming images into the room and gives users wonderful relaxing sounds for calming meditation. FishingGO AR turns an area into an aquarium. Users can even get info about the fish. But sitting in a virtual aquarium might be soothing for those who need a mini tropical vacation…at home. Some spas, though, are offering their own augmented or virtual reality experiences to enable guests to immerse into a relaxed state. American Spa reports that several spas use Guided Meditation VR. Guests sit in a massage chair and can escape virtually to the environment of their choice. The spa also includes sensory features to add to the ambiance and experience. For guests in areas that are far removed from tropical paradise, this virtual escape may be a much needed getaway. For half an hour, guests are transported and soothed by the experience. Now, not only can guests just go to the spa for a massage, facial and mani/pedi, but they also can take a break from their daily reality in the tropics. No need for a plane ticket…just wear goggles! VR MARKETING AND AUGMENTED REALITY IN CAR SHOPPING The automobile industry probably wasn’t as prepared to pivot to online as the other industries during Covid. However, the industry was forced to spring into the web to offer online buying (in some areas) and other virtual experiences. But even before the pandemic, some companies were already jumping into augmented and virtual reality to heighten the user experience. Augmented reality has been used to allow customers to virtually interact with cars from their home…or anywhere. While the industry might have offered some virtual reality experiences, too, augmented reality has really been the standout technology because it’s so widely available via phones and other devices. For marketing purposes, augmented reality is used to allow customers to see vehicles up close…and even virtually interact with the models. This technology also has allowed consumers to gain additional information during the research phase of their buying journey. For example, sites like RelayCars allow customers to drop the vehicle into their environment. Customers can walk around the car, look inside at the interior and even swap out the paint hue. While pictures can help customers gain some perspective about the design of the car, photos don’t provide context in other ways. However, augmented reality showcases a model of the vehicle that can even be life-sized. The consumer can choose to drop their dream car anywhere; they can even preview the vehicle in the driveway or see it parked in the garage. VR marketing and augmented reality marketing is a benefit for both consumers and businesses. There isn’t a forced commitment expected from the consumer; swiping on a virtual blush could lead a consumer to a new favorite product. Or they could discover that the hue looks awful. For businesses, technology might help lower returns and dissatisfaction from customers. If they can see a product before they buy it, there is no surprise. They might even stay within the app or experience trying out other products. Augmented and virtual reality also lets individuals experience the unexpected…and perhaps even the once unattainable. The consumer also could visit faraway lands that introduce them to other sites and culture. Augmented and virtual reality opens doors and possibilities. That virtual tour could lead to a real-life tour years later. Even car shopping can be simplified thanks to augmented and virtual reality. The old cliché is that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But for cars, how much information can be gathered from a two-dimensional image? Buyers want to interact; they want to see that vehicle. During Covid, virtual or augmented reality experiences might have been a great resource in previewing and researching different cars. With augmented reality, the vehicle appears in the real environment. Users can change the paint color. They can walk around the car…and look inside. The car comes to life; the user is in control. The augmented reality and virtual reality market is expected to grow dramatically over the next five years. By 2025, the augmented reality experiences that consumers know today might have evolved into something beyond today’s imagination. Will sensory experiences be integrated into augmented reality? Will shopping become a virtual reality experience? Maybe those much anticipated augmented reality glasses will be the norm…and AR will appear before our eyes without an app. The virtual road might be augmented with all types of possibilities for the future!

Categories: Virtual Reality
What You Can Do In A Toyota Augmented Reality Showroom

What You Can Do In A Toyota Augmented Reality Showroom

October 15, 2021

Modern consumers are comfortable buying almost anything online. But until recently, most consumers still purchased vehicles in person at dealerships rather than online. However, the COVID-19 pandemic left many consumers with no other choice but to shop online for a new car and now, things may never go back to business as usual. In 2018, only 1% of U.S. car buyers purchased their vehicle online. In 2020, however, nearly 30% of all new car sales were completed online. Based on these statistics, it’s clear that the consumer car buying journey has changed.  The car buying process no longer begins inside a dealership’s showroom–it starts online. That’s why so many automotive companies, including Toyota, are now embracing new technologies that make it easier for consumers to shop online.  One of these technologies is augmented reality, which is used to power the innovative RelayCars’ Toyota augmented reality showroom experience. How does this augmented reality showroom work? Why should automotive consumers visit this showroom? Here’s what you need to know: HOW DOES AN AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM WORK? Before learning how this type of showroom works, it’s important to understand the technology that powers it. Augmented reality is technology that allows the user to superimpose photos, audio, and other digital elements onto their real world environment. In other words, it allows the user to blend elements of the digital world and real world together. Augmented reality showrooms use this technology to create a realistic automotive showroom experience for users. The technology allows the user to superimpose lifelike digital models of various vehicles onto their real world surroundings. Because the digital models are so realistic, the user will feel as if they are actually standing in front of the vehicles. Thanks to this technology, automotive manufacturers and dealers can offer consumers the chance to visit a showroom without ever leaving home.  WHAT TO DO INSIDE THE TOYOTA AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM There are many reasons why consumers may want to step inside a Toyota augmented reality showroom, including: * Explore Vehicles * Learn About Different Models * Personalize Vehicles * Make Purchase Decisions Toyota Augmented Reality Showroom [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Explore-Vehicles.jpg] EXPLORE VEHICLES The Toyota augmented reality showroom gives consumers the chance to explore various Toyota models just like they would if they were actually inside a dealership’s showroom. Once inside the showroom, consumers can walk around the outside of the vehicle, rotate it to see it from every angle, and zoom in or out to view it from different vantage points. Automotive consumers can even explore the interior of each vehicle inside the augmented reality showroom. They can sit in the driver’s seat to see what it’s like behind the wheel. Then, they can turn in any direction to examine every inch of the vehicle’s interior. This gives consumers the opportunity to explore vehicles in an entirely new and exciting way. They no longer need to look at pictures of cars and wonder what the vehicle would look like in real life. Now, they can find out just by stepping inside an augmented reality showroom. LEARN ABOUT DIFFERENT MODELS There are no sales representatives inside an augmented reality showroom, which means consumers can’t turn around and ask someone a question about a vehicle. However, the showroom presents consumers with a wealth of information about each vehicle they are exploring. This allows them to learn about different models on their own. Automotive consumers can see general specs for every vehicle inside the augmented reality showroom. Some of the specs they will have access to for each vehicle include: * Make and model * Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) * Engine horsepower * Top speed * Time it takes for the car to travel from 0 to 60 mph Consumers won’t need to visit another website or conduct their own research to get the information they need. Instead, they can find everything they are looking for directly within the augmented reality showroom. PERSONALIZE VEHICLES Automotive consumers will also get a chance to personalize the vehicles they are exploring inside the augmented reality showroom.  For example, say a consumer wants to explore the latest Toyota Corolla model inside the augmented reality showroom. Once they select this model, they will have the option to personalize it by changing the exterior color. They can see all of the exterior paint colors that this specific model comes in before making their selection.  Once they choose a color, it will be applied to the vehicle so they can see exactly what it would look like. The paint colors that are shown in the showroom are accurate representations of what the colors look like in real life. This way, consumers won’t need to search Google images to see what a specific Toyota model looks like in different colors. They can explore all of their options within the Toyota augmented reality showroom. Toyota Augmented Reality Showroom [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Make-Purchase-Decisions.jpg] MAKE PURCHASE DECISIONS Buying a car is a big financial commitment, so some consumers may have trouble making a purchase decision. But fortunately, visiting the augmented reality showroom can help automotive consumers decide which vehicle they want to purchase.  Inside the showroom, consumers can explore different vehicles to learn more about their options. They may even discover makes and models that they weren’t considering prior to entering the showroom. Then, they can compare the specs of each vehicle to narrow down their options. This will help them decide which vehicle is right for them. The final step is personalizing it to decide which exterior color they like best.  All of the information they need to make a purchase decision is available within the augmented reality showroom.  WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VISITING THE TOYOTA AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM? Some of the many benefits of visiting the Toyota augmented reality showroom include: * Convenient * Reduces Time Spent At Dealership * Improves the Overall Shopping Experience CONVENIENT Looking at Toyota vehicles inside an augmented reality showroom is far more convenient than visiting a dealership’s showroom in person. Automotive consumers can now get the same dealership showroom experience without ever stepping foot outside of their house.  There’s no need to make an appointment, travel to a showroom, or carve time out of the day for the trip during normal business hours. The augmented reality showroom is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so consumers can visit it at whatever time is most convenient for them. This is one of the main benefits of the augmented reality showroom experience.  Toyota Augmented Reality Showroom [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Reduces-Time-Spent-At-Dealership.jpg] REDUCES TIME SPENT AT DEALERSHIP Automotive consumers can reduce the amount of time they spend at the dealership simply by using the augmented reality showroom during the car buying process. If they visit the augmented reality showroom, they can skip the trip to the dealership’s showroom. This will drastically reduce the length of their trip to the dealership.  Plus, the augmented reality showroom gives them access to all of the information they need to make a purchase decision. As a result, they won’t need to talk to sales representatives to learn more about their options or get help deciding which vehicle to purchase. They don’t even need to visit the dealership until they have made a decision and are ready to make a purchase.  All consumers need to do once they arrive at the dealership is complete their paperwork. They can get in and out of the dealership quickly thanks to the augmented reality showroom.  IMPROVES THE OVERALL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE Visiting an augmented reality showroom can significantly improve the overall car shopping experience for consumers.  All of the information they need to make a purchase decision is in one place, so consumers won’t need to spend hours visiting different websites to conduct research. This can simplify and speed up the car buying process for consumers.  Reducing the time spent at the dealership improves the overall shopping experience, too. This is because automotive consumers dread spending hours inside a dealership in order to purchase a new car.  In fact, one study revealed that customer satisfaction in the car buying process tends to decline after 90 minutes inside a dealership. By reducing the length of the trip to the dealership, the augmented reality showroom may increase customer satisfaction in the car buying experience.  Toyota Augmented Reality Showroom [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/How-Can-You-Experience-the-Toyota-Augmented-Reality-Showroom.jpg] HOW CAN YOU EXPERIENCE THE TOYOTA AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM? Step inside the RelayCars augmented reality showroom to begin exploring your favorite Toyota models. The RelayCars showroom is easy to use, so you don’t need to be tech-savvy to make the most out of your virtual trip. The RelayCars augmented reality showroom has an extensive library of over one thousand different vehicles. Even if you’re interested in browsing Toyota models, you may want to stick around to explore your other options. Inside the RelayCars showroom, you can tour models from countless automotive manufacturers, including Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Volkswagen, and more. The showroom is constantly updated with new models, so keep checking back to see what else there is to offer. The best part? You don’t need a pair of augmented reality glasses or a headset in order to access it. You can visit the RelayCars virtual showroom using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you’re ready to explore Toyotas, visit the RelayCars augmented reality showroom today.

A Guide to Using A Virtual Truck Customization Tool

A Guide to Using A Virtual Truck Customization Tool

October 13, 2021

Buying a vehicle is one of the biggest financial commitments you will make in your lifetime. This is especially true if you are planning on buying a truck. Pick-up trucks are typically more expensive than other passenger vehicles due to their size and weight. In 2019, the average cost of a new pick-up truck increased to $38,000, which is much higher than the average price of a new sedan, which decreased to $27,000 during the same year.  If you’re going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a pick-up truck, it’s important to make sure you are completely satisfied with your purchase. One way to do this is to explore your options and build the vehicle of your dreams using a virtual truck customization tool.  As its name suggests, a virtual truck customization tool is an online tool that allows you to preview what various features and options would look like on a specific truck model. How does it work? Where can you find this type of tool? Here’s what you should know: Virtual Truck Customization [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/How-Do-Virtual-Truck-Customization-Tools-Work.jpg] HOW DO VIRTUAL TRUCK CUSTOMIZATION TOOLS WORK? Truck customization tools are typically powered by virtual reality, augmented reality, and/or three-dimensional (3D) technology. These technologies are used to make the customization tools more realistic and lifelike to enhance the overall experience for the consumer. 3D technology is used to add depth to the vehicles so they don’t appear like flat, two-dimensional images on the screen.  Many virtual customization tools are supported by virtual reality technology. This innovative technology creates a fully immersive experience by transporting users to a computer-generated environment. The user will feel like they are actually in the simulated environment. They will even be able to interact with various elements of the simulated environment just like they would in the real world.  Thanks to this technology, consumers will feel like the vehicle they are actually standing in front of the vehicle they are customizing rather than looking at it through a screen.  Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not transport users to a simulated environment. Instead, it allows users to add digital elements such as sounds or images to their real world environment. In other words, it blends the digital world and real world together. A customization app powered by augmented reality may allow the user to project a digital model of their customized truck into their surroundings.  THE BENEFITS OF USING A VIRTUAL TRUCK CUSTOMIZATION TOOL There are countless reasons why you should use a virtual truck customization tool, including: * Discover new options. These tools can introduce you to customization options that you may not know about. For example, you may not know that a truck is available in a specific paint color or with a certain type of leather interior.  * Make smarter purchase decisions. If you’re thinking about upgrading your existing truck with new wheels, tires, or a paint job, using this type of tool can ensure you are satisfied with the end result. You can see what the upgrades would look like before you pay for them so you can make sure you will be happy with the final product.   * Research your options when buying a new truck. If you’re thinking about buying a new truck, skip the trip to the dealership and research your options from home using a virtual truck customization tool.  * Fun for truck lovers. Even if you aren’t planning on buying a new truck or upgrading your existing truck, you can still use these online tools for fun. Exploring different truck customization options is a great way for truck lovers to pass the time. WHAT ARE THE BEST VIRTUAL TRUCK CUSTOMIZATION TOOLS? There are a number of different virtual truck customization tools out there. Some of the best options include: * Carwrapper * Manufacturer Websites * Fuel Off Road * RelayCars Virtual Truck Customization [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Carwrapper.jpg] CARWRAPPER A car wrap is a vinyl film that is applied to the exterior of a vehicle to create a custom, unique look. If you’re thinking about getting a car wrap for your new truck, you may want to use the Carwrapper customization tool to see what a specific wrap will look like on the vehicle of your choice. To get started, open the Carwrapper app and select the make and model of the truck you want to customize. Then, choose one of the wrap material options from the app’s extensive library. You will also need to select a finish for the wrap material. You can choose a matte, glossy, chrome, metallic, or pearl finish for your custom wrap. Once you’re satisfied with your selections, apply the car wrap to the virtual vehicle to see what it looks like. Using this tool allows you to preview what a wrap will look like on your truck in advance so you don’t end up paying for something you don’t like. MANUFACTURER WEBSITES Nearly every automotive manufacturer has a virtual vehicle customization tool on their website. These tools allow consumers to select a make and model and customize it by choosing different features, paint colors, and other options.  These tools will usually tell you how much the vehicle is based on your selections. If you select optional add-on features, for example, this could increase the price of your truck. There is one downside to using a customization tool on a manufacturer’s website: your options are limited. For example, if you visit Toyota’s website, you will only be able to customize trucks manufactured by Toyota. This makes it difficult to compare your options when trying to decide which vehicle to purchase.  So if you are trying to decide whether you should purchase a Toyota Tundra or Chevrolet Silverado, for instance, you will need to visit two different websites to customize and compare these trucks.  Virtual Truck Customization [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Fuel-Off-Road.jpg] FUEL OFF ROAD Fuel Off Road is an online retailer that exclusively sells wheels and tires for trucks and other passenger vehicles. This retailer’s website has a virtual customization tool, however it only allows you to customize the vehicle’s wheels and tires. You cannot customize any other elements of the truck.  You also cannot choose a specific make or model when customizing your vehicle. Instead, the tool will simply show you what different wheels and tires would look like on a generic truck. Even though this tool does not offer as many features as other customization tools, it is a great way to preview what different wheels and tires will look like on your truck. If you’re thinking about upgrading your wheels and tires, you may want to consider using this tool first. RELAYCARS RelayCars is the best virtual truck customization tool for consumers. This tool, which is accessible via your smartphone or tablet, has an extensive library with over one thousand different sedans, SUVs, vans, high-end sports cars, and pick-up trucks.  After making your selections, explore the vehicle by zooming in or out. You can also rotate your custom vehicle to see it from every angle. Click or tap on “3D view” to examine a three-dimensional, realistic digital model of the vehicle. This tool also provides you with basic information about each vehicle you customize, including its price, fuel efficiency, and other general specs.

What is the Best Car Color Change App?

What is the Best Car Color Change App?

October 6, 2021

You will need to make a lot of decisions during the process of buying a car. You will need to choose a body style, make, model, transmission, drivetrain, and trim level, for starters. Another thing you will need to decide on is the color of the vehicle. Most makes and models come in a wide range of colors, but you may not be able to see every color option in person before deciding which vehicle to purchase. How can you make an informed decision regarding the color of your vehicle? Fortunately, there’s an app for that. A color change app allows you to preview what different paint colors would look like on the exterior of a specific vehicle. How do these apps work? Which color change app should you download on your smartphone or tablet? Here’s what you need to know: Car Color Change App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/How-Do-Car-Color-Change-Apps-Work.jpg] HOW DO CAR COLOR CHANGE APPS WORK? Every car customization app is unique, so the way these apps work can vary. But in general, here’s what you will need to do to use a car color change app: 1. Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download the app of your choice on your smartphone or tablet. 2. Browse through the app’s library to select a vehicle. The vehicles that are available in the library will vary depending on the app. 3. Choose a paint color. Once you select a vehicle, you should be given the option of applying a new paint color to the car. Review your options and tap or click on the paint color of your choice. 4. Preview the paint color. Tap or click to apply the paint color to the selected vehicle. These apps use various technologies, including 3D technology, virtual reality, and augmented reality, to make the experience as realistic as possible. As a result, the image you see should be an accurate representation of how the vehicle will look with the selected paint color in real life. That’s all it takes to give your virtual vehicle a custom paint job. WHY SHOULD YOU USE A CAR COLOR CHANGE APP? Having a car color change app downloaded on your smartphone or tablet can come in handy in many different situations, including: * You’re preparing to buy a new vehicle. If you’re thinking about buying a new car, use a color change app to view your color options before making a purchase decision. Using a color change app in this manner may save you a trip to the dealership and simplify the car buying process.  * You’re getting a new paint job. These apps are also useful if you’re thinking about getting a new paint job for your current car. Use a color change app to explore your options and figure out which color you want to paint your vehicle. Doing this ensures you choose a color you are happy with so you don’t regret your decision. * You want to have fun. Even if you aren’t buying a new car or making changes to your current car, you can still benefit from downloading a color change app. Car lovers will enjoy using these apps to see different vehicles in a wide range of colors.  Car Color Change App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Top-Car-Color-Change-Apps.jpg] TOP CAR COLOR CHANGE APPS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD  There are a number of different car color change apps available for Android and iOS devices, but some are better than others. Here are the best car color change apps: * RelayCars * Car Color Changer * Color Splash * Carwrapper * Automotive Manufacturer Websites RELAYCARS RelayCars is the best car color change app for Android and iOS devices. Download the RelayCars app on your smartphone or tablet to get access to an extensive library of over one thousand vehicles. You can choose from a wide range of sedans, SUVs, vans, trucks, sports cars, and other passenger vehicles.  After you select a vehicle, paint color options will appear. You will only see paint colors that are available for the vehicle you selected. For example, if a manufacturer only makes a specific model in gray, white, black, and red, you will only be able to see the vehicle in these four colors.  The colors you see in the RelayCars app are accurate representations of how the colors appear in real life. You can preview as many colors on as many vehicles as you would like. This app is powered by innovative technologies that bring the vehicles to life. In fact, you may even feel like you’re looking at the car inside a dealer’s showroom rather than through your computer, smartphone, or tablet screen.  CAR COLOR CHANGER The Car Color Changer app is another option. This app allows you to preview paint colors on different body styles. However, it does not allow you to preview paint colors on a specific make and model. You can only choose between a generic full-size car, sedan, or hatchback.  Once you choose a body style, you can select from a wide range of different paint colors. You can see what the vehicle would look like painted in one color or play around with bold, multi-colored designs. This app also gives you the option of changing the color of the car’s rims. You are in creative control when using the Car Color Changer app. Unfortunately, the Car Color Changer app is only available for Android devices.  Car Color Change App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Color-Splash.jpg] COLOR SPLASH Unlike the other options on this list, the Color Splash app was not designed specifically for automotive consumers. Color Splash is a photo editing app that allows users to add color effects to any photo they take or upload. If you want to use this to change the color of a vehicle, simply upload or take a picture of the car. The Color Splash app is fairly simple to use. Once you take or upload a photo, all you need to do is select a color from the menu at the bottom of your screen. Then, use your finger or mouse to apply the paint color to the photo of your vehicle. You will need to color in every part of the vehicle in order to see what it would look like in the selected paint color. CARWRAPPER Some people choose to get a car wrap rather than a paint job. A car wrap is a vinyl film that is applied to the exterior of a car. Some car wraps are solid colored, whereas others feature fun and funky designs. If you’re thinking about getting a car wrap, download the Carwrapper app to preview your options first. You can preview wraps in various colors, materials, and finishes. You can also select the specific make and model you want to wrap, which makes it easier to visualize exactly what your vehicle will look like with your selections.  AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURER WEBSITES Most automotive manufacturers have color change tools available on their websites. To use these tools, simply visit a manufacturer’s website, select a model, and click on the paint color you want to preview. There is one downside to this option, though. If you use the color change app on the Toyota website, you will only be able to preview different paint colors on Toyota vehicles. If you want to explore paint options for a Honda, you will need to open a new window to visit the Honda website. Each manufacturer has a different tool, so it may take time for you to figure out how to use each one as you travel from website to website.

The 10 Best Augmented Reality Apps of 2021

The 10 Best Augmented Reality Apps of 2021

October 1, 2021

Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose images, sounds, animations, and other digital elements onto their real world environment. In other words, it blends elements of the digital and real world together. Many people assume that they need to invest in expensive headsets or smart glasses to use augmented reality technology, but that’s not the case. There are thousands of augmented reality apps available for download on iOS and Android devices, so all you need to experience the power of augmented reality technology is a smartphone or tablet. There are many different types of augmented reality apps. Some are designed for gaming or entertainment, whereas others are used to educate consumers. There are also apps designed specifically to help online shoppers make informed purchase decisions. If you want to experience this innovative technology, here are the best augmented reality apps to download: Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Google-Lens.jpg] GOOGLE LENS Google has developed a number of different augmented reality apps, including Google Lens. This app lets you search based on what you see. All you need to do is open the app and point your smartphone at an object you want to learn more about. The app will automatically identify the object, perform a Google search, and present relevant search results directly in front of you. Google Lens can also help you learn more about the places around you. Point your smartphone at any building nearby and the app will use augmented reality to project relevant information onto your surroundings. For example, it might identify the name of the business and provide you with the company’s operating hours and Google reviews. This is a great app to have on your smartphone so you can quickly access it whenever you need more information on the world around you. MISSION TO MARS If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring outer space, you may want to download the Mission to Mars on your smartphone. This augmented reality app will project three-dimensional models of the rovers used on Mars into your surroundings. You can project a rover on your desk, in your driveway, on your kitchen counter, or even in the palm of your hand. You can also drive the rovers around and snap photos to share with your friends and family. Then, project a three-dimensional model of the Atlas V rocket into your surroundings. Watch as the rocket launches into space while the real launch audio plays in the background. You can also use augmented reality technology to project a three-dimensional model of Mars directly in front of you. Then, spin it around and explore every inch of the planet.  Best Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Wayfair-1024x683.jpg] WAYFAIR It’s hard for consumers to shop online for certain items, including home goods and furniture. This is because some consumers struggle to visualize these items in their home, so they aren’t sure which ones to choose.  Wayfair used augmented reality technology to solve this problem. Now, consumers don’t need to rely on their imaginations to determine how a specific item would look in their homes. Instead, they can use Wayfair’s augmented reality app to project a life-size, three-dimensional model of the item into their surroundings. Thanks to this feature, consumers can confirm that a piece of furniture will fit in their home and will complement the rest of their decor. They can shop with confidence knowing that they will be completely satisfied with the furniture items or home goods once they arrive.  SEPHORA Wayfair isn’t the only retailer that has used augmented reality technology to transform the online shopping experience for consumers. Sephora, an international cosmetic company, has also taken advantage of augmented reality. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app uses facial recognition and augmented reality technologies to give online shoppers the chance to digitally try on different cosmetics. Now, shoppers can see what a specific shade of lipstick would look like on their lips or how a certain eyeshadow would complement their complexion.  If a consumer likes what they can see, they can add the products to their cart and purchase them with just a few taps on their smartphone.  The app also offers makeup tutorials powered by augmented reality technology. For example, if a customer is trying to learn how to contour their face, the app will use augmented reality technology to highlight the area on their face where the product should be applied. NIKE Nike is another retailer that has launched its own augmented reality app to help online shoppers. Nike Fit, which is available within the main Nike app, is an augmented reality feature that allows customers to determine their shoe size while shopping online. To access this feature, you just need to open the Nike Fit feature and point your smartphone camera at your feet. The app will automatically measure your feet to determine what size shoe you should purchase.  The app may recommend purchasing a size smaller or larger for certain shoe styles, depending on how the size of that shoe tends to run.  For example, if you normally wear a size nine, the app may suggest purchasing a size 8.5 for a style that runs small. Pay close attention to these recommendations to ensure you purchase the right size. Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Star-Walk-2.jpg] STAR WALK 2 If you’ve ever wondered what you’re looking at when staring up at the night sky, the Star Walk 2 app was designed for you. The app serves as a helpful guide to the night sky. It uses your phone’s data to pinpoint your exact location so it knows what part of the sky you are looking at.  To begin, simply open the app and point your camera at any part of the sky above. The app uses augmented reality technology to project labels onto different stars, constellations, planets, and other celestial bodies.  Move your smartphone around and the app will automatically begin labeling whatever it identifies in the night sky. You can also turn on the Time Machine mode to see what the night sky looked like on a specific date in the past or what it will look like on a specific day in the future. AR RULER As its name suggests, this app is an augmented reality ruler available at your fingertips. If you need to measure something, open the app and point your smartphone camera at the object. Tap on the beginning and end of the object to ensure the measurement is correct. That’s all it takes to measure an object without a measuring tape or ruler. This app does more than just measure simple, straight measurements. It can also provide measurements for angles, volume, and area. You can even record the measurements you take and use them to create a room plan.  The measurements aren’t perfect, but they are close enough to get a rough idea of the size of an object or distance between two points. Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Find-Your-Car.jpg] FIND YOUR CAR You may want to download this app if you plan on parking your car in a crowded, large area like a mall, airport, or music festival. After parking your car, set your location in the Find Your Car app. The app will use augmented reality to mark your car’s location.  Once you’re ready to get back into your car, open the Find Your Car app again. The app will use augmented reality to guide you directly back to your vehicle.  For example, it may project arrows onto your surroundings to tell you when to turn. It will also project important information such as your distance from your vehicle and the estimated time it will take to walk there. SKETCHAR You can improve your drawing skills with SketchAR. Open the app and browse the library to find an image you would like to draw. Then, point your smartphone camera at a blank piece of paper.  The app is designed to work with A4-size drawing paper. The app will use augmented reality technology to project a sketch onto the paper so you can trace over it with a pen, pencil, or other drawing utensil.  There are dozens of different images to choose from in the app’s library. But if you don’t want to use an image from the library, you can upload your own photo and transform it into traceable art directly through the SketchAR app. Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/RelayCars.jpg] RELAYCARS Although not an app, RelayCars uses augmented reality technology to create an at-home automotive showroom experience for consumers. You can use this app to explore thousands of different vehicles from the comfort of your home.  Because it is powered by augmented reality, you can get up close and personal with every vehicle just like you would inside a dealership’s showroom. The vehicles will appear lifelike and realistic, so you might forget you’re actually sitting on your couch at home.  RelayCars allows consumers to research vehicles, compare their options, and gather the information they need to make a purchase decision from home.

How Toyota Uses Augmented Reality

How Toyota Uses Augmented Reality

September 29, 2021

Toyota is one of the biggest companies in the automotive industry. For decades, it has dominated the market by producing vehicles such as the Corolla, Camry, Tacoma, Rav 4, and 4Runner that appeal to a wide range of consumers. The use of innovative technologies has also helped Toyota stay on top of the market for so long. For example, Toyota used advanced technology to manufacture the Prius, which was the world’s first mass market hybrid vehicle. Toyota is now using another technology to gain a competitive edge: augmented reality. This technology allows users to superimpose digital elements such as images, animations, and sounds, onto their real world environment. Here’s a look at how Toyota uses augmented reality technology: OFFER CONSUMERS A VIRTUAL SHOWROOM EXPERIENCE In the past, automotive consumers had to visit dealerships in person to tour showrooms, explore different vehicles, and gather the information they needed to make a purchase decision. But now, Toyota is one of many automotive manufacturers that is using augmented reality technology to offer consumers a virtual showroom experience. Automotive consumers can use their smartphone, tablet, or computer to access Toyota’s virtual showroom. Inside the showroom, they can see a 360-degree view of the vehicle’s exterior, zoom in for a closer look, or even peek inside the vehicle to examine the interior. Thanks to augmented reality technology, consumers will feel like they’re looking at the car in person at a showroom. Another feature allows consumers to project life-size digital models of the vehicles into their real world environment. This gives consumers the chance to see how a specific Toyota vehicle would look in their driveway, parked in their garage, or sitting on their coffee table. Using augmented reality technology in this manner makes it easier for automotive consumers to shop for a vehicle online. It allows them to conduct research on their options from home so they don’t have to visit a dealership in person until they are ready to purchase a vehicle. Toyota Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Create-A-Unique-User-Manual.jpg] CREATE A UNIQUE USER MANUAL Lexus, which is the luxury vehicle division of Toyota, has developed a system known as the Lexus Augmented Reality Kit, or LARK. Part of this system is a digital user manual powered by augmented reality technology. The app is designed to recognize and present information on various features found inside a vehicle. For example, if a consumer points their smartphone at the infotainment system, the app will automatically display information about this system on the consumer’s smartphone screen. This information will help the consumer set up the system, connect their devices, and troubleshoot issues. This makes it much easier for consumers to learn about their vehicle. It also helps them quickly identify and fix simple issues without a professional’s help. The app is not available to consumers yet, but Toyota believes that it will eventually change the way in which consumers access information on their vehicles. SELL ACCESSORIES TO CONSUMERS David Kleiner, Toyota’s Extended Reality Lab Manager, recently discussed several augmented reality projects that are currently in development at Toyota. One of these projects involves targeting consumers in the post-purchase phase of the consumer buying cycle in an effort to sell more accessories.  Kleiner revealed that Toyota is working on an augmented reality experience that allows consumers to see how accessories look on their Toyota vehicle. The tool would let consumers explore different ways to customize the way their vehicle looks and performs. Toyota consumers would also be able to purchase accessories directly through this tool, which would make shopping online for automotive accessories more convenient. Kleiner also noted that this tool would target Toyota Tacoma consumers first. He believes this augmented reality tool would help Toyota increase Tacoma accessory sales by $5 million per year. TRAIN EMPLOYEES A number of automotive manufacturers, including Toyota, are now using augmented reality technology to train new employees.  Toyota has partnered with Microsoft to provide augmented reality training through HoloLens smart glasses. Employees can use these smart glasses to access training material that prepares them for the assembly line. Using augmented reality technology to train employees helps Toyota train more employees at once. It also allows new employees to get hands-on experience in a safe environment where their mistakes won’t have costly consequences. This way, new employees will know exactly what to do once they complete training and start working on the assembly line.  Toyota Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Plan-Production-Plant-Layouts.jpg] PLAN PRODUCTION PLANT LAYOUTS Toyota is also using Microsoft HoloLens smart glasses to plan production plant layouts. In the past, Toyota used physical models to plan the layout of a future production plant. But building physical models is time-consuming and expensive. Now, Toyota relies on augmented reality technology to increase the efficiency of this planning process. During the planning process, Toyota uses these augmented reality headsets to project digital models of equipment and machinery into the empty production plant space. This allows them to determine where each piece of equipment and machinery should go to maximize production efficiency. It also eliminates the need to build a physical model, which helps Toyota save time and money on planning the layout for a future production plant.  IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF VEHICLE MANUFACTURING Several years ago, it was reported that Toyota’s project managers were experimenting with different ways to use augmented reality smart glasses to improve the efficiency of a variety of tasks.  One project manager at the company’s headquarters in Japan found a way to use Microsoft HoloLens smart glasses to quickly measure the thickness of a vehicle’s exterior paint. This needs to be done on every vehicle to ensure the paint color is consistent. It also helps employees confirm that the rust prevention coating has been applied to the vehicle.  In the past, the process of checking the thickness of a vehicle’s paint required two people and took a total of eight hours. But now, a single employee can complete this task in just under four hours using a pair of Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality glasses. This is just one example of how augmented reality technology has helped Toyota drastically speed up the process of manufacturing new vehicles and performing quality checks. Toyota Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Entertain-Passengers.jpg] ENTERTAIN PASSENGERS Augmented reality is often thought of as a new technology, but it’s been around for quite some time. In fact, Toyota has been experimenting with this technology for over a decade. In 2011, Toyota partnered with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) to create its “Window to the World” design concept, which used augmented reality technology to turn a standard car window into a glass canvas for passengers to play with. Passengers could use their fingers to trace images onto the window. Using augmented reality technology, the images turned into three-dimensional digital objects that were superimposed onto the real world environment. Passengers could also point at a landmark outside of the window to measure its distance from the car. Toyota never incorporated this innovative design concept into any of its vehicles. However, two prototypes of the concept were on display for several months at the Autoworld Museum in Brussels. Toyota has found a great deal of success by using augmented reality technology to improve production processes, market vehicles, and connect with consumers. Because of this success, it’s safe to say that Toyota will continue to explore new ways to take advantage of this technology in the future.

Will Car Buying Be Driven by an E-Commerce Shopping Model?

Will Car Buying Be Driven by an E-Commerce Shopping Model?

September 27, 2021

Online shopping was a way to avoid stores during Covid and maybe even click away boredom.  Some stores added features that let shoppers preview products, making decisions much easier and hitting buy much less of a questionable mystery for purchases like cosmetics, sunglasses, furniture or even a car. Covid shifted shopping habits…even for new cars. While many consumers might continue to prefer shopping online for goods and services, they also might be more inclined to look to the virtual realm for their car. Will car buying be driven by an e-commerce shopping model, too? According to a story via ABC News, this isn’t just a possibility…it’s now a ‘MINI’ reality! WILL MINI BECOME AN AUTOMOTIVE E-COMMERCE GIANT? Even before Covid, e-commerce platforms already existed for car shopping. However, this wasn’t necessarily an option that all consumers were embracing. Some may prefer old-fashioned dealership visits. But Carvana and other businesses offered a unique service to individuals who didn’t want to take time to visit a dealership. Sites like Carvana let consumers pick out a car and have it delivered. The company offers a convenient way to browse for a new car and complete the process virtually. Consumers also have the option to pick up the car. This is a bit like how stores offer a ‘ship it to store’ or similar option. When Covid forced some dealerships to close in certain areas, consumers might have had no other option but to shop online. Dealerships had to find remedies for creating an online shopping experience; some might have already offered online options. But for many dealerships the pivot to online retail was likely a huge change. Now manufacturers—and dealerships—might understand that automotive e-commerce is the future of the car buying experience. While Tesla lets consumers order their car online, the process from picking out the car to actual delivery of the vehicle can take a bit of time; news outlets report that Tesla deliveries are taking several months. So while Tesla embraces online commerce, purchasing a Tesla isn’t necessarily a quick experience. MINI, however, is rolling out a program that might be the future of automotive e-commerce. The manufacturer, per ABC News, has launched MINI Anywhere in California. The program is a one-and-done e-commerce experience. Consumers can choose their MINI, obtain financing and complete all the paperwork online. The best part? The whole process takes about 20 minutes. MINI Anywhere also includes an augmented reality experience. Want to know how that Mini will look in the driveway? Drop it in the environment. Then walk around the augmented reality graphic to check out the car from different angles. ABC talked to Patrick McKenna, an executive for MINI, who explained to the outlet that consumers can even schedule virtual test drives.   “This definitely is the future; McKenna told ABC News. “We’re making dealers digitally savvy in the marketplace.” POTENTIAL E-COMMERCE SPEED BUMPS? ABC News noted that MINI was planning to offer MINI Anywhere in Florida and Texas. The rest of the dealer network would be included by the end of the year. The future for MINI might definitely be the virtual e-commerce model. However, are there any speed bumps ahead for this model if other manufacturers look to e-commerce platforms for their future, too? ABC News also noted that online models could mean higher prices, and negotiating might not be an option. Buyers also wouldn’t have that tactile experience that the dealership holds. And ABC also touched on the idea of buyer impulsivity. ADD TO CART: WHEN CAR BUYING JUMPS INTO THE E-COMMERCE FASTLANE While ABC mentioned buyer impulsivity related to emotions, there might be more to explore regarding online shopping and impulse buying. Many consumers might relate to having made a purchase decision—perhaps during Covid—that wasn’t based on need but want. Or maybe the speed of the internet spurred a buying decision without much research or thought. While, yes, buying a car usually includes research and visits to dealerships, if more manufacturers embrace e-commerce platforms for purchasing a vehicle, could this speed up the buying process in a bad way for some consumers? The internet allows consumers to shop quickly and conveniently. The option to now add a car to a virtual shopping cart allows the buying process to become more simplistic, and this could be a mixed bag for some shoppers. The good and bad of online shopping can be debated. There is no right or wrong answer. There could be consumers that buy a car without researching thoroughly, while others still spend hours exploring details. Every consumer is different. However, consumers who want to purchase a car can’t exactly just drop a Ferrari into a virtual cart without being approved for financing or having the funds to cover that purchase. Unlike shopping for furniture, shoes or other goods and services, buying a car online is a major purchase. EXPLORING MINI ANYWHERE While MINI Anywhere is only available in California, anyone can check out the site to better understand the MINI virtual experience. The company outlines all the details about what shoppers should have on hand (keep your license nearby!). But there’s also a virtual assistant who is standing by to answer questions and help out shoppers. MINI lets consumers engage in a Live Chat or drop a text. MINI also still accepts trade-ins via the online experience. Shoppers need to include all the details about their car. Kelley Blue Book provides the valuation. Although shoppers are handling the car buying process online, the local dealership is still part of the experience. Shoppers get to choose the dealership from which they wish to purchase their new MINI. The vehicle can be delivered (this is based on proximity, though). E-Commerce Shopping Model [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Dealership-Experience-of-the-Future.jpg] THE DEALERSHIP EXPERIENCE OF THE FUTURE? Covid transformed the shopping experience for the automotive industry. While in-person shopping at the dealership was the standard process, the shelter-in-place mandates that hit many parts of the country forced dealerships to take business online. Yet, online car shopping isn’t entirely new. Carvana has offered online experiences for years. Covid, though, sped up the normalcy of this car shopping trend. While some consumers might have been hesitant to embrace a virtual shopping experience, they also might have found the process to be simpler, faster and a less stressful experience. While the in-person dealership experience was the norm for the industry, was it an enjoyable norm for many consumers? The answer probably depends on the consumer. Some might have enjoyed haggling. Others might have dreaded the experience entirely. Whether or not all consumers are ready for online car shopping, the experience is here…and it’s evolving. Covid and the online pivot might have taken dealerships by surprise, but now many have probably settled into at least offering some type of online options. MINI Anywhere might just be the beginning. Nissan offers online shopping via Nissan@Home. And other manufacturers may line up to offer their own online platforms. Consumers will drive demand. What the consumer prefers will ultimately influence the industry’s next move. According to Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study: Pandemic Edition, new car buyers spent a little more than 5.5 hours online researching and shopping—an hour less than a year prior. The report also noted that more than 11 hours and 11 minutes were spent on purchasing a new car (this was closer to 12 hours in 2019). Among new car shoppers, only 45 percent knew what they wanted from the beginning of the shopping experience. If manufacturers streamline their online process, perhaps these figures could dwindle. That is, maybe consumers might speed up their process if it’s easier to find what they want. This could be true for those who know exactly what type of car they want. Yet, maybe dealerships could continue to be the destination for some shoppers. While online shopping is an option for many businesses currently, not all consumers shop just online. Many will choose to purchase some items online and go in store for other purchases. Others use online options as often as possible. Perhaps the dealership experience becomes a hybrid option. Maybe they offer both in-person and online purchasing options. Something for everyone. Those who want to visit the dealership and shop around for the best price might continue to do so. Maybe, though, different dealerships have unique online offers. Promotions might not go away, rebates might still be offered online. And different sales could be promoted periodically, too. Automotive e-commerce is evolving, though. MINI might be the first of many to begin to offer online platforms and experiences for a convenient and quick shopping experience. In the future, car buying could be a seamless online experience. Consumers might be able to browse all their vehicle options and maybe view them in their own environment via augmented reality (like MINI!). MINI Anywhere might be the model for car shopping, and consumers might be on the lookout for which manufacturer follows MINI’s mega lead.