How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality
Snapchat is an instant messaging app that was launched in 2011. The app initially focused on offering person-to-person instant messaging services. In fact, it was widely known for its disappearing message feature, which allowed users to send messages that would automatically disappear after they were viewed by the recipient. But since its initial launch, Snapchat has become much more than just an instant messaging app. It now gives its nearly 300 million users access to many other features, including branded content, stories, and video messaging. Snapchat has grown exponentially over the last decade, and experts believe that it will continue to experience growth in the future. This is partly due to the company’s investment in innovative technologies such as augmented reality. How does Snapchat use augmented reality technology? Here’s what you need to know: SNAPCHAT & AUGMENTED REALITY Snapchat has used augmented reality technology to introduce a number of new and exciting products and in-app features, including: * Snapchat Spectacles * Lenses * Lens Studio * Snap Camera How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Snapchat-Spectacles.jpg] SNAPCHAT SPECTACLES The first pair of Spectacles, which are Snapchat’s line of smart glasses, was introduced in 2016. The first version of Snapchat’s smart glasses were not powered by augmented reality. Instead, these glasses were designed to record videos that would automatically be uploaded to the wearer’s Snapchat account. However, the company revealed that they planned on incorporating augmented reality technology into future versions of the product. Since 2016, Snapchat has released several other versions of Spectacles. In 2021, the company finally revealed the first pair of Spectacles powered by augmented reality technology. Unfortunately, Snapchat’s augmented reality glasses are not available to consumers. Instead, the company has offered them to a select group of popular Snapchat content creators. These glasses allow the wearer to overlay Snapchat’s popular lenses directly onto their real world environment. For example, someone who is wearing the glasses on the beach could project dolphins jumping out of the water onto their real world environment. No one would be able to see the digital projections besides the person wearing the glasses. This creates an immersive, unforgettable experience for the wearer. Experts believe that Snapchat will eventually release a pair of augmented reality glasses that will be available to consumers. However, the company still has a long way to go to perfect their design. For instance, the battery life on the newest version of Spectacles only lasts for about 30 minutes. Issues like these must be addressed before the product is sold to consumers. How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Lenses.jpg] LENSES Snapchat’s “Lens” feature was introduced in 2015. This feature, which is powered by augmented reality technology, allows users to change the way they and the world around them look. You can use this feature to add three-dimensional effects, characters, objects, and other digital elements onto the messages you send or stories you post within the app. For example, if you want to send a silly selfie, use this feature to add a pair of dog ears to the top of your head. You can also change the world around you by projecting digital objects, images, and characters onto your real world environment. This is one of the most popular features on Snapchat. It’s not just popular among consumers, either. Advertisers love it, too. Many brands are using custom Snapchat Lenses to enhance the shopping experience for consumers. For instance, TULA, a skincare brand, used Snapchat’s Lenses to promote a new eye cream. The company created a custom Lens that showed users what they would look like if they used the eye cream as directed. Other brands, including Puma and Dior, have created custom Lenses that allow consumers to virtually try on products through the app. Consumers can see exactly what they would look like wearing a clothing item or accessory before deciding whether they should purchase it. This makes it easier for consumers to shop with confidence online. LENS STUDIO Lens Studio is a Snapchat application that allows anyone to build custom lenses for the Snapchat app. This application is designed for people of all skill levels, which means you don’t need to have tech experience to build your own lens. You can either design a lens from scratch within Lens Studio or import a custom lens you created in your favorite 2D or 3D software. If you choose the former option, you can build your own lens from the ground up or start with a template from Snapchat’s extensive library. Once you’re satisfied with your lens, publish it so the entire Snapchat community can use it. SNAP CAMERA Snap Camera is another Snapchat feature supported by augmented reality technology. Similar to Lenses, Snap Camera allows you to overlay digital elements onto yourself or your real world environment using the power of augmented reality technology. However, Snap Camera is designed solely for video chats rather than video or images sent via instant message. For example, say you need to attend a video conference with your co-workers. You can use Snap Camera to accessorize your outfit, put on a funny disguise, or change your background so your co-workers can’t see your messy bedroom. Unlike Snapchat, Snap Camera is not available on mobile devices. You must download Snap Camera on a desktop computer and connect it to your group chat or live stream to use it. WHO ARE SNAPCHAT’S COMPETITORS IN THE AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET? Snapchat isn’t the only tech company that is investing heavily in augmented reality technology. Many other companies have decided to go all in on developing augmented reality products. Some of Snapchat’s main competitors in the augmented reality market include: * Facebook * Apple * Google How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Facebook.jpg] FACEBOOK Facebook has quickly become a major player in the augmented reality market. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that the company is in the process of developing an augmented reality device, most likely smart glasses. There’s no telling when these glasses will be available, but they will compete directly with Snapchat’s Spectacles once they are released. For now, Facebook is working on releasing a pair of glasses without augmented reality capabilities. Facebook also has several in-app augmented reality features for consumers and brands. Brands that choose to advertise on Facebook can enhance their ads with augmented reality technology. Many brands, including Michael Kors, Samsung, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz, have already taken advantage of this feature. Facebook also launched Spark AR Studio, which is similar to Snapchat’s Lens Studio. Spark AR Studio allows users to create and share their own custom augmented reality experiences. Just like Lens Studio, Spark AR Studio is designed for users of all skill levels, which means anyone can build an augmented reality experience regardless of their tech-savviness. Once you are satisfied with your creation, you can publish it and share it with billions of other Facebook users. These are just several ways in which Facebook is using augmented reality technology to provide a better experience for consumers and advertisers. APPLE Apple is another tech company that has invested heavily in augmented reality technology. Like Facebook and Snapchat, Apple is also hard at work developing an augmented reality wearable for consumers. Apple has not released a lot of information about their plans to the public. But based on patent filings, experts believe that the company is in the process of developing an augmented reality and virtual reality headset. This headset will be similar in size and weight to the Oculus Quest, which is a virtual reality headset manufactured by Facebook. However, the Apple device is rumored to have both virtual and augmented reality capabilities. There’s also Apple’s ARKit, which makes it easier for developers to build augmented reality apps for consumers. Just like Lens Studio and Spark AR Studio, Apple’s ARKit is made for developers of all skill levels. You can use this toolkit to build an augmented reality app even if you have no prior experience. Thanks to this toolkit, there are countless augmented reality apps available for download in the Apple App Store. How Snapchat Uses Augmented Reality [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Google.jpg] GOOGLE Google has launched a number of augmented reality products over the last several years. One of these products is ARCore, which is similar to Apple’s ARKit. ARCore allows developers to build custom augmented reality apps and experiences that can be sold in the Google Play store. Google has also used augmented reality technology to enhance its famous Maps product. To use this feature, all you need to do is tap on “Live View” in Google Maps. Then, the app will use augmented reality technology to project digital arrows, road signs, and other objects onto your real world environment. This makes it easier for you to figure out where you need to go to get to your final destination. You can even use augmented reality when performing a Google search. Now, Google allows you to superimpose objects you see in the search results onto your real world environment. This gives you a chance to learn more about the objects you are searching for by looking at them up close. These are just some examples of the competition that Snapchat faces in the increasingly crowded augmented reality market. As the competition in this market continues to heat up, Snapchat and other tech companies will need to continue to find new and exciting ways to use augmented reality in order to stay ahead.
What’s The Best Soccer Mom Car?
Fall is soccer season, and, for many kids, the season is filled with weekend games and weekday practice sessions. Meanwhile, parents are tasked with hauling all that gear to and from the fields. If mom and dad act as a coach, the car might be filled with nets, balls, and other equipment for practices and games. Parents of athletes might be lugging extra equipment, a cooler filled with snacks and drinks, or extra clothes for their children to change into after practice. What is the best soccer mom car? While the choice of vehicle can vary depending on mom (or dad!), the car will need room for gear and other necessities. Here are a few picks for the best soccer mom car for practice, and tournaments and to hit the road for daily errands, too. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Volvo-Station-Wagons.jpg] VOLVO STATION WAGONS As a nod to the song from Everclear, a Volvo station wagon (or any Volvo) might just be the ideal and perhaps even stereotypical soccer mom car. Wagons offer enough room for the family and extra team members, too (for the carpool). Plus the back storage provides plenty of space for coolers and equipment. Opt for leather seats for easier clean up after games and practices. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Tesla-Model-3-SR.jpg] TESLA MODEL 3 SR+ Why Tesla? Players whose teams are competing at the select level may be visiting multiple tournaments per season. And, for parents, these tournaments may or may not be near the home. If the team schedule requires that parents drive hours out of the way for tournaments or for seasonal games, opt for a Tesla. The 2020 Tesla Model 3 SR+ boasts 140+ MPGe. In addition, other Tesla models also achieve more than 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). Electric vehicles are the most energy-efficient options, and they can be the best choice for soccer moms and dads who need to travel cross-country for the next soccer tournament. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Honda-Odyssey.jpg] HONDA ODYSSEY As one of the most popular minivans on the market, the Honda Odyssey is the perfect family vehicle for shuttling kids to and from school and sports games. For soccer players who need space for extra gear, the Odyssey also has plenty of cargo room for equipment. Moms or dads in charge of carpooling players to practice and games also have enough seating capacity for multiple players. In addition, the 2021 model features Magic Slide seats for easy access to the back row of seating. And seats fold down, too! Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Toyota-RAV4.jpg] TOYOTA RAV4 Kelley Blue Book ranked the RAV4 as best safety-rated SUV for 2020. The RAV-4 is considered a small SUV, but it still offers plenty of cargo space for basic soccer gear…plus enough seating for five passengers. While this might not be ideal for those with large families, the RAV-4 could be ideal for those with smaller families or who just need to carpool a few players. Buyers also could opt for all-wheel drive for additional control and performance…and for those field parking possibilities! Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Audi-e-tron-SUV.jpg] AUDI E-TRON SUV Families who want a full-size luxury SUV to trek to games and tourneys in style can opt for one of IIHS’s top safety picks. The Audi e-tron is an electric-powered SUV, which means that this SUV isn’t prone to the gas-guzzling tendencies often associated with larger SUV models. The e-tron can get more than 70 miles per gallon (equivalent). The e-tron has space for five passengers. However, the full-size e-tron also features four-wheel drive. Do parents necessarily want to off-road with the e-tron? Likely not. But can the car tackle obstacles? Yes, it can! Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Best-Midsize-Sedans-for-Soccer-Moms.jpg] BEST MIDSIZE SEDANS FOR SOCCER MOMS Looking for a moderately priced mid-size sedan to get to and from all those games and tournaments? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated these 2021 models as Top Safety Pick+ winners in the midsize sedan category: * 2021 Honda Accord (4-door) * 2021-2022 Kia K5 (4-door) * 2021 Mazda 6 (4-door) * 2021 Nissan Altima (4-door) * 2021 Nissan Maxima (4-door) * 2021 Subaru Legacy (4-door) * 2021 Subaru Outback (4-door wagon) * 2021-2022 Toyota Camry (4-door) BUDGET-CONSCIOUS CHOICES Some moms might just want a car that is ideal for the travel between practices, games and home. The car might just be a convenient commuter option with space for gear and the family. Every family might have a different budget, and when finances are a bit more limited, used vehicles can be the best way to save money. Families need to figure out how much they can spend and their cargo/space needs, too. Soccer isn’t necessarily an equipment-laden sport, although for certain positions, there could be more gear. In addition, coaches may need space for practice nets, extra balls and cones for drills. SUVs and minivans may be the best choices for those who need a lot of cargo space. Used vehicles can be found for a range of prices; while low, low prices might be available (less than $5K), these budget options could be older or have high mileage. Parents who have a minimal budget also can find their safest model options by consulting the IIHS web site, which offers a tool for looking up the safety ratings. Best Soccer Mom Car [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Shopping-for-the-Best-Soccer-Mom-Car.jpg] SHOPPING FOR THE BEST SOCCER MOM CAR Every family has their own preferences for what defines the ideal vehicle for their needs. Some may want luxury, others might want electric (and luxury!). There are those who are shopping on a budget and some who just want a safe midsize sedan. If the search results are too plentiful or even too limited, RelayCars lets buyers get more specific in their criteria by adding specifications or even expanding their search radius (for more results). The toolbars help buyers find exactly what they want or even just modify their search to find more other options. Buyers could start out searching for a specific model, for example, but then they can opt to expand their search to include all SUV options or certain size sedans with specific features. RelayCars simplifies the car buying process and allows buyers to do all the research work from home. This allows them to spend less time at the dealership and be more purpose-driven. Visiting the dealership can be reserved for test drives and for completing the credit application and finalizing the deal. Buyers don’t have to wander around the lot or the showroom. They don’t have to spend hours waiting to be qualified for financing. The process can be much less stressful.
Where are the Augmented Reality Smart Glasses for Consumers?
Augmented reality smart glasses have been the high-tech carrot being dangled in front of tech-savvy consumers for so long that it’s seriously difficult to keep track anymore. There has been buzz in major tech media and by tech journalists about these glasses. Companies like Facebook have expressed their interest in this technology. And everyone who follows Apple news knows that the Apple glasses have been rumbling seemingly forever. Where are the augmented reality smart glasses for consumers!!!??? WANT SOME VIRTUAL REALITY GLASSES, INSTEAD? The topic of consumer-driven and consumer-focused augmented reality glasses is frustrating. While, yes, there are augmented reality glasses available, these aren’t really aimed at the general consumer. Instead they are enterprise-focused. Although the Vuzix Blade Upgraded could be an option…there’s more on those glasses later! Consumers could buy something similar, but the glasses everyone is waiting for are glasses that are fun and maybe offer cool features. Yet, no one has dropped these glasses. So what is a tech-hungry consumer to do? There’s always virtual reality. For those who want to immerse themselves in another realm, there are many virtual reality headsets on the market. These are a bit cumbersome, but they are really cool. Many are used for PC gaming; these headsets take the gaming experience to a new level. But consumers don’t have to use the headsets for games. There are other experiences, too. Interested in what’s available? Check out Steam and find experiences that are compatible with different headsets. Could tech companies completely brush over augmented reality and instead launch some virtual reality glasses? Who really knows for sure…but probably not. Companies like Facebook are very interested in augmented reality, and this technology has a lot of unique potential for the consumer market. Augmented Reality Smart Glasses [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Whats-the-Delay-on-Augmented-Reality-Smart-Glasses.jpg] WHAT’S THE DELAY ON AUGMENTED REALITY SMART GLASSES? Technology is a process. Designers and companies eying a product like augmented reality smart glasses likely want to get the product as close to perfect as possible. The last thing any major company wants is to drop a product that’s flawed, glitched or, even worse, has safety issues. Tech giants are going to iron out any known issues before dropping anything. And these glasses can’t be designed and programmed overnight. Capabilities of the glasses also could cause delays. Maybe the capabilities are still evolving. No one really knows. While there is buzz on these glasses, until a pair is actually announced, it’s all just talk…and speculation. ARE THERE ANY SMART GLASSES ON THE MARKET? While there aren’t really any consumer-driven augmented reality smart glasses, consumers can buy regular smart glasses. These obviously won’t feature any augmented reality graphics, but they could interact with smart home systems or even virtual assistants. Wareable News reports that those who are interested in the latest smart glasses can check out Ray-Ban Stories (a Facebook product); this was the much-hyped collaboration between Facebook and Ray-Ban. The initial tease of the product didn’t give much info about how the glasses would look and what they might feature. Now the much-awaited glasses are officially for sale via Ray-Ban. They come in three frame styles: Round, Wayfarer and Meteor. These glasses are priced just under $300 and let users take video or pictures, listen to music, take calls and even share via social media. They can include prescription lenses for those who need/want that option. Amazon also offers its own smart glasses, and these can interact with Alexa. Users can even control their smart-powered home with the glasses. As for the price, the frames cost $249. They also can be customized with prescription lenses. Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, launched the Snap Spectacles glasses. While these can include augmented reality features, they are not augmented reality glasses. In addition, the Spectacles aren’t available for the average consumer. Only top creators can purchase these cool glasses, and they can be used to help enhance social media content. WILL FACEBOOK OR APPLE LAUNCH THE AR SMART GLASSES FIRST? When Facebook officially launched its smart glasses with Ray-Ban, Reuters mentioned in an article about the launch that Facebook noted in the previous year that full augmented reality glasses were about five years to a decade away. Do consumers really have that long to wait for cool augmented reality glasses? Maybe or maybe not. If the individual has money to spend, the Vuzix Blade Upgraded could be an augmented reality in eyeglass form. While many consumers are waiting for slick, sleek and chic new glasses from Apple and Facebook, Vuzix does have a pair for purchase. However, these glasses might not be the designer-looking frames some consumers crave. While the style is a little modern and perhaps even space-age, the glasses feature very cool augmented reality capabilities. They also include voice control, speakers and an upgraded 8-megapixel camera. Wareable News explains that Zoom and even Netflix can be enjoyed via these glasses, and users also can stream music and even play games. However, the Vuzix Blade Upgraded is an investment at $799.99. Augmented Reality Smart Glasses [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Enjoying-Augmented-Reality.jpg] ENJOYING AUGMENTED REALITY…SANS GLASSES While not every consumer can afford the Vuzix Blade and as many wait patiently—or impatiently!—for Facebook, Apple, Google or one of the other major tech giants to unveil cool new augmented reality smart glasses, there are other ways to explore and enjoy augmented reality. Augmented reality is actually one of the more accessible technologies. While, yes, augmented reality glasses would be cool, users don’t need glasses to experience this technology. With virtual reality, a headset is generally required, but augmented reality just requires a smartphone or a tablet. Whether consumers have a new or newish iPhone or an Android device, they can explore many augmented reality games and experiences. Finding augmented reality via a phone or device is easy, just search for ‘augmented reality’ or even ‘AR’ in either the App Store or via Google Play. The results will be plentiful. And many of these apps are free! However, some may offer in-app purchases, but this is more of a concern for those with children. Phones typically offer a way to turn off or disable in-app purchases. There are many popular augmented reality games. Top augmented reality game titles include Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Jurassic World Alive. There are even apps/games that use augmented reality to help users push their run or walk a little faster; try Zombies, Run! to race away from zombies and get in shape! Apps also include cool augmented reality experiences that let users explore their world. These apps are great for kids and adults alike. For example, Seek by iNature lets users capture a plant, animal or bug using their camera screen to find out the species and more details. This is a great app to use on hikes or exploring new areas. It might even help spot plants to avoid like Poison Ivy. Augmented reality technology also can be found throughout our daily habits. For example, many modern vehicle models include augmented reality in navigation systems. Check out the backup camera; it typically shows the rear view of the car with graphic grid lines that detail the turning radius. Those lines are augmented reality! GPS systems also use augmented reality. And newer luxury cars offer heads-up displays that show drive data in front of the driver. These displays show arrow prompts for upcoming turns, speed, upcoming hazards (like pointing out a bicyclist) and more. Augmented reality also can be used to shop for favorite products. Many businesses offer augmented reality try-on experiences to let customers preview products. Some cosmetics brands or stores offer augmented reality previews of lipstick, eyeshadow or other products. Sites like RelayCars even let consumers use augmented reality to preview cars. Select a model from the online inventory and drop the vehicle into the real environment. Consumers can view the car anywhere, including the driveway or garage. Using the phone they can walk around that car model and explore other details, too. AUGMENTED REALITY SMART GLASSES IN THE FUTURE So will those augmented reality smart glasses drop anytime in the near future? That depends on the company! No one knows what tech company will unveil these glasses for consumers first or when. The price also is a big question mark. If Facebook’s smart glasses with Ray-Ban cost almost $300, glasses that integrate augmented reality might be much more of an investment. But, again, this is only a best guess. Facebook might take five years or even almost a decade before they unveil a consumer-focused augmented reality pair of glasses. The company is very focused on this technology, but, again, so are other tech companies (including Apple). For now, though, consumers who have the means to invest a bit more money can try out Vuzix Blade Upgraded. But even those without a bigger budget can experience augmented reality. Even as many consumers wait for new glasses, this technology is still available at our fingertips. Search for free augmented reality apps and games via the App Store and Google Play. And explore all the different and unique iterations of augmented reality…for a nominal price (and, often…free!).
8 Applications of Augmented Reality in Retail
Augmented reality is technology that allows users to modify their real world by adding sounds, images, and other digital elements to it. In other words, this technology gives users the opportunity to blend the digital and real world together. Augmented reality is often associated with gaming. In fact, one of the most well-known uses of this technology is the Pokemon Go app, which challenges users to locate and capture Pokemon characters in their real world environment. However, augmented reality isn’t all fun and games. This technology has been widely used outside of the world of gaming, including in the retail industry. How is this technology used by retailers? Here are 8 applications of augmented reality in retail: TEST/TRY ON PRODUCTS A number of retailers use augmented reality technology to allow consumers to test or try on products using their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Warby Parker, an online glasses and sunglasses retailer, is one company that uses augmented reality technology in this manner. In 2019, the company launched its “virtual try-on” feature, which uses augmented reality to overlay Warby Parker glasses onto the user’s face. This gives the consumer the chance to try on different styles of glasses to see how they will look on their face before placing an order. Many clothing retailers, including H&M, Macy’s, Gap, and Asos, offer similar virtual try-on experiences. Retailers in the beauty and cosmetics industry, including Sephora, L’oreal, Garnier, and Redken, have also jumped on board with this trend. Using augmented reality in this way benefits both the consumer and the retailer. It allows the consumer to shop with confidence since they can now test or try on a product prior to buying it online. They won’t have to worry about not liking the way the product looks on them once it arrives since they’ve already tried it on. This also reduces the number of returns that are made to retailers, which can benefit their bottom line. Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Preview-Product-Placement.jpg] PREVIEW PRODUCT PLACEMENT Purchasing furniture, home decor, appliances, and other items online can be challenging. It’s hard to visualize what a specific piece of furniture or home decor item will look like in your home, but augmented reality makes it easier than ever before. Thanks to the power of augmented reality technology, consumers can now preview what various items will look like in their real world environment. For example, if a consumer is interested in purchasing furniture or home decor from IKEA, they can download the IKEA Place app to see what it would look like in their home. This app uses augmented reality technology to project a true-to-size, digital model of the selected item into the user’s real world environment. This way, the consumer can see if the item fits and if so, if they like the way it looks with the rest of their decor and furnishings. IKEA isn’t the only retailer to use augmented reality in this way. Other retailers, including Wayfair, Home Depot, and Houzz, all offer similar product placement experiences powered by augmented reality technology. Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Access-Product-Information.jpg] ACCESS PRODUCT INFORMATION E-commerce retailers aren’t the only ones who have taken advantage of augmented reality technology. Many brick-and-mortar retailers use this technology to enhance the in-store shopping experience for consumers. One of these retailers is American Apparel. In-store shoppers can download the American Apparel app on their smartphone to access more information about the retailer’s products. For example, consumers can use their smartphone camera to scan a specific American Apparel item while shopping. Then, the app will immediately pull up relevant information about the product, including reviews from consumers, color and size options, and a detailed product description. Being able to access this information from a smartphone makes it easier for consumers to make purchase decisions while shopping in a store. They won’t need to go home and research their options to make a decision. Instead, they can make it within seconds while standing in the store. It also allows them to gather the information they need to make these decisions without interacting with a sales associate. CUSTOMIZE PRODUCTS Retailers also use augmented reality technology to give consumers the chance to customize products from their smartphones, tablets, or computers. This puts the consumer in control of their shopping experience. One retailer that uses augmented reality in this way is BMW. The automotive manufacturer launched an augmented reality experience that allows consumers to enter an automotive showroom using their smartphone or tablet. Once inside the showroom, consumers can use augmented reality technology to customize various BMW models. For example, consumers can customize the exterior paint color, interior seat color, wheels, rims, and other features to create the car of their dreams. This gives the consumer a unique opportunity to visualize what different customization options would look like before deciding which vehicle they should purchase. It also makes the entire car buying process easier by allowing consumers to shop for a new vehicle online rather than in a dealer’s showroom. EDUCATE CONSUMERS Some retailers use augmented reality technology to teach consumers how to use their products. Sephora, an international beauty and cosmetics retailer, launched its augmented reality Virtual Artist feature in 2017. In addition to letting consumers virtually try on cosmetics, this feature also uses augmented reality technology to provide helpful tutorials. For example, say a consumer wants to learn how to use cosmetics to contour their face. In this case, they can access a step-by-step tutorial in the Sephora app. The Virtual Artist feature uses augmented reality technology to show the consumer exactly where to apply each product on their face to achieve the look they desire. Being able to see where they should apply each product on their face makes it much easier to recreate the look. Now, thanks to augmented reality technology, the consumer will know the best way to use their Sephora products to achieve this look. BUILD BRAND AWARENESS Many retailers have incorporated augmented reality technology into their marketing and advertising campaigns in an effort to build brand awareness and generate sales. Airwalk is one example of a retailer that used this technology as part of a successful marketing campaign. The retailer used augmented reality to create an “invisible” pop-up shop to celebrate the limited edition release of the Airwalk Jim shoe. If a consumer wanted to purchase this popular limited edition shoe, they needed to travel to one of the two pop-up shop locations. Once they arrived, the consumer could use their smartphone to enter the augmented reality pop-up shop and purchase the shoes. This marketing campaign was a huge success for Airwalk. It generated an estimated $5 million in earned media, helped Airwalk build brand awareness, and drove traffic to the Airwalk e-commerce store. In fact, the Airwalk e-commerce store had its busiest weekend of all time thanks to this innovative augmented reality campaign. Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/In-Store-Navigation.jpg] IN-STORE NAVIGATION Several brick-and-mortar retailers use augmented reality technology to provide in-store navigation assistance to consumers. Lowe’s is one retailer that uses augmented reality technology in this manner. Lowe’s stores are massive, which can make it hard for consumers to figure out where to go. That’s why the retailer launched an in-store navigation app powered by Google Tango that helps consumers find what they are looking for in Lowe’s stores. In-store shoppers can create a shopping list of the items they need within the Lowe’s app. Then, the app will automatically show them exactly where each item is located within the store. The app tracks the consumer’s location in order to provide accurate, step-by-step directions. The app even creates a custom route that users can take to pick up all of the items on their list as quickly as possible. Augmented Reality in Retail [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Sizing-Assistance.jpg] SIZING ASSISTANCE One of the hardest parts about shopping online for clothing or shoes is figuring out what size to purchase. Every item may fit slightly differently–even those that are made by the same brand. Thanks to augmented reality technology, retailers can provide sizing assistance to online shoppers. In 2020, Nike launched its augmented reality in-app feature known as Nike Fit. To use this feature, consumers simply need to download the Nike app and tap on “Nike Fit.” Then, they can point their smartphone camera at their feet to start measuring their size. The app uses innovative technology to scan the consumer’s foot and calculate their size. Once the scan is complete, the app will tell the consumer what size they should purchase in every style of shoes sold on the Nike app. The sizing recommendations may vary depending on the style. For example, the app may tell the consumer to go one size smaller when purchasing a specific style that tends to run big. This ensures that the consumer purchases the right size so they don’t need to go through the trouble of exchanging their purchase for a different size. So far, retailers have found a great deal of success by using augmented reality technology. Because of this, it’s safe to say that retailers will continue to find new and exciting ways to implement this technology in the years ahead.
Virtual Reality Technology for the Newbie Gamer
Augmented reality might be getting more love in recent months (and years!); with all the talk about tech companies working on augmented reality glasses, this technology has definitely made headlines. Virtual reality, however, isn’t dead! In fact, for many consumers, this technology is the heart of the gaming experience. Virtual reality technology for gamers infuses the otherworldly experience of virtual reality with the action of the game. Virtual reality technology allows gamers to become part of the game. For parents who might be looking at virtual reality technology for their kids perhaps as a holiday or birthday gift, there are a lot of different options for headsets and games on the market. But anyone can enjoy the unique experience of virtual reality gameplay! Ready to get into the game—literally?!?! Here are some of the virtual reality offerings to try as a newbie VR gamer. Virtual Reality Gaming [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Virtual-Reality-Sensitivities.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY SENSITIVITIES Before delving into product and game options, it should be noted that some people (yes, gamers included!) don’t do well with the virtual reality experience. Some may feel disoriented, a bit queasy or have a headache. This experience isn’t the norm for everyone, but some individuals are just a bit more sensitive. This condition is technically called ‘cybersickness,’ and an optometrist interviewed by UNSW Sydney explains that it’s similar to motion sickness. However, while motion sickness—like feeling nauseated while driving or on a boat—happens because of motion, cybersickness, the optometrist explained, does not. Instead the sickness felt using virtual reality is essentially the body being confused. The body knows it’s not moving, yet in the virtual reality world, movement and action are happening. The senses are essentially jumbled, and this is termed ‘sensory conflict.’ UNSW’s article goes on to explain that newer headsets might be less likely to cause cybersickness, although some people could still experience it. Dramamine, the anti-nausea medication that helps with motion sickness, listed ways that gamers or anyone using virtual reality can help prevent and deal with cybersickness. The company recommends always reading instructions and warnings on virtual reality equipment, only using the tech for short periods to help acclimate, to give the body rest between uses and to stop using virtual reality if the user doesn’t feel well (or if the user is sick!). VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSETS Those who are looking at virtual reality headsets might not know what option to choose. Which is best? Virtual reality headsets come in different price points, but this high-tech equipment is not really available cheaply. Gamers (and their parents!), though, might be used to seeing and spending higher prices for the gaming experience. New consoles are priced higher when they are first introduced. While virtual reality isn’t necessarily a new technology, like most tech it is improving and evolving. Some users and gamers absolutely love virtual reality, but, as many gamers know, everyone has a personal preference for the gaming experience. For those interested in testing out the technology, here are a few things to consider: * The budget (sometimes there’s only so much to spend) * Age of user (parents might not want to invest top dollar for a young teen) * The use (is virtual reality being used with a particular console) * Individual interest (for young gamers, interest could fade) For virtual reality headsets, there are several on the market that are great for gaming. Some are on the high-end of price, but others are more budget-friendly. Keep in mind that when using a headset with a particular gaming console compatibility could be an issue (check this first!). Also, some parents when gifting a headset for their gamer might not want to spend a fortune for their first headset. There are many moderately priced options. And some younger players could move on to the next big thing (as kids do). For gamers, here are headset options and their prices: * Oculus Quest 2 (around $299) * HP Reverb G2 ($449) * Valve Index ($1449); PC Gamer recommended this as “the best VR headset for a premium experience on a gaming PC” * HTC Vive Pro ($799) * Oculus Rift (around $399) * HTC Vive Pro ($799) These headsets are recommended for PC gaming (thus why many are on PC Gamer’s list). Software Testing Help breaks down the compatibility for the headsets for buyers who need to know. For example, Oculus Quest requires Android, HTC Vive requires Windows 7, 8 or 10, and Valve Index is for PC. The only console listed that is compatible with a headset is Sony PlayStation VR, and, yes, it’s only compatible with PlayStation 4. Again, buyers need to understand each headset’s compatibility! Virtual Reality Gaming [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/What-are-the-Most-Popular-Virtual-Reality-Games.jpg] WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR VIRTUAL REALITY GAMES? Once buyers have selected their headset (and any necessary controllers and gear!), it’s time to play. For those new to virtual reality gaming, what are some of the best games? With virtual reality gaming, there are so many choices. Gamers might download games via Steam, which is a virtual reality gaming store. Steam lets users choose games via their headset compatibility, so titles could vary depending on the headset. However, Steam also lists its top-selling games. Currently, the 10 most popular titles include: * Pavlov VR * Blade and Sorcery * Beat Saber * The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR * Half-Life: Alyx * BONEWORKS * Into the Radius VR * Legendary Tales * Fallout 4 VR * 3DMark Prices for games via Steam are comparable to the cost of other video games. The top-selling titles range in price from $17.99 (for Fallout 4 VR…it’s on sale!) to $59.99 for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR and Half-Life: Alyx. Virtual Reality Gaming [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/What-About-Sony-PlayStation-VR.jpg] WHAT ABOUT SONY PLAYSTATION VR? For those who own a PlayStation 4, the Sony PlayStation VR headset could be alluring. PlayStation currently offers some bundle downloads via its website for the VR system. And buyers can still find headsets and bundles online. The bundle at some retailers is priced around $500 (these seem to be from online sellers, however). This includes the headset, accessories and some games. Again, for those with a compatible PlayStation, this headset could be a less expensive way to try out the technology. Used options also could be cheaper. AUGMENTED REALITY IS ANOTHER ACCESSIBLE OPTION For some buyers, a virtual reality headset may simply be too expensive. However, there is another way to experience immersive gaming! Augmented reality games are available via many smartphones and tablets. Unlike virtual reality, though, augmented reality games don’t require the gamer to purchase a headset or other equipment. Augmented reality combines the real world with graphic depictions. While virtual reality takes the gaming experience into another realm, augmented reality shows the real environment but includes superimposed graphic overlays. An example of augmented reality gaming is the incredibly popular game Pokemon GO. The camera of the phone shows the real world, and the graphic Pokemon appear within the environment. Download augmented reality games and apps via Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play. Titles may vary depending on the device. However, many titles are available for both Android and Apple devices. Augmented reality games also might not cause the same cybersickness as virtual reality. As graphics appear in the real space, there really isn’t any motion or sensory confusion. However, everybody could have a different experience. Even looking at a computer screen affects some people differently! So how much do augmented reality games cost? Many titles are free! Others might be nominally priced. Games could include the option to make in-app purchases; some users aren’t concerned about this. Others, though, might have children who don’t understand that they are charging their parent’s account. Disable the in-app purchase option via the phone or device for gamers that don’t want the hassle. OTHER WAYS TO EXPERIENCE VIRTUAL REALITY Gaming via virtual reality doesn’t have to mean that consumers must invest in their own headset. There are many places that offer virtual reality gaming experiences. Yes, these will come with a price. However, trying out these experiences also could help gamers better understand if they like the tech…or if they are sensitive to virtual reality. Even museums could offer virtual reality experiences. Check out the local history or art museum to find out if virtual reality is part of any exhibition. Details could be found online. Google’s in on the virtual reality experience, too. Google explains that smartphones can be transformed into virtual reality viewers. The experience is called Google Cardboard. And the phone is attached to a cardboard headset. These cardboard headsets range in price, but many are less than $20. Just be sure to find the viewer that fits the phone screen! While some Google experiences are only compatible with Android, many Google Cardboard apps can be used with both Android and iOS. Like all technology, virtual reality technology changes and evolves. Gamers that are interested in trying out virtual reality to heighten the gaming experience can choose from a variety of headsets and games. Those who are unsure about virtual reality can even try it out via their phone with Google Cardboard. When deciding on a headset, though, gamers might consider the price and the headset’s compatibility. Parents purchasing as a gift might also think about the interest of their teen. With virtual reality, though, gamers become a part of the game…and it’s a unique experience that can transform the gameplay.
Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream?
Many people think of virtual reality and augmented reality as futuristic technologies that are inaccessible to most consumers. In the past, the average consumer may not have had the opportunity to experience these technologies, but that’s all changed over the last several years. In fact, International Data Corporation, a global research firm, recently declared that virtual and augmented reality have officially gone mainstream. How are virtual reality and augmented reality used today? What does the current virtual and augmented reality market look like–and what will it look like in the future? Here’s everything you need to know: HOW ARE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGIES CURRENTLY USED? Both virtual and augmented reality technologies have been embraced in countless industries, including: * Gaming * Automotive * Healthcare * Retail Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Gaming.jpg] GAMING Virtual and augmented reality technologies are often associated with the gaming industry, and it’s not hard to see why. There are hundreds of different virtual reality and augmented reality games that are accessible via a headset, smartphone, or tablet. One of the most well-known augmented reality games is Pokemon Go, which is an app where users can search for and capture Pokemon characters in their real world environment. This app gives consumers the opportunity to experience augmented reality technology using their smartphone. Half-Life: Alyx is one of the most popular virtual reality games. In this survival game, players must go on missions to seize weapons from aliens. Unlike Pokemon Go, Half-Life: Alyx is not accessible via a smartphone. Players must use a virtual reality headset. AUTOMOTIVE These technologies have transformed many aspects of the automotive industry. Both virtual and augmented reality technologies are now used to speed up the design and production of new vehicles. On the assembly line, workers can use these technologies to quickly access information they need to perform their job duties. Many automotive companies have also used these technologies to create virtual showrooms, which are online showrooms that consumers can visit to explore cars in lieu of a trip to the dealership. Automotive manufacturers are also using augmented reality technology to enhance in-car features. In fact, some cars are now designed with an augmented reality heads-up display, which presents information to drivers directly onto their windshield. HEALTHCARE Both augmented and virtual reality are widely used in the healthcare industry, too. Some healthcare professionals use virtual reality technology to treat anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. This technology allows healthcare professionals to put their patients in simulated environments where they can work to resolve their issues. Both technologies are also used to train aspiring healthcare professionals. This gives aspiring healthcare professionals the opportunity to train in an environment where mistakes don’t carry grave consequences. Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Retail.jpg] RETAIL Numerous retailers have used virtual and augmented reality technologies to enhance marketing campaigns and generate buzz around new product launches and events. Retailers have also used these technologies to improve the in-store and online shopping experience for consumers. For example, many retailers now use augmented reality technology to give consumers the chance to try on or test out products online before they buy them. Online shoppers can now see how they would look in a specific product prior to purchasing it. Thanks to augmented reality, in-store shoppers in certain retailers can use their smartphones to quickly access information on products they are interested in purchasing. All they need to do is point their camera at the product to pull up relevant information. THE FUTURE OF THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET International Data Corporation predicts that the virtual reality, augmented reality, smart home, and wearables market will reach $369.6 billion by the end of 2021. The researchers at International Data Corporation also believe that this combined market will grow exponentially over the next few years. They predict that this market will be valued at nearly $525 billion by the year 2025. The virtual reality and augmented reality segment of the market will account for most of this growth. According to these researchers, the virtual and augmented reality category will experience a 67.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2020 to 2025. Researchers predict that the virtual and augmented reality category of the market will be valued at over $18 billion by 2025. In short, these experts believe that the future of the augmented and virtual reality market is bright. WHO ARE THE MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET? There are countless companies that are currently doing business in the virtual reality and augmented reality market. However, a handful of companies dominate the market, including: * Facebook: Facebook is a leader in the virtual reality market thanks to its line of Oculus headsets. The company has also invested heavily in augmented reality products for Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps within the Facebook family. * HTC and Valve: These two companies teamed up to produce one of the most popular lines of virtual reality headsets on the market, the HTC Vive. * Apple: Apple’s ARKit makes creating new augmented reality apps easier than ever before. Thanks to this kit, augmented reality apps are more accessible to consumers. There are also rumors that Apple will release an augmented reality headset in the near future. * Google: Similar to Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore simplifies the process of designing new augmented reality apps. Google also entered the virtual reality space with Google Cardboard, a virtual reality platform. * Microsoft: Microsoft’s HoloLens is a virtual reality and augmented reality headset. Unlike other headsets, the HoloLens does not require the use of a computer or controller. WHAT FACTORS ARE DRIVING GROWTH IN THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET? A number of factors are responsible for driving growth in the virtual and augmented reality market, including: * New Applications * Remote Collaboration * Device Compatibility Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/New-Applications.jpg] NEW APPLICATIONS Companies across various industries have found new and exciting ways to use virtual and augmented reality technologies. These technologies are now used to provide unique learning experiences for students in classrooms, train aspiring healthcare professionals, improve the efficiency of designing new vehicles, and make online shopping easier for consumers. Every time a new application is discovered, the demand for augmented and virtual reality technologies increases. As long as companies continue to explore the use of these technologies, the market will continue to grow. REMOTE COLLABORATION Demand for augmented and virtual reality technologies increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, most companies had no other choice but to allow workers to work from home. Despite their physical distance, remote workers still needed to collaborate with one another, which is why they turned to virtual and augmented reality for help. These technologies are now used to bring people together regardless of how far apart they are. Both technologies make it easier for teams to collaborate even if they are located across the globe from one another. Experts predict that the remote work trend won’t die down even when the pandemic is over. In this case, the need for remote collaboration tools will drive a significant amount of growth in the virtual and augmented reality market. DEVICE COMPATIBILITY Most virtual reality experiences are only accessible via a specially designed headset such as the Oculus or HTC Vive. However, consumers can now access a wide range of augmented reality experiences using only their smartphone, tablet, or computer. They can download augmented reality apps directly on the device they already own. There’s no need for them to spend hundreds of dollars on a special device to enjoy augmented reality technology. More consumers will be introduced to this technology because it is so accessible. They will finally start to see the many benefits that augmented reality technology has to offer. Over time, this will lead to a higher adoption rate and drive growth in the market. Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Now Mainstream [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Virtual-Reality-and-Augmented-Reality-Market.jpg] WHAT CHALLENGES WILL THE VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY MARKET FACE? Even though it is expected to grow exponentially, the virtual and augmented reality market will face a few challenges along the way, including: * High Development Costs * Business vs. Consumer Use HIGH DEVELOPMENT COSTS Experts predict that one of the main challenges the market will face is high development costs. Developing headsets and the virtual reality and/or augmented reality platforms to support these devices requires a lot of capital. Larger companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google won’t have any trouble coming up with the necessary capital. However, the high development costs could make it harder for smaller companies to enter the market, which could affect the market’s ability to grow. BUSINESS VS. CONSUMER USE Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will not truly go mainstream until they have been adopted by the vast majority of consumers. But unfortunately, it’s currently businesses, not consumers, that are driving most of the growth in this market. This is because businesses have found ways to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency by using these technologies. To take these technologies mainstream, it’s important for companies to get more consumers on board and excited about using them. Despite these challenges, experts believe that the virtual and augmented reality market will experience significant growth in the years ahead.
Immersive Vehicles Drive Into Augmented and Virtual Reality Apps for Elevated User Experiences
The process of shopping for a new car has evolved significantly. The pandemic pushed the car industry into the online shopping world, but, even prior to lockdowns, many buyers were already looking online for research purposes. Now technology has enhanced the shopping experience to include virtual and augmented reality features. Businesses used mixed reality to reimagine online shopping and to create a platform that more closely resembles shopping in the physical store. In fact, even consumers looking for a new car online have witnessed immersive vehicles drive into augmented and virtual reality apps to create a more engaging and interactive user experience. What makes a vehicle immersive? And can anyone access the power of augmented reality? Or virtual reality? VIRTUAL REALITY, AUGMENTED REALITY AND EXTENDED REALITY Online businesses and stores began to incorporate interactive features like augmented reality years ago. For some industries, offering augmented reality tools allowed them to create a solution to trying on products virtually. One of the issues with shopping online for cosmetics, sunglasses and even clothes was the lack of physical interaction from the consumer. That is, in the store the consumer could perhaps test out a lipstick hue and try on frames and clothing. Online was different. While virtual models or pictures of models could show shoppers what a product should look like, there was still a question in how that product would translate on each person’s body and complexion. Even home improvement purchases could be hit or miss. For example, homeowners might have to guess as to whether or not a paint color would look good in a room. Or they might not know if the color they were viewing on screen was an accurate depiction. To help customers better visualize purchases, businesses needed some way to provide virtual try-on experiences. Obviously, a human cannot just step into a computer. The solution for some stores and businesses was to implement an augmented reality platform that provided this virtual try-on experience. By using the camera on their phone or tablet, shoppers could show a wall and then select a paint color. In an instant, the hue would magically appear on the wall. Cosmetics brands and stores offered a similar feature. Shoppers could select a particular product, choose their color and swipe it on their face…virtually. The camera would show their face like a mirror, and the product would be painted on lips, eyes, cheeks…and even hair (for hair color previews). This virtual experience was virtual in the sense that it wasn’t in-person. However, there is a difference between virtual reality experiences and augmented reality. Many businesses implement augmented reality experiences for try-on previews. While some could offer virtual reality, this isn’t the most popular option. Virtual reality has different meanings to different people. Some feel that virtual experiences are any experience that doesn’t take place in-person like virtual learning or virtual meetings. Virtual reality, however, is defined as an experience that takes place in a virtual reality. Users typically must wear a headset or goggles to enter this type of experience. Virtual reality lets the user experience activities and experiences and even products in a realm separate from their own environment. All elements depicted are graphics. Nothing in virtual reality incorporates the real environment. Augmented reality, however, can be experienced without a headset. Users often just need a phone or tablet (that’s compatible with augmented reality). Augmented reality (or AR for short) superimposes graphic elements on top of the real world environment. It’s the mix of real and graphic that might make it an ideal choice for businesses that need a way for shoppers to preview products. Viewing cosmetics or even furniture in a graphic virtual environment wouldn’t be so helpful for a buyer that just wants to know if a lipstick flatters them or a chair looks nice in the living room. There also is XR, which stands for extended reality. XR isn’t a separate technology from augmented and virtual reality. Instead, it’s an all-encompassing term to include all these technologies. How is an Immersive Vehicle Helpful to Buyers [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/image.jpeg] HOW IS AN IMMERSIVE VEHICLE HELPFUL TO BUYERS? Augmented reality lets buyers or shoppers easily preview products by overlaying their graphic depictions in the real-world environment. But how does augmented reality and an immersive car benefit car shoppers? Wouldn’t this kind of graphic just be cumbersome? Manufacturers, dealerships and sites like RelayCars allow shoppers (or visitors) to use augmented reality to preview different vehicles in many makes and models. Users simply choose the vehicle they want to preview, and, once again, using their phone’s camera, they can drop the vehicle into any space. RelayCars, however, mixes virtual reality immersive cars with the power of augmented reality. So how does this work? The site lets visitors view the car online and interact with the virtual depiction. Turn the vehicle around. View pictures of the interior. Shoppers that want to get up close to a vehicle can launch the augmented reality experience. Drop the car in any space. Then walk around it and explore the different features. Manufacturers might have their own augmented reality experiences, as well. Every experience could vary. For example, Lamborghini launched one of its models via an augmented reality experience. The launch included a video and other elements, too. HOW CAN SHOPPERS USE AUGMENTED REALITY TO FIND THE PERFECT CAR? Dropping an augmented model of a vehicle into a space might sound novel and fun. However, augmented reality isn’t just about keeping the buyer entertained while looking at cars. This technology can help aid in the buying process. Looking at pictures online can give shoppers some idea about a vehicle. They can view the interior and peek at different features. Maybe they can even look at the vehicle in different paint colors, too. Augmented reality is immersive by design, though. This technology gives shoppers the power to really see how a car looks in their garage. Or in their driveway. They can use augmented reality to get a better idea of rear passenger space. And view those paint hues in a more realistic manner. Augmented reality tools can be used to compare different models, too. While the camera can only display one model at a time, users can explore as many models as they wish with many augmented reality sites. RelayCars doesn’t require users to subscribe, there isn’t a time limit, and there also isn’t a limit on how many cars that users can see. Some buyers might not know what type of car they want to drive. Immersive cars via augmented reality can help them explore all the options. Drop in a crossover. Explore an SUV. Look at pictures of different sedans, then preview the vehicles using augmented reality. Maybe how the car appears in the driveway matters. Sure the car could look cool in photos. But maybe when the potential buyer views it in augmented reality and sees it in the driveway, it loses appeal. Augmented reality allows users to see each car in a large depiction. Users aren’t viewing tiny models, they are seeing large vehicles in front of them. Size and scale can make a difference when researching. Not knowing what precisely they want isn’t necessarily an uncommon situation for many car buyers. In fact, Cox Automotive reported in its most recent Car Buyer Journey Study that 35 percent of buyers knew what they wanted. Augmented reality could be yet another way for buyers to figure out what car is the perfect choice for their needs. This technology could lead buyers to research stats and pricing on different vehicles and compare their options. In addition, younger buyers like Generation Z aren’t focused on being loyal to a specific brand. In fact, Little Black Book reports that “…71% say that they need to be aware of all the buying options available to them – making them more likely to engage with competitors and more likely to buy based on research than brand reputation.” Future of Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/image-1.jpeg] ARE IMMERSIVE CARS THE FUTURE OF SHOPPING? Not every manufacturer offers shoppers the option to view models via augmented reality. But could this experience be more commonplace in the future? Dealerships may realize that buyers want these immersive vehicles and that they want to be able to preview different models beyond two-dimensional pictures. However, RelayCars also is always open. Immersive cars aren’t necessarily the future, they are the present! In the future, buyers could see more immersive features via augmented reality. Yes, immersive vehicles could become more…immersive. Imagine clicking on an augmented reality car’s door and watching it open. Perhaps in the future shoppers can look at the interior. Or maybe they can click on the trunk and check out the cargo space. The future is always a big question mark. However, the automotive industry is advancing to meet the demands and needs of the consumer. As technology gives way to more immersive experiences, manufacturers and businesses could incorporate newer technology to heighten user engagement. RelayCars is constantly adding new models to its online inventory. And the site provides a mix of augmented and virtual experiences. When RelayCars launched, it looked different and offered other viewing options for visitors. And when—and if—those much anticipated augmented reality glasses become a reality, they could change shopping, too. Maybe everyone will view products in augmented reality, and perhaps those immersive cars will appear before our eyes.
The Best Sporty Mom Cars
Working moms, single moms, and stay-at-home moms all might have different lifestyle needs for their car. The ideal vehicle might need to get the best gas mileage for a long commute. Maybe that car has to haul kids to recitals and different events but also drive through the parent-pick-up line in style, too. Sporty mom cars might need to offer more space and moms of sports kids or sporty moms who embrace athletics might have other needs from their car, too. There could be sports gear to haul, bikes to perch, and cargo space needs for dance costumes, shoes and more. Sporty mom cars need to be practical and a blend between form and function. WHAT ARE SPORTY MOM CARS? Sporty mom cars can be divided into two different types: sports cars and sporting cars! The difference is functionality. That is, sporty mom cars can either be sporty in design (like a sports car) or sports-oriented and functional for kids and families engaged in sports. Sporting cars should offer space for athletic gear and enough room for the family (and maybe a few friends). But moms also likely don’t want to stress about cars getting dirty or tackling different terrain. Sporty mom cars designed for sports families might need to be a bit more rugged. THE SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE Sports utility vehicles (or SUVS for short) come in small, mid-size and full-size options. SUVs offer space for families plus cargo room for sports equipment and gear. Budget and lifestyle needs may determine which SUV—brand and size—is the best for the family. Those who need space for a bigger family might need to select the full-size SUV. Smaller families might be fine with small or mid-size models. That SUV, though, needs to be able to carry all the equipment for all family members. When moms are deciding on the best sporty mom cars, they need to figure out their space needs. For example, moms driving kids to baseball practice/games will need cargo space for bats, bat bags, helmets and other practice gear. Sports like hockey and lacrosse, though, might have bulkier gear. That back storage space needs to fit lacrosse sticks, hockey sticks, pads, gear and other equipment. What about dance? Or cycling enthusiasts? Think about all the sports equipment needs of that SUV. Then choose the size that’s going to offer the most space for a family’s needs. SEDANS Are sedans good sporty mom cars? They could be…depending on the sports gear they need to haul. But sedans aren’t really sporty, in general. Instead, they lean more conventional, conservative and practical. Sedans are great for commutes. Bigger sedans can haul groceries and gear like dance costumes, shoes, etc. But depending on the trunk space of that sedan, moms and families aren’t really going to have a ton of space for bulky sports gear. If the evening plans mean that mom is going to haul multiple kids to multiple sports events and grab some groceries, too, a sedan might not be spacious enough. JEEPS The Jeep is rugged. It’s sporty. It can haul. Depending on the size of the model, there could be plenty of space for equipment, plus add a rack for bikes, etc. Jeeps—especially Wranglers—are designed for activity. Moms whose kids are going to track dirt into the car after practice (it happens) or who are involved in more rugged athletics might find a Wrangler to be more practical. A Jeep can get muddy and messy…the aesthetic tends to nod to getting a bit dirty. After all, Jeeps can take on the mud, dirt, sand and more. As Wranglers and many of those off-road Jeep models can handle the wild, they’re also great when moms are in a situation where event parking might lead them to an open field. Some baseball or sports events have off-site parking on fields. Jeeps can handle the fields without concern. Sporty Mom Cars [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Cars-that-are-Sporty-by-Design.jpg] CARS THAT ARE SPORTY BY DESIGN Some cars are sporty by design. So sporty mom cars can also allude to sports cars. What are the best sports cars for moms? This isn’t really a fair question! If mom is driving a sports car, she might not use it to haul her kids to school, to sports or even use it for errands. Sometimes sports cars are just fun cars. They’re cool. They’re sleek. They are fast…and fun. Yes, they can haul some packages, but sports cars are all about the look and speed. But what is the definition of a sports car? J.D. Power actually has an article dedicated to defining this car and outlining its rich history. The best sporty mom cars that are sports cars really depend on the buyer. Some might love a particular make/model, others just want the fastest speeds. Some of the most popular sports cars include: * Chevrolet Camaro * Porsche 911 * Mazda MX-5 Miata * Toyota Supra * Chevrolet Corvette * Ford Mustang The budget might dictate what sports car is the best option. However, those on a tighter budget can shop for used or pre-owned models. Past popular models like the BMW Z3 Roadster also can be found at variable price points; the Roadster was a popular sports car model in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Sporty Mom Cars [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Shopping-for-Sporty-Mom-Cars.jpg] SHOPPING FOR SPORTY MOM CARS Sporty mom cars can differ in definition…depending on who’s driving and what the needs are for the car. A sporty mom car can be a classic sports car or it can be a more rugged vehicle that is conducive to hauling sports gear and for those with a sports-centric lifestyle.
The Best Car Apps for Consumers
There is an app for almost everything that a consumer might want. Car manufacturers also offer their own car apps for consumers. In addition to pursuing what every major brand might offer, there also are car apps to help consumers shop for a new vehicle, navigate the road, find inexpensive gas…and more. Here are the best car apps for whatever a driver might need on the road, when relaxing at home or even when they are traveling off the beaten path! THE BEST CAR APPS FOR SHOPPING Shopping for a new car is a process for many buyers. In fact, the Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study: Pandemic Edition detailed that, on average, buyers spend more than 13 hours buying that car…but more than seven hours was spent online shopping…and researching. Using apps can help navigate the shopping journey and help consumers research and find the car they want to purchase. Apps from manufacturers are often free and allow buyers to peruse new models at their convenience. Websites like RelayCars let consumers research their favorite models via augmented reality. Drop a car in the real-world environment and explore it inside and out! RelayCars even lets consumers view the vehicle in all the model’s available paint hues. Augmented reality and virtual reality showroom apps can help buyers preview different cars without traveling to the dealership. If apps are advertised as augmented reality, the camera will be used to project the real environment and show where the user wants the graphic element to be dropped. Virtual reality car apps don’t necessarily require a headset, although some might. Instead, many virtual reality apps might just show the cars in a virtual environment within the app. Users might select a car that they want to preview in the virtual showroom; like augmented reality apps, virtual reality apps might let users see inside the car and/or change paint colors. However, many manufacturers often use augmented reality for these types of preview experiences. Looking for how much a vehicle is worth or other specs? Kelley Blue Book offers its own app via the App Store or Google Play for convenient, on-the-go research. Find details on any car! Car Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Car-Apps-for-Owners.jpg] CAR APPS FOR OWNERS Apps can be tailored for owners to help them navigate their vehicle or to even receive updates about the mechanics of their vehicle. Manufacturers often offer personalized apps to car owners. General Motors brands (like Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac), BMW, Kia, Toyota, Honda and many other manufacturers offer apps! Apps might link to the vehicle to allow owners to view data related to diagnostics; apps also could allow owners to remotely access other info, too. CAR APPS TO FIND CHEAP GAS Gas and fuel prices might be on the rise. However, consumers can use apps to help them find the cheapest gas nearby. Try these apps to make the hunt for inexpensive fuel much less of a drive: * GasBuddy (available for Apple and Android devices!) * Gas Guru (available for Apple and Android) * Cheap Gas Anyplace For consumers who have rewards for a specific fuel station or to even pay for gas via a mobile device, download apps for BP, Circle K, Speedway, Chevron, Shell, Sunoco and more. Search for a favorite brand or filling station on Google Play or on the App Store. CAR APPS FOR RENTALS AND RIDESHARES Car in the shop? Heading on vacation and need a rental for the week? There are apps for the major car rental companies to help secure that rental. Consumers can download Hertz, Enterprise, Expedia and more. Don’t want to pay for a rental? Download Uber or Lyft to hail an email service! Car Apps for Navigation [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Car-Apps-for-Navigation.jpg] CAR APPS FOR NAVIGATION Not all car owners have a brand new vehicle or a more recent vehicle that is equipped with an infotainment system that connects to smartphones. Some are driving older vehicles without this data. However, those who own a smartphone can buy an adapter that plugs into an older vehicle. This can mean that drivers could access convenient apps to aid their navigation. While they might not have a convenient screen to see GPS data, they can still use apps that can help them navigate via their drive…or just alert them to any issues up ahead. For help getting to an unfamiliar destination or for other traffic information, try these apps: * Waze (available for Apple and Android) * Sygic GPS Navigation (available for Apple and Android) * GPS Live Navigation (also available for Apple and Android) In addition, local state Departments of Transportation also could offer apps that show accidents, road closures and more. These apps could be beneficial when traveling in inclement weather. CAR APPS FOR LOCATING A PARKED CAR Parking lots can be a zoo. When parking at major attractions like theme parks, resorts, massive shopping centers and concert venues, drivers might be in a hurry to get to their event causing them to not pay attention to where they parked. Once they leave their venue, they might be absolutely stumped as to where their car is located. Some drivers might just have more difficulty remembering their surroundings than others, and they might be accustomed to losing track of their parking spot. Thankfully, there are apps to help locate a missing vehicle. Car owners can search for apps like ParkGo, Find My Parked Car (aptly named!), and Find My Car. There are many different options available via both Google Play and the App Store. In addition, car owners might be able to locate their vehicle via OnStar or another service. AUGMENTED REALITY CAR APPS FOR FUN Not all car apps are focused on consumer needs—like finding gas, shopping or even getting directions. Searching for car apps also can bring up fun experiences like augmented reality or even racing games. Using the Google app, consumers can hunt for augmented reality vehicles thanks to Google Search AR. A full list of augmented reality vehicles isn’t published by Google, and Google Search AR also includes anime characters like Hello Kitty, animals and even bugs (like the ladybug!). Augmented reality features on Google Search are a bit of a thrilling hunt…there’s no telling what might be uncovered! Vehicles (and other objects) via Google Search AR can be viewed in the user’s real-life environment. Drop a vehicle into the backyard or on the porch. See how it looks in the garage. These interactive and immersive tools can be used for fun…or to help consumers check out the car before going into the dealership. Car apps also can be fantasy-based—like racing games. Check out AR Race Car or Lightstream Racer (available on Apple’s App Store) for augmented reality racing! The app AR Toys: Playground lets users control remote controlled cars and create their own experience. Not interested in augmented reality? The race experience expands widely. There are many different car apps focused on racing; these range from popular apps like Mario Kart to races and apps aimed at adults. As with many game apps, some might be free while others come with a cost. Even free apps, though, might offer in-app purchases. Adults who know that snagging extras in the game will charge their account might know to be mindful, but children might not understand that those clicks could rack up some unexpected charges for parents. Turn off in-app purchases if kids are playing! CAR APPS FOR AUTO PARTS Some car owners might be completely fine with a few easy DIY repairs like changing out wiper blades or replacing a headlight. Car owners, though, also might need a little touch up paint (for tiny rock dings on the hood), new floor mats or other basic accessories. Shop auto parts and accessories via car apps from Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and NAPA Auto Parts. All three major auto parts store apps are available via both the App Store and Google Play. CAR APPS FOR PRACTICING FOR THE WRITTEN TEST AND STATE DMV APPS Car owners with teens who want to get their permit can find apps to help them practice their driving and road safety knowledge. Try apps like DMV Permit Practice DMV Driving Test Driver Start and others. For already licensed drivers, some states offer apps for their DMV. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles helps users find their local office, test their knowledge with practice tests, and even renew vehicle registration. While not all states offer an app, a quick search via Google Play or the App Store can help drivers figure out if their state has an app for their DMV needs. CAR APPS GALORE! Car owners can find car apps for almost any need. It’s nearly impossible to hunt down every car app for Android and Apple devices. There are car apps to find gas, to practice written tests for a new driver permit, to find auto parts, to help with navigation…and of course, there are car apps that are just for fun.
Augmented Reality Car Dashboard Transform the Driving Experience
Car manufacturers are integrating more high-tech upgrades in newer vehicle models in response to both the ever-evolving digitization trends and perhaps consumer demand as well. As smartphones have become the dominant personal communication device, manufacturers have opted to include compatible infotainment systems as standard features. Augmented reality also has become standard in some aspects of automobile design. In addition, manufacturers also have designed sleeker, smarter augmented reality car dashboards that transform the driving experience with enhanced safety features and advanced navigation systems. Augmented Reality Car Dashboard [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Standard-Augmented-Reality-Features.jpg] STANDARD AUGMENTED REALITY FEATURES Augmented reality showcases the user’s real world environment and transposes digital graphics within that environment. While augmented reality has been mainstream thanks to the wildly popular video game app Pokemon GO, this technology also has been incorporated within daily life for many consumers…perhaps without them even realizing that what they use is, in fact, augmented reality. Vehicles have included backup cameras for more than a decade; these cameras have aided drivers in seeing hidden obstacles lurking behind them or even in navigating tight parking lots or garages. While the earlier backup cameras merely showed the real-world view directly behind the driver, over time and thanks to tech advancements, these cameras have evolved to feature digitized grid lines that show the driver their predicted turning radius. These gridlines and other graphics displayed on the screen are an everyday example of the use of augmented reality. Many cars also include front cameras that show the driver the view from the front end, and other cameras also could be positioned around the vehicle to give a full-view of the vehicle as it navigates tight spaces. Drivers can easily discern if their wheels are turned at the correct angle to avoid contact with another vehicle (or obstacle). In many vehicles, sensors will detect these obstacles and alert the driver with a beeping sound or other warning noise. Newer vehicles might even incorporate augmented reality into the rearview mirror. These ‘smart rearview mirrors’ also access the rear camera to show the driver a more accurate view behind them. These mirrors are especially useful during night driving or in rainy conditions. While the smart rear view mirror isn’t always augmented reality enhanced (although it can feature AR), it does provide the driver with clearer views behind the car. Nissan introduced its smart rear view mirror in 2015; the mirror enables users to switch between the camera view and a traditional mirror. However, back in 2010, the Ford Fiesta was incorporated with augmented reality into its rear view mirror. This is how drivers were viewing the data from the backup camera! Augmented Reality Car Dashboard [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Augmented-Reality-Heads-Up-Displays.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY HEADS-UP DISPLAYS Infotainment systems in most vehicles are standard now. They can sync with smartphones, and this compatibility and connectivity allows drivers to answer calls without grabbing their phone. In addition, data from the phone can be displayed and streamed via the infotainment screen. Drivers can play their favorite music from their playlist on the go. They also can send texts via voice command or even just pull up the map app from their phone. However, the infotainment system isn’t the only site within the car that’s interwoven with technology. Cars are getting smarter, and as many drivers have likely enjoyed the convenience and enhanced safety capabilities of augmented reality features, more aspects of the vehicle are incorporating this virtual-type experience. Augmented reality heads-up displays are lighting up the windshield–and perhaps the dashboard—to provide drivers with even more digital data during their drive. These displays are not simply just graphic elements projected onto the dashboard; newer heads-up displays are incorporating artificial intelligence to provide drivers with advanced data about what obstacles and/or hazards might lie ahead. PANASONIC Panasonic’s augmented reality dashboard is in development and might drive into new vehicle models by 2024. This advanced HUD could provide drivers with a safer driving experience and is programmed to warn them of impending issues ahead of them. Panasonic’s HUD will showcase the car’s speed and will integrate digital graphics (AR) to help show drivers the route ahead of them. The HUD also will point out obstacles and pedestrians; for example, a biker on the side of the road is marked with a digitized yellow bike! There also will be predictive directions provided to drivers, much like a traditional GPS system. Drivers will be provided with data (via graphics) about how close their next turn is and where to turn. In addition, the HUD will adjust when the driver’s gaze changes. MERCEDES-BENZ SlashGear reported on Mercedes-Benz’ heads-up display, which debuted back in 2020, and the new innovative HUD was noted as being the first with augmented reality. The HUD displays pertinent driving data in AR to help driver’s safely navigate the road during night…or day. HUD data shows speed and directional arrows to prompt drivers on when to take that turn. In addition, there are lights that help drivers understand how far to distance themselves from other drivers. Since the release, many Mercedes-Benz dealers are highlighting the HUD for potential buyers. What makes these displays so cool is that they don’t need a separate screen; data is via the windshield. CADILLAC The new Lyriq also features an augmented reality HUD. The Lyriq will use the Envisics AR HUD to display data for drivers. Envisics’ HUD technology also marks obstacles for drivers; it seems that the HUD could include a very graphic-heavy interface with all the pertinent data drivers need. BMW BMW also offers a heads-up display that incorporates augmented reality. BMW’s HUD offers drivers the following data: driver speed, the speed limit, warnings, lane guidance, directional assistance, entertainment menu and more. The HUD is an option for newer BMW models. NISSAN While manufacturers might be focused on augmented reality HUDs to help enhance and improve the driving experience, Nissan is taking augmented reality to another level. Invisible to Visible (I2V) is an in-development technology that utilizes augmented reality, and it could transform the driver’s journey. While I2V would provide warnings about impending obstacles and other future road hazards, it also would incorporate avatars to keep drivers company and even help them drive. Drivers would wear glasses that allow them to see avatars in the car. These avatars could be family or friends who would keep the driver company on their journey. Or the avatar could even be a driving instructor or another type of guide. I2V also would let cloudy skies be transformed into beautiful clear skies…with the help of augmented reality! And drivers having an issue finding a place to park also could get help from I2V. Augmented Reality Car Dashboard [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Will-an-Augmented-Reality-Car-Dashboard-Become-a-Standard-Feature.jpg] WILL AN AUGMENTED REALITY CAR DASHBOARD BECOME A STANDARD FEATURE? Luxury manufacturers offer these high-tech digitized dashboards as an option, but what about other vehicle models? Will an augmented reality car dashboard heads-up display one day become a standard feature? As technology evolves, what was once considered an upgrade or a high-end option eventually becomes standard or mainstream. For example, the smartphone was not always an affordable type of cell phone. When it was first introduced, the smartphone was considered a luxury product. Now, however, most everyone owns some type of smartphone. In fact, almost every teenager owns a smartphone! Flip phones and other standardized cell phones are almost considered obsolete. When backup cameras were first introduced they were an upgraded feature. Cars did not include these high-tech options as a standard. Now, though, cars do include a backup camera as a standard feature. Most buyers expect their vehicle to include reverse guidance of some sort. And these camera-guided options also likely helped prevent some fender benders or parking lot scrapes. The augmented reality HUD is very much an upgrade now. Luxury manufacturers are offering them as an enhanced feature, although some could be making them standard. However, economical vehicles that are lower priced or even moderately priced vehicles likely are not offering this high tech upgrade as an option. Eventually, though, as more buyers become acquainted with this type of technology and as newer, more advanced HUDs are introduced, these earlier models might be included in more economical models…and they could one day even become a standard feature. DRIVING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY While a standard augmented reality dashboard might be years away, drivers can still enjoy augmented reality assistance on the road. Many current models are equipped with standard backup cameras that feature digitized augmented reality gridlines. Some drivers might even enjoy multiple cameras that give them projections showcasing multiple vantage points of their vehicle. In addition, some infotainment screens will project GPS maps that feature real world environment views with digitized arrows and other graphics that offer directional assistance. And those with vehicles that offer smart rear view mirrors also might see augmented reality data within their mirror. Augmented reality was projected to be a $9.5 billion market in 2021 for mobile. As augmented reality begins to be embraced as a mainstream technology, more auto manufacturers might utilize it for enhanced vehicle safety and navigational features. However, the more advanced augmented reality HUD might not be available into a wider market range until this tech evolves further and the once advanced AR HUD becomes less expensive and more accessible for the average consumer.