23 Best Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Apps For iOS and Android
December 28, 2020
Virtual reality technology allows users to explore new digital worlds, whereas augmented reality technology allows users to experience the world around them in a new and exciting way. These technologies may not have been easily accessible to consumers in the past, but now they’ve gone mainstream. In fact, these technologies are now used to support countless apps for iOS and Android devices. Here’s an overview of the 23 best augmented reality and virtual reality apps: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-197.jpeg] DINOTREK Dinosaurs are extinct, but consumers can still find out what it’s like to walk amongst them thanks to the DinoTrek app. This app uses virtual reality technology to transport users to a prehistoric era where dinosaurs still roamed on Earth. You can get up close and personal with a T-Rex or observe dinosaurs relaxing in the sun from a safe distance. You can even see them fight one another over food or other scarce resources. The best part? You don’t need a virtual reality headset to enjoy this unforgettable experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-27.png] TANK TRAINING See what it’s like to operate a military tank by downloading the Tank Training app, which is powered by virtual reality technology. The tank is armed with cannons, which you must shoot to destroy marked targets as you navigate through this virtual world. You can play this game on your own to practice or compete against friends or other online players. A leadership board is even displayed within the app so you can see how you are performing compared to other players. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-198.jpeg] ROLLERCOASTER You don’t need to visit an amusement park to experience the thrill of riding a rollercoaster. Instead, download the Rollercoaster app, which uses virtual reality technology to strap you in for the ride of a lifetime. There are over 60 different rollercoasters to explore within this app. Be prepared for tight twists and turns, stomach-churning drops, and never-ending fun! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-199.jpeg] SISTERS The Sisters app uses virtual reality technology to transport you inside a haunted mansion on a stormy night. You will quickly discover that you are alone in a room and surrounded by creepy décor and scary Victorian-era dolls. What happens next in this ghost story will depend on what objects you interact with in this spooky virtual world. But one thing is certain: you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-200.jpeg] CARTOON VILLAGE Travel to the colorful streets of Cartoon Village, a virtual world inhabited by peaceful farmers and other workers. The level of detail that went into the design of Cartoon Village will make you feel like you are actually walking down these virtual streets. Create your own custom characters and interact with the residents of Cartoon Village to learn more about the way they live. You can even adjust the time of day or season to see how these changes affect the virtual residents of this town. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-28.png] VOLVO REALITY Take a virtual test drive of a brand new Volvo using the Volvo Reality app, which is supported by virtual reality technology. You can see what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat of a Volvo XC90 SUV. Explore the interior of the vehicle, take in the beautiful sights around you, and relax so you can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime joyride. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-29.png] JUST A LINE The Just A Line app uses augmented reality technology to bring your drawings to life. You won’t need any special equipment to enjoy this app. Simply use your finger to draw anything your heart desires. Then, the app will use augmented reality technology to project your drawing onto your surroundings. You can even capture a video of your experience so you can easily share it with friends and family. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-201.jpeg] GOOGLE MAPS The Google Maps app is designed with an augmented reality mode, which makes it easier than ever before to get where you need to go. Type in the address of your final destination. Then, hold your smartphone up and watch as the app projects digital arrows and other navigational symbols onto your surroundings. You won’t ever miss another turn or street sign again thanks to these visual cues. Instead, the app ensures that you quickly navigate through the city to make it to your final destination. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-202.jpeg] CIVILIZATIONS AR BBC’s Civilizations AR app was released to complement the network’s Civilizations documentary series. However, you won’t need to watch the documentaries in order to enjoy the app. This augmented reality app gives you an opportunity to explore over 30 artifacts from various time periods and ancient civilizations. Using the app, you can see 3-D lifelike renderings of each famous artifact. Take a closer look at each artifact while the app tells you more about where it’s from and its historical significance. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-203.jpeg] SKETCHAR This innovative app allows you to use your smartphone as a drawing aid. How does it work? Use your smartphone camera to project an augmented reality sketch on a blank piece of paper in front of you. Grab a pen, paintbrush, or marker and trace the digital lines of the sketch on the piece of paper. In just a few minutes, you can create a beautiful work of art. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-30.png] YOUCAM MAKEUP Try out different makeup looks without spending a penny on new cosmetic products using the YouCam Makeup app, which is powered by augmented reality technology. You can see what you would look like wearing various shades of lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow from L’Oreal, Maybelline, and other cosmetic brands. If you like a certain look, snap a selfie so you can remember which products to buy the next time you visit a drug or grocery store. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-204.jpeg] WARBY PARKER Similar to the YouCam Makeup app, the Warby Parker app uses augmented reality to allow consumers to try on different looks at home. Using this app, you can try on countless pairs of Warby Parker glasses without ever stepping foot in a store. If you need help finding a pair, upload a photo of yourself and the app will suggest frames that will flatter your face shape. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-205.jpeg] SMASH TANKS Turn your tabletop, countertop, floor, or bed into an augmented reality battlefield using the Smash Tanks app. The goal is to use your digital troops and tanks to destroy the enemy as quickly as possible. You can play on your own or compete with friends or other online players—the choice is yours. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-31.png] INKHUNTER You will never regret getting another tattoo again thanks to the Inkhunter app. Use this augmented reality app to project different tattoo designs onto your body. You can choose from hundreds of different tattoos or upload your own custom design. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the digital tattoo projected onto your skin so you can get feedback from friends and family before deciding whether or not to get inked. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-206.jpeg] IKEA PLACE Use the IKEA Place app to see what tables, lamps, sofas, and other furniture pieces will look like inside your home. The app uses augmented reality to project digital images of different furniture pieces onto your surroundings. Drag and drop each piece in different places to figure out what looks best where. Once you’re satisfied with a floor plan, capture a photo so you know which furniture pieces you need to bring your virtual design to life. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-207.jpeg] MEASUREKIT Turn your smartphone into a functional tool with the MeasureKit augmented reality app. The free version of this app gives you access to an augmented reality pocket measuring tool, which you can use to measure real world objects and spaces. Upgrade to the paid version of the app to access other tools, including a level and augmented reality marker pins. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-32.png] STAR WALK See the stars like never before using the Star Walk augmented reality app. To use this app, point your smartphone up toward the sky. The app will use your phone’s location data and sensors to determine what part of the sky you are currently looking at. Then, the app will use augmented reality technology to project information onto the starry sky above you. The app will pinpoint constellations, planets, and more to enhance your stargazing experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-33.png] WALLAME Use the WallaMe app to leave your mark on buildings, sidewalks, or walls around you without breaking any laws or making a mess. Use your finger to draw a custom image on your smartphone. Then, the app will use augmented reality technology to project your custom image onto your surroundings. You can then take a photo and share it with your friends and family. The photo is geotagged, so your loved ones will know exactly where you created your virtual piece of art. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-208.jpeg] GOOGLE TRANSLATE Similar to Google Maps, the Google Translate app is also designed with an augmented reality mode. Turn on this feature and hold your smartphone up to capture the world around you. The app will read and translate street signs, menus, and more. The translated text will be projected over the foreign language text, so you can translate everything around you in real time. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-34.png] POKEMON GO Perhaps one of the most popular augmented reality apps, Pokemon Go is an interactive game that allows users to catch famous Pokemon characters. The app projects digital Pokemon characters onto your surroundings, so walk around and you might just find Pikachu hiding in your kitchen or Jigglypuff by your pool outside. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-209.jpeg] ZOMBIES GO Zombies Go is an augmented reality app that is similar to Pokemon Go. But instead of catching Pokemon characters, you will have to decide what to do with the zombies you encounter. You can choose to fight the zombies to earn points or turn on the app’s “safe mode” to protect yourself from attacks while you explore this augmented world. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-210.jpeg] WANNA KICKS Try on hundreds of different pairs of trendy athletic shoes with the Wanna Kicks app, which is supported by augmented reality technology. The app will project virtual versions of each shoe design onto your feet, so you can see what you would look like wearing each style. Using this app, you can find a pair of sneakers you love without ever leaving home. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-211.jpeg] VUFORIA CHALK Do you need help from a tech savvy friend? Open the Vuforia Chalk app to place a video call to your friend. Then, use your smartphone camera to show your friend what you’re struggling to figure out. Both you and your friend will be able to draw on the screen to work toward a resolution to your problem. For example, your friend might draw a circle around the button that they want you to press. Using this app is like having an on-call tech support team at your fingertips! Experience the power of virtual and augmented reality technology for yourself by downloading some of these incredible smartphone apps today.
7 Examples of Successful Virtual Reality Marketing
December 23, 2020
The average consumer in the United States is exposed to thousands of different advertisements on a daily basis. As a result, marketers have had to incorporate innovative technologies into their campaigns in order to cut through the noise and grab their target audience’s attention. One of these technologies is virtual reality, which allows users to immerse themselves in and interact with a simulated environment. A growing number of brands across various industries have used this technology to support successful marketing campaigns. Here’s a look at the 7 most memorable examples of virtual reality marketing: #1: THE NEW YORK TIMES’ UNIQUE VIEWING EXPERIENCE Incorporating virtual reality into a marketing campaign is one of the best ways to tell a story, so it’s not surprising that The New York Times used this technology to create a unique visual storytelling experience for consumers. In 2016, The New York Times sent Google Cardboard virtual reality glasses to their most loyal print and digital subscribers. These lucky subscribers could use the glasses to watch a virtual reality film entitled “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart.” The film gave consumers the opportunity to virtually travel to and explore the surface of Pluto. This campaign was a success, so The New York Times continued to use this strategy to keep their subscribers engaged. In the end, The New York Times shipped Google Cardboard glasses to over one million subscribers and produced eight virtual reality films. The subjects of these films ranged from the refugee crisis in Europe to the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris. Not only did this campaign keep subscribers engaged, but it was also an effective way to reward the company’s most loyal customers. #2: VOLVO’S VIRTUAL TEST DRIVE Volvo is one of the many automotive manufacturers that have used virtual reality technology to create virtual test drive experiences for consumers. The first Volvo virtual test drive was launched several years ago. This initial campaign was a huge success, which inspired the manufacturer to launch additional virtual test drive experiences for other vehicle models. With each new launch, Volvo has updated the technology to make it easier than ever before for consumers to virtually participate. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-194.jpeg] Now, consumers can virtually test drive a Volvo by downloading the Volvo Reality app. This experience works best with a Google Cardboard virtual reality headset, but consumers can still participate in the test drive even if they don’t have this device. The test drive will put consumers behind the wheel of a new Volvo XC90 as it takes a scenic drive through the mountains. This virtual reality experience allows consumers to explore the various features and built-in amenities of the vehicle so they have the information they need to make a purchase decision without ever stepping foot in a dealership. #3: LOWE’S HOLOROOM The home improvement store Lowe’s caters to consumers who are interested in DIY projects. These consumers would rather complete home improvement projects on their own instead of hiring a professional to do the job. To appeal to these consumers, Lowe’s used virtual reality technology to launch the Holoroom. The Holoroom was an in-store, virtual skills-training clinic that helped consumers learn how to complete common home improvement projects. Inside the Holoroom, consumers could learn everything from how to paint a fence to how to tile a bathroom floor or wall. To participate, consumers had to put on an HTC Hive virtual reality headset. Then, they were asked to choose what they wanted to learn how to do inside the Holoroom. Once they made a selection, they were given on-screen instructions and guidance and asked to virtually complete the project. For example, if a consumer wanted to learn how to paint a wall, they would be able to virtually place painters’ tape around the wall’s borders, put a paintbrush in paint, and apply the paint to the wall. Walking through each step of the project helped consumers understand what they needed to do to complete the task on their own. The Holoroom was a huge success for Lowe’s. In fact, the brand conducted a study to determine whether consumers who participated in the Holoroom were more or less successful in completing their DIY projects than consumers who simply watched a how-to video on YouTube. The results showed that consumers who were trained in the Holoroom were 36% more successful than those who only watched a video. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-195.jpeg] #4: ADIDAS’S VIRTUAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBING Adidas is another brand that successfully used virtual reality technology to market its products. The campaign, which was launched in 2017, was designed to increase brand awareness of TERREX, a line of outdoor apparel and accessories by Adidas. The campaign centered around two extreme athletes, Ben Rueck and Delaney Miller, who were in the middle of a mountain climbing adventure sponsored by TERREX. The brand encouraged consumers to use a virtual reality headset and sensory remote controls to go on the mountain climbing adventure with Rueck and Miller. The headset gave consumers a 360-degree view of the mountainside that Rueck and Miller were scaling. This immersive experience made consumers feel as if they were right next to the two athletes throughout their journey. But that’s not all. Using the remote controls, consumers could actually climb the mountain with Rueck and Miller. The headset projected arrows and other graphics to show consumers which rocks to grab next. Then, consumers could reach for the rock with their remote control to virtually pull themselves up. The campaign created an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts who will forever associate TERREX with their exciting virtual adventure. #5: TOPSHOP’S VIRTUAL TRIP TO FASHION WEEK TopShop, an international clothing retailer, was an early adopter of virtual reality marketing. The retailer was one of the many brands that participated in London Fashion Week in 2014. Tickets to the show were highly sought after and mostly reserved for major players in the fashion industry such as Anna Wintour and Kate Moss. But thanks to virtual reality technology, fans of TopShop were able to virtually attend this buzzworthy event even if they weren’t lucky enough to snag a ticket. The fashion show was filmed live from a coveted seat in the front row using special Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. After the show, the brand set up stations with virtual reality headsets inside each TopShop store. Shoppers who visited a TopShop store after the show could stop by one of these stations, put on a virtual reality headset, and see the entire fashion show from a virtual seat in the front row. They were even able to virtually go backstage to see the models get ready to walk down the catwalk. Although the fashion show was a one-day event, this marketing campaign allowed TopShop customers to relive it for weeks afterward. It also got their customers excited about the upcoming line of clothing that was first introduced in the fashion show. #6: NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM’S VIRTUAL TOURS London is home to the Natural History Museum, which attracts millions of visitors from around the world every year. But thanks to virtual reality technology, there’s no need to hop on a plane to visit this world-famous museum in person. Instead, history buffs can take a virtual tour of the museum from the comfort of their own home. In 2018, the museum launched its virtual tour experience, which is hosted by Sir David Attenborough. To participate, consumers must put on a virtual reality headset and use a remote control to interact with various aspects of the tour. Acting as the tour guide, Attenborough takes consumers to areas of the museum that are typically not open to the public, including the Conservation Centre and Cryptogamic Herbarium and Earth Sciences Library. Using the remote control, consumers can even virtually handle priceless objects that they encounter in the museum. A three-dimensional hologram of Attenborough guides consumers through the tour while providing commentary on various subjects, including dinosaurs, marine life, and other relevant topics. This virtual tour allows consumers to experience the National History Museum in London in a new and exciting way. The campaign successfully generated a lot of buzz for the museum and drew interest from consumers from every corner of the globe. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-196.jpeg] #7: OREO’S WONDER VAULT In 2016, Oreo introduced the concept of the “Wonder Vault,” which is an imaginary world where the brand’s cookies are created. Shortly after, Oreo launched a marketing campaign that allowed consumers to explore this magical world with a little help from virtual reality technology. Using a Google Cardboard headset, consumers could travel deep into the Wonder Vault. Once inside, they could ride on a cookie down a river of cream that flowed between majestic chocolate mountains. Their journey through this mystical world would eventually lead them to a whimsical factory where they were able to see how the brand’s latest flavor, Filled Cupcake Oreos, were made. This campaign allowed Oreo to connect with their consumers by sharing this memorable experience. It also helped the brand raise brand awareness and generate buzz leading up to the launch of a new cookie flavor. It’s not too late for marketers to embrace virtual reality technology to boost their brand. The virtual reality market is expected to grow exponentially in the future, so it’s safe to say that there will be countless other campaigns supported by this technology.
The Role of Augmented Reality in Automotive Education
December 21, 2020
Augmented and virtual reality is used in training sessions in multiple industries; notably, aviation flight simulators are used to prepare pilots for scenarios they may face, and these simulations allow them to stay safe in the face of an error as they remain grounded. Even the retail industry uses virtual reality simulations to allow workers to place themselves in situations they may likely encounter on the job, like an angry customer or perhaps even a robbery. These virtual platforms also can help managers determine the best candidate for the job. The role of augmented reality in automotive education also has become more pronounced. Manufacturers within the industry already use augmented reality to assist mechanics during repairs, but now augmented reality is helping students who are interested in an automotive repair and/or design career prepare and train for their future. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-191.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN CAR REPAIR Augmented and virtual reality technology is nothing new in the automotive industry. This technology has helped designers view 3D models in the virtual space. Ford executives donned virtual reality headsets to view car models during the Covid lockdowns. In 2015, Volvo became the first automobile manufacturer to partner with Microsoft to use the Hololens in the design process. Ford also announced the intended use of virtual reality for service technicians to train on servicing the new Mustang Mach-E crossover. The new car model is set to debut in 2021, and, according to Automotive News, Ford told dealerships that in order to sell the Mach-E, the dealer must get “recertified,” meaning that technicians must be trained on how to properly service the model. The virtual reality solution allows techs at dealerships to learn about the new vehicle and how to service its components without having access to the physical vehicle. When the new model rolls onto dealership lots, and customers begin to make purchases, techs will be ready to handle service calls thanks to the virtual training. Porsche uses an augmented reality technology called “Tech Live Look” to assist technicians in the field. Tech Live Look uses glasses linked to software for techs to get up close to tiny details that aid in their repairs. The glasses also can illuminate areas that may be hard to see. According to a press release from Porsche, Tech Live Look also allows the technician to show the repair issues to a crew in Atlanta for full support assistance. Those engine issues can be viewed and shared with an additional team for optimum service and ensure client satisfaction. AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY GAMES FOR STUDENTS IN AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN & REPAIR Students attending a tech school or those who are interested in a career in automotive design and repair also may be utilizing virtual or augmented reality as part of their curriculum. CDX Learning Systems, which brands itself as “…the world’s leading provider of interactive and experiential curriculum for skilled technician training,” highlighted the upcoming technology that may be used in automotive repair education. The game Wrench, the company noted, allowed players to virtually make repairs to cars, build engines and choose their tools, too. Virtual reality repair games could be an early introduction for teens and tweens to experience the role of the repair technician. Playing a not-so-serious game also could encourage an interest in cars and the mechanics that drive them. For kids who may be race enthusiasts or who may have vast knowledge in makes/models, these games let them peek under the hood and maybe even create their own dream car. Wrench is available for download via Steam or on Oculus. The game’s site explains that players have to manage a car’s many internal systems. These systems include, per the site, the engine and cylinder head, suspension, braking system, fuel system, cooling system, and the ignition. Steam also is home to the upcoming Car Mechanic Simulator VR. This game “…challenges players to repair, paint, tune and drive cars in a fully 3D world.” Players hunt for their cars via the junkyard and the barn. Their job is to take old, discarded vehicles and make them purr. The game is not yet available and a release date is noted as “coming soon.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-192.jpeg] AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM For teens or young adults enrolled in a vo-tech school or program that focuses on automotive repair or design, the curriculum may include some type of virtual or augmented reality platforms to facilitate learning. There are many different virtual reality programs to help students virtually train for their future jobs in automotive repair. GTAFE offers VR Automotive Mechanic, which is a program that allows students to work in a virtual auto shop, where they can assemble and disassemble the car and its components safely. VR Automotive Expert (also GTAFE), is described as a “3D interactive study guide for automotive training.” The program provides automotive courses and enables students to engage in simulations, review 3D resources, and more. One of the biggest benefits of these types of programs is related to safety. Students who are just learning the basics about car mechanics—or even venturing into more detailed repairs—may make a mistake that could potentially create a safety hazard. Learning virtually allows for mistakes to happen virtually, too. Any issue is safely contained in the virtual space, and students can learn from their mistakes without the fear of physical injury or other safety concerns. Learning virtually also could allow students to redo a lesson or try the same repair over again, although programs may differ in this regard. In the real world of automotive repair, the requirements of each job may differ. One car may need a new water pump, but another could need repairs to the braking system. Virtual lessons may offer more opportunities for students to zero in on the skills that need to be perfected and refined. In the age of Covid and at-home learning, these virtual and augmented reality platforms also could allow students to continue their education at home. Students learning automotive repair may be limited in their garage exposure if class size is restricted. Perhaps these virtual programs allow for more students to engage in continuing their education beyond books and lectures. Learning by doing for future automotive technicians could be the ideal solution…even if these lessons are virtual simulations. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-193.jpeg] REAL-WORLD VS. VIRTUAL REALITY Major players in the automotive industry understand that virtual reality and augmented reality does not and cannot always take the place of real-life experiences. While automotive manufacturers utilize virtual reality in car design, clay models are still a fundamental part of the process. Regarding the design process, Ford’s Joel Piaskowski told Automotive Magazine that “…Once it gets down to final sign off, it seems like clay is never going to go away, despite all the advances in VR and in computer CAD design and graphics and so on over the years.” Even with technology allowing executives and designers to step into a virtual space to visualize 3D car models, the need for clay may always exist. As Piaskowski explained to the magazine, cars are three-dimensional and a physical model may always be necessary. The physical rendering provides designers, engineers, and executives with a means to explore the mechanics in detail and by touch; while virtual allows a graphic 3D display, there is no true sensory integration related to touch. That being said, games and simulations allow technicians and students to better acclimate to the mechanics of a vehicle. For professional techs, this technology may allow them to preview a new model’s mechanics and better prepare for service appointments when the model rolls out…and buyers drive away. Students can safely make mechanical mistakes when lessons involve virtual simulations. Students who fail to grasp the repairs of a specific mechanical system also may be able to repeat these repairs, while, in the real world, they might not be offered the same opportunity…or those opportunities could be limited. The Future of Augmented and Virtual Reality in Automotive Repairs Virtual and augmented reality may be the future of automotive repair and design education. As simulation programs become the norm, schools and vo-tech programs may invest in this technology to provide students with a safer option to real-world experiences. More automobile manufacturers also may deploy virtual reality or augmented reality in their repair training; while Porsche and Ford already utilize virtual/augmented reality for technicians, other companies may follow their lead. When self-driving cars become the norm—or if they become the norm—these virtual reality platforms also could take over the world of automotive repairs too. Maybe instead of a real-life technician, virtual avatars take their place. We may get to the point where automotive repairs are completed by robots, and the entire repair process is visualized in a virtual environment. If Porsche’s Tech Live Look can connect a repair technician to an entire team in another state, this also could become the norm in car repair. Dealership technicians could have access to a support team that helps diagnose mechanical issues or there could be an ongoing dialogue about possible issues related to a particular make/model, propelling the need for a recall. Virtual and augmented reality holds the keys to the future of the automotive industry, and this technology may transform the process of automotive repair to ensure proper diagnosis and repair of mechanical issues.
The Best VR Headsets for Holiday 2020…and Other Gifts!
December 18, 2020
The last days are here for holiday shopping, and it might be too late to have those last-minute presents shipped to your door in time for the holidays. If you’re on the hunt for gifts for a favorite gamer or tech fanatic, though, a virtual reality headset might be a great option. Not sure what virtual reality headset is best? These are the best VR headsets for holiday 2020, according to tech writers, and, yes, they can be found in stores. Although you may have to research the best prices. OCULUS QUEST 2 Oculus is a known leader in virtual reality, but the company’s tech is used beyond the gaming world. Oculus Rift headsets are used by Ikea for a virtual shopping experience. Why is the Quest 2 a must-have? According to the company, the Quest 2 features “A blazing fast processor and next generation graphics. The Verge reviewed this headset and noted it was one of the more budget-friendly options. The writer, Adi Robertson, included a list of pros and cons for the headset, with positive notes regarding the price and “the strong ecosystem.” Robertson noted, though, that users had to sign in with Facebook (this was noted as a ‘con’), the cable was an added investment cost, the headset also was a bit cumbersome, and, per Robertson, “socially awkward.” Still, for the price, this may be a great gift option for teens or gamers. SONY PLAYSTATION VR For gamers who prefer to game via Playstation (some just have their favorites), the VR made by the company may be the ideal purchase. Shoppers can find the headset separately in some online sites. But stores may sell the bundle package, which includes a camera (and adapter for the camera), controllers and the headset…plus some game vouchers. Prices and availability may vary by stores. If you’re on a last-minute hunt, you may need to shop around. HTC VIVE COSMOS The HTV Vive Cosmos was listed on both CNET’s and PCMag’s list of best virtual reality headsets for 2020. The Vive Cosmos, though, isn’t noted as a gaming headset, but, rather, was recommended by PCMag as The Best for Whole Room VR. PCMag listed a quick list of pros and cons for the headset, with positive notes for the Vive’s “sharp display,” motion controls, and extensive library. Negatives? PCMag noted that the headset was pricey, the cable was cumbersome and the headset required a special port. CNET gave the Vive Cosmos positive notes for “Modular faceplates for extra features; built-in tracking; flip-up visor.” However, the writer noted that the big con was the price. Meanwhile, The Verve’s headline for its review of the Cosmos was that the headset was “not out of this world. The writer, Adi Robertson, stated in the review: “While the headset is clearly capable of excellent performance, I was fighting its hardware and software every step of the way — from the clunky interface to some frustrating tracking issues. “ How much is the Vive Cosmos? Again, the price can vary per store, but it hovers about a penny under $600. VALVE INDEX If the Vive Cosmos is out of the price range, the Valve Index may be, too. PCMag notes that the Valve index is pricey. The Valve Index is an investment, with a price tag of about $1,000 (for the whole package). The publication stated that it hadn’t tested out the Valve Index, though. Scott Stein, writing for CNET, noted, though, that this is one that can be purchased a la carte. Stein explains that shoppers can use hardware from Vive with Valve, meaning that you might not need to invest a grand to use aspects of the Valve Index. Pick what you want to try. While buying everything for the Valve Index might be expensive, the a la carte option could be the way to go…if you have hardware that will work with its components. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-189.jpeg] CAN’T AFFORD VR? TRY THESE AUGMENTED REALITY GAMES Virtual reality headsets may be a tech-savvy dream gift, but for families who may be on a budget, the virtual experience via headset might not be on the list. So how can gamers experience virtual reality without spending virtually the entire budget? Can you have a low-budget virtual reality holiday? While headsets may be off the list and not on Santa’s sleigh, augmented reality is another way to gift a high-tech experience. Here are some great game options to gift your favorite gamer this holiday…and they all utilize augmented reality platforms: POKEMON GO! The OG augmented reality game! This game has been popular for years, and it’s great for the younger set. Just make sure young gamers pay attention to their surroundings, so they don’t get hurt. It’s easy to get caught up hunting for the cute Pokemon. Not familiar with the game? It’s premise is fairly simple. Players find Pokemon hiding in the world around them. The game shows the real world environment, and the Pokemon are the augmented digital enhancements. They may be hiding anywhere! HARRY POTTER: WIZARDS UNITE This game features elements of virtual reality and augmented reality. Players can choose their wizarding profession—like Auror or Professor. Portkeys are discovered, and players travel to different places in the “wizarding world.” So where’s the augmented reality in the game? The player’s environment will show different magical places; after all, in the books, the Wizarding World existed within the real world…places were simply hidden to Muggles. There also are game challenges and even mysteries to discover. JURASSIC WORLD ALIVE The dinosaurs of the Jurassic era are everywhere. This game mixes the natural environment with the dinosaurs of the prehistoric eras. Your dinosaurs can battle the dinosaurs of other players, and new dinosaurs can be created with DNA experiments. ZOMBIES, RUN! Get fit and have fun…running from zombies! This is a game to play while running (or walking)! But when zombies are visible, you’ll have to quicken the pace. The game also lets players collect items during the game. MINECRAFT EARTH Minecraft is a popular game for kids…but adults may like it, too. Minecraft Earth lets players build their Minecraft world in the real world. The creations can turn into life-size worlds. Players also can find game items in their own world. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-190.jpeg] OTHER TECH OPTIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS? With only a week left until Christmas Day, options for games and virtual reality headsets may be limited. If you still haven’t checked all those tech fanatics off your gift list, here are a few other options to make them happy on the holiday: HEADPHONES Ear phones or over the ear headphones are available in a variety of price ranges. Most stores keep many different brands in stock, so this could be a good option for a last-minute gift. Specialized headsets even include microphones so gamers can talk to each other while playing. GAMING GIFT CARDS Whether a favorite gamer prefers Playstation or Xbox or uses Steam, there’s typically a gift card available that can be personalized with a budget-friendly dollar amount. There also are gift cards for Google Play and Apple, too. GAMING KEYBOARDS For gamers who use a console, a gaming keyboard can make playing easier. There are many different keyboards on the market, and some even change colors. A SPECIALIZED CHAIR A gaming chair or even a bean bag chair can make sitting for hours a bit more comfortable. Gaming chairs can come in all sorts of hues and styles. Some even feature LED lights. Comfort and size may be key. If the chair is for the office or computer gaming, make sure it isn’t too big, bulky or cumbersome. Also, keep in mind the size of the room; you don’t want the chair to be the primary piece! GAME MERCH From Minecraft toys and plushies to other fun merch, pick up items that are game-related…but not the game itself. Funko Pop! makes some cool game figures! Blankets and bedding also could be available. Or knit a cool tech-themed scarf…if you have the time. ACCESSORIES Extra or upgraded controllers and other accessories also could make a great gift for gamers. For tech-lovers there are also many accessories for PCs to enhance user experience. Speakers or a new mouse (yes, there are even specialized gaming mice) could be a great gift idea, too. Gaming mice also can be used with consoles. There are so many options for tech gifts this year. For buyers looking at virtual reality headsets, the budget may need to be a bit heftier to accommodate for the price-tags for many of the best options. However, for those with a smaller budget, games that feature augmented reality tech could be a great gift idea…unless, of course, the gamer already owns the games! Headphones, gaming mice, gaming chairs and even accessories can add to the experience for the gamer. Merchandise like novelty figures, toys or other items could be an inexpensive way to embrace the game theme without spending too much money. And, for those really hard to please on the holiday list, a gift card to Steam, Xbox, Playstation or even a favorite gaming store allows your favorite tech lover to get what they really want this holiday!
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 3
December 16, 2020
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 1 Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 2 Two or more cars per household isn’t unusual. One for each working parent, and maybe another car for newly licensed teens. In the past, though, when only one person needed to work outside the home (and, typically, that was the man), one car was standard. In older homes, one car garages might still be found as a remnant of this bygone era. Now, though, new trends are emerging that could take households back to one…or no cars. Could carsharing change the automotive industry, lowering demand in some ways but increasing it in others? In a report titled “Disruptive trends that will transform the auto industry,” McKinsey noted that “Consumer mobility behavior is changing, leading to up to one out of ten cars sold in 2030 potentially being a shared vehicle and the subsequent rise of a market for fit-for-purpose mobility solutions.” What is carsharing? It’s just what it sounds like…sharing a car. It’s not quite a rental service but an on-demand service. Just like you can rent high-end garments for a special affair, car sharing services let you rent a car hourly or maybe for the entire day. And the price is a mere fraction of a typical car payment. One particular carshare company charges less than $100 per month, and the price for membership includes gas, a designated mileage per day and secondary insurance. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-187.jpeg] WHO WANTS TO SHARE A CAR? With most households owning or leasing some type of vehicle, the family car is a bit of an American tradition. In fact, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that only eight percent of households didn’t have a vehicle. With the exception of big cities like New York City where walking and public transport can get you pretty much anywhere, suburbanites rely on their cars for daily errands and daily commutes to work. While the BTS also noted that nearly 90 percent of individuals ages 15 and up were “reported as drivers,” this trend may be changing. According to data from McKinsey, the prevalence of licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years declined five percent–76 percent (in 2000) to 71 percent (2013). Younger people may be eschewing the traditional driver’s license and the car. And perhaps public transportation or carsharing may be the new preference. E-HAILING: THE NEW TRANSPORT TREND? E-hailing is the trend of ordering transport via a mobile device; this could mean virtually hailing a taxi, a rideshare, a carshare service, a limo…whatever. Today’s consumers have many options for transportation beyond the bus, subway or personal vehicle. This e-hailing trend, though, may disrupt the industry in some ways (perhaps by decreasing demand for personal car sales) but increase other types of auto demand. McKinsey noted that the rise of e-hailing opens up the potential for the demand of a new type of vehicle, one made for high miles and the purpose of multiple passengers or drivers. CARSHARING AND CHOICE The idea of new types of cars popping up to cater to a growing market also points to another unique feature of carsharing: choice. When consumers buy a car, they usually keep it for several years. While some trade-in for a new model before the old loan expires, others wait to pay off the loan and then upgrade. Or maybe families drive the car for a decade or until it just won’t run. With buying, though, that car becomes a fixture in the daily life of the owner. A car isn’t like clothes. Most consumers don’t have unlimited financial means to have a 30-car garage filled with different driving options. With a carsharing membership, though, choice does become an option. The service may provide a list of different options, like a car menu. The member gets to choose the car they want to drive for the hour or the day. One day you may be in a Ford, tomorrow a Jeep. Carsharing also means less upkeep. Although members or users of the service should clean the car after use, there isn’t the same upkeep for the service as there would be with an owned car. Oil changes, new tires and all the obligations of upkeep aren’t there with a carshare membership. CURRENT CAR BUYING TRENDS Covid pushed the automotive industry online, as many Americans stayed home and avoided crowds. Online virtual showrooms became more common to allow potential buyers to see car inventory, including new models. McKinsey reported that U.S. car sales dropped nearly 50 percent in April during Covid; Europe took a more substantial hit in April when car sales fell 80 percent. Online experiences had to try to mimic the dealership experience. This meant that not only were virtual showrooms common, but many dealerships offered virtual test drives, too. Potential buyers could see cars driven via YouTube; scheduling a test drive also was common, and cars were delivered to the potential buyer for the test drive. Even financing could be done online. While the virtual experiences couldn’t completely replicate the in-person experience of the dealership, many dealerships likely did their best to try to create a unique experience for online shoppers. In early November, Car and Driver reported that car sales for the month of October showed that the industry was still slowly recovering. While many manufacturers showed a decrease in sales in October, there were also gains. For example, Car and Driver explained that although Ford’s October sales were down more than five percent, Lincoln (the high-end branch of Ford) had nearly a three percent increase in sales (2.8 percent) CARSHARING AND COVID During Covid, most Americans were avoiding crowds and contact with strangers. They were masking up. They limited trips. These behaviors are continuing as Covid continues to flare up across the U.S. and elsewhere. Limited trips may continue, too. And this may influence transportation choices. In a press release, GlobalData predicted that Covid may actually boost carsharing services because people are driving less. The takeaway is that there may be less of a pull to go out and buy a new vehicle if you don’t plan to use it often. Yasha Kuruvilla, an insurance analyst for GlobalData, said in a press release that these services also could face some issues because of Covid: Customers must be confident that the cars are properly cleaned and sanitized after each use. And with the global community now more aware of health risks, vehicle owners may face increased premiums as insurers look to protect themselves from liability claims should someone contract an illness while using the service. While insurance may increase for these owners, individuals who own a private car might have seen their auto insurance drop during Covid. Many drivers were hitting the road less often, and this could have been seen as a decreased risk for those insurers. Although not all drivers might enjoy a drop, as insurance costs (and the risks insurers weigh) are far more complicated than just a virus decreasing mileage. WILL CAR BUYING BE AN OLD TREND? While carsharing is on the rise, families may still prefer owning a car. How the trend moves is a guess. Younger people could continue to move away from the driving trend or maybe just prefer to carshare. Having a family, though, also could influence the need for car ownership. The older generations who were raised with cars and the tradition of getting a license may prefer to own a car, too. Maybe some may gravitate toward carsharing. Of course, location also may influence car ownership. Those living in big cities may prefer e-hailing to ownership. With limited space, owning a car may be more of a hassle. Maybe car buying never goes out of style? Even if carsharing really explodes, McKinsey’s predictions might be right on the mark as they relate the possible emergence for a new type of car. Manufacturers could cater to this industry with new products and features. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-188.jpeg] WHAT ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION? Carsharing may be seen as an emerging trend that may disrupt the industry, but what about public transportation? Is the use of trains, subways and busses going up? During Covid, there might have been a fear of crowded spaces—with good reason. People wanted to limit exposure. Just like many people may be driving less (thanks to working from home), public transportation also has seen a drop in riders. NPR reported that New York’s subway ridership was down to a mere fraction of what it was before Covid. The low ridership could reflect two truths of Covid: few people were commuting, and many were scared and wanted to avoid crowds. MIT Medical Services answered the question about the safety of public transportation for an individual who typically biked to school and didn’t have a car and who also wasn’t looking forward to riding that bike during colder weather. MIT noted that “MBTA ridership is also much lower than usual now — less than 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels throughout the system.” That decrease is important, because, as MIT noted in its response, it allows people to distance. The safety takeaway related to the “T” was that MIT positioned it as less safe than walking or biking but not as unsafe as the gym or a restaurant. Were people ditching cars for the public transport? During Covid, most individuals were probably not choosing public transport if they owned a car. Although when Covid subsides, it could be interesting to analyze ridership trends. Going back to McKinsey’s report, driver’s licenses are decreasing among the younger set. So could public transport go up, too? It might be interesting to see if different types of alternative transport affect the auto industry. While those living in big cities may prefer public transport or even carsharing, young suburbanites may be an interesting group to watch.
Augmented Reality Automotive Enhancements by Manufacturer
December 15, 2020
Augmented reality features are standard in many vehicles. The grid lines on the backup camera screen that show the turning radius of the vehicle is one common example regarding how automotive manufacturers utilize augmented reality to aid drivers. Many manufacturers go above and beyond these standard features and include upgraded elements that are punctuated by augmented reality technology. Luxury car models may offer advanced graphic displays and high-tech features that allow drivers to see around and behind the vehicle…with grid lines detailing everything. Here’s a comprehensive look at augmented reality automotive enhancements by manufacturers to showcase how this technology is driving and enhancing our vehicles, the way we view them and maybe even how we buy them. BMW BMW utilizes augmented reality beyond the actual vehicle. Mechanics working on BMW models are assisted in their work via augmented reality glasses. These glasses let mechanics communicate with remote teams and the glasses can bring up docs with info on the vehicle; Driving explains that this includes “technical bulletins.” Another site reported that in early 2020, BMW introduced its BMW i Interaction Ease, which is described as “a concept cabin for autonomous vehicles that combines an AR windshield, a contextual user interface, intelligent lighting, and a luxurious adaptable interior that looks more like a hotel suite than a passenger vehicle.” Posh! And extremely cutting edge! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-22.jpeg] DAIMLER Daimler is the manufacturer for Mercedes, which is, of course, a luxury brand. Daimler offers the Mercedes cAR app. Powered by augmented reality, the app allows consumers to browse Mercedes models in 3D. One of the designers noted that users can create their car and “…drive it through the room.” Yes, the car can appear in your living room…or kitchen. Slash Gear wrote about the Heads Up Display (HUD) for the Mercedes S Class (2021). The site noted that this will be “…the first production luxury car to feature a heads-up display powered by augmented reality.”A picture for the HUD showcases how AR will benefit the driver. A turn in the road is shown on the picture posted on the site, and the overlay data shows speed, directional arrows, and presumably the suggested speed for the turn. FORD Like many manufacturers, Ford’s models might include backup cameras as a standard feature. These cameras typically include overlay grid lines that show the turning radius. However, other cameras including those displaying front visual data also could be included (depending on the model). Ford’s unique augmented reality history, however, isn’t just about the data within the vehicles. Instead, Ford has made headlines for its use of augmented and virtual reality in car design. Ford’s Joel Piaskowski talked to Automobile Magazine about using virtual reality headsets to view in-progress models when executives had to work from home during the pandemic. Ford also uses HoloLens for car design; The Verge notes that augmented reality enables the team to display design updates on a car model (the actual car…not a model). Augmented reality gives the team a preview so they can see if it works! FIAT CHRYSLER Fiat Chrysler has an Immersive Virtual Reality (iVR) lab. The lab is listed under the Research & Innovation section of the company’s web site, and photos show how team members use the virtual space for various needs. In Turin, Italy, FCA also has the ImMErsive Technology room, “…where engineering and manufacturing teams can interact with the virtual twin of a plant, focusing on the layout of an assembly line, the placement of giant robots in the body shop, or the functionality of an individual workstation.” GENERAL MOTORS General Motors is looking at augmented reality HUDs for electric vehicles; the Wall Street Journal reported that GM (the venture capital side) acquired a ‘minority stake’ in Envisics, Inc. What about current features for GM models? Since GM is the parent company for brands like Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC, features may differ by brands and, of course, by model, too. However, backup cameras may be standard. And more advanced camera systems with AR components may be available, depending, again, on the model. GEELY Who is Geely? The company owns Volvo. We can, again, talk about typical AR elements for cameras, but for Volvo, talking about AR should focus on the partnership with Varjo to use headsets to evaluate safety features and assist in development. Volvo’s press release talked about the company’s investment in Varjo (through the company’s venture capital fund, Volvo Cars Tech Fund) and explained in detail how headsets were used: “Compared to its predecessor, the XR-1 adds high-definition cameras to the headset and enables mixed reality. This allows Volvo Cars designers and engineers to ‘drive’ future cars and evaluate all features in a simulation environment many years before they exist, enabling the company to develop the safest cars with the most refined user experience possible.” HONDA Years ago, Honda introduced HondaLens, an augmented reality journey into the Honda Accord’s history that also touched on the newest updates found with the 10th-generation Accord. HondaLens was showcased at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. The latest from Honda? That might be an augmented reality steering wheel! According to Techeblog, the steering wheel controls braking and acceleration! HYUNDAI The Drive reported that Hyundai and Porsche were investing in augmented reality company startup WayRay. The site discussed the demo the companies (Hyundai and WayRay) gave at CES back in 2019 and that this could lead to an AR windshield in Hyundai models that might show drivers pertinent navigation data. The site noted, though, that “Hyundai would not say if the AR system will ever go into production, only that it will continue working with WayRay to refine the tech.” KIA Not sure if an electric car is for you? Kia has an app that may help you decide. Go Electric helps address all the questions that potential buyers might have about the electric models. The app lets users create their own electric car and preview the car in the real world; users can explore the car’s features, too. As electric cars are becoming more popular among consumers, Go Electric may help customers better understand all the benefits. NISSAN According to Mashable, Nissan’s getting ‘freaky’ with augmented reality. Mashable wrote about the Invisible-to-Visible Technology that Nissan is developing. Why does Mashable consider it ‘creepy?’ The new tech would allow for virtual avatars to join drivers on the journey. The Invisible-to-Visible technology can project blue skies on windows during not-so-nice days. And the technology also lets drivers peer around corners to prepare for any obstacles. Is it creepy? No way! It may be a cool future of augmented or virtual reality driving experiences. VOLKSWAGEN How does Volkswagen use augmented reality outside of cameras and other features? The company plans to use augmented reality to help “design production lines.” Designers will wear goggles that can show “…how existing and future equipment could interact in a real environment.” RENAULT In 2019, Renault began using augmented reality headsets to aid technicians in repair. The headsets allowed communication with the company’s tech support so technicians could always have access to assistance. CommercialFleet explained that “It will also enable them to capture images and videos, playback training videos and refer to manuals.” The AR experience is a bit like having reference manuals and a live assistant in one place…without picking up the phone or flipping through a manual. SUZUKI Suzuki brought augmented reality to motorcycles. Back in 2013, the company offered an app to let users preview its V-Strom 1000 in different colors and with different features. While today these apps are fairly common, seven years ago they weren’t common…and especially not for motorcycles. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-186.jpeg] TOYOTA In partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi and Vertebrae, Toyota offered an augmented reality shopping experience. Customers can preview their car in a real backdrop. And the experience lets individuals look at the vehicle from any angle…Vertebrae notes that they can “walk around the vehicle.” Prospective buyers can use the experience to view the Rav4, Prius and Tundra. TESLA Proving that anything can be possible in the future, Electrek reported on Elon Musk talking about the potential for augmented reality in Tesla automobiles. Musk wasn’t talking about a HUD or some other navigation feature…he was mentioning AR games! Augmented reality games…in a Tesla! But it was VR Scout that posted Musk’s tweet, which read: “Anyone think they can get good multiplayer Minecraft working on Teslas? Or maybe create a game that interacts virtually with reality like Pokémon Go while driving safely? Like a complex version of Pac-man or Mario Kart?” If self-driving cars become the future of Tesla, playing augmented reality games in the car while the system is driving could be an entertaining way to pass time during a long commute. FERRARI Per a story in The Verge, in 2015, Ferrari (with Zspace) introduced the Ferrari AR app. Typically with brand-type apps, the user would create their car or change out colors, features, etc. using a virtual car in the app– a build-your-own element. Ferrari’s app worked in the actual showroom. With a tablet, the user could grab an image of a car in the showroom and modify it via the app. This made shopping—and customizing—a bit easier…and probably more fun, too. Another cool feature? The Verge reported that users could x-ray the car and see different mechanics inside. LAMBORGHINI In May, Lamborghini launched its Huracan EVO RWD Spyder in augmented reality; per its own announcement, it was the first company to officially launch a new model via augmented reality. The experience was powered by Apple and could be viewed on iPhones and iPads. The experience allowed users to explore the vehicle; one aspect of the experience allows users to click on parts of the car to learn more. The augmented reality experience lets users place the Huracan into their environment and walk around the car to check it out from all angles. PORSCHE “Tech Live Look” is augmented technology that’s geared for aiding technicians in repairs. Specialized glasses let technicians magnify tiny details during repairs, and the glasses will even illuminate shadowed areas to make visualization easier. Technicians also can send images of the issues to a team in Atlanta for extra assistance, according to a press release from Porsche. What the repair tech sees, so, too can the team in Atlanta. WHAT AUGMENTED REALITY IS IN YOUR CAR? Every manufacturer has delved into augmented reality differently, and in a way that works for their brands. Some used augmented reality in design, others used it for repairs or to heighten the shopping experience. There are, of course, many augmented reality ideas that are still in development or perhaps being considered for development. Those who own a newer car might drive with augmented reality assistance. Maybe you don’t even realize that augmented reality is impacting your drive. Grid lines showing directional turns on backup or front cameras are a very common example of augmented reality in our car. GPS functions that show the actual environment but superimpose graphics also are a form of augmented reality. As technology advances, augmented reality features and virtual reality features may become a regular part of our drive. Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible technology could become a reality in future models; drivers could have virtual companions in the car with them. Windows graphics could be used to make the cloudy days appear a bit brighter. If cars become self-driving, we could play augmented reality games during the commute. While some of these ideas sound space-age, are they really? Twenty years ago, many of us probably didn’t anticipate cameras would be a standard feature for cars. Yet, they are for many makes and models. We also once viewed a GPS as an expensive investment. Now our phones have convenient maps that can be connected onto the dash screen of our cars. WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY? While many manufacturers utilize augmented reality in-car features, virtual reality could be a part of the driving experience of the future, too. Again, if self-driving cars become the norm, we could have a variety of virtual experiences during the drive that are available to passengers. Virtual reality features could include virtual companions; maybe a sibling can pop up into the car for a virtual conversation. Their avatar could be displayed in a spare seat. Perhaps we could order food during our leisurely drive and maybe a friendly restaurant rep digitally appears in the car. Even emergency phone calls could involve the projection of a person to provide more comfort during a stressful, scary experience. Augmented reality is part of many drivers’ daily experiences. However, it’s very likely that more augmented reality features will wire into our vehicles. And virtual reality probably isn’t too far behind.
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 2
December 14, 2020
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 1 Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 3 For generations, consumers have driven cars fueled by gasoline. Fossil fuels drive our highways and byways, and, of course, our automobiles. Yet, as more consumers may be looking at cleaner, greener vehicles, alternatives to ‘gassing up’ have come with a plug. The electric car and perhaps by a greater extension the self-driving car could possibly disrupt the status quo of the auto industry. Tesla is perhaps the leader in electric-powered vehicles, or, rather, one of the most sought after brands of electric cars. Other industry leaders have introduced their own electric models, knowing that the plug may be the fuel of the future. What does this electrifying trend mean for the industry as a whole, though? Will gasoline evaporate from use? Will fossil fuel be an obsolete dirty secret of the past? Or is electric yet another passing trend? Let’s plug into how electric automobiles and their self-driving futuristic possible prototypes may take the industry into the future! WHY ELECTRICITY IS SO DESIRABLE The issue of air quality has been on the radar for years—possibly generations. One of the contributors to poor air quality or air pollution is the cars that we drive. While one single car might not necessarily disastrously affect the climate by itself, the issue is the number of cars on the road. Every day, many Americans—probably millions—hit the highways to commute to work. Traffic jams plug up the roads. Cars sit idle. And nitrogen from our cars creeps into the atmosphere. It is, in fact, nitrogen that is causing such havoc. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cars emit nitrogen in the form of nitrogen oxide, although, per the EPA, fossil fuels also can release ammonia, which is another form of nitrogen. Why is nitrogen so bad for the air? When nitrogen oxide is released, it can contribute to acid rain…and smog. This is, of course, the hazy cloud that many people see that looks a bit like dirty fog. Smog can be damaging to the lungs and irritate the eyes. Carpooling and decreasing menial trips can lower an individual’s impact from driving; this impact is part of our ‘carbon footprint.’ Yet, while individuals and families can decrease their own footprint, others have to do the same to make a meaningful difference. Many cities offer signs along the highway warning of air quality, and this may help drivers understand the days where carpooling could be beneficial. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-183.jpeg] THE ELECTRIFYING HISTORY OF ELECTRIC CARS Through the years, the public has become more aware of these environmental concerns, and many desired an alternative to the fossil-fueled cars we drive each day. But the electric car didn’t just enter our environmental collective because of the need for greener living. The first electric car was developed long before an eco-conscious movement began. The first electric car was invented around the 1820s-1830s. Energy.gov notes that the earliest of these inventions were small, and more functional electric cars didn’t hit the roadways until around the later part of the 19th century, reaching their peak in 1900. Henry Ford’s Model T zoomed past the electric models, and the Model T and gas-fueled cars became the norm. It was the cost of the fuel, though, that drove individuals to look once again at electric options. Energy.gov explains that the high gas prices of the ‘60s and ‘70s made people plug into the thought of other options. The price at the pump, after all, affects a family’s budget and bottom line. Those who faced long commutes to work during these decades of high gas prices likely took a hit to their finances. The electric cars of the ‘70s weren’t very chic or sleek. They were, however, quite compact. One of the models was Sebring-Vanguard’s CitiCar. Only a few thousand were created, and these small cars actually had a bit of speed—up to 50-60 miles per hour! Unfortunately, the electric car fad of the ‘70s was just that…a fad. And, eventually, it died out. Leaving the roads filled with the standard gasoline-powered engines. Consumers continued to flock to the pump. Yet, things changed once again in the early 1990s when new regulations meant that electricity was, once again, an interesting option. The late ‘90s saw the introduction of hybrid vehicles, but it was Toyota’s Prius that became an electric hit. Perhaps it was the Prius’s popularity that really started the true electric revolution in the industry. At the turn of the new millennium, the hybrid Prius became a sleek status symbol. And a symbol of what we might today call environmental ‘wokeness.’ Celebrities were spotted driving the Prius, cementing the car’s status in pop culture. Later, Tesla entered the market, and charging stations began popping up across the country…especially as electric vehicles became more mainstream. But just how mainstream is the electric vehicle? In 2018, more than 361,000 electric vehicles were sold; sales dipped a bit in 2019 when the industry reported more than 326,000 electric vehicles. Tesla dominated sales; nearly 140,000 of the electric car sales in 2018 and more than 154,000 in 2019 were Tesla Model 3. Yet, given that millions of cars are sold each year, electric cars still make up a mere fraction of total sales. While they aren’t dominating the industry yet, the popularity of brands like Tesla makes the trend hard to pass off as just a fad, especially as many cities have installed charging stations to meet the demands of electric vehicle owners. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-184.jpeg] THE FUTURE IS ELECTRIC? Tesla might be making electric shockwaves across the industry. However, while the popularity of Tesla cannot be ignored, the price of a Tesla isn’t necessarily feasible for every American’s budget. Tesla may be considered a luxury brand, as $36,000 is about the price the consumer may pay for the most inexpensive model (Tesla Model 3). The Tesla Roadster, however, is priced at around $200,000. Consumer demand drives supply. If the interest in electric continues to ‘electrify,’ more affordable models across manufacturers may be introduced. Tesla, after all, isn’t the only player for electric business. Nissan, Ford, Chevy, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Kia, VW, and many others also offer an electric car among their models. Edmunds reports that Mini actually offers the most affordable electric car—the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, starting at $30,750. If consumers begin to eschew the gas pump for the plug, the offerings from the industry may become even more varied. After all, the auto industry didn’t just begin and end with the Model T. Manufacturers created many models—some more popular than others—throughout the decades, and consumers could choose economic models, luxury models, muscle cars, sedans, SUVs, station wagons (remember the old station wagon!), trucks, vans, minivans and more. The industry adapts as the consumer’s needs vary. And the electric car evolution may be in its infancy. The future could hold a vast and varied amount of makes/models all featuring unique capabilities. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-185.jpeg] WILL THE ELECTRIC CAR GIVE RISE TO THE SELF-DRIVING CAR? Tesla may be known for electric cars, but the company also is pioneering what driving might look like in the future. Tesla’s cars all offer Autopilot capabilities “…and full self-driving capabilities in the future—through software updates designed to improve functionality over time.” The self-driving car isn’t so much a dream as it will be an automotive reality. Self-driving cars may be the future of the road. However, how a self-driving car may look is anyone’s best guess; maybe our vehicles also could integrate virtual reality into the car. Will avatars take the driver’s seat? Or will the driver simply sit in the driver’s seat and control the self-driving functions? Self-driving cars could start out with humans in the driver’s seat and our AI avatars taking over eventually. The implications of a self-driving car, though, are far-reaching. Without having to focus on driving, humans can multitask during the commute. Maybe teleconferences will happen from the car. Or perhaps the drive will be an extension of the workday. During pleasure trips, though, the family may be able to watch movies together or play games in the car…while the car drives itself. There isn’t a definitive prediction on how the self-driving car will look in the beginning; maybe different manufacturers will opt for different scenarios. The price for a self-driving car also might not be affordable for everyone in the beginning, although a high price is simply an assumption. Not everyone could afford a Model T when it was first introduced, and, with self-driving cars, some individuals may be hesitant to buy into the trend in the beginning. And will self-driving cars catch on with the public? Electric cars were popular in the ‘70s but disappeared until the ’90s. Could self-driving cars follow a similar pattern? Or electric cars? Right now, electric cars are still the minority. So even electric hasn’t gone mainstream quite yet; electric is trendy and popular, but the price may not make the option accessible to buyers on a budget. Still, the rising popularity of electric models may show that the plug may be disrupting the popularity of the pump. As for self-driving cars, the future could leave humans in the passenger seat. And AI in control.
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 1
December 11, 2020
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 2 Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 3 The Covid pandemic has changed the way consumers shop for goods and services. When businesses closed to ensure the safety of workers, survival required an alternate sales methodology. The logical solution involved digital sales; the savviest companies already had a prominent internet sales presence, and the online shift created less of a disruption. Auto dealerships, however, thrived on in-person transactions. Seeing and test driving the vehicle were all seemingly essential to the buying process. Yet, closed dealerships needed to thrive and survive, too. Digital sales cruised into the fast lane of the auto industry, because, like the retail sector, dealerships were forced to evolve and embrace the digital sales revolution to stay afloat. The biggest unknown for dealerships, however, was the uncertainty of how consumers would react or respond to the idea of purchasing a vehicle in a digital realm. With no other option than buying online, consumers who needed a new car did adopt this new digital normalcy. As the pandemic continued to disrupt daily life, digital auto sales have seemingly become a new buying standard. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-181.jpeg] THE RISE OF E-COMMERCE AUTO SALES Covid has been a worldwide threat. The pandemic left few countries unaffected, so the pivot to digital sales was a global trend. Many companies likely began to tailor their online sites to meet their customer’s shopping experience demands; digital experiences had to now be extraordinarily competitive to convert browsing to sales. Retail businesses might have benefitted from additional online features that simplified the buying process; stores that offered virtual fitting rooms or ‘try on’ features gave customers a new way to preview products before buying. In many ways, businesses had to adapt their online presence to better mimic an in-person experience. While not all businesses might have revamped their site—or could revamp their site—those who could expand virtual experiences or who already offered such features were likely in a better position than their competitors. Before Covid, most dealership websites offered basic features online. Buyers could see the inventory on the dealership’s lot and maybe preview current sales. Some dealerships might have offered virtual showrooms that allowed customers to see inside the vehicles. During Covid, dealerships were in a position where their online presence needed to be comprehensive and offer similar shopping experiences as an in-person dealership visit. The challenge? Most car shoppers took advantage of test drives to gain a better feel for the car’s mechanics. And buyers were accustomed to being able to open doors, sit in the car and check out all the features. Duplicating these experiences was a challenge but not impossible. Dealerships included virtual showrooms to their sites. These showrooms allowed the dealership to showcase their full inventory. Virtual showrooms often captured the car in 360 degrees. Many virtual experiences allowed shoppers to peek inside the car to view the interior and features. Shoppers could rotate the vehicle, seeing it from all angles. Dealerships that couldn’t offer their own digital showrooms used apps like RelayCars, which offers digital experiences for many makes/models. Shoppers could change the vehicle’s paint hue and even switch out other features. But what about test drives? This part of the car shopping experience was likely the hardest for dealerships to replicate in the digital realm. Some offered videos of test drives, and the shopper was given the vantage point of the driver. Other dealerships or manufacturers offered virtual test drives via mobile devices; these experiences were a bit like a game, with shoppers tilting the device to navigate the car. Dealerships also allowed potential buyers to book a test drive virtually. The car was delivered to the home, and the test drive could be personalized. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-182.jpeg] HITTING BUY! WOULD BUYERS COMPLETE THE TRANSACTION ONLINE? There is a huge difference between a consumer previewing cars online or even test driving a car via a device and completing a large financial transaction online. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for the industry was the financial transaction…or, rather, the completion of the transaction. Retail purchases online are nothing new, and these purchases tend to be nominal when compared to purchasing a vehicle. During Covid, dealerships had to bank on a buyer feeling comfortable with applying for financing and completing a five-figure (or more!) transaction online. However, many dealerships made these transactions as easy—and, of course, safe—as possible. Buyers likely had access to customer sales associates or loan officers who could answer questions or concerns either online or via phone. Some buyers also probably shopped around for a loan. Maybe they secured financing at their local bank or credit union. One problem with online financial dealings, according to a report by Deloitte (in the UK) is that “…getting the balance right between ensuring point-of-sale compliance and creating an engaging customer experience has been difficult to achieve.” While online sales and financing helped many dealerships survive, the blunt impact of Covid couldn’t be ignored. In a report, McKinsey noted that sales dropped nearly 50 percent in April. Europe, meanwhile, saw an 80 percent hit. Interestingly, though, McKinsey’s report noted that the majority of younger people preferred buying cars online. Specifically, the report stated that “…less than a third of younger consumers prefer conducting car sales & aftersales in person at a dealership….” This statistic shouldn’t be surprising as younger generations may be more comfortable with the online buying process. Gen Z has never known a time without the internet, and familiarity often brings comfort. The younger generations also likely prefer online to in-person as it removes the sales pressure and allows them to conduct their own research related to purchase decisions. IS ONLINE CAR BUYING HERE TO STAY? While the limitations on businesses related to capacity or other mandates during Covid may continue to push consumers to focus their shopping online, the post-Covid digital sales predictions may be an unknown….especially for car shopping. After Covid, will in-person shopping dominate once again? Or will consumers simply be in the habit of buying everything online? Convenience may be a key factor. Online purchases also may be higher among the younger generations, who are already comfortable with this type of transaction. Digital sales in the automotive sector may be a big question mark. Many consumers like seeing the car in person, they want to test drive the vehicle. They want that physical experience. While a virtual reality platform can come close to duplicating in-person shopping, it can’t fully replicate it. Virtual platforms and showrooms cannot fully incorporate that tactile experience. Buyers can’t feel the upholstery on the seats. They don’t smell the newness of the car online. Colors of paint may appear different because of the screen view. The experience online can come close to the dealership experience, but will ‘close’ be enough for consumers to keep buying online? Statista reported that post-Covid 19, about a third of respondents in the UK would head online for a car purchase. Almost half of those surveyed in China reported the same. The flexibility of online sales is part of its allure. Perhaps the issue of convenience could drive online sales after pandemic. With online buying, consumers can take as much time as they need before a purchase, whether that purchase is a lipstick hue, a shirt, or a car. Sales pressure, again, is nonexistent. When a buyer is online, it’s easy to ignore that pesky little digital customer service rep that pops onto the screen. Just click the ‘x,’ and you’re back in control. But if you need assistance, that screen—that assistant—is accessible on demand. Buyers also don’t have to drive from dealership to dealership to hunt down the best deals. Researching prices and financing requires a mere click to access another dealership site. Consumers don’t have to carve out an entire Saturday to hunt for a car. They can browse, at their leisure, over the course of a few days, a few weeks, or maybe a couple of months. CNBC’s story on digital sales in the auto industry quoted stats from Group 1 Automotive, which has groups of dealerships across the country. The company’s director of retail strategy told CNBC that, in April, “online-generated sales” tripled. While experts can only speculate what will happen with online car sales in the future after Covid, right now, many dealerships may be faced with a situation that was all too familiar in the spring of 2020. In some parts of the world, lockdowns are happening yet again. In the U.S., Covid is surging, and states and cities are reacting with various restrictions. Of course, the holidays also are around the corner. Digital sales across industries may be surging, too, as consumers flock online to purchase presents for friends and loved ones. Those in the market for a new car may take the opportunity to check out dealership offers and peruse inventory. Dealerships may be positioning their online presence to be more competitive in an online-buying world. The future may be digital. Covid and the restrictions that are set to keep the public safe may change buying forever…and online sales may hold the keys to the ignition of dealership’s survival. Then again, the old ways could creep in. Older generations who are used to shopping in the dealership may continue to shop in-person. The younger generations, though, could pivot to online experiences. The future of auto sales may be an interesting hybrid of in-person and online interactions and transactions. Of course, no one will know for sure until the pandemic clears and a new normal emerges yet again.
The Ghost Pacer is the Augmented Reality Running Partner You Need to Outrun the Competition
December 9, 2020
Running with a partner doesn’t just make the run a bit less monotonous, but that sidekick also can push a training runner to step up their pace and help them hit personal fitness goals. Some runners, though, may prefer running solo while still wanting that push for accountability and competition that a partner provides. For these runners—those who pound the pavement solo—a virtual competitor may help them step up their pace and push them to their full potential. The Ghost Pacer, an augmented reality holographic running partner, is a latest development in augmented reality/virtual reality technology that may help athletes outrun their competition. GHOST PACER: RUNNING WITH A GHOST PARTNER Ghost Pacer is a “mixed reality” hologram that runs against users, but this holographic image doesn’t just pop up alongside runners. To activate the Ghost Pacer, users wear glasses that are designed to mix the real with the virtual world—in this case a virtual competitor. Runners can see and visualize all their natural surroundings, but they also see a three-dimensional hologram of a competing runner as they train. The image is a bit futuristic, but very detailed. According to the company’s website, Ghost Pacer features “30 degree AR field of view” with a holographic resolution of nearly 4,000 pixels per inch. The glasses also are noted—per the company—to be “three-times lighter than a pair of Beats headphones.” The tech isn’t going to weigh down a runner! CONTROLLING THE COMPETITION For runners who are pushing to beat their time, creating an individualized training protocol is important. Every runner has a different goal, and there are many individualized aspects that the runner must consider to meet their goals. Endurance, experience and any physical limitations may be part of the goal setting approach. Beginning runners may simply want to hit a mile goal, with no focus on how long it takes them to get there. More experienced runners may zero in on beating a specific time. Ghost Pacer is designed to meet the individualized needs and goals of each individual. Runners can program Ghost Pacer to be ahead of them, at a set speed or even push the virtual competitor to be a tougher competitor; the company’s site states that users can make the avatar more competitive with each run. Ghost Racer also includes data from Strava so runners can find recommended routes for their run. RACE YOUR FRIENDS While Ghost Pacer creates an image of a competitor, runners also can challenge their friends via the device. How does this work? According to the company, users can use their friends’ Strava data and incorporate it via their own run. If a friend ran a specific route in 20 minutes, a user can set this as the baseline for their own race. The holographic runner would then run the pace of their friend. This creates an interesting competitive setup. If an individual raced against a friend who set a difficult goal for a route, the user could use this to help them meet, exceed or just come close to this tough baseline. For runners who may lack the experience of their friends, the technology also removes the not-so-fun issues of running with a faster and more experienced friend; there is no pressure for the better runner to slow down to keep the pace of their friend, and, for the less experienced runner, the fear of not being able to keep up becomes less of an issue. The race, then, becomes all about pushing personal goals and trying to maximize individual speed and endurance. HEART & HEALTH Running boosts the heart rate; pounding the pavement gets the blood flowing and is serious aerobic exercise. Runners with access to a smartphone can download the Ghost Pacer app via their phone to help determine the best run, as the tech “analyzes your workout history to build customized workouts for you.” What isn’t clear about Ghost Pacer, though, is if it also keys into health data from an iPhone or other device. Since running is a serious workout, not only would heart rate analysis be crucial (in fairness, the app does seem to track this) but more specific data like calories consumed/burned or other individualized health parameters could also be helpful in providing runners with better tailored workouts. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-179.jpeg] THE FUTURE OF RUNNING? Is Ghost Pacer’s tech the future of running? Many runners team up with friends, colleagues or other runners to increase their stamina, improve their time and, ultimately, give them some visual accountability during their run. The technology from Ghost Pacer now can provide all runners with a partner to help maximize their competitive edge. This type of technology could be utilized in the future as a training tool in school athletic programs or maybe even professional athletic programs. With a holographic competitor pushing the individual, teams could see increases in speed and endurance. In the time of social distancing, a technology like the virtual hologram also could keep athletes safer while still pushing them to hit their personal goals. BEHIND THE GLASSES The high-tech offerings of Ghost Pacer could be the future of athletic training, but one of the most interesting takeaways of the technology is what lies behind the glasses…or, rather, who is behind the glasses. Ghost Pacer wasn’t designed by some twenty-something athletic trainer with ties to Silicon Valley. The glasses—the technology—were developed by two high school students from Lakeside High School. Lakeside might be a hidden pool of tech talent, though, as Gadget Gram pointed out that Bill Gates also was a grad. Ghost Pacer’s CEO—high schooler AbdurRahman Bhatti—also happened to be a cross-country runner, which likely fueled the development of the tech. The high school duo of AR Bhatti and Jensen Turner (who is the CTO) pulled in fellow students in designing the glasses, and, of course, also consulted with tech and fitness experts. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-180.jpeg] BEYOND AUGMENTED REALITY: HOW GHOST PACER MAY SET THE PACE Ghost Pacer is a perfect example of how augmented reality can help challenge our physical reality. While this technology sets a virtual runner into the natural world, the future could create a more dynamic competitive reality. Many runners are limited by their surroundings. A runner in the Midwest isn’t going to run past palm trees or run on a beach—these landscapes simply don’t exist in the middle of the U.S. However, future tech offerings may provide even more options for those who wish for a more dynamic route. In the future, glasses could place runners in a virtual world of their choosing. Someone in the Midwest could run along the beach, through trails in a jungle or maybe in the Serengeti. Runners could choose their own scenic pathways and enjoy parts of the world that might never have been known to them. Perhaps the race includes challenges to outrun Olympians or professional athletes. This would allow even high school competitors to feel the thrill of racing against the best, and in pushing these boundaries, also work to improve their own abilities. Future tech also may utilize the basis of Ghost Pacer in other sports. Imagine swimming goggles that project a competitor in the next lane. Or hockey players practicing against a virtual goalie. Virtual and augmented reality could enable athletes to train in unique ways and improve their abilities without the physical presence of another competitor. In a world dramatically changed by Covid, there may be a greater acceptance in the future related to virtual interaction. For so many individuals, the virtual has become integrated into our social norm. While face-to-face interaction may be the human preference, the virtual pull has become much more accepted. And, in many ways, could be the preference in many aspects of daily necessity—like online shopping. The shift to augmented and virtual reality may have happened whether we like it or not. This technology has simplified many of our most mundane habits; we now have apps that allow us to virtually preview new hairstyles and makeup. We have virtual assistants on our phones that can send texts and, with the Internet of Things, control the gadgets in our home. Now we can have virtual companions that help us train. Technology is always one step ahead of us. With Ghost Pacer, technology can outpace us or run beside us. Regardless of the programs we choose, the gadgets we use, our reliance on technology only becomes stronger, and while these virtual aids were once perceived as novelties, they are very quickly evolving into daily necessities. Ghost Pacer is the latest in new technological innovations, but it also could be a turning point. Goggles that project virtual competitors may give way to more complex holographic images. Who knows, we could cook beside professional chefs in our kitchen. Or receive soothing words of comfort from virtual wellness holograms. The creation of the virtual companion—the virtual competition—paves the way for a road of virtual and augmented reality that could transform every aspect of our lives…one step at a time.
How Fiat Chrysler is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
December 7, 2020
Using augmentative and virtual reality is now integral to a major automaker’s success. These new and innovative technologies are being embraced and being used in many aspects of the industry. The auto industry has changed vastly since its conception. Buyers no longer look to vehicles to get to experiences but instead look for vehicles that provide an encompassing experience during the drive. Augmentative and virtual reality was once all about creating virtual worlds that seemed to be exclusive to industries such as gaming. However, today, gaming is not the only one seeing a wide range of potential for this technology. As argumentative and virtual reality continues to advance, industries that have incorporated the technology into their processes have shaped the way augmentative and virtual reality are being utilized. The auto industry has completely embraced using augmentative and virtual reality in various sectors. Major automakers such as Ford and BMW are using augmentative and virtual reality to streamline and expand many of their processes from designing and manufacturing vehicles to sales. Fiat Chrysler in particular is focusing their augmentative and virtual reality uses towards the designing and creation of their vehicles as well as introducing a much more immersive and engaging buying experience for their customers. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-176.jpeg] CREATING EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE WORKING ENVIRONMENTS Fiat Chrysler is using augmentative and virtual reality from the very beginning of their automobile process. This means not just integrating the technology into the process of creating a vehicle itself, but also using it to design its factories and plants. At the Fiat Chrysler facility in Turin, Italy, the ImMErsive Technology room is a highly-evolved virtual laboratory that has become a truly innovative haven for designing and testing new manufacturing and product development processes. This has been able to bring about a streamlined manufacturing process, reduced costs, and increases in quality and safety. Engineering and manufacturing leads can interact and manipulate a virtual version of a plant and manipulate the layout and functionality of the various work settings within the plant. This added layer of control helps to make manufacturing for Fiat even quicker and allows various teams to collaborate with one another. Teamwork and collaborative creating is a key benefit to using augmentative and virtual reality for the Fiat Chrysler teams that are working in the ImMErsive Technology room. Sessions can take place using two different systems. Using tools such as virtual reality headsets and controllers, workers can be paired together to work on the layout of a factory and virtually move around equipment as well as take measurements of the layout. Another way workers can collaborate is through the “Power Wall” which is a six-meter-wide screen that pairs with stereo glasses and a controller that allows workers and teams to collaborate and discuss plant or factory layouts, issues, design modifications, enhancements, etc. Teams can connect remotely using this technology to create a truly immersive virtual meeting that brings a more hands-on and collaborative experience. Often communication between teams can take up a big chunk of the design process. As one team makes modifications, the other has changes that will need to also be implemented. Instead of creating a neverending back and forth, this technology helps teams to collaborate in real-time on a model which helps to create a quicker line of communication and a clearer form of context. The ImMErsive Technology room is especially useful for software engineers who can use it to program and simulate robotics before actually utilizing them in plants. Fine-tuning the systems and software needed in development and production is often one of the most expensive and intensive parts of the automotive development and manufacturing process. Allowing software engineers to test out and work on these robotics using augmented and virtual reality can allow for a cheaper and more efficient process. The use of augmented and virtual reality in the ImMErsive Technology room has helped Fiat Chrysler to significantly cut costs and create a more effective and efficient manufacturing process without sacrificing their high-quality standards. By using augmentative and virtual reality to help design the actual manufacturing process, Fiat is among the first to use such advanced technology in such a way. While many other major automakers are integrating augmentative and virtual reality in areas after production, such as with repair technicians or dealerships, Fiat has focused on implementing the technology at an often overlooked but pivotal area in manufacturing automobiles, the plants themselves. In using this technology at the primary level, Fiat has been able to create a production line that detects issues earlier on and is able to fix them before a vehicle is even sent into production. This has cut down costs in manufacturing and has elevated their standards of quality as well as overall safety. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-177.jpeg] CREATING EXPERIENCES FOR BUYERS Along with innovation at the manufacturing level, Fiat Chrysler is bringing new forms of augmentative and virtual reality to their dealerships and showrooms. Bringing the immersive experience of purchasing a vehicle to their buyers in a much more hands-on approach. Roadshows are often the primary way consumers and the market, in general, can view upcoming vehicles and models. Roadshows are often a way to showcase new and innovative tech that major automakers are adopting in order to one-up their competition. Fiat Chrysler drummed up interest in its new vehicle in 2014 by creating an immersive experience for their audiences. In order to attract and mesmerize viewers, Fiat created a driving sequence that goes above and beyond the rest. Featuring the magician Dynamo, the film integrated virtual reality headsets that allowed viewers to feel as if they are sitting in the car as Dynamo controls the ride. This gives the viewer a feel for what it might be like to actually sit in the vehicle. Fiat also made the film available to view on phones using Google’s mobile virtual reality service, Cardboard. This marketing strategy helped to build excitement and interest around the 500X which was released at the time. The experience since then has become a staple at roadshows and many other major automakers now incorporate a similar experience to their roadshow displays. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-178.jpeg] CREATING CUSTOM VEHICLES VIRTUALLY Fiat Chrysler has introduced a new way to shop for vehicles. Built by tech company Accenture Digital using Google’s Project Tango, Fiat Chrysler is introducing a more customizable and interactive shopping experience for consumers. “It’s the future of the dealership,” said Matteo Albberti, digital innovation lead for Accenture Interactive, in an interview with cNet, “We can give the perfect experience to the customer.” The future of dealerships will eventually rely heavily on [virtual showrooms] that buyers can access from the comfort of their homes. Startup companies like RelayCars are banking on the trend that more and more consumers are buying online and the shift to buying cars online will be inevitable. Consumers are also looking for ways to get more customization for their vehicles and a great way to see this before purchasing is by using a virtual showroom or apps that are using augmentative and virtual reality to project a model of a vehicle that can be modified. Many major automakers are already using virtual showrooms to allow greater access for their potential buyers to view vehicles that are available for purchase. However, Fiat Chrysler takes it one step further with their new augmented reality shopping experience. Using the Project Tango based device, shoppers are able to view a full-scale Fiat 500 on the screen as if the vehicle is right in front of them. The device uses motion and location sensors to help users view the car at different angles. The device even allows for users to “ go into” a car to view the interior of the vehicle with highly detailed 3D images. The experience becomes multi-sensory as users are even able to tap on the radio to play music and honk the horn. Users can also modify and customize their vehicle on the program, both the interior and exterior. This gives consumers so many more options than ever before and allows them to view versions that might not even be available at the dealership. In fact, most major automakers are using these advanced technologies in various ways. However, few seem to be taking the approach that Fiat Chrysler is with the technology. Most automakers are seemingly using augmentative and virtual reality in very similar ways to the point that its usage is almost cliched in the field. Fiat Chrysler has decided to use these innovative forms of technology not just to be a top player in the game, but to use it to create meaningful and creative connections and solutions for their workers and consumers.