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AR May Be Advantageous to These Industries

AR May Be Advantageous to These Industries

January 15, 2021

Augmented reality might have featured prominently in sales and marketing tactics to elevate the consumer experience during Covid. Retail has used augmented reality platforms to provide virtual previews for clothes and makeup; customers could download a photo and then try on the products. Automotive companies have used augmented reality for new product launches (Lamborghini, for example!).   Other industries also have integrated augmented reality into their user experiences, but will the AR trend continue once Covid subsides and business as normal resumes? Augmented reality may be advantageous for five industries, according to AR Post. These industries, per the site, are sports, healthcare, tourism, events and housing. SPORTS During Covid, sports venues weren’t selling tickets for their games. Spectators became used to watching sporting events with no one in the audience. But some sports events integrated technology to create a unique user experience. NASCAR, for example, offered eNASCAR and the NASCAR iRacing Series. The series allowed competitors across the country to race at home…virtually.  Sporting News explained that these racing events weren’t games, but, rather, simulations. The simulations were a bit more virtual reality than augmented reality, however, back in 2019, NASCAR also released The NASCAR AR Burnout Experience by Goodyear. The augmented reality experience let users do burnouts with a virtual vehicle. CNBC reported that Major League Baseball also could be looking to leverage augmented reality into user experiences, perhaps using augmented reality glasses. Spectators are probably already used to seeing augmented reality in some form via sporting events, however. Watching football games, spectators often see play graphics superimposed on the field. In the future, however, sports organizations could create unique augmented reality experiences to enhance the viewing experience for those who may be watching from home. Or maybe virtual reality experiences mix into the real life spectatorship. Will the audience start viewing games through augmented reality glasses or virtual reality headsets? AR May Be Advantageous to These Industries [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-238.jpeg] HEALTHCARE Surgeons may use augmented reality technology to guide them in the operating room, but the Alliance of Advanced BioMedical Engineering points to several other ways this technology has enhanced the healthcare industry. The site points out that a dentist can use augmented reality via smart glasses to create more precise crowns. Nurses may use augmented reality for training simulations. Augmented reality also is used via MRI or CT scans to provide data to guide surgeons “…by superimposing stereoscopic projections during a surgical procedure.” There is even an AR game that helps gauge if pediatric patients can lie still long enough for an MRI or other procedure. Augmented reality is used throughout the healthcare industry, and, as this technology advances, it will likely become an even more crucial tool for the sector. During Covid, virtual doctor visits were commonplace. In the future, perhaps the doctor or nurse drops into a chair next to a patient at their home using augmented reality. Phones or tablets could be used to create an augmented virtual visit! HOUSING INDUSTRY The housing industry during Covid might have benefited from virtual experiences, especially virtual tours available online. But what about augmented reality? Real Trends notes that augmented reality may be used to provide potential buyers with virtual staging. That is, augmented reality platforms may be able to let buyers see an empty house fully furnished. Call this ‘virtual staging.’ Instead of a blank canvas, buyers could see the house as a potential home. Augmented reality is used by designers, too. Think of home shows where designers show homeowners what a renovation will look like. These design platforms may utilize the power of augmented reality to add in new features or swap out old appliances. The result is a preview of a future design. Augmented reality also can help builders (or REALTORS®) show potential buyers what their future home may look like. Picturing a new home on a bare piece of land takes some imagination, but augmented reality could help builders place a graphic overlay of the home on the land to give prospective buyers a better visualization of their home. EVENTS Virtual concerts were the new norm during Covid. Maybe this continues after Covid? Will events always look so different? Instead of buying tickets to a massive stadium filled with other concert-goers, many watched musicians perform remotely. Covid impacted other events, too. Broadway went silent. Even movies might have paused production during the worst of the pandemic. Instead of releasing new movies directly to major movie theatres, some studios released their potential blockbusters via streaming services or to both streaming services and theaters. The way moviegoers enjoyed their favorite flicks might have changed dramatically during Covid. Instead of buying tickets and concessions at the theater, many purchased their favorite snacks at stores and purchased their movie via services. The couch became the new theater seating. AR Post discussed how augmented reality changed other events, though. The site reported that back in 2018, almost 90 percent of event planners had planned to integrate some type of augmented reality. During Covid, conferences and trade shows obviously couldn’t take place. Different events like conferences or other events likely went virtual…or maybe integrated some type of augmented reality. Event hosts likely had to get creative to reimagine the in-person experience as something virtual while still providing users with a positive experience. The 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show was completely virtual. In a story via Exhibitor Online, it was reported that the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) explained its digital move via a press conference. The association’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, Jean Foster was quoted in Exhibitor Online’s article: “CES is one of the most experiential events in the world, where attendees can actually see and touch and experience the latest innovations. And while we can’t recreate that magic that happens in Las Vegas, we can bring our audiences a new, unique, all-digital experience,” said Foster, as noted in the article for Exhibitor Online. “We’ve been working for many months now to identify and create a solution that supports the uniqueness of CES. We knew that we couldn’t just take the existing trade show setup and move it online… So we threw out the playbook, and we decided not just to recreate CES, but also to reimagine it.” Reimagining events via virtual or augmented reality platforms could possibly become the norm. While trade shows may continue to be held each year, perhaps event hosts also launch online offerings to allow virtual attendance. Or maybe the trade shows or events offer special online virtual and augmented reality experiences as an extension of the in-person event. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-239.jpeg] TOURISM AR Post included tourism/travel among the industries it felt could benefit from augmented reality. During Covid, museums and other cultural venues and historic sites around the world shuttered. No one was really going on vacation during Covid, as many limited travel to only necessary trips. Perhaps many consumers saw a simple trip to the grocery store as a major outing. Back in May, the International Council of Museums reported that 95 percent were shuttered because of Covid. Keeping staff and guests safe became the major priority. Yet, closing meant a major loss of income for these institutions. Many museums, however, offered guests virtual tours and visits that were accessible online. Guests could sit at home and tour major art museums and galleries. While these didn’t take the place in-person visits, they did provide access to cultural experiences that would have otherwise been extremely limited during the pandemic. The Louvre, for example, offered online tours. The museum also has a special section on its web site just for kids that features stories and an online gallery. Perhaps these virtual or augmented reality experiences also encouraged online visitors to make donations or purchase items from online gift stores (if they were available). WHAT OTHER INDUSTRIES COULD BENEFIT FROM AUGMENTED REALITY? While AR Post highlighted five major industries that might benefit from augmented reality, this technology has far-reaching significance across numerous other industries, too. Augmented reality may continue to influence the retail and automotive industries, too. IKEA offers an augmented reality app called IKEA Place to allow shoppers to preview products in a real space. This helps shoppers better understand if a chair, rug or other décor element is going to work in their home. When shopping online, any experience that takes the guesswork out of a buying decision may be of value. Sephora and Ulta also both offer their customers the option to virtually try on products to gauge if a color or product is a good fit. Sephora offers Virtual Artist, and Ulta offers GLAMlab. Customers can upload a photo and then try on different beauty products before making their purchase. Not only can this possibly reduce returns but the augmented reality experiences also may improve customer experience. The automotive industry has used augmented reality in many capacities. Augmented reality is built into backup cameras to provide graphic overlay grid lines that illustrate the car’s turning radius. Manufacturers also have used augmented reality experiences to enhance marketing initiatives. Augmented reality also has been used to aid mechanics in repairs. Porsche’s Tech Live Look is a great example regarding how automotive manufacturers use augmented reality in repair work. Ferrari uses augmented reality via an app that provides an x-ray look at a vehicle and provides detailed views of other mechanical features (like the brakes); the app also lets shoppers switch out paint hues on cars in display at a dealership showroom. So what does augmented reality hold for the future of these industries? More uses of this technology could interweave into consumer experiences. In the healthcare industry, advances in augmented technology could provide even more insight during surgeries or other procedures. While the world may go back to the old normal after Covid, the use of augmented reality likely won’t dissipate. As industries explore new methods for implementing this technology, consumers could see their experiences elevated with both augmented reality and virtual reality technological features.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade

Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade

January 14, 2021

Historical eras are often defined by the technological developments of that period in time. For example, the 1400s were largely defined by the invention of the printing press, which made it easier to widely disseminate information to the masses. The 1800s were marked by several new technologies, including the development of the railways and the invention of the steamboat. The modern era has largely been defined by the internet, personal computers, smartphones, and social media. These technologies have completely changed everything about modern life, including the way that people access information, work, and communicate. But experts predict that two new technologies are set to take center stage over the next decade. In fact, virtual and augmented reality are expected to be the “most disruptive technology” of the next decade, according to IDTechEx. Here’s what you should know about the future of these innovative technologies: AUGMENTED VS. VIRTUAL VS. MIXED REALITY: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? The terms “augmented reality,” “virtual reality,” and “mixed reality,” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Before learning about these disruptive technologies, it’s important to understand what makes them unique. Virtual reality is technology that allows users to completely immerse themselves in a simulated environment. Headsets such as the Oculus Quest or Google Cardboard are used to shut out the physical world and transport users to either real or imagined worlds.  Augmented reality is technology that allows users to superimpose various digital elements on their real world environment. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not transport the user to a simulated environment. Instead, augmented reality gives the user the power to alter their existing world by adding digital elements. Mixed reality combines both augmented and virtual reality technologies. This technology can be used to create a hybrid world where digital and physical objects interact with one another. Mixed reality is still fairly new, so it is not as widely used as virtual and augmented reality technology. HOW ARE AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY CURRENTLY USED? Both augmented and virtual reality technologies are currently used in a wide range of industries. Some of the many ways these technologies are used today include: * Product Design * Online Retail Sales * Manufacturing  * Virtual Tours * Fun & Games * Education * Interior Design  * Navigational Assistance Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-245.jpeg] PRODUCT DESIGN Augmented and virtual reality technologies are already used to improve the efficiency of the product design process.  In the automotive industry, for instance, manufacturers used to create clay prototypes of new vehicle designs. If someone made a change to the design, the team would need to build a new clay prototype to reflect the change. But now, many design teams use these technologies to create digital prototypes. Multiple changes can be made in real time, which means the design can be finalized and put into production much faster. ONLINE RETAIL SALES Dozens of online retailers now use augmented reality technology to help consumers make purchase decisions. One of these retailers is Sephora, an international cosmetics company. Sephora’s Virtual Artist tool, which is powered by augmented reality technology, allows users to try on different shades of lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, and other cosmetic products. This makes it easier to shop for cosmetic products online and ensures that consumers aren’t disappointed by the way a product looks once it arrives.  Many cosmetic, apparel, and shoe brands use augmented reality technology in this manner. But these aren’t the only industries to use augmented and virtual reality technology to make online sales. The automotive industry also relies on these technologies to help consumers make smarter purchase decisions. Automotive manufacturers use virtual reality technology to offer consumers the opportunity to take virtual test drives of new vehicles. Some manufacturers also use augmented reality technology to allow consumers to project digital images of a vehicle into their real world environment.  This way, consumers can explore the vehicle just as they would if they were at a dealership. In other words, the technology allows automotive manufacturers to create a virtual showroom for consumers to browse. MANUFACTURING The manufacturing industry has also embraced augmented and virtual reality. Some companies use virtual reality technology to provide virtual training sessions to employees. Providing this type of training is more convenient for employees and less expensive for employers, so both parties benefit. Augmented reality is sometimes used to help workers on the assembly line. If a worker needs help, they can use augmented reality technology to project step-by-step instructions or a how-to video onto their surroundings. There’s no need to consult an instruction manual or ask someone for help—they can quickly get the information they need thanks to augmented reality. VIRTUAL TOURS The real estate and travel industries both rely on virtual reality technology to provide virtual tours to consumers. In real estate, this technology is used to offer virtual home tours to buyers. This allows buyers to explore a home on the market without having to visit it in person. This is especially useful for buyers who are relocating to another city or state, which makes touring homes in person even harder. The travel and tourism industry uses virtual reality technology to provide consumers with virtual tours of hotel rooms, landmarks, and other attractions. These tours help consumers decide where to travel, what to do when they arrive, and where to stay. FUN & GAMES Augmented and virtual reality are often associated with the gaming industry, and it’s not hard to see why. Countless apps, video games, and computer games are powered by augmented and/or virtual reality technology. One of the most popular augmented reality games is Pokemon Go, which is an app available for both Android and iOS devices. The app is designed to project digital images of Pokemon characters onto your real world environment. Users must track down as many characters as they can find to earn in-game currency and beat each level. EDUCATION Both augmented and virtual reality technologies are currently used to enhance the educational experience for students of all grade levels. Teachers use virtual reality technology to transport students to simulated environments related to the curriculum. For instance, a history teacher might use virtual reality to transport students to ancient Rome or Egypt. However, an astronomy teacher might use this technology to virtually transport students to the surface of Mars.  Augmented reality is useful in the classroom, too. Geology teachers can use this technology to project digital models of crystalline structures for students to examine. Biology teachers can use augmented reality to project digital diagrams of organs and cell structures. History teachers can use this technology to introduce digital renderings of ancient artifacts to students. These are some of the countless ways that augmented and virtual reality technology can be used to improve the educational experience. INTERIOR DESIGN   It can be hard to visualize what furniture, rugs, and décor will look like inside a room. Fortunately, developers have created a number of augmented reality apps to help users overcome this challenge. The apps allow users to project various digital pieces of furniture and décor into their real world environment so they can see what each item would look like in their home. This makes it possible for users to visualize what everything will look like together so they can design a space with ease. Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-246.jpeg] NAVIGATIONAL ASSISTANCE Augmented reality technology is also used as a navigational assistance tool. For example, the Google Maps app uses augmented reality to project digital elements such as arrows and street signs onto the user’s real world environment. These digital elements help the user figure out where they need to go in order to get to their final destination.  Some automotive manufacturers have also designed vehicles with navigational assistance tools supported by augmented reality. These tools project digital elements onto the driver’s windshield so they can see where they need to go without looking down at their phones or GPS devices. THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY It is expected that businesses will continue to find new and exciting ways to use virtual and augmented reality technology in the future. Some of the ways that these technologies could be used in the future include: * Remote Workplace Transformation  * Promote Social Good  * Available and Affordable Healthcare  * Improve Quality of Life For the Disabled REMOTE WORK TRANSFORMATION Facebook has already announced plans to utilize virtual and augmented reality technologies in an effort to transform the remote workplace. Few details have been released, but so far, the company has revealed that remote workers will be able to type on their physical keyboards while working on a virtual three-monitor computer.  The concept, which is still in the early stages of development, would help overcome common remote work issues such as lack of space or equipment. As a result, this use of virtual and augmented reality technology could help more workers successfully shift to remote work. PROMOTE SOCIAL GOOD Many businesses use virtual and augmented reality to sell their products or services, but some experts believe that these technologies may also be used to promote social good in the future. For example, virtual reality technology can be used to transport people to different areas of the world so they can see what it’s like to live in poverty or in the middle of a war-torn country. The technology can take people to the Arctic Circle so they can see the effects of climate change with their own eyes. Some experts believe that this use of virtual reality technology could help raise awareness of global issues and inspire the public to take action. Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-247.jpeg] AVAILABLE AND AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE There are a number of ways that these technologies can be used in the future to make high quality healthcare more available, accessible, and affordable to the general public. For example, these technologies may make it possible for physicians to offer vision testing, psychiatric care, physical therapy, and other services remotely. Being able to offer these services remotely will not only make them more accessible, but more affordable as well. IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR THE DISABLED Some experts predict that another future use of virtual and augmented reality will be to improve the quality of life for the disabled. Many people are forced to give up their favorite activities as a result of a physical disability. For instance, a person with a physical disability may no longer be able to run, bike, or swim. But virtual reality technology can give these individuals the opportunity to virtually enjoy the activities they once loved.  Being able to participate in these virtual activities could drastically improve their quality of life. WHAT FACTORS ARE DRIVING THE GROWTH IN VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY?  Experts predict that the market for augmented and virtual reality technology will experience exponential growth over the next decade. In 2020, the global virtual and augmented reality technology market was valued at roughly $12 billion. However, the market is expected to grow to nearly $73 billion by the year 2024.  There are a number of factors that are expected to drive this significant growth, including: * Better devices: Many consumers weren’t initially interested in these technologies because the headsets and glasses were bulky and uncomfortable. But now, the designs are becoming sleeker, lighter, and more comfortable to wear, which could attract a wider range of consumers. * COVID-19: The global pandemic caused a massive decline in foot traffic, which forced businesses in a wide range of industries to shift their focus to e-commerce. Many businesses used augmented and virtual reality for the first time in order to attract and sell to consumers who weren’t able or willing to visit a store in person. This increased the demand for augmented and virtual reality technology, and will continue to drive this market’s growth for the next several years. * Substantial investments: Over $4 billion was invested in the virtual reality and augmented reality market in 2019 alone. These investments will most likely translate to massive growth in this industry over the next decade.    * Integration into existing apps: More augmented and virtual reality features will be built into existing apps, which will expose more consumers to these technologies and drive growth in the market. One example of this is the integration of augmented reality into the Google Maps app.  * New applications: The augmented and virtual reality industry will continue to grow as long as companies continue to discover new and exciting ways to use these technologies to do business. Augmented and virtual reality technology have come a long way since they were first introduced to the world, but there’s no doubt that the best is yet to come. Over the next decade, these technologies will continue to change the way people communicate, shop, learn, travel, and make basic decisions in their everyday life.

How Digital Moves Businesses Forward Into a Virtual World

How Digital Moves Businesses Forward Into a Virtual World

January 13, 2021

Digital has changed our social, business and education. During the pandemic, the online world kept Americans connected to jobs, teachers/schools and friends and loved ones. However, businesses also were impacted by the speed of digital. When shelter-in-place restrictions might have kept nonessential businesses closed, many, including the automotive industry, relied on online tools and opened their doors virtually. How did businesses use online tools to try to replicate the shopping experience or, in the case of non retail businesses, how did they replicate the office environment? Here’s a look at how digital moves businesses forward…even when normalcy is paused or slowed during the pandemic. How Digital Moves Businesses Forward Into a Virtual World [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-236.jpeg] CAR SHOPPING WENT ONLINE Buying a car online wasn’t the norm before Covid. While virtual car shopping was an option, most buyers likely stayed to the tried and true routine of car buying/shopping. For younger buyers, the buying process might have begun online before the pandemic to check out a dealership’s inventory or to view new models. Then, of course, the buyer would visit the dealership, maybe sit in several different cars and take a test drive of favorites. Discovering the dream car meant negotiating and then signing on the dotted line. This was, before Covid, probably the norm for most buyers. Older shoppers might have skipped the online visits. Maybe they wanted to see everything in person and had no desire to look at online inventory. Every buyer might have had their own buying process. However, once lockdowns started and businesses closed to foot traffic, even the car buying experience had to shift. Now an online presence had to be stealthy and beyond just those basic pictures. Dealerships began offering virtual showrooms to allow buyers to view the car inside and out from all angles. Some virtual showrooms even allowed shoppers to switch out wheel rims or view the car with a different paint hue. And what about those test drives? Some dealerships offered to bring the car to buyers. Maybe this meant that the buyer scheduled for a virtual test drive. Some dealerships provided virtual test drives via videos. The goal for many dealerships was likely to try to come close to replicating the in-person shopping experience. While the online world couldn’t completely mirror an real-life shopping experience, virtual reality and augmented reality allowed dealerships to capture some of the similarities of shopping in-person. Of course, virtual customer service assistants also likely played a role in the process. These virtual assistants weren’t necessarily virtual like those found in smartphones or other devices, online virtual assistants were likely real individuals handling customer questions and concerns via an online chat function. Still, when salespeople were not necessarily available—as they would be at the physical dealership—offering customer service assistance helped customers navigate this virtual shopping experience. WORKING VIRTUALLY AND VIRTUAL REALITY FOR DEVELOPMENT AND UNVEILING NEW MODELS During Covid, many Americans have worked from home. Many are STILL working from home. Car manufacturers also took their business virtual. Back in March, at the start of the pandemic, The Verge reported that manufacturers had their employees head home to do their job duties. However, according to the story, those who worked in the factories—on the assembly lines—didn’t have such an option. Virtual reality also aided the industry during the pandemic. CNBC reported that General Motors used virtual reality in developing the 2022 GMC Hummer EV. The company also continued to work on their self-driving, ride-hailing car Cruise Origin during the pandemic, although it wasn’t clear if virtual reality played a role. However, in an article at FoxNews, it was reported that Barra noted that the GMC HUMMER EV and the Cadillac Lyric SUV would be unveiled online using virtual and augmented reality. VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES Virtual and augmented reality allowed consumers to immerse in cultural and entertainment experiences while stuck at home. Museums, while shut during the pandemic, went online offering virtual galleries and even virtual tours. Even now, couch travelers can visit the Louvre, the Sistine Chapel and museums around the world to view art and exhibits. Can’t book a flight for a vacation? Take a virtual vacation. YouTube videos and other web sites offered tours of historic sites…virtually. Some even allowed visitors at home to take a virtual trek through the canopy of the Amazon Rainforest. Car manufacturers plugged in to virtual too. In May, Lamborghini launched an augmented reality experience for its Huracan EVO RWD Spyder. Bored during the pandemic? Drop a Lamborghini onto the bed! Yes, the new Lamborghini could be virtually placed anywhere in a room (or outdoors). The app then allowed users to explore all around the new vehicle! The experience is still available…and it’s really cool! VIRTUAL MARKETING Lamborghini’s augmented reality experience also was a creative way to use digital platforms to create a unique marketing experience for users. While not everyone can afford a Lamborghini, the experience brought the car into homes across the globe. Of course, dealerships and manufacturers also used other digital marketing experiences during Covid. Virtual showrooms are a great example of how dealerships could create an experience to help drive sales…or interest in vehicles. Many buyers like to see and feel items before they purchase; while virtual experiences can give tactile feedback, virtual experiences can provide potential buyers or even casual window shoppers with a better glimpse of a product. After all, three dimensional views tend to be much more impressive than flat photos! OTHER INDUSTRIES WENT ONLINE TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE, TOO! During Covid, a lot of shopping jumped online…including car shopping. But, let’s be honest, online shopping is nothing new. It’s been around for decades now. Still, not everyone jumped at the chance to load up their virtual shopping carts. Until, perhaps, there was no other option. Online car buying was never really a ‘norm’ before Covid. But the pandemic changed the way consumers shopped…even for big purchases. Those who desperately needed a new vehicle but couldn’t go into the dealership had to shop somehow. Virtual showrooms provided a new way to check out all the new car models available.   Lockdowns also meant that many Americans couldn’t just get in their car (even if it was a new car that was purchased online!), drive to the store and peruse the merchandise. Yes, stores that sold both food and clothes likely stayed open. Mall stores or those that sold nonessential items were probably shut—depending on the region and local mandates. If a consumer really wanted a new leather jacket, and they couldn’t find it at a big box retailer that also happened to carry essentials, they were likely out of luck. If that shopper really wanted that jacket, though, they could pull up their web browser and search the internet. Stores galore were open online! And what about beauty stores and boutiques that sold luxury items? Those were online too. The internet became the mall. Shopping went virtual. And stores that were already incredibly visible online likely discovered that the transition was smoother than those who hadn’t kept up with the digital revolution. There is a difference between merely offering products online and providing a digital shopping experience. Many stores or retailers likely tried their best to mimic or replicate the in-store experiences. Beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora already offered tools that allowed consumers to preview products via augmented reality-type apps. Shoppers could upload a picture and try on lipstick, blush or other products. During a time when real visits to stores were limited, the option to preview purchases and eliminate guesswork likely helped to elevate the shopping experiences for consumers. Stores selling clothes might have offered a similar digital experience online. A virtual changing/fitting room might have allowed customers to download a photo and digitally overlay dresses, tops, bottoms and other garments. Again, the guesswork of how the item would look on the individual was virtually eliminated. Many consumers also likely realized some very obvious advantages to shopping online during the pandemic. Hunting for something in the store meant a trip—even if it was small. Most consumers also probably didn’t show up to the store in their pajamas. And store visits were limited to the hours they were open. Online shopping, however, had no rules. Shop in your pajamas! Shop at 1 a.m. Shop from the couch. Or the bed. Or the toilet (it’s probably happened!). There were no store hours, no dress codes. Convenience was so very convenient. The same non-rules held true for car shopping during the pandemic. If the dealerships were closed and buying went online, shoppers could hunt for a car whenever. The digital showroom had no salespeople, no stress, no lines. How Digital Moves Businesses Forward Into a Virtual World [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-237.jpeg] WHAT’S NEXT? The future in the automotive industry will likely bring many new changes—electric cars, self-driving cars maybe more online shopping. Will consumers prefer buying a car online after Covid? That might depend on the buyer’s personal preferences. However, manufacturers might embrace more digital marketing endeavors like Lamborghini’s augmented reality experience. So what does the digital future look like for the automotive industry? Kids—the future—may have the answer. Toyota launched a contest for kids called the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest. The company challenges kids to come up with their dream car…and the ideas are whatever they can imagine. Perhaps the next dream car of a child’s imagination will be the future vehicle we drive.

The Outlook for the Automotive Industry Looks Promising in 2021

The Outlook for the Automotive Industry Looks Promising in 2021

January 11, 2021

After several years of steady growth, the automotive industry suffered huge losses in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The automotive industry has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, but this one was caused by an unprecedented global health and economic crisis. Historically, the automotive industry has not always been able to bounce back quickly after rough years. For instance, this industry was hit hard by the economic recession in 2008. It took about five years for the industry to recover in the United States, but it took almost a decade for the European automotive market to fully recover. But fortunately, experts believe that the automotive industry will not need to wait years to rebound from the effects of the pandemic. In fact, automotive insiders are optimistic about the outlook for the automotive industry in 2021. THE STATE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY IN 2020 Nearly every industry was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the automotive industry was among the hardest hit.  Demand for vehicles in the U.S. started to drop in March of 2020, which is when COVID-19 was officially declared a national emergency. This is also when many local governments implemented lockdown or stay-at-home orders for the first time.  Factories, manufacturing plants, and corporate offices were forced to temporarily close or move to remote work as a result of these government orders. This disrupted the supply chain and led to significant production delays. As the virus spread throughout the U.S., the automotive industry continued to suffer. Data reveals a clear correlation between COVID-19 infection rate and automotive sales. In other words, the states with the worst infection rates experienced the largest declines in automotive sales. The economy slowed and the unemployment rate skyrocketed due to this public health crisis. This led to a sharp decline in buyer confidence, which dropped nearly 30 points from May 2019 to May 2020. The lower the buyer confidence score, the less likely consumers are to spend.  Because consumers were not optimistic about their economic future, they decided to hold off on purchasing or leasing vehicles. At the height of the pandemic, over one-third of consumers who wanted or needed a new vehicle were putting off this purchase because of economic uncertainty. At the time, most consumers were only planning on putting off these purchases for two months, but many predicted that they would not purchase or lease a vehicle for another six months. The automotive industry as a whole continued to suffer even after lockdown and stay-at-home orders were lifted. Many consumers are still concerned about their job stability and the uncertainty in the market, which means they are hesitant to make large purchases right now. Despite lower financing and ownership costs, sales did not return to their pre-pandemic level. By the end of the year, new automotive sales had dropped nearly 15% to 14.5 million vehicles. The Outlook for the Automotive Industry Looks Promising in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-248.jpeg] WILL THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY RECOVER IN 2021? There’s no question that the automotive industry suffered immense harm in 2020, mainly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. But there is hope that the automotive industry will make a solid recovery over the next 12 months. Economists from the University of Michigan recently discussed the future of the automotive industry at the 68thAnnual Economic Outlook Conference. These economists revealed that they believe the sales slump caused by the global pandemic has created enough momentum for the automotive industry to rebound quickly in 2021. The panel of economists predicted that new automotive sales will climb to 16.3 million units by the end of 2021. Furthermore, these economists believe that the automotive industry will continue to grow in 2022, predicting that manufacturers will record 16.7 million new vehicle sales during this year. The University of Michigan economists aren’t the only ones who are predicting that automotive sales will increase in 2021. Cox Automotive, an international automotive services company, predicts that automotive sales will fall between 15.6 million to 16 million in 2021. This figure is lower than the one predicted by the University of Michigan economists, but it still represents a significant increase over 2021 sales. Some people are skeptical about these predictions, but early data shows that it is very likely that the automotive industry will bounce back over the next year.  As previously mentioned, data reveals that automotive sales were correlated with the COVID-19 infection rate. As the infection rate increased in a state, automotive sales in that state declined. But this data also reveals that the opposite is true. As the infection rate decreased, automotive sales increased. This indicates that automotive sales could return to pre-pandemic levels after widespread vaccination in the U.S. Financing rates and ownership costs are expected to stay low for now, which could also help the automotive industry’s recovery. These low interest rates and ownership costs could convince consumers who are on the fence to give in and purchase a new vehicle. WHAT CHALLENGES WILL THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY FACE IN 2021? It’s true that most experts agree on the automotive industry’s ability to recover in 2021. But that does not mean that the road to recovery will be easy. To achieve success, automotive companies must be prepared to deal with a number of challenges that they will likely face in the year ahead. One of these challenges is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not yet been resolved. The several vaccines that have been produced will minimize this threat, but it remains to be seen how long it will take to distribute the vaccine and get the pandemic under control.  Until this happens, the COVID-19 pandemic could continue to disrupt normal operations within the automotive industry. Just last week, General Motors was forced to make changes that will affect their supply chain as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks at assembly plants in Mexico. Other automotive companies will undoubtedly face similar problems in 2021. These continued disruptions—along with production delays caused by lockdown and stay-at-home orders in 2020—will most likely lead to low inventory levels in the automotive industry in 2021 . Low inventory problems could limit consumers’ options and negatively impact the industry’s ability to recover. The Outlook for the Automotive Industry Looks Promising in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-249.jpeg] Automotive companies must also be prepared to deal with consumers who are hesitant to visit dealerships in person due to the threat of contracting COVID-19. Unless other options are available to consumers, this could hinder the automotive industry’s performance this year. Economists believe that the first half of the year will be the hardest for the automotive industry since the world is still grappling with the pandemic. To make it through this difficult time, economists believe that the automotive industry will need government assistance. This means the automotive industry’s ability to rebound could depend partly on whether or not the government passes additional stimulus packages over the next few months. Rising costs are also an issue for automotive manufacturers, according to a group of industry insiders who participated in a summit hosted by the Society of Automotive Analysts. These experts warned automotive manufacturers to prepare for rising labor, freight, and raw material costs, which could drastically reduce automotive profits. HOW CAN AUTOMOTIVE COMPANIES SUCCEED IN THIS UNCERTAIN MARKET? Recovery will not be easy for the automotive industry, but it is possible. There are certain steps that automotive companies can take now to increase their chances of succeeding and growing their business during these uncertain times. Automotive companies should be willing to invest in the digital world in order to make it through this challenging year. A growing number of consumers are embracing the idea of purchasing a vehicle online rather than in a dealership. In the U.S, 17% of consumers said they would like to complete the entire process of purchasing a new vehicle online, whereas 12% said they would like to complete at least some of the process online.  The Outlook for the Automotive Industry Looks Promising in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-250.jpeg] This shift to digital automotive sales will appeal to younger, tech-savvy consumers. It will also appeal to consumers who are still unwilling to visit a dealership in person due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Investing in a digital sales platform could help automotive companies win this segment of the population over.  If moving the entire sales process online is not an option, automotive companies should consider moving select aspects of the process online instead. For example, allow consumers to take a virtual test drive online. Or give them the option of scheduling a test drive online. Then, deliver the vehicle to their home for a contactless test drive experience. Automotive manufacturers should also focus on promoting special deals and discounts to consumers, who are still hesitant about spending large amounts of money. Highlight the record-low interest rates, declining ownership costs, and other financial benefits to purchasing a vehicle right now.  Focus on other areas of business, too. It’s estimated that 95% of people put off vehicle maintenance and 52% delayed vehicle repair last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that everything has reopened, target these consumers. Reaching out to these consumers could drive foot traffic, increase revenue, and more importantly, build relationships with customers who may need to purchase new vehicles in the future. The effects of the global COVID-19 crisis will continue to linger in the automotive industry in 2021. However, if experts are right, the automotive industry could start to return to some state of normalcy in the year ahead.

Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]

Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]

January 8, 2021

Augmented reality is changing rapidly, and during the Covid pandemic this technology helped businesses adapt from an in-office setup to a work-from-home virtual connectivity. This rise in virtual employment led to the demand for replicating an office at home. But it wasn’t just workers who had to embrace the virtual world. Schools across the country closed, too. Socializing went virtual. When we look at the top augmented reality statistics of 2020, we have to zero in on the role of Covid.Because Covid changed everything this year. Classrooms moved to living rooms or bedrooms. Those without desks at home likely had parents out hunting the stores for workspaces. The need for computers, tablets or laptops surged, too. Social lives changed. For children and for adults. There were no more group meet-ups. Even the dating world had to adapt. After all, how do you date during a pandemic? Especially when bars and other entertainment venues were likely shut or had limited capacity. No one knew who could possibly be a Covid carrier. And this hesitancy, this fear, also likely shaped the way the world moved…or didn’t move. Virtual interactions were safe, though. And, in the need for a reminder of old experiences, people had to find other options that didn’t involve in-person interactions. While virtual tours and other interactive experiences have been around for a while, Covid might have increased their popularity. So what were the top augmented reality trends of 2020? We’ll break down statistics for social, education and the workplace, too. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Top7AugmentedRealityStatistics-1.jpg] AUGMENTING OUR SOCIAL WORLD IN 2020 Augmented reality includes graphic overlays against a real life image, and augmented reality helped make our social world a bit more interesting when few of us could get out of the home. And many of us still may be only socializing with our nearest and dearest—think social pods! During Covid, many Americans augmented their social world. Or embraced virtual experiences. AUGMENTED REALITY GAMING Bored? Many of us were…and many still may be bored out of our minds. Life became pretty monotonous if we didn’t brainstorm new ways to have fun. Video gaming was likely a popular escape. Augmented reality video games could be played with friends, and many kids probably used gaming as a way to stay connected. A study even looked at AR gaming’s effect on both physical and mental health. The study included more than 2,000 participants, and the results were interesting. The study concluded that, “AR games have the potential to promote physical and mental-health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Used by populations under isolation and distress, such games can potentially improve physical and mental health by providing virtual socialization, sustained exercise, temporal routine, and mental structure….” However, the study also noted that more research is needed. While exact game downloads during Covid might not be available, stats taken from Sensor Tower Blog reveal that Pokemon GO has done quite well during 2020: * $1 billion (during 2020) * Player spending increased 11 percent over 2019 These stats were published in early November, so stats for the full year weren’t even available. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has some impressive stats as well; Niantic and WB Games revealed the game’s magical first year statistics as reported by Pocket Gamer: * 10 million downloads on Google Play * Players consumed 850 potions in the game * Players sent 150 million gifts to their friends * Players walked a total of 400 million kilometers * Players took all the glory winning 275 Wizarding Challenges! While many gamers are likely still dealing with limited social interactions, and, therefore, living in the virtual (or augmented) space, 2021 might see those AR gamers head outdoors to play their favorite games. That is, if they have a handheld device! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Top7AugmentedRealityStatistics-1-1.jpg] VIRTUALLY AUGMENTING OUR CULTURAL EXPERIENCES Forget museum visits. Exploring the vast spaces of artwork, science discoveries and history were likely not possible during the pandemic, although some areas didn’t have tight restrictions. Virtual museum tours also were an option (and still are an option). There were many videos on YouTube offering virtual tours of historic locations. Museums, though, were hit with a devastating blow during Covid. According to the United Nations: * 90 percent of museums around the world closed during Covid * 13 percent faced the reality that their doors would shut permanently. In a report titled “Museums, Museum Professionals and Covid 19,” the International Council of Museums reported: * 94.7 percent of museums were closed across the globe * Only 1.1 percent remained open * 92.6 percent of museums in North America were closed * 84 percent reported that staff were working from home * Only 26.1 percent had staff whose full-time job was dedicated to “digital activities.” These activities included virtual tours. * 55.7 percent reported that they had staff for “digital activities,” but that focus wasn’t their full-time job. * As for budgeting for online or digital activities (including communication), more than 35 percent reported that they didn’t know how much of their budget was allocated for this purpose, while more than 23 percent said only between one percent and five percent of the budget was reserved for digital. * More than 33 percent of museums reported they didn’t have online collections * More than 43 percent reported that their online collections remained the same during Covid as before. * Almost 18 percent reported that they offered more online collections after the lockdown * A little more than 4 percent reported that online collections only began after lockdowns * More than 18 percent also reported that offered more live events after lockdown * More than 16 percent reported that they expanded online exhibitions after lockdown [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Top7AugmentedRealityStatistics-2.jpg] AUGMENTING OUR COMMUNICATION: WORK, SCHOOL & BEYOND Our social communication dovetails into our work and school communication, too. Why? Many were used to socializing with coworkers on a daily basis. Children socialized with friends at school, during extracurricular activities like sports and in their neighborhoods. Of course, before Covid, most of us took socializing with friends, family and co-workers for granted. During the worst of the pandemic—and perhaps even now—many Americans are still limiting their social face-to-face interactions. The mask is the norm. So is social distancing. What kept students, teachers, co-workers, friends and families communicating during this crazy time? What helped replicate face-to-face interactions without the worry of spreading a virus? The screen! Most importantly, and most prominently, digital conferencing platforms like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Marco Polo and so many more! The choices of platforms were plentiful, but so were all the fun options. Who wanted to look like they were actually at home? That was too boring! Instead, many embraced augmented reality. All those cool background choices like the beach? And those quirky crazy filters? Yes, that was augmented reality in your day-to-day communications. How much did American use these platforms during Covid? Here’s some stats from Statista: * In March, Skype had more than 59 million daily users * Zoom had more than 27 million downloads in March Back in May, Ipsos surveyed more than 1,000 adults (over age 18) for the Mozilla Foundation and offered even more data related to our videoconferencing habits related to lockdown: * Almost 60 percent use these virtual conferencing either for their job or just to socialize * Almost ¾ of young adults (defined as 18-34) use these platforms * 85 percent reported that they will use videoconferencing after the lockdowns * 54 percent expressed concerns about their home being on view (privacy issues) * Zoom was the favorite platform (66 percent!) Those who were unpartnered or who didn’t feel comfortable quarantining with a partner might have had to rely on virtual dates, too. If those meet-ups happened via platforms like Zoom or Skype, maybe couples had unique backgrounds to make those dates a bit more adventurous. Set the mood with a beach or maybe a romantic forest! Or choose something quirky? Virtual dates were a reality in 2020, and augmented reality likely played a part, too. A NEW YEAR: AUGMENTED REALITY IN 2021 In March, lockdowns began in many parts of the U.S. Since that time, many have remained working from home and using teleconferencing platforms to stay in touch with colleagues, managers, friends, relatives and, of course, teachers. Students may have started back to in-person learning only to head back home, some might have never returned to school. Others may be enjoying life in the classroom again. Others might be using even more augmented reality in the classroom…or at home for the classroom. Covid threw our lives into a completely different world. Looking ahead, will augmented reality continue to be a part of our lives? Or will we once again go back to the face-to-face normal? Ipsos’ survey revealed that most people would continue using virtual platforms. And some businesses could embrace work-from-home as the standard. While the pivot to a virtual workplace may have been strange for many, it did perhaps start to feel normal. Could businesses keep workers at the home office? Perhaps. Augmented reality gaming has been around for years; Pokemon GO has been popular since its release several years ago. The rise of AR gaming during the pandemic may actually have had benefits, too. When socialization wasn’t an option, the augmented world allowed gamers to experience something different. Maybe they mixed potions, found Pokemon, built augmented worlds or ran from zombies. But they could socialize. And get moving. Museums will once again open up. Although when that happens may be the big question mark. Some may be open now…depending on the area and the restrictions. Looking ahead, though, there will be a day when the old normal becomes the new normal once again. But what that looks like is really the greatest unknown of the post-pandemic future. Who knows what trends will stay, what ones will be left in the dust and what new technology could emerge.

Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]

Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]

January 8, 2021

Augmented reality is changing rapidly, and during the Covid pandemic this technology helped businesses adapt from an in-office setup to a work-from-home virtual connectivity. This rise in virtual employment led to the demand for replicating an office at home. But it wasn’t just workers who had to embrace the virtual world. Schools across the country closed, too. Socializing went virtual. When we look at the top augmented reality statistics of 2020, we have to zero in on the role of Covid.Because Covid changed everything this year. Classrooms moved to living rooms or bedrooms. Those without desks at home likely had parents out hunting the stores for workspaces. The need for computers, tablets or laptops surged, too. Social lives changed. For children and for adults. There were no more group meet-ups. Even the dating world had to adapt. After all, how do you date during a pandemic? Especially when bars and other entertainment venues were likely shut or had limited capacity. No one knew who could possibly be a Covid carrier. And this hesitancy, this fear, also likely shaped the way the world moved…or didn’t move. Virtual interactions were safe, though. And, in the need for a reminder of old experiences, people had to find other options that didn’t involve in-person interactions. While virtual tours and other interactive experiences have been around for a while, Covid might have increased their popularity. So what were the top augmented reality trends of 2020? We’ll break down statistics for social, education and the workplace, too. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image.jpeg] AUGMENTING OUR SOCIAL WORLD IN 2020 Augmented reality includes graphic overlays against a real life image, and augmented reality helped make our social world a bit more interesting when few of us could get out of the home. And many of us still may be only socializing with our nearest and dearest—think social pods! During Covid, many Americans augmented their social world. Or embraced virtual experiences. AUGMENTED REALITY GAMING Bored? Many of us were…and many still may be bored out of our minds. Life became pretty monotonous if we didn’t brainstorm new ways to have fun. Video gaming was likely a popular escape. Augmented reality video games could be played with friends, and many kids probably used gaming as a way to stay connected. A study even looked at AR gaming’s effect on both physical and mental health. The study included more than 2,000 participants, and the results were interesting. The study concluded that, “AR games have the potential to promote physical and mental-health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Used by populations under isolation and distress, such games can potentially improve physical and mental health by providing virtual socialization, sustained exercise, temporal routine, and mental structure….” However, the study also noted that more research is needed. While exact game downloads during Covid might not be available, stats taken from Sensor Tower Blog reveal that Pokemon GO has done quite well during 2020: * $1 billion (during 2020) * Player spending increased 11 percent over 2019 These stats were published in early November, so stats for the full year weren’t even available. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has some impressive stats as well; Niantic and WB Games revealed the game’s magical first year statistics as reported by Pocket Gamer: * 10 million downloads on Google Play * Players consumed 850 potions in the game * Players sent 150 million gifts to their friends * Players walked a total of 400 million kilometers * Players took all the glory winning 275 Wizarding Challenges! While many gamers are likely still dealing with limited social interactions, and, therefore, living in the virtual (or augmented) space, 2021 might see those AR gamers head outdoors to play their favorite games. That is, if they have a handheld device! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image-1.jpeg] VIRTUALLY AUGMENTING OUR CULTURAL EXPERIENCES Forget museum visits. Exploring the vast spaces of artwork, science discoveries and history were likely not possible during the pandemic, although some areas didn’t have tight restrictions. Virtual museum tours also were an option (and still are an option). There were many videos on YouTube offering virtual tours of historic locations. Museums, though, were hit with a devastating blow during Covid. According to the United Nations: * 90 percent of museums around the world closed during Covid * 13 percent faced the reality that their doors would shut permanently. In a report titled “Museums, Museum Professionals and Covid 19,” the International Council of Museums reported: * 94.7 percent of museums were closed across the globe * Only 1.1 percent remained open * 92.6 percent of museums in North America were closed * 84 percent reported that staff were working from home * Only 26.1 percent had staff whose full-time job was dedicated to “digital activities.” These activities included virtual tours. * 55.7 percent reported that they had staff for “digital activities,” but that focus wasn’t their full-time job. * As for budgeting for online or digital activities (including communication), more than 35 percent reported that they didn’t know how much of their budget was allocated for this purpose, while more than 23 percent said only between one percent and five percent of the budget was reserved for digital. * More than 33 percent of museums reported they didn’t have online collections * More than 43 percent reported that their online collections remained the same during Covid as before. * Almost 18 percent reported that they offered more online collections after the lockdown * A little more than 4 percent reported that online collections only began after lockdowns * More than 18 percent also reported that offered more live events after lockdown * More than 16 percent reported that they expanded online exhibitions after lockdown [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/image-2.jpeg] AUGMENTING OUR COMMUNICATION: WORK, SCHOOL & BEYOND Our social communication dovetails into our work and school communication, too. Why? Many were used to socializing with coworkers on a daily basis. Children socialized with friends at school, during extracurricular activities like sports and in their neighborhoods. Of course, before Covid, most of us took socializing with friends, family and co-workers for granted. During the worst of the pandemic—and perhaps even now—many Americans are still limiting their social face-to-face interactions. The mask is the norm. So is social distancing. What kept students, teachers, co-workers, friends and families communicating during this crazy time? What helped replicate face-to-face interactions without the worry of spreading a virus? The screen! Most importantly, and most prominently, digital conferencing platforms like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Marco Polo and so many more! The choices of platforms were plentiful, but so were all the fun options. Who wanted to look like they were actually at home? That was too boring! Instead, many embraced augmented reality. All those cool background choices like the beach? And those quirky crazy filters? Yes, that was augmented reality in your day-to-day communications. How much did American use these platforms during Covid? Here’s some stats from Statista: * In March, Skype had more than 59 million daily users * Zoom had more than 27 million downloads in March Back in May, Ipsos surveyed more than 1,000 adults (over age 18) for the Mozilla Foundation and offered even more data related to our videoconferencing habits related to lockdown: * Almost 60 percent use these virtual conferencing either for their job or just to socialize * Almost ¾ of young adults (defined as 18-34) use these platforms * 85 percent reported that they will use videoconferencing after the lockdowns * 54 percent expressed concerns about their home being on view (privacy issues) * Zoom was the favorite platform (66 percent!) Those who were unpartnered or who didn’t feel comfortable quarantining with a partner might have had to rely on virtual dates, too. If those meet-ups happened via platforms like Zoom or Skype, maybe couples had unique backgrounds to make those dates a bit more adventurous. Set the mood with a beach or maybe a romantic forest! Or choose something quirky? Virtual dates were a reality in 2020, and augmented reality likely played a part, too. A NEW YEAR: AUGMENTED REALITY IN 2021 In March, lockdowns began in many parts of the U.S. Since that time, many have remained working from home and using teleconferencing platforms to stay in touch with colleagues, managers, friends, relatives and, of course, teachers. Students may have started back to in-person learning only to head back home, some might have never returned to school. Others may be enjoying life in the classroom again. Others might be using even more augmented reality in the classroom…or at home for the classroom. Covid threw our lives into a completely different world. Looking ahead, will augmented reality continue to be a part of our lives? Or will we once again go back to the face-to-face normal? Ipsos’ survey revealed that most people would continue using virtual platforms. And some businesses could embrace work-from-home as the standard. While the pivot to a virtual workplace may have been strange for many, it did perhaps start to feel normal. Could businesses keep workers at the home office? Perhaps. Augmented reality gaming has been around for years; Pokemon GO has been popular since its release several years ago. The rise of AR gaming during the pandemic may actually have had benefits, too. When socialization wasn’t an option, the augmented world allowed gamers to experience something different. Maybe they mixed potions, found Pokemon, built augmented worlds or ran from zombies. But they could socialize. And get moving. Museums will once again open up. Although when that happens may be the big question mark. Some may be open now…depending on the area and the restrictions. Looking ahead, though, there will be a day when the old normal becomes the new normal once again. But what that looks like is really the greatest unknown of the post-pandemic future. Who knows what trends will stay, what ones will be left in the dust and what new technology could emerge.

Categories: Augmented Reality
The New Digital Shopping Journey for Automotive Consumers

The New Digital Shopping Journey for Automotive Consumers

January 6, 2021

The way that consumers shop for and purchase a new vehicle has evolved over the years. Ten years ago, the average consumer visited between five to seven automotive dealerships prior to purchasing a vehicle. But now, the automotive customer journey primarily takes place in the digital world. Because of this shift to the digital world, today’s average consumer only visits one dealership prior to purchasing a vehicle. Every company in the automotive industry must be prepared to sell to consumers in the digital world in order to stay competitive. But first, they must understand the different stages of the digital shopping journey for automotive consumers. STAGE 1: DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT The first stage of the digital shopping journey for automotive consumers is digital engagement, which is similar to the awareness stage of the classic consumer buying cycle. The goal of this stage is to increase brand awareness among your target audience. Your target audience should not only be familiar with your brand but also should understand how you are different from your competitors. Focus on promoting the latest news related to your brand to keep your target audience informed. Automotive brands should use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram to connect with consumers during this stage of the buying journey. Facilitating two-way communication between your brand and target audience is the key to succeeding during this stage. Social media platforms give brands the opportunity to connect directly with consumers, so you should use this to your advantage. Respond to consumers’ questions, comments, and complaints on social media. Thank consumers for their feedback, regardless of whether or not it is positive. Not only is this a great way to engage with consumers, but it will also give you the chance to show off your brand’s unique personality. STAGE 2: VIRTUAL ENGAGEMENT & CONFIGURATION The next stage in the digital buying journey is virtual engagement and configuration, which is similar to the information gathering stage of the classic consumer buying cycle. Take engagement with your target audience to the next level during this stage of the buying journey. The purpose of the first stage was to inform your audience and respond to all social media interactions. But go one step further during this stage by working with them one-on-one to help them find the information they need in real-time. Automotive brands should use live chats, virtual reality showrooms, video chats, and their website to reach consumers during this stage of the buying journey. For example, automotive brands could offer digital consumers video consultations to help them find the right vehicle for their lifestyle and budget. Automotive companies could also create virtual showrooms for their online consumers. Inside these showrooms, consumers can connect directly with a sales representative who can take them on a virtual tour of a specific vehicle. In other words, the goal should be to create a personalized sales pitch for each of your digital consumers. This will make consumers feel as if they are walking the showroom floor with a sales representative without ever stepping foot inside a dealership. STAGE 3: DEDICATED CROSS-CHANNEL ASSISTANCE The third stage in the digital shopping journey for automotive consumers is dedicated cross-channel assistance. A consumer who enters this stage of the buying journey has already conducted research regarding their options and tentatively decided on which model they are interested in purchasing. But now, they are interested in using an online car configurator to customize their vehicle. They want to be able to build their own vehicle, see what the vehicle will look like in various colors, and find out exactly how much it will cost to purchase their custom creation. This is an important stage in the digital buying journey. In fact, meeting your customer’s needs during this stage is the key to closing the deal. But unfortunately, many automotive brands lose touch with their customers during this stage. Automotive brands should use live chats or video consultations to guide consumers through this stage. Walk them through how to use the online car configuration tool. Help them finalize the add-on features, colors, and other design elements of their custom vehicle. To succeed during this stage, focus on responding quickly to consumers and providing personalized advice. Be prepared to provide in-person support at your dealership if a consumer needs additional assistance. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DigitalShoppingJourneyforAutomotiveConsumers-2.jpg] STAGE 4: PERSONAL DRIVING EXPERIENCE After completing the dedicated cross-channel assistance stage, a consumer moves into the personal driving experience stage of the digital automotive shopping journey. The test drive is a crucial stage in the decision-making process for automotive consumers. But it can present a unique challenge to automotive brands, who must be able to figure out how to offer a test drive to digital consumers. There are two ways to meet the digital consumer’s journey during this phase. First, automotive brands can offer consumers the opportunity to take a virtual test drive. A virtual test drive, which is powered by virtual reality technology, allows consumers to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle without ever leaving the comfort of their home. The second option is making it easier for digital consumers to schedule and take an in-person test drive. For example, give consumers the option to schedule a test drive through your website. Allow them to confirm their identity and provide required documentation online to reduce the amount of time they have to spend at the dealership. Automotive brands could also offer to bring the vehicle to the consumer so they can take a test drive in their neighborhood without having to visit the dealership. The goal of this stage is to make the test drive as easy and convenient as possible for digital consumers. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DigitalShoppingJourneyforAutomotiveConsumers-1-1.jpg] STAGE 5: EXCLUSIVE & CUSTOM OFFER The fifth stage in the digital buying journey is the exclusive and custom offer. In the traditional consumer buying cycle, this stage is part of the purchase phase. The automotive brand and the consumer complete their transaction during this stage. But this involves much more than simply clicking a button or providing a digital signature. Remember, a vehicle is a significant financial investment, so consumers may need additional support in order to feel comfortable with the decision to close the deal. Make yourself available to consumers during this stage of the process via phone, video consultation, and live chat. If consumers aren’t adequately supported during this stage, they may get cold feet and completely back out of the deal. Be sure to give consumers the opportunity to sign their contract online so they don’t need to visit the dealership in person to finalize the deal. They should be able to provide a digital signature in order to complete the purchase of their vehicle. STAGE 6: ONGOING ENGAGEMENT The sixth stage, which is ongoing engagement, is also part of the purchase phase of the traditional consumer buying cycle. The goal of the fifth stage is to get the consumer to sign the contract and close the deal. But the goal of this stage is to keep them engaged between the time the contract is signed and the time their vehicle is delivered. One way to keep customers engaged is to create personalized videos for them in the days or weeks leading up to the arrival of their vehicle. Take them behind the scenes to see the production process of their vehicle or send them a video of their vehicle driving off the lot on its way to their home. Send these videos via email or text. If there is a long wait between the time the contract is signed and the time the vehicle is delivered, be sure to send regular updates to the consumer. They shouldn’t feel like they are no longer important to you simply because they already signed the contract. Use this time to build excitement and strengthen your relationship with your customer. STAGE 7: ENHANCED EXPERIENCE THROUGH IN-CAR ASSISTANCE The enhanced experience through the in-car assistance phase is the final stage in the digital automotive shopping journey. At this point, the consumer is already in possession of their vehicle, but that doesn’t mean the digital buying journey is over. Now, the goal is to retain this customer so they always purchase vehicles from your company instead of going to a competitor. To retain a customer, focus on providing additional services such as routine maintenance and repairs. Allow customers to schedule these appointments online to make it as convenient as possible for them. You should also follow up with each customer to ensure they are completely satisfied with their vehicle. If they aren’t satisfied, make an effort to address their concerns. Use connected in-car features to interact with your customers. For example, use these features to share the latest news or brand updates with customers who are already driving your vehicles. Buying a vehicle is a significant financial investment, which is why today’s consumers expect extraordinary, personalized customer service at every stage in the digital shopping journey. Experts believe that the number of consumers who shop for a vehicle online will continue to grow in the future. For this reason, it’s important for automotive companies to invest heavily in meeting the demands of these new digital consumers.

How Will Joe Biden Change the Global Car Market

How Will Joe Biden Change the Global Car Market

January 4, 2021

The global commercial market made some major shifts during the pandemic, and the automotive industry has adapted to maintain consumer interest and turnover. This year brought another widespread event that will have a steady impact on the auto industry as a whole, and Joe Biden’s presidential win might mean big changes for car retailers and manufacturers. While the Trump administration rolled back a lot of eco-friendly and emission-conscious legislation, Biden is looking to apply a heavier hand to one of the world’s most timely issues. But that leaves the country with a looming question: “How will Joe Biden winning the US presidential election change the global car market?” From emissions to alternative energy mandates, take a look at some of the key ways Biden’s administration is planning to change the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-224.jpeg] WHAT IS BIDEN’S PLATFORM FOR EMISSIONS? Prior to Trump’s elimination of this policy, American emissions were supposed to decrease by a level of 3.5 per cent annually, and then by five percent each year through 2025. Now, Biden is planning to take this policy a step further. Under his presidency, car manufacturers will be expected to adhere to an emission reduction amount of six percent each year from 2026 on. This is a lofty goal, but retailers and manufacturers stand to save money over time by adopting these energy-efficient car sale measures. In fact, the latest policy showed a potential annual savings of more than $1 billion for car brands on the market. Additionally, the widespread adoption of energy-efficient vehicles can help consumers save money on fuel and maintenance costs. Building a marketplace that helps to promote and facilitate alternative fuel sources makes the commodity cheaper and more accessible to everyone. WILL THERE BE INCENTIVES FOR EV OR ALTERNATIVE FUEL DRIVERS? Previously, the rigid requirements for obtaining the EV tax benefit prevented many households from qualifying. This had a direct impact on the alternative fuel and vehicle sales markets, which Biden’s policies are likely to completely reverse. One of Biden’s key plans for the return to an Obama-era approach to EPA compliance is expanding the EV tax credit. This allotment provides taxpayers with an incentive to purchase and drive energy-efficient vehicles. Additionally, this encourages ridesharing and carpooling, which is proven to minimize carbon emissions. This shift back to a more conscious roadway will make electric and hybrid cars more accessible and enticing than ever for the everyday consumer. Tax breaks lead to increased affordability for manufacturers and retailers, as well. Furthermore, potential incentive programs could pay consumers thousands to trade in their fossil fuel-powered vehicle for a greener option. Biden’s plan is loosely modeled after a previous version presented by Democrats to replace more than 63 million gas cars with efficient vehicles in the next 10 years. Assuming these tax changes would make it through congress, we could see these changes take effect sooner rather than later. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-225.jpeg] HOW WILL A BIDEN PRESIDENCY IMPACT ELECTRIC AND HYBRID SALES? Since more consumers and brands are going to be receiving a benefit based on the sale and purchase of electric vehicles, experts are expecting this market to rise significantly. By 2023, electric vehicle sales are projected to make up more than 15% of the market. In 2026, that number is expected to double. Tesla, being a frontrunner of this growing industry, will likely see a high amount of that potential growth. This brand alone is planning to add a dozen new models to the market. Car brands that offer hybrid models are also building out this part of their inventories, as long as the units can meet set efficiency and emission standards. Biden’s new proposals include the installation of more than 500,000 charging stations across the country. This motion alone will make the electric vehicle market more available to the needs of the mass-market consumer. More charging stations, lower vehicle maintenance costs, and widespread marketing will likely build the electric vehicle sphere into a major corner of the car sales industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-226.jpeg] HOW WILL AUTO INDUSTRY JOBS BE AFFECTED? Although Biden’s restructuring of mileage and emission requirements will lead to innovation in the electric/alternative markets, there will be an impact on the longevity of jobs across traditional brands and manufacturers. Biden’s climate-based plan strives to bring more than a million new jobs to Americans across a variety of spheres and specializations. This is in response to the reinstitution of pre-Trump environmental regulations and standards. After the election, a lot of tension was created in the auto industry within the job market and competition for open positions. However, his position will likely create more jobs in other areas of automotive retail and industrialization. While Biden was Vice President, at least 33,000 jobs were created in the car manufacturing sector in Michigan. This model followed similar proposals made by previous Democratic legislators in favor of innovation over preservation of the current industrial standards. We’ll likely see a repeat of this trend, as Biden is trying to build out a larger efficient vehicle market to create jobs in that sphere. For those in the alternative energy field, innovative technology, and energy-efficient manufacturing there will be a huge influx of jobs in these previously niche industries. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-227.jpeg] WILL GLOBAL TRADE BE AFFECTED DURING BIDEN’S PRESIDENCY? During Trump’s presidency, we saw an upset in global trade as tariffs and sanctions inhibited international commerce. However, financial and political leaders expect that to change significantly once Biden takes office. The President-Elect has been clear about his position regarding international trade and globalized commerce. Among the primary impacted goods are aluminum and steel. Opening up these regulations will drive down the cost of these commodities, as well as stimulating a previously stagnant segment of the auto sales pipeline. This is particularly impactful when looking at the relationship between the U.S. and China economies. By taking the matter of global trade with a more cut-and-dry formulaic approach, it’s highly likely that international commerce will return to Obama-era standards at the very least. Additionally, the technology sector will see an influx of activity under the multiple tiers of Biden’s financial plan. WILL REGULATIONS BE PLACED ON FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS? One of the major requirements of Biden’s energy efficiency plan involves some significant changes in the auto manufacturing and sales sector. From tailpipe standards to emission compliance, car brands are responding to the President Elect’s plans in the supply chain and on the sales floor. By 2025, all cars may be required to adhere to a minimum standard of 54 mpg, and trucks will need to stay within 39 mpg. This change alone has the potential to change the way a country interacts with the rest of the world in regard to carbon and gas emissions. Keeping sales high in the alternative vehicle industry depends on a combination of targeted marketing, consumer education, and accessibility. For those who are looking to stay within the traditional fuel market, there will be some limits on the amount of carbon that can be released into the environment. But, higher fuel costs and lower ROI are driving drivers out of the gasoline sphere and into alternative fuel cars. This pressure is making it more profitable for auto manufacturers to build out their eco-friendly product lines and improve innovation in this side of their research and development budgets. Brands that refuse to adapt to more stringent standards will face looming fees before being forced to comply or reduce their standard product offerings. This is one of the largest movements being made around the world to reduce the amount of high-emission vehicles on the road. WHAT THE GREEN NEW DEAL COULD MEAN FOR THE AUTO INDUSTRY A large reason why the global car market is expected to change so much is the implementation of a bigger attack on climate change-causing emissions and global ecology. The Green New Deal is also proposed to change other aspects of the commercial market, from consumer goods and services to corporate vendors. Regulations placed on fossil fuel emissions can make the manufacturing process more expensive when it comes to building standard efficiency vehicles. This is one of the main reasons why car brands are making a widespread shift toward efficient mass-market production. If Biden completely adheres to the proposal made by prior presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the industry could reach zero-emission status by the year 2035. To drive innovation and boost production, Biden proposes to invest more than $400 billion toward the advancement of battery technology and auto market infrastructure. This will largely go toward building a car sales and development structure that supports energy-efficient vehicles and a lower (or nonexistent) dependency on gas as fuel. While we saw a lot of major automotive market changes under Trump’s presidency, it looks like Biden is going to return a lot of the industry to the trends of the previous administration. We will likely see an intense shift toward widespread market acceptance for electric and energy-efficient vehicles, and a preference for tech innovation over-dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, reducing the imposed tariffs and other shipping fees that have been placed on primary sourcing countries will open the automotive industry to the global commerce market. Consumers are worried about rising costs and the impact this will have on the job market, but Biden plans to create jobs and provide economic incentives to offset these concerns.

What to Expect from AR and VR in 2021

What to Expect from AR and VR in 2021

January 1, 2021

Every year, major players in the tech sector tease new products and host special events introducing these additions to their lineup. Product launches are much anticipated by consumers who may crave the cool factor of the latest gadget. While newer isn’t always necessarily better, in the tech sector newer products often include upgraded features or advanced capabilities that leave their older predecessors looking like dinosaurs. Augmented and virtual reality offerings have evolved from clunky to streamlined. And, in 2021, consumers can prepare for sleeker offerings. Here’s what to expect from AR and VR in 2021 according to experts in the industry. For virtual reality and augmented reality technology, new developments are not necessarily something that can be purchased by consumers. Augmented reality and virtual reality are wired into many sectors of our lives, and this technology is used for many purposes in numerous industries. The future of augmented reality and virtual reality isn’t tangible in the same way as a new phone, tablet or other tech gadget. Instead, augmented reality and virtual reality will affect consumers by interspersing into their lives and habits. Here’s what’s on the virtual horizon in 2021. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-221.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE ‘NETWORK’ When virtual reality and augmented reality devices and programs require an internet connection, the network speed may boost performance. Most consumers likely have stories about a sluggish internet speed; the pages load slowly, videos suddenly stop, it’s a tech nightmare. If speed affects web sites, users may simply click out. As many industries are utilizing virtual reality and augmented reality, the network speed may be an important component. Users don’t want the virtual experience to lag, suddenly drop out or glitch. Virtual experiences, augmented reality experiences need to be continuous, smooth, sharp and without interruption. Back in June, the Consumer Technology Association reported that the use of “socially safe” 5G AR/VR applications. Among them was the use of 5G for healthcare, particularly virtual visits. The Association also mentioned the use of 5G for goggles that aid in prepping doctors for surgeries. A 5G network also aided mental health treatments. The Association noted that “…AR/VR exposure therapy applications are also made more effective with 5G, which reduces lag time and creates a more realistic and immersive experience for the user.” While the 5G element doesn’t point to a new AR/VR product, the speed of these networks seem to be conducive to a better virtual reality or augmented reality experience. While many consumers have seen the commercials touting ‘5G,’ they might simply view it as another gimmick. In the case of virtual reality, though, the upgraded network has helped to improve the virtual experience…at least according to the Consumer Technology Association. In the Association’s article, the 5G network (and its speed) also was noted to improve experiences for virtual tours at museums, gaming, company meetings and even virtual sporting events. If consumers think 5G is fast, though, something better might be on the horizon. Yes, 6G is already under development. And this faster network (think 100 times faster than 5G) will likely boost capabilities for augmented reality and virtual reality products of the future. Until, of course, 7G comes along…because in the tech sector, there is almost always something faster, sleeker and improved right behind the latest new launch. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-222.jpeg] INSIGHTS FROM TRENDFORCE: AR GLASSES AND THE SMARTPHONE One of the predictions for 2021 from TrendForce is related to augmented reality glasses and smartphones. In a press release, TrendForce noted that in 2021 “Integration between AR glasses and smartphones will kick-start a wave of cross-platform applications.” In other words, augmented reality glasses will be using smartphones as their data hub. Since the glasses will rely on the phone, TrendForce stated that the design of the glasses could be lighter…and cheaper. TrendForce predicts that more brands and mobile networks will be jumping into the augmented reality glasses segment. This market segment is already seeing new products and sleeker offerings. Some smart glasses like the Moverio Smart Glasses look very space-age. Vuzix Blade smart glasses look a bit more like standard eyewear. In 2021, more companies may add their own new offerings to the mix. There are rumors about Apple smart glasses, but the company has never confirmed. INSIGHTS FROM STRATEGY ANALYTICS In July, Strategy Analytics released a report titled “Short and Long Term Impacts of COVID-19 on the AR and VR Market.” The report detailed predictions for 2021 and beyond. While augmented reality and virtual reality contracted instead of showing growth, thanks to Covid, the future is predicted to be very good for the market. Strategy Analytics predicts “sixfold growth” in the next five years (through 2025), representing revenue of more than $27 billion. What products will feature in this growth? In the next year (that is 2021-2022), the company predicts that AR headsets for smartphones will be making a “comeback,” and the high-speed 5G network was noted as one of the reasons for this upcoming trend. For those unfamiliar with AR headsets for smartphones, the company Aryzon is one of the players in this area of the market (although it was not noted in Strategy Analytics’ press release). The headset is a bit of a mini version of the standard virtual reality headset and slightly resembles the ViewMaster. Price is noted by the company to be affordable—in fact, Aryzon’s website states that it’s the “World’s first affordable AR/MR headset.” The headset is priced at a little less than $40. If the prediction of the rise of an AR headset for smartphones comes to fruition, this could be an interesting development. While different companies will likely have different price points for their headsets, the accessible price of the Aryzon headset points to the possibility that AR headsets could become mainstream. If they were mainstream, think of the impact on the gaming world! While virtual reality headsets tend to be bulky—and pricey—the idea of accessible AR headsets that are compatible with smartphones opens up the gaming world of all types of AR-powered adventures. Imagine using a headset to play a new version of Pokemon Go or another augmented reality game. With a smaller headset connected to a portable device, gaming could be a more compact and personal experience, too. Players wouldn’t need a console, just the phone. Kids could take them on road trips, perhaps, giving them a mobile gaming experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-223.jpeg] CONSUMERS AND TECHNOLOGY While 2021 will likely see new products and sleeker gadgets for augmented and virtual reality, this technology may surround consumers whether or not they purchase the latest and greatest offerings. For some, virtual reality headsets might be out of the budget. While an AR headset could be more affordable, some consumers might not be that comfortable with new technology. Yet, the virtual world is everywhere now. The power of 5G is speeding up virtual tours for museums and helping the healthcare industry provide virtual visits without lag time. Even consumers that have zero interest in virtual reality and don’t own headsets or play AR or VR games, the virtual world may creep into their real world. Covid impacted everyone in some way. Many Americans had to abide by shelter-in-place orders or other health restrictions. Going out for the sake of going out really wasn’t much of an option. So how did the country adapt? Whether consumers realized it or not, we went virtual and embraced this new reality. School days were virtual. Work was virtual. Life went into a virtual reality. Maybe not always with a headset…but in other ways. Employees used fun backgrounds during virtual conference calls to give the illusion that they were somewhere else. Maybe a beach. Or a forest. Those backgrounds were a bit of augmented reality. They weren’t real. Individuals itching to get out of the house couldn’t just jump on a plane and tour Europe. But touring Europe or places within the continent was still a possibility. From the comfort of home, people could take a virtual tour. Museums might have been closed to the public or had limited capacity, but virtual tours could give visitors the museum experience. While the Louvre remained closed through part of December, the famous museum offered virtual tours and other online activities. Among the virtual tours offered by the museum was a tour of the Petite Galerie, where online visitors could see works from artists including Rembrandt. The tour takes visitors up the stairs and provides up close views to sculptures and paintings. While it cannot be the same experience as actually visiting the Louvre, the virtual experience is still an escape from the drudgery of sitting at home. The Sistine Chapel also offered virtual tours so those at home could gaze at the works of Michelangelo. With the click of a mouse, visitors can guide their own journey through the chapel. On a daily basis, many individuals also likely experience augmented reality during their drive time. Using backup cameras or other features in the car that include the real world environment with graphic overlays is an augmented reality experience. As Covid kept many out of the stores, online shopping also featured virtual elements. Car dealerships included virtual showrooms and offered virtual test drives. Financing also could be completed online. While 2021 will likely introduce many new virtual reality and augmented reality products, it will be interesting to discover which products grab the attention of consumers. And influence them to open their wallets! Will this be the year of smart glasses? Will AR headsets for smartphones become the must-have item? Only time will tell!

New Year’s 2021 AR/VR Resolutions

New Year’s 2021 AR/VR Resolutions

December 31, 2020

Statista reported that, in 2020, the augmented and virtual reality market was projected to soar beyond $12 billion worldwide and that consumers across the globe were projected to spend more than $6 billion for this technology. From virtual reality headsets to augmented reality video games like Pokemon Go!, technology that embraces aspects of a hyper reality have captivated consumers and transformed the way they view the world. Speculation abounds regarding what’s next for this tech segment, but consumers who have not yet jumped into the virtual realm might be ready to make a few AR and VR New Year’s resolutions for 2021. How can this technology transform the drudgery of daily habits? Check out all the ways to embrace virtual and augmented reality as a consumer. Just be sure to set a budget! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-218.jpeg] RESOLVE TO JUMP INTO THE WORLD OF AUGMENTED REALITY VIDEO GAMES One of the simplest ways to experience augmented or virtual reality is through video games. For those who may be unsure about investing in high-tech virtual reality headsets or other savvy gear, games can be an introductory platform to dip a toe into virtual or augmented realms. The games consumers choose may depend on the tech that they own. Some games work for a specific console, others can be downloaded onto a phone or tablet. Pokemon GO is an extremely popular augmented reality game, and, really, the hunt for these cute Pokemon allows even the most inexperienced gamer to check into an augmented experience. This game’s premise is simple. Pokemon are hiding in the real world. The game shows the live environment, and the augmented reality aspect is the virtual Pokemon that seemingly pop into random real world locations. Maybe they are hiding in the cupboard, on a table, behind a tree…Pokemon can be anywhere. The phone or tablet uses the camera for a real-time gaming experience. While Pokemon GO is suitable for anyone four and up, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Players can become so preoccupied with staring at the screen searching for Pokemon that they might not pay attention to the actual world around them, which could lead to accidents and, in some cases, allegedly death. While an augmented realm can transform the real-life environment, gamers also have to be mindful of traffic, pedestrians and, of course, places where trespassing isn’t acceptable. For those who aren’t interested in hunting for Pokemon, there are many other augmented reality gaming options. Zombie, Run is a fitness augmented reality game where players run from zombies! Those who love the Harry Potter or Jurassic Park movies/books also can step into augmented worlds with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite or Jurassic World Alive. Feeling creative? Minecraft Earth takes the build into an augmented reality. CONSIDER A VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSET There are many virtual reality headsets on the market, and some of the most popular per CNET include Oculus Quest, Valve Reverb and HTC Vive Cosmos. Prices can vary considerably, with the Quest being the least expensive (less than $300), and the Cosmos hitting $700. Why would a consumer need a virtual reality headset? Gaming! While augmented reality games can be an introductory experience to semi-virtual realms, headsets let the consumer step into another world. Virtual reality heightens the gaming experience; players can step into the world of Star Trek, Star Wars, or even virtually climb mountains. For consumers who invest in virtual reality headsets, game options may vary per brand. Although some games may be compatible with multiple headsets. Not sure what headset is the best one? That’s really a matter of opinion. Consumers can check out online reviews via tech publications or on company sites. If the budget is an issue, then the cost may be the key deciding factor. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-219.jpeg] CHECK OUT AUGMENTED REALITY EYEWEAR Consumers can wear augmented reality technology. Yes, there are glasses that feature augmented reality. Tom’s Guide lists the choices for augmented reality eyewear. Some of these options look like regular glasses or eyewear, but the guide also lists some standard headsets/glasses, too (like Hololens). Features can vary; some display phone notifications, others show an actual video that appears like a screen in front of the eyes. Again, prices can vary considerably. This market segment also may include new products in future years. Like most technology, virtual and augmented reality is constantly updating and becoming more streamlined…and perhaps even sleeker, too. In the past, virtual or augmented reality eyewear was limited to bulky headsets. The introduction of eyewear or glasses that look like what consumers wear to read or for vision correction allows this technology to really integrate into the personal fashion and style of daily life. This is a market segment consumers may want to watch…and research. UNSURE ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY? TRY IT OUT THIS YEAR! Consumers who are really digging in their heels about this technology don’t have to commit to purchasing any new gadgets. For those who may be not so comfortable with technology in general, investing in a new platform or new device can be a bit overwhelming. Curiosity about augmented or virtual reality, though, can be explored in museums, stores and even in the car. Most new automobiles include basic components of augmented reality; the backup camera and its grid lines is the perfect example. And these automotive features can make driving and parking a bit safer. Drivers can better understand their turning radius and can see what’s lurking behind the vehicle. While augmented reality in the car can seem fairly basic, it still may take time for individuals who aren’t comfortable using it to feel at ease. Most older drivers were used to looking behind them as they backed out of a space; the camera does this sight work for the driver. And adjusting to watching the screen instead of looking out of the rear window might be a difficult change. What about other augmented or virtual reality experiences? How can consumers dip a toe into this technology without investing money? Virtual reality and augmented reality are incorporated into many shopping experiences. For consumers who might be shopping for furniture, stores like Ikea offer augmented reality experiences so shoppers can preview a new couch or other possible purchase in their home space. Even beauty stores are in the augmented reality market. Consumers can upload their photo and try on new lipstick or other products. No need to worry if that berry shade is going to flatter, just try it on! Both Sephora and Ulta offer consumers the chance to virtually preview cosmetics. Museums also could provide virtual exhibits that take the visitor into a new world or experience. Those stuck at home can still enjoy cultural experiences, though. There are many virtual tours online that take visitors to historic and iconic sites…and these trips can be enjoyed from the comfort of home! Explore the Amazon Rainforest, Mesa Verde, the Tower of London and more! RESOLVE TO…ACCEPT THE RISE OF VIRTUAL! Most Americans likely cannot wait for the moment when the world goes back to pre-Covid normalcy. The pandemic has limited—or perhaps completely halted–visits to entertainment venues, museums, restaurants and maybe even the office. The days of browsing leisurely in a store seem ages ago. Yet while the pandemic has upended the very definition of normalcy, it also has helped consumers embrace technology platforms that mimic these experiences. Covid might have accelerated the daily acceptance of virtual reality and augmented reality platforms. When stores were closed, online experiences at some stores tried to replicate the in-store experience. While virtual platforms or augmented reality features couldn’t completely give consumers the full in-store experience, they did come close. Consumers might have relied on those virtual try-on apps offered by stores. They also might have utilized virtual showrooms for browsing automobiles when shopping for a new car. In-store experiences were the reality of the past, and online shopping experiences became the Covid norm. Has the pandemic changed shopping forever? When the pandemic subsides, shoppers may once again flock to the brick and mortar locations. However, many may believe that online experiences are more convenient. Visiting a store could be a trend of the past for these consumers. The pandemic also transformed the way Americans work. Many companies implemented work-from-home practices during Covid, and many employees may continue to use their home as their office space. The rise of virtual conference platforms became mainstream, and, really, a necessity. Kids learned via Zoom. Their parents also popped into virtual conference rooms to meet with their coworkers. Zoom and other virtual conference platforms pulled everyone into a different type of virtual reality. Meetings now showcased employees with unique backdrops to add some fun to the daily work routine. Backgrounds for virtual conference platforms could include beach scenes, holiday scenes, cartoon scenes, nature scenes and more. Workers could make it appear as though they were part of a popular show, on a tropical vacation or lounging in a lush locale. Work-from-home setups might have been a money saving option for some companies. And the virtual workforce could become much more accepted than it was in the past. The prominence of virtual and augmented reality platforms in daily life means that this technology could be here to stay. Those who are hesitant about virtual and augmented reality may need to accept that these platforms may become even more prominent in the future. Resolve to accept the rise of virtual! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-220.jpeg] RESOLVE TO…CONSIDER UPGRADING YOUR AUTO! In the automotive market, virtual and augmented reality are utilized for many different capabilities. Augmented reality helps mechanics make repairs through the use of special glasses, manufacturers use virtual reality to aid in the car design process, and, in the future, augmented reality may be used for avatar passengers to join during a drive. The future in the automotive sector is very much virtual. Consumers shopping for a new car need to be prepared for tech savvy features that include augmented reality or virtual reality. While virtual experiences—especially holographic avatars—are not yet a reality, augmented reality is wired into many new cars. When shopping for a new car, consumers have to understand that these features are more prevalent than ever. And augmented reality in many cars goes beyond the backup camera. Some vehicles feature numerous cameras that allow drivers to see many different vantage points. Cars also connect to handheld devices like smartphones. The phone allows maps and other GPS capabilities to be displayed on the screen near the dashboard. When new tech is introduced by manufacturers, these features could be offered as an upgrade. But eventually, they may make their way into standard features. The backup camera was once an upgrade, now this safety feature is standard on many new models. Having the choice to adopt a virtual or augmented reality lifestyle can allow consumers to slowly adapt to it. The future may bring incredible changes, and we may have virtual tour guides joining road trips. Or perhaps screens that project a conference call. When shopping for a new car, consumers may inquire about augmented reality features to learn more about this rising technology. This doesn’t mean that every consumer can splurge on these features, but dealerships may allow shoppers to preview the new options. Again, today’s upgrades may be tomorrow’s standard features! RESOLVE TO…BUDGET WISELY! For some consumers, virtual and augmented reality features and technology are simply not a priority. Others, though, may jump on the virtual bandwagon with gusto. This is where understanding any spending limitations may come into play! If there is no budget, have fun! However, most consumers don’t have the luxury of a bottomless account. For consumers who want a virtual reality headset, wish to try out augmented reality games or completely deck out their car, understanding financial limitations can help ensure that they don’t spend more than they can reasonably afford. Knowing what is affordable helps keep the purchase impulse in check…hopefully. Every consumer’s budget may be different. And spending habits differ, too. Some consumers are comfortable setting up payment installments on new items like virtual reality headsets, others want to only pay what they can afford to spend in one lump sum. With new technology, however, it can be really easy to get caught up in the cool factor. Having the latest greatest tech may be appealing. It also may be really tempting to hit the buy button when shopping online. Take time with the purchase, do research, set the budget and…hunt for sales! Sometimes the best deals for new tech items can be found in last year’s model. For those wanting to try a headset or a new game, earlier models or games can be cheaper! Stores also could offer sales after the holidays. So waiting may be a game changer. Augmented reality and virtual reality may be here to stay, and, as 2021 approaches, make resolutions to become familiar with these platforms. This may be the time to purchase a new game, headset, augmented reality glasses or just try a store’s virtual platform. The New Year will bring new technology trends, but virtual reality and augmented reality may be the new normal.