Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality
September 10, 2021
The augmented and virtual reality market is expected to grow by over $162 billion by the year 2025. Furthermore, analysts predict that there will be a 75% consumer adoption rate of these technologies within the next two years. Many companies are hoping to profit off of the expected growth of this market, including Facebook. Although Facebook is one of the biggest social media companies in the world, it has also quietly become a major player in the virtual and augmented reality industry. The company’s virtual and augmented reality efforts have ramped up over the last several years. In 2017, roughly 5% of Facebook employees were working on virtual and augmented reality projects. But now, Facebook Reality Labs, which is the company’s augmented and virtual reality division, employs about one-fifth of Facebook’s workforce. Facebook has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality technologies. In fiscal year 2020, the company reported that 21% of its annual revenue, or about $18.45 billion, was allocated to research and development. According to the company, augmented and virtual reality efforts account for a major portion of these research and development costs. How exactly is Facebook using virtual and augmented reality? Here’s what you need to know: Oculus Virtual Reality Headset [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Oculus-Virtual-Reality-Headset.jpg] THE OCULUS VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSET One of Facebook’s first virtual reality initiatives was the acquisition of Oculus VR, a virtual reality headset manufacturer, for over $2 billion in 2014. Two years later, the company released its first virtual reality headset for consumers, the Oculus Rift. The next model was the Oculus Go, which was released in 2017. Unlike the Rift, the Oculus Go was a standalone headset and did not need to be connected to a PC to operate. A higher-end virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest, was released in 2018. The headset connected to Oculus Touch controllers, which allowed the user to navigate in their simulated world. The headset also allowed consumers to access the Oculus Store, where they could download virtual reality games built specifically for the Oculus device. All of these Oculus models have since been discontinued, though. Only the most recent model, the Oculus Quest 2, is still in production. It is similar to the original Oculus Quest, but designed with better technology, a longer battery life, and more comfortable handheld controllers. Facebook has never revealed sales numbers for any of the Oculus models. However, the company did announce that they sold over $100 million in Oculus Quest content through the Oculus Store in the device’s first year. If the content was this successful, it’s safe to say that the device itself was a success as well. Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Facebook-Portal.jpg] FACEBOOK PORTAL Facebook Portal, a line of smart displays and videophones, was released in 2018. Portal devices allowed consumers to communicate with one another via video chats powered by Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. According to Facebook, Portal created a more realistic, intimate video call experience thanks to its wide-screen display. It was also designed with a Smart Camera, which would automatically rotate, pan, or zoom to follow the action and Smart Sound, which would enhance the voice of the person speaking. This created a hands-free experience and made consumers feel like they were really in the same room with their friends or family even if they were actually thousands of miles apart. Even though Portal was initially released in 2018, it exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many consumers relied on Portal to connect with loved ones that they couldn’t see in person due to social distancing guidelines. As a result, Facebook announced plans to expand the capabilities of Portal in 2021. The company revealed that Portal would soon have virtual and augmented reality features that would make it easier for remote workers to connect, communicate, and collaborate. SPARK AR Spark AR is a Facebook platform that allows users to create and publish their own augmented reality effects on Facebook, Instagram, and other apps within the Facebook family. In the past, this platform was only available to a small test group of Facebook users. But now, anyone with a Facebook account can access and use Spark AR. Spark AR is designed for users of all skill levels, so you don’t need to know much about augmented reality or coding in order to take advantage of its features. The platform has dozens of different tutorials and step-by-step guides that provide all of the information you need to get started. You can either import your own digital assets or browse through the hundreds of audio files, three-dimensional objects, and other digital assets within Spark AR. You can even upload sound files to create a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory augmented reality effect. The effects you create within Spark AR can be published as Instagram and Facebook filters. Effects can also be applied to Facebook ads to create eye-catching ads that will stop users in their tracks. Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-Reality-Wearables.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY WEARABLES Facebook has been in the process of developing augmented reality wearables for years. Its biggest project is a pair of augmented reality glasses, which are still in development. Facebook hasn’t released very many details about the glasses, however executives have acknowledged that the glasses will ultimately eliminate the need to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer. One executive also suggested that the glasses would use facial recognition technology to provide users with face ID security. Facebook will also release a line of “soft, wearable systems” to pair with the augmented reality glasses. For example, Facebook plans on releasing a wristband that will connect to the augmented reality glasses. The wearer will be able to use this wristband to control what is shown in front of them. The wearer might be able to select an item from a menu screen simply by tapping on their wristband, for instance. Facebook is also producing haptic gloves that will connect to the company’s augmented reality glasses. Wearing these gloves would allow the user to access a virtual screen and keyboard projected directly in front of them. Facebook has not announced a release date for its augmented reality glasses or other wearable accessories. But these products have the potential to completely disrupt the virtual and augmented reality industry. FACEBOOK HORIZON Horizon is another virtual reality product developed by Facebook Reality Labs. Unlike its other products, Horizon is a virtual reality universe where users can create their own environments, interact with other virtual players, or just walk around and explore their simulated world. Players who enter the Horizon virtual universe can design their own avatars. Then, they can jump to different locations within the simulated world using Telepod portals. If a player gets lost or confused, they can rely on one of the local guides, known as Horizon Locals, for help. The game even allows players to establish personal space boundaries to prevent other virtual avatars from getting too close for comfort. If a player starts to feel overwhelmed, they can quickly tap on a button to escape the public world and enter a private virtual oasis. This game is designed for users of all skill levels, so players won’t need coding skills to start constructing their own virtual world. FACEBOOK ACQUISITIONS There’s no telling what Facebook will do next with augmented and virtual reality technologies in the future. However, a string of recent acquisitions indicate that Facebook is fully committed to the world of virtual and augmented reality. Two of Facebook’s earliest acquisitions were Pebbles Interfaces and The Eye Tribe, which occurred in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Pebbles Interfaces develops sensor systems, computer vision, depth-sensing systems, and other technologies whereas The Eye Tribe produces eye-tracking technologies. All of these technologies are used to create virtual and augmented reality experiences. Facebook then began acquiring virtual and augmented reality gaming companies, including Ready At Dawn and Beat Games, which are two leaders in the extended reality gaming industry. Facebook also acquired two other gaming companies, Downpour Interactive and BigBox VR. All of these acquisitions occurred over a short period of five or six years, which indicates that Facebook is moving full steam ahead in its quest to dominate the world of virtual and augmented reality. Facebook’s Focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Metaverse.jpg] THE METAVERSE During a recent earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company would focus on building a “metaverse” in the future. The term “metaverse” has become somewhat of a poorly defined buzzword in tech circles. In general, it is defined as a shared online space where physical, augmented, and virtual realities meet. However, Zuckerberg described his vision of a metaverse as “a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces.” In other words, it would allow users to experience the internet by being inside it rather than looking at it through a computer screen. Zuckerberg went on to say that the creation of a metaverse could greatly benefit creators, artists, remote workers, and people located in remote areas who would otherwise not have access to educational or career opportunities. He even said that if done correctly, a metaverse could serve as a teleport device. Zuckerberg may face a number of obstacles in his quest to build a metaverse, including competition and government regulations. But for now, Zuckerberg believes that Facebook is more than capable of transforming from a social media platform to a metaverse company.
What Are 3D Car Customizer Apps?
September 8, 2021
Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are filled with millions of different apps for smartphones, tablets, and computers. Every category of apps has grown exponentially over the last decade, especially the automotive category. There are automotive apps to help consumers lease new cars, view vehicle history reports, sell their cars, compare prices, get approved for auto loans, and estimate the market value of vehicles. There are also apps that are used purely for entertainment purposes, including racing games and driving simulators. There are even 3D car customizer apps, which allow users to preview what different features and options will look like on a vehicle of their choice. How does a 3D car customizer app work and which one should you download? How can you benefit from using one of these innovative apps? Here’s what you need to know: 3D Car Customizer [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/How-Do-3D-Car-Customizer-Apps-Work.jpg] HOW DO 3D CAR CUSTOMIZER APPS WORK? 3D car customizer apps rely on several different innovative technologies to create an engaging, realistic experience for users. The first is 3D technology. If you look at an image of a vehicle, you are only seeing two of its dimensions, its length and height. Because the image is two-dimensional, it appears flat. 3D technology adds a third dimension to images: width. Adding this third dimension brings the image to life and makes it appear more realistic. The second technology is virtual reality, which is used to transport the user to a simulated environment. Virtual reality creates a fully immersive experience for the user. When used to power a car customizer app, virtual reality can make the user feel as if they are standing in front of the vehicle they are customizing. The third technology used to support these apps is augmented reality. Whereas virtual reality transports users to a computer-generated environment, augmented reality allows users to superimpose elements from the digital world onto their real world environment. Augmented reality car customizer apps may allow the user to project a three-dimensional, digital model of their customized vehicle into their real world surroundings. WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A 3D CAR CUSTOMIZER APP? The possibilities are endless when it comes to using a 3D car customizer app. You may want to download a car customizer app if you are interested in: * Learning about customization options. If you use one of these apps, you may learn about new ways to customize your vehicle. This is a great way to discover new ways to make your vehicle truly unique. * Making changes to your existing vehicle. Are you thinking about painting the exterior of your vehicle? Or upgrading to more high-end wheels or tires? If so, you may want to use a car customizer app to see what these changes will look like before you go through with them. This way, you can make sure you will be satisfied with the final product. * Buying a new vehicle. Most people spend hours researching different vehicles before deciding which one to purchase. Skip the trip to the dealership and conduct your research at home using a 3D car customizer app. You can use these apps to explore different vehicles, compare your options, and decide which vehicle you want to purchase. * Having fun. If you love cars, you may enjoy using these apps for entertainment purposes. Download one of these apps to play around with different customization options and build the custom car of your dreams. 3D Car Customizer [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/What-Are-the-Best-3D-Car-Customizer-Apps.jpg] WHAT ARE THE BEST 3D CAR CUSTOMIZER APPS? Some 3D car customizer apps are better than others. Here are some of the best car customizer apps to download on your smartphone or tablet: * Fix My Car: Custom Mods LITE * Car Mechanic Simulator 21 * 3D Tuning * Paint My Ride * RelayCars FIX MY CAR: CUSTOM MODS LITE Fix My Car: Custom Mods LITE is a unique app that allows you to see what a vehicle would look like as a race car. This is an entertaining app that is ideal for people who love race cars. Not only is it a fun way to pass the time, but it can also teach you a great deal about the various features of a race car, how to install parts, and how to make custom modifications to a vehicle. The best part? You can access all of the features on this app for free as long as you don’t mind watching a few advertisements. CAR MECHANIC SIMULATOR 21 The Car Mechanic Simulator 21 app is ideal for people who genuinely love fixing up old or damaged vehicles. This app gives you an opportunity to transform an old, broken vehicle into the customized, fully functional car of your dreams. Use this app to see what custom modifications and various paint colors would look like on a wide range of vintage cars. The Car Mechanic Simulator 21 app is known for its realistic graphics that will make it feel as if you’re actually working on restoring a classic vehicle in an auto repair shop. 3D Car Customizer [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/3D-Tuning.jpg] 3D TUNING 3D Tuning is one of the most popular car customization apps on the market. You can choose your favorite make and model from the app’s library of vehicles. Then, begin customizing it. The app allows you to customize many different features, including the exterior paint color, mirrors, grills, fenders, bumpers, tail lights, and more. Once you’ve made your selections, you can save your custom car inside your garage within the app. The next time you open the app, tap on your garage to see a list of your saved customizations. You can open any of these projects to show your friends or make additional changes. PAINT MY RIDE It can cost a few thousand dollars to paint your car, which is why it’s so important to make sure you are happy with the color you choose. If you’re thinking about changing the color of your car, use the Paint My Ride app to preview your options. To use this tool, take a picture of the exterior of your vehicle and upload it into the app. Then, tap on one of the paint colors to see what it will look like on your vehicle. You can also adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation to customize your color even further. 3D Car Customizer [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/RelayCars.jpg] RELAYCARS After making your selections, use your fingers to rotate the vehicle or zoom in and out. Being able to see the car from different angles and perspectives allows you to explore the vehicle just as you would in a dealer’s showroom. Once you’re done looking at the exterior, use the RelayCars app to take a look at the inside of the vehicle. Sit in the driver’s seat and take a look around to see every inch of the interior of the vehicle. The RelayCars app creates an at-home showroom experience. This means you won’t need to travel to a dealership to explore your options if you’re thinking about purchasing a new car. Thanks to RelayCars, the showroom is available at your fingertips.
Could Future Apple Glasses Upgrade Everything with Augmented Reality Interactions?
September 6, 2021
Tom’s Guide recently posted a story referencing a Patently Apple update that detailed a new patent application (this one, however, is known as a “continuation in part” application) from Apple about potential future Apple glasses. Tom’s Guide explained that the patent application described how the glasses could upgrade surfaces into touchscreens. Keep in mind that patent applications don’t necessarily mean that the technology is going to drop. However, it’s fun to speculate about the specs related to future Apple glasses. Could future Apple glasses upgrade everything with augmented reality interactions? How would this look? Let’s peek into the potential but remember that patent applications don’t mean that this will become reality. Apple hasn’t announced anything. THE CONTINUATION-IN-PART (CIP) PATENT Patently Apple delved into the details about the CIP patent, which isn’t necessarily a new patent but expounds on the original patent. Law firm Perkins Coie explained on its site that “A CIP application permits a patent applicant to add new subject matter to the existing disclosure of the parent application while retaining the priority date for claims based on the original disclosure. The claims of the CIP can be directed to the new subject matter, the old subject matter or a combination of the two.” Back in 2015, Patently Apple reported that Apple had acquired the company Metaio, which created the thermal touch technology that is described in the patent. Patently Apple explained that infrared and standard cameras can add info to surfaces. When an individual touches the surface, this leaves a “thermal signature.” The site further detailed that combining the augmented reality overlay info with the signature could transform almost anything into a touch screen. Is this a bit complicated? Yes! But the potential for future augmented reality experiences could be amazing. HOW COULD GLASSES WORK IN THE REAL WORLD? Apple augmented reality glasses have been the story of speculation for quite some time. Apple remains fairly mum about the glasses. Facebook and other tech giants also have been eyeing augmented reality with interest, too. And, of course, the talk of other branded augmented reality glasses also has been the topic of interest. The reality of any new consumer-focused augmented reality glasses, however, is that no one knows what they could incorporate. So speculating about the features on glasses that haven’t been formally announced is merely just that…speculation. With the potential for cameras to overlay digital graphics and the power of touch to provide a type of heat signature means that augmented reality could possibly be incorporated nearly anywhere. Tom’s Guide mentioned the idea of the user touching a magazine and then interacting with it via the glasses. However, the potential goes beyond print. Even daily objects could include touch screens. Imagine just sitting in the living room, looking at the light and then just touching the light via augmented reality features to control it…maybe dim it or turn it off. While phones can allow users to control different appliances and household features, wearing glasses that provide similar functions would mean less reliance on the phone. Yet, if thermal touch was necessary to control items or to incorporate a touchscreen, would every item of the future rely on an initial fingerprint? Future Apple Glasses [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Lets-Go-Shopping.jpg] LET’S GO SHOPPING! Imagine using augmented reality glasses to shop. The example of looking at a magazine and interacting with it could be a new way to shop. Ads could bring up a buy now option. Or suddenly users could be prompted to enter the online store from the advertisement. Think about everyday products. Imagine touching a lipstick that was near the end of the tube and having augmented reality glasses showing where to buy the hue. Or maybe allowing the user to buy the new lipstick by showing a touchscreen option on the product. Would physical stores be augmented, too? Maybe augmented reality glasses would show inventory for each item in the store. Or if the item was sold out, the glasses would bring up other locations that had the item in stock. Augmented Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-Cars.jpg] AUGMENTED CARS…AND HOMES! What about cars and homes? Would these include all augmented reality features? If suddenly a car’s paint was nicked, maybe the driver could use augmented reality glasses to find the exact color paint touch up. What if drivers lift the hood to interact with all parts of the vehicle? That is, maybe the computer of the car could interact with the glasses to show issues. This could make finding the issues with a vehicle easier for the owner. Again, though, touch might be the prerequisite for control. Maybe the user touches the hood of the car, for example, and a touchscreen of information appears. Who knows how this could work. But perhaps the car interacts with the glasses. Imagine an augmented reality home. There are already homes that rely on the Internet of Things (IoT), but what if all homes of the future spoke or interacted with augmented reality glasses? The walls could showcase touch screens. Or individual appliances. Maybe the table becomes an interactive screen. Could glasses showcase a range of takeout options via the table? Or maybe touching a table shows grocery stores that users could shop. Perhaps the refrigerator, when touched, shows similar data. Many new models of refrigerators include smart screens but perhaps these are replaced by augmented reality features. The glasses might show that milk is a little low. Or maybe the refrigerator becomes the hub that takes the homeowner to augmented reality grocery options. AUGMENTED…JUST A LITTLE While major augmented reality features incorporated via cars and homes with the help of glasses could one day be a future reality, the technology most likely would start off a bit less grandiose. The idea that magazines could be interactive might be the most logical reality. What if even author bylines in magazines and print publications were augmented. Glasses could display a bio or the author’s other topics. Maybe users could explore info within a story or book or newspaper article. But, again, the speculation of glasses is based on patent applications for Apple and for other tech companies…rumors. Augmented reality might be the future. But how augmented our reality will become is the biggest question. In theory, everything could perhaps become interactive. Again, we’re already seeing this with smart screens on appliances and apps that hook into other appliances. Will technology take convenience to an augmented reality? Maybe the bigger question is who will be the first to introduce a consumer-driven pair of augmented reality glasses? While there are some options on the market, these are mostly designed for enterprise use. Although consumers can buy augmented reality glasses with certain capabilities, they don’t interact with a magazine for augmented shopping experiences. The glasses that many consumers might be waiting for to hit the market might be designed for unique shopping experiences or other interactive functions. While the data from Apple’s patent can point to possibilities, until a pair of Apple glasses is officially announced no one really knows what features the future will hold. ENJOYING AUGMENTED REALITY NOW Augmented reality glasses might be the future hope for consumers who love this technology, but augmented reality experiences can be discovered across the internet and via apps. The best part? Users don’t need glasses or any expensive technology to enjoy these augmented reality experiences! Whether users own an Apple, Android or Windows device, there might be unique augmented reality experiences to explore. Many apps are accessible via both Apple and Android devices. Going shopping for cosmetics? Check out try-on experiences via brands or stores like Ulta. Try on lipsticks, eyeshadows, etc. Preview before hitting buy! Stores also can let users move augmented reality furniture into their room or check out new paint hues without swiping any colors on permanently. Augmented reality takes the mystery out of a purchase. Not interested in using augmented reality for shopping? Use it to preview cars! Visit sites like RelayCars to check out different makes and models and preview them in a real-world environment. Switch out paint colors, look inside and walk around the car, too. Augmented reality can even be used to help consumers research when shopping for cars online. Augmented reality games also let users play in an augmented world. These games require access to a device camera to show the user’s environment. Then graphics or characters are augmented into the world. The most popular augmented reality game might be Pokemon GO. Use augmented reality to find out where all the cute Pokemon are hiding, capture them…then do battle. Of course, augmented reality also is found everyday…in the daily drive. Newer car models incorporate augmented reality into the backup cameras or GPS functions. Augmented reality data can show turning areas when it’s time to turn onto a new road. Or maybe just show the view behind the car to check for any obstacles. Who knows which major tech company will release consumer-driven augmented reality glasses…or even what these glasses will feature. While patent applications could point to clues, until Apple—or any other company—makes an official announcement, the future is still shrouded in an augmented mystery.
Snap’s Acquisition of Vertebrae Could Transform Online Shopping
September 3, 2021
The Verge recently reported that Snap—the parent company of Snapchat—acquired Vertebrae, a company that creates 3D models and augmented reality experiences for online retail. Snapchat already offers augmented reality features for its creators, and some businesses have used Snapchat’s lenses for augmented reality enhanced shopping experiences. However, the acquisition of Vertebrae could place Snap in a very unique position in leveraging these tools and features to businesses that wish to create a more immersive shopping experience for their customers. And Snap’s acquisition of Vertebrae could transform online shopping…here’s how! WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT VERTEBRAE Vertebrae’s website opens up a glimpse of what the company can bring to Snap’s augmented reality bottom line. Yes, Snapchat already allows businesses to access augmented reality features (including a ‘try-on lens’). However, Vertebrae takes these high-tech experiences to another level. The company creates 3D models of products for customers (i.e. businesses). This allows shoppers to not just view products as photos but to turn them around and view them at different angles. Vertebrae also can create unique try-on experiences via Space AR and Face AR. With SpaceAR, users can check fit (think furniture). With Face AR, users can virtually try on products. Face AR could include cosmetics, sunglasses, hair color preview, etc. The company has worked with Toyota, Tenth Street, CB2 and others. In fact, Vertebrae helped create the augmented reality experience that allowed Toyota shoppers to view vehicles in their environment. This augmented reality car showroom of sorts without downloading an app. Instead, users could access the experience via a banner ad. AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE CONSUMER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE Augmented reality experiences can heighten the user experience. When shopping online, consumers can use augmented reality to explore products beyond static photos. With these experiences, consumers can enter a unique showroom experience in their own home. Or the face may become the canvas to preview products. Companies have deployed augmented reality shopping experiences in a variety of ways. For example, Gucci used Snapchat to create an augmented reality try on experience for some of its most popular shoes. It also deployed a virtual shoe that could only be purchased via the Wanna or Gucci app; users could post photos of themselves wearing the unique virtual shoe, too! Cosmetics brands like Chanel have used augmented reality to let users try on products without leaving home. The augmented reality experience requires access to a camera to show the user’s face. Then products can be chosen to preview. Eyeshadow or lipstick appears on the user’s image…a bit like magic. Ulta’s GLAMlab can even show multiple products at once. This is an easy way for consumers to determine if a product suits their complexion, their style or their personal taste. Warby Parker even lets users try on frames via augmented reality to find the best shapes and styles for their unique face structure. Why are these experiences so useful for consumers? Augmented reality lets consumers take the guesswork out of their purchase. In the past, buying cosmetics or even ordering paint colors online could be hit or miss. Would the color or product actually look good? Shoppers might have received their purchase, and tried it on only to realize it was a huge miss. Maybe the lipstick really clashed with the complexion. Perhaps swiping the paint hue on the wall didn’t showcase a robin’s egg blue but really something far more electric…and much too bold for the room. Shopping went online during the pandemic for many consumers. But online shopping isn’t a new fad. Online retail has been around for years. And many shoppers enjoy the convenience of ordering products from home. The problem with online shopping, however, might be related to the barriers in exploring the products. In the early days of online shopping, many stores or businesses were only able to show pictures of items via their website. Maybe clothes were displayed on models. But there were limitations on how customers could explore the products; photo slideshows or photos of models might have been the only preview options. Now, though, 3D models of products can let users explore the item from all angles. And maybe augmented reality even lets the item appear in the environment. This means that shoppers aren’t just looking at a sofa; instead, augmented reality experiences let them place it in a room. Now, homeowners can see if a new piece of furniture matches the room…or fits the space. Augmented Reality and Car Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-Reality-and-Car-Shopping.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND CAR SHOPPING Vertebrae helped create the augmented reality experience for Toyota that was designed a bit like an augmented reality showroom. These experiences are becoming more prominent in the automotive industry, and this might be because even car shoppers have been forced to shop online during the pandemic. Now online shopping might be crucial to staying competitive. In fact, Cox Automotive reports that online shopping (i.e. “digital retailing”) “…is key to a long-term winning strategy—with 75% of dealers acknowledging that they won’t be able to survive without it.” Even before Covid, though, car shoppers were researching via the internet. Back in 2018, Cox Automotive’s 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study noted that “…car buyers spend 60 percent of their time online, and more than three quarters (78 percent) of car buyers use third-party sites, like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.” While third-party sites can provide data regarding car prices and other details, augmented reality experiences can allow customers to virtually explore vehicles. Augmented reality experiences, apps and sites can possibly minimize the time shoppers spend at the dealership, too. While shopping for a new car used to include visiting several dealerships, strolling through the lot and looking at different models, the online augmented reality experience can provide a similar experience. Using augmented reality, shoppers can’t physically touch or interact with the vehicle, but they can explore it visually in 3D. Using the camera from a smartphone or tablet, users show the environment where they wish to preview a vehicle. The consumer can then drop the car into this environment. Augmented reality auto showrooms and experiences can let users walk around the car, look inside, see the car from different vantage points or even change the paint color. The consumer can use these experiences as a means to explore different vehicles, too. Some augmented reality showrooms aren’t focused on one brand, but they allow users to preview many different makes and models. This can be helpful for shoppers who are in the beginning of their new car hunt. Maybe they don’t know what they want, but these sites or apps can let them explore many different options. Virtual Reality Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Virtual-Reality-Shopping.jpg] WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY SHOPPING? While augmented reality experiences for shopping could be the future of the online retail experience, technology could bring surprises. Many companies are aiming to create consumer-driven augmented reality glasses, and the buzz around these glasses have existed for quite some time. If the glasses become a reality, could they integrate augmented reality shopping experiences? Would glasses show apps for different stores and bring up unique augmented reality experiences to preview products? Of course, augmented reality also could be bumped by virtual reality. Currently, virtual reality headsets can be purchased at a semi-affordable price. While the buzz around augmented reality is hot, virtual reality can’t be ignored. However, virtual reality shopping experiences would require retailers to create virtual environments accessible via headsets. So perhaps it would become like a virtual retail space. Virtual reality could allow users to have their own personalized avatars or characters that appear in the realm. Maybe they include the exact measurements of the individual. Of course, augmented reality could create something similar, too. While future shopping experiences could incorporate augmented or virtual reality, right now augmented reality experiences have been a popular way to enhance the user experience and provide a way for users to explore products at home. Try-on experiences show products on the face (like swiping on blush), the walls (paint!), or even the space (dropping furniture in the living room!). These experiences also include augmented reality showrooms that let users preview automobiles. Snap’s acquisition of Vertebrae positions the company to create and leverage more immersive experiences. While Snapchat lenses can allow users to enter augmented reality experiences, perhaps the integration of Vertebrae’s expertise allows Snap to take online shopping or app-based shopping to a new level. No matter how Vertebrae’s technological ingenuity is utilized, though, the future of shopping might be immersive. After all, when users have the choice between previewing products in two-dimensional photos or using augmented reality to view products in 3D or even try them on, the choice might be obvious. As Generation Z begins to position itself as the most coveted demographic for retailers, these immersive experiences may be vital to the shopping experience. Gen Z has never known life without technology, the internet and social media. AR Insider reported that 40 percent of Zoomers used AR lenses via social media. The site also cited a National Research Group study that found that more than half of Zoomers stated that AR was “very important” for both social and entertainment. AR Insider’s headline asked: “Will Gen-Z be the AR Generation?” Perhaps companies pivot to augmented reality experiences to cater to this generation. And maybe all generations may be forced to embrace the AR future.
How is VR Used By Auto Manufacturers?
September 1, 2021
One of the keys to achieving success in the competitive automotive industry is embracing new technologies. Over the last several decades, the automotive industry has evolved as a result of keyless ignitions, hybrid and electric engines, collision avoidance systems, and other innovative technologies. But another technology has recently taken the automotive industry by storm: virtual reality. Virtual reality is used to transport users to a simulated environment, where they are free to explore and interact with their virtual surroundings. Many of the top automotive manufacturers in the world are using virtual reality technology to remain competitive. How is VR used in the auto industry? Here’s a look at how five of the leading auto manufacturers are using virtual reality technology: VR Used By Auto Manufacturers [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Ford.jpg] FORD Ford’s facilities were temporarily closed last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company’s executives did not want this temporary shutdown to impact the vehicle development process. To avoid this problem, Ford employees began to use virtual reality technology to design new vehicles in a virtual design studio. Designers wear virtual reality headsets and use handheld controllers to draw, rotate, and resize three-dimensional digital models . The entire design team can visit the virtual design studio to inspect, evaluate, and provide feedback on digital designs. This allowed the design team to continue to work on the development of new vehicles while Ford facilities were temporarily closed. Being able to collaborate remotely isn’t the only benefit of using virtual reality to design new vehicles. Building digital models with virtual reality eliminates the need to create expensive, time-consuming clay prototypes. It also makes it easier for designers to edit designs based on feedback from their peers. Instead of building a new prototype after every round of edits, the designers can now visit the virtual design studio to modify the digital model in a matter of minutes. This helps Ford speed up the process of designing new vehicles. In fact, Ford reports that using virtual reality technology can reduce design time from weeks to hours. Because of these benefits, Ford decided to continue using virtual reality to design new vehicles even after the company’s facilities had reopened. VOLKSWAGEN In 2018, Volkswagen became one of the first automotive manufacturers to use virtual reality technology for employee training purposes. The company revealed that it would provide virtual reality training to over 10,000 employees. The training courses covered a wide range of topics, including product assembly, new hire training, and even customer service. This technology allowed Volkswagen employees to train at their own pace to ensure they understood the material. It also made it possible for Volkswagen to train large groups of employees remotely. Plus, Volkswagen can continue to update its training program by uploading new content to the virtual reality system. If Volkswagen plans on opening new production facilities, the company could now use virtual reality technology to fully train employees before the facility even opens. This way, employees would be ready to begin work right away. Virtual reality training is especially beneficial for assembly line workers. Making a mistake on the assembly line can be costly and dangerous. But thanks to virtual reality technology, assembly line workers can train in a virtual environment where they can safely learn from their mistakes. This could create a safer working environment and reduce the cost of employee errors. VR Used By Auto Manufacturers [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Toyota.jpg] TOYOTA Toyota has used virtual reality technology in several different ways. Several years ago, Toyota revealed its TeenDrive365 driving simulator at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This driving simulator is designed to help teenage drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving. To use it, teen drivers must put on an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Putting on this headset will immediately transport the driver to a simulated environment where they are behind the wheel of a Toyota driving down a busy street. As they drive down the virtual street, they will encounter various types of distractions such as loud noises, talkative passengers, and text messages on their virtual smartphone. This will test the driver’s ability to tune out distractions they may face when they are behind the wheel in the real world. Toyota is also in the process of developing a virtual reality navigation system specifically for self-driving vehicles. The company filed a patent for a system that would use virtual reality to show drivers the route that their self-driving vehicle intended on taking. This would give drivers of autonomous vehicles the opportunity to adjust their route if necessary. FIAT CHRYSLER Fiat Chrysler is another automotive manufacturer that has benefited from using virtual reality technology. The company’s engineering and manufacturing teams use virtual reality technology to design virtual layouts of new production facilities. Similar to Ford’s virtual design process, Fiat Chrysler’s virtual design process allows employees from around the world to collaborate on these projects. Employees can use virtual reality headsets and handheld controllers to visit the virtual design studio, see the layout, provide feedback, or change the design by moving equipment or other structures around. It only takes a few minutes to make changes to the design, so the teams can work together to quickly finalize new layouts. Designing a virtual layout helps Fiat Chrysler’s engineering and manufacturing teams identify and address potential issues ahead of time. It also helps the engineering and manufacturing teams manipulate the layout of a facility to ensure it is designed for maximum efficiency. Using virtual reality to finalize production facility layouts has allowed Fiat Chrysler to streamline the design process, reduce costs, and improve the quality and safety of the manufacturing process. VR Used By Auto Manufacturers [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Audi.jpg] AUDI Audi has found several exciting ways to use virtual reality technology. In 2017, Audi began using virtual reality to enhance the customer consultation experience in dealerships. Audi customers could customize a vehicle and then put on a virtual reality headset to explore a three-dimensional, realistic model of the vehicle in a simulated environment. This virtual reality experience allowed customers to visualize what their custom vehicle would look like before making a purchase decision. Audi has also used virtual reality technology to enhance the in-car experience for passengers. The company introduced the Holoride, which is an in-car virtual reality experience, at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2019. To enjoy Holoride, passengers must wear a virtual reality headset. The headset will transport them to a simulated environment where they can play games and pass the time until they reach their final destination. The movement in the simulated world is in sync with the movement of the vehicle. For example, if the car turns left, the passenger will also turn left in their simulated environment. Syncing these movements makes the experience more entertaining and realistic. Audi’s research also shows that the synchronization reduces motion sickness. This is one of the first times that virtual reality has been used to entertain the passengers of a vehicle. Using virtual reality in this manner could drastically change the in-car experience for all passengers. THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY These aren’t the only ways in which virtual reality technology is used in the automotive industry. Automotive manufacturers and dealers also use this virtual reality to support virtual automotive showrooms and virtual test drives. This allows automotive companies to cater to consumers who want to shop for a vehicle from the comfort of their own home. There’s no telling how virtual reality will be used by auto manufacturers in the future, but it’s safe to say that this technology could potentially disrupt the industry.
Apple vs. Microsoft: Who Will Augment Reality?
August 30, 2021
Bloomberg reported that the rift between Apple and Microsoft has been stoked once again. Gamers know that Epic Games (creator of Fortnight) took issue with Apple’s App Store and decided to let users stream games through xCloud (a Microsoft product)…essentially bypassing the App Store rules. Macrumors reported, though, that Apple reversed course. Unfortunately for Apple, Microsoft decided to launch the streaming service online. The two companies might also be competitive when looking at an augmented reality future. In the Apple vs. Microsoft battle, who will do augmented reality for consumers first? Or will neither company reign supreme? MICROSOFT: HOLOLENS AND AUGMENTED REALITY Microsoft offers both virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. Hololens is the company’s augmented reality headset that is popular for enterprise use. Businesses can use Hololens for different functions—maybe for improving downtime in the manufacturing industry, for other training purposes or even for virtual teaching (for the education sector). Microsoft considers Hololens as “mixed reality.” The average consumer, however, is likely not going to invest in Hololens. The price point is more than $4,000. Hololens also isn’t a consumer-driven augmented reality headset. This isn’t equipment that will interact with an augmented reality store or other interactive experiences that consumers might demand. What Hololens shows, though, is that Microsoft has already pioneered a type of augmented reality glasses or headset. While the headset is enterprise-focused, could it be possible to use this technology to create something more consumer-centric? Perhaps. In an analysis, Macrumors noted that Microsoft is “pursuing a more hardware-based strategy for augmented reality while Apple focuses, at least for now, on the underlying technologies that will eventually drive future experiences.” But is Microsoft looking at the consumer for an augmented reality future? The answer might be ‘yes.’ VR Focus cited the Wall Street Journal’s interview with Alex Kipman, and the future could include Hololens for consumers! Wall Street Journal reporter Joanna Stern (who interviewed Kipman) tweeted: “And finally, I spoke with @akipman about Microsoft’s AR / MR efforts. He confirmed Microsoft is definitely going to make a consumer AR headset.” APPLE’S AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES The rumors have been fierce about Apple’s augmented reality glasses. They should be on the horizon. Yet, nothing definitive has been released by the company related to an official product drop. While the consumer can look at Microsoft’s Hololens and understand a little bit about how a consumer-driven headset could work, the Apple glasses are shrouded in a bit of mystery. There are reports from Patently Apple that hint at where augmented reality could go for the consumer product. But even as Patently Apple explains, a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean the product is definitive. However, Apple likely isn’t going to be screaming from an augmented reality mountaintop about technology that’s in the works. While rumors always abound about the next Apple product, Apple will likely not take a bite out of any official announcement until everything about the product is ready to go. It’s possible that Apple could be playing with different options, features and interactive concepts or even designs. But will Apple be the first to unveil consumer-driven glasses? Or will another tech player bump both Microsoft and Apple to take the innovative lead? FACEBOOK’S AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES Facebook will launch new glasses soon. The Facebook x Ray-Ban collaboration has been teased via YouTube. Unfortunately, the teaser video doesn’t give consumers a precise indication about what the new glasses will look like…or what their features will entail. One thing is certain, however. Facebook x Ray-Ban glasses will not include augmented reality features. So consumers shouldn’t get their hopes up that the new cool Ray-Bans will integrate augmented reality. Yet, Facebook is still very much a contender for the race to an augmented reality future. Facebook Reality Labs is dedicated to augmented and virtual reality. Reading over the Facebook Reality Labs homepage, it is made very clear that augmented reality glasses are a goal. The site states: “…we’re hard at work to bring the vision of lightweight, stylish AR glasses to life.” Project Aria is part of Facebook Reality Labs. The project incorporates augmented reality glasses, but these aren’t for the consumer. Instead, researchers wear them to gather information about the environment. Could these glasses be the beginning of capturing and creating a metaverse for future developments? Facebook notes that the glasses can record audio and visual data, and the glasses for Project Aria are not a prototype of a future product. It’s clear that Facebook is in the race to an augmented reality future. But so, too, are Google and Snapchat, too! AMAZON’S SMART GLASSES Amazon also could be another contender in the augmented reality race. The company launched a pair of smart glasses—Amazon Echo Frames. The frames do not integrate augmented reality features, but they do sync up with Alexa. Wearing the glasses allows users to interact with Alexa. The downside? The glasses are NOT compatible with Apple devices…only Android. SPECTACLES BY SNAP Spectacles by Snap are not augmented reality consumer glasses, but they are still worth mentioning. The glasses can record audio and video. And everything is snapped in 3D! Of course, the glasses pair up with Snapchat. The glasses let users create immersive content via Snapchat, but they probably aren’t meant for the average consumer. And while they can create augmented reality experiences to share via Snapchat, they really are not the augmented reality consumer-driven glasses. So users can’t shop via these glasses, and they won’t interact with appliances or anything that consumers might be eyeing for new augmented reality glasses. Google’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Googles-Augmented-Reality.jpg] GOOGLE’S AUGMENTED REALITY Google Glass headsets are not priced for the consumer (they’re nearly $1,000). The Verge explains that these are for developers or enterprise use. And while Google allowed consumers to buy Glass back in 2014, they weren’t a real consumer success. However, that doesn’t mean Google won’t pivot to a pair of consumer glasses. While nothing has been announced, could Google jump into the augmented reality race? Maybe they already have. Google offers a range of augmented reality experiences. So it wouldn’t be shocking if the company decided to develop a new consumer product. Google Search AR is filled with augmented reality animals, anime characters, cars and who knows what else. Google has never released a list of all its Search AR objects. So consumers could stumble upon something new when they search! For Android devices, Google also has dropped Floom, which lets users dig a tunnel to the other side of the world. The company also created a social distancing augmented reality experience that draws an augmented reality circle showing proper social distancing. Other augmented reality experiences also are in the works that could augment photos. Downloading the Google app also lets users access other augmented reality. Visit Easter Island. Or check out the views from the top of buildings like the Eiffel Tower. Google has developed augmented reality experiences that can be accessed from phones and tablets. And while experiences like Floom and Sodar can only be used by those with Android devices, Google’s app can be downloaded via iOS and Search AR is available on Apple phones, too. Augmented Reality Future [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Augmented-Reality-Future.jpg] WINNING THE RACE TO AN AUGMENTED REALITY FUTURE? Which company will be the first to launch consumer-driven augmented reality glasses? While the competition between Microsoft and Apple might be burning a bit hotter, they aren’t the only two contenders. Facebook Reality Labs is looking at ways to make augmented reality glasses a reality. After the Facebook x Ray-Ban launch, will consumers be introduced to a new pair of augmented reality glasses? No one knows. Snapchat also could be a contender for augmented reality glasses. While its Spectacles aren’t augmented reality glasses for consumers, Snap recently acquired Vertebrae, a company that specializes in 3D models and augmented reality experiences for online retail. Speculation has been brewing about Apple augmented reality glasses. While many might assume these could be the next big drop for Apple, nothing has been announced. A consumer-driven Hololens has been announced as a future product, though…and this has been confirmed by the Wall Street Journal. Beyond the understanding that it will happen—eventually!—the look and the exact features are a mystery. Facebook also hasn’t made any announcement about augmented reality glasses; in fact, consumers don’t even know what the Ray-Ban collaboration will look like or what features to expect. What is clear when looking through a futuristic lens is that augmented reality is on the horizon for consumers. How much power will it have over the consumer experience might remain a mystery. Maybe augmented reality will let consumers access immersive shopping experiences or interact with our homes. Maybe augmented reality will just heighten experiences for games or retail. No one knows. And now we can only speculate as to which tech giant will cross the finish line wearing the lenses of an augmented reality future.
How the Car Dealer Showroom Experience Has Changed
August 27, 2021
In 1897, William Metziger built the world’s first automotive showroom in Detroit. Since this time, automotive showrooms have played a major role in the car buying process. Inside showrooms, consumers were given the opportunity to connect with automotive brands, explore different vehicles, and learn about the latest and greatest automotive technologies. Automotive consumers typically used the information they acquired inside a showroom to make informed purchase decisions. In other words, visiting a dealer’s showroom was an irreplaceable part of the car buying process in the past. But that’s all changed thanks to recent technological advances. Here’s what you should know about the evolving car dealer showroom experience: HOW HAS THE CAR BUYING PROCESS CHANGED? Consumers routinely buy beauty products, clothing, books, electronics, and other items online. But until recently, the automotive industry was largely unaffected by the shift to online shopping. Over the last several years, though, the car buying process has shifted online. Some consumers have started to complete the entire car buying process online. In 2018, only about 1% of car buyers purchased their vehicle online. But just several years later, about one in 10 car buyers are purchasing vehicles online. Others, however, have simply shifted certain aspects of the car buying process online, even though they complete the actual transaction in-person at a dealership. For example, researching different vehicles is an important step in the consumer car buying journey. In the past, automotive consumers conducted this research by visiting an average of five dealerships before making a purchase. However, the vast majority of automotive consumers now conduct this research online rather than at a dealer. Today’s automotive consumer spends about 13 to 14 hours conducting research online before deciding which vehicle to purchase. As a result, automotive consumers now only visit one to two dealerships before making a purchase decision. Car Dealer Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Car-Dealer-Showroom-Experience.jpg] HOW THE SHIFT TO DIGITAL IMPACTED THE CAR DEALER SHOWROOM EXPERIENCE The shift to digital has impacted nearly every aspect of the car buying process, including the traditional car dealer showroom visit. Here are some of the many ways in which it has impacted the car dealer showroom experience: * Car Buying Process No Longer Begins In A Showroom * Videos Drive Foot Traffic * Virtual Showrooms * Consumers Spend Less Time At Dealerships * At-Home Test Drives CAR BUYING PROCESS NO LONGER BEGINS IN A SHOWROOM A consumer’s car buying journey used to begin inside a car dealer’s showroom. The consumer would visit the showroom to consult with a sales representative, learn about different vehicles, compare their options, and make a purchase decision. But the car buying journey now rarely begins inside a dealership–it starts online. Today’s automotive consumers start the car buying process by visiting websites to research their options. About 78% of automotive consumers visit at least two websites, and 56% of these consumers start on third-party websites. Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader are two of the most popular third-party sites that consumers visit during the car buying journey. Only 17% of automotive consumers visit a dealership website at the start of their car buying journey. However, one-third of consumers say that a dealership website is the last website they visit prior to making a purchase decision. This means that consumers who visit dealer websites are most likely at the end of the sales cycle, which means they are in the final stages of making a purchase decision. All of this occurs before the consumer ever steps foot inside an auto dealer’s showroom. Car Dealer Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Consumers-Spend-Less-Time-At-Dealerships.jpg] CONSUMERS SPEND LESS TIME AT DEALERSHIPS In the past, sales representatives were given ample time to sell to consumers who walked into their showroom. These sales representatives played an active role in helping the consumer decide which vehicle to purchase. However, the shift to digital has impacted the role of the showroom sales representative. Because consumers are completing many of the car buying steps online, the amount of time that automotive consumers spend at dealerships has declined over the last several years. In 2020, it hit an all-time low of two hours and thirty-five minutes. This may seem like a lot of time, but most of it is not spent inside the showroom. It’s estimated that about 90 minutes of this time is spent discussing financing options and completing paperwork. Roughly 25 minutes is spent finalizing the terms of a trade-in deal. This leaves very little time for a showroom sales representative to actually sell to the consumer. Sales representatives often aren’t even given an opportunity to sell to consumers who visit their showrooms. This is because many of today’s automotive consumers don’t visit a dealership in-person until they have concluded their online research and decided which vehicle they want to buy. They show up at the dealership ready to complete the transaction, so sales representatives don’t have a chance to do their sales pitch. VIDEOS DRIVE FOOT TRAFFIC Because the car buying process no longer begins in a showroom, dealers must invest heavily in marketing efforts designed to drive foot traffic. There are many different automotive marketing strategies, but research shows that video marketing might be one of the most effective ways to drive foot traffic to car dealer showrooms. Online videos may strongly influence an automotive consumer during their car buying journey. Three-fourths of auto consumers say that watching online videos has influenced their shopping habits or purchase decisions. Furthermore, 40% of car shoppers who watched online videos to research their options said these videos introduced them to cars they otherwise weren’t aware of or considering. However, video does more than just help automotive consumers discover new vehicles and narrow down their options. It also drives traffic to showrooms. About 60% of car shoppers who watched online videos said they visited a dealer or dealer’s website as a result of the videos they watched. Fiat Chrysler recently used video marketing to promote its annual sale, the Jeep Celebration. The company tracked foot traffic at over 300 dealers to measure the impact of its video marketing campaign. The results revealed that the video marketing campaign attracted more than 50,000 customers to showrooms in a six-week period. The results of this campaign clearly indicate that dealers can successfully drive more traffic to their showrooms by focusing on video marketing efforts. Car Dealer Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Virtual-Showrooms.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS The car dealer showroom experience may have changed, but this doesn’t mean it’s going away any time soon. Many automotive companies have responded to the shift to shopping online by launching virtual car dealer showrooms. A virtual showroom is an automotive showroom powered by augmented or virtual reality. Auto consumers can typically enter a virtual showroom using their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Once inside, they can explore vehicles just like they would if they were actually in a car dealer’s showroom. They can rotate a vehicle to see it from every angle, enlarge the vehicle to get a closer look at it, adjust the settings to see the vehicle in different colors, and even step inside to examine the interior. A virtual showroom allows consumers to get the same car dealer showroom experience from the comfort of their home. It also helps them complete another step of the car buying journey from home rather than inside a dealership. This will appeal to consumers who want to complete as much of the car buying journey online as possible. In fact, two-thirds of consumers say they are comfortable touring vehicles entirely or partially online before making a purchase decision. AT-HOME TEST DRIVES Automotive consumers used to visit showrooms not only to explore different vehicles, but also to test drive them. However, car dealers are now giving consumers the opportunity to test drive vehicles without visiting their showroom. Some car dealers allow consumers to schedule “test drive deliveries.” If a consumer chooses this option, the car dealer will arrange to drop off the vehicle at the consumer’s house and pick it up once their test drive is over. This is far more convenient than traveling to a dealership for a test drive, which is why it is so popular among consumers. Automotive consumers also have the option of taking a virtual test drive using their smartphone, tablet, or computer. A virtual test drive allows them to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle without ever seeing the vehicle in person. These test drives are powered by virtual reality, so the consumer will feel as if they are really driving down the road in the car of their choice. Now that these options are available, it’s not as necessary for consumers to visit showrooms in person. Car Dealer Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Future-of-the-Car-Dealer-Showroom-Experience.jpg] THE FUTURE OF THE CAR DEALER SHOWROOM EXPERIENCE The shift to online car shopping was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but this doesn’t mean that things will go back to normal once the pandemic is over. Research shows that the shift to digital has made the car buying process more convenient and efficient. Satisfaction levels have also increased among consumers who shop for cars online. Buyers who completed half or more of the car buying steps online were far more satisfied with their overall experience than buyers who completed 20% or less of the process online. Because of this, it’s safe to say that the shift to digital and the impact it has had on the showroom experience is here to stay.
How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail
August 26, 2021
The global augmented and virtual reality market is expected to grow by over $125 billion by 2024. Experts predict that this growth will be fueled largely by the adoption of these technologies in many different industries. For example, the healthcare industry has used augmented and virtual reality technology to train aspiring healthcare professionals, plan surgeries, and provide personalized care to patients remotely. The travel and tourism industry has used these technologies to give consumers the opportunity to virtually travel to exotic destinations, tour museums, and compare different hotels. Augmented and virtual reality technology has changed many industries, but it’s completely transformed the world of retail. How are retailers using virtual and augmented reality technology? How do these technologies benefit retailers and consumers? Here’s what you should know: HOW RETAILERS USE AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGIES Retailers are currently using augmented and virtual reality technologies to provide various services and unique experiences, including: * Virtual Try-On * Product Previews * Games * Virtual Merchandise * Product Tutorials * Employee Training * Virtual Showrooms Virtual Try-On [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Virtual-Try-On.jpg] VIRTUAL TRY-ON Many retailers are using augmented reality technology to provide virtual try-on services to online consumers. In the world of cosmetics, retailers use augmented reality to allow online shoppers to virtually try on different shades of lipsticks, eyeshadows, blush, and other makeup products. Sephora’s Virtual Artist and Ulta’s GLAMlab tools make it easier for online consumers to choose the right cosmetic products without ever trying them on in-person. These tools were several years ago, but they surged in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, consumers used Ulta’s GLAMlab tool to try on more than 50 million shades of foundation in the midst of the pandemic. Consumers can virtually try on clothing items, too. Kohl’s customers can step inside a virtual closet powered by augmented reality technology, try on different items, and mix and match pieces to create different looks that work for their body type. Several shoe companies, including Nike, have also created virtual try-on tools for online consumers. Nike’s tool allows consumers to see what different shoe styles will look like on their feet before making a purchase. To complete their look, online consumers can even virtually try on different accessories such as sunglasses from Solstice Sunglasses. On the Solstice website, consumers can try on different frames from countless luxury brands to see which shape and style suits their face best. Thanks to augmented reality technology, online consumers can try on head-to-toe looks without ever leaving home. Product Previews [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Product-Previews.jpg] PRODUCT PREVIEWS Just like virtual try-on tools, product preview tools allow consumers to “test out” different products before deciding which ones to purchase. But instead of trying these products on, consumers can use product preview tools to visualize products in their real world surroundings. For example, say a consumer is shopping online for a new sofa from Ikea. The consumer likes a specific Ikea sofa, but isn’t sure what it will look like in their living room. Furthermore, they aren’t sure if the sofa is even the right size or shape for their living room layout. This consumer can open the Ikea Place app, which is powered by augmented reality technology, to project a digital model of the couch into their living room. The digital model is an exact replica of the couch, so the consumer can see if the couch is the right size and how it complements the rest of their furniture. Ikea isn’t the only retailer that has used augmented reality in this manner. Other retailers, including Home Depot, Wayfair, Target, and Amazon, also offer product preview tools to consumers who are shopping online. GAMES Both augmented and virtual reality technology are associated with the gaming industry, so it’s not surprising that some retailers have used these technologies to build entertaining games for consumers. Burberry, a British luxury fashion house, launched an augmented reality app that allows consumers to build their own digital sculptures. Consumers can choose from a wide selection of Burberry prints, patterns, and shapes to create their own custom virtual sculpture. Burberry also created a multiplayer arcade game, B Surf, where players can compete to unlock digital rewards, including an augmented reality character and face filter. Aircoins is an augmented reality app that is designed to increase foot traffic at brick-and-mortar retailers. Just like Pokemon Go, the app instructs players to walk around searching for three-dimensional objects in their real world. However, this app is designed specifically for consumers who are walking around shopping centers. Instead of Pokemon characters, Aircoin players are looking for coins, which they can collect to redeem rewards such as discounts or special offers from retailers within the shopping center. This app encourages consumers to visit local shopping centers by offering incentives, which can drive traffic to brick-and-mortar retailers. VIRTUAL MERCHANDISE A number of retailers are using virtual and augmented reality technologies to create and sell virtual merchandise to consumers. Louis Vuitton, for instance, sells digital clothing and accessories that can be used to dress virtual characters in League of Legends, an esports game. Gucci is another luxury fashion label that has launched virtual merchandise. The company created the Gucci Virtual 25, a line of products that included an exclusively digital athletic shoe. Because the shoe was a digital design, consumers couldn’t actually wear it, but they could put it on their virtual avatars in Roblox, VRChat, and other apps. In the art world, artist Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS, introduced an augmented reality art exhibition called “Expanded Holiday.” The exhibition featured augmented reality sculptures that were available for consumers to rent or purchase. These consumers were paying to rent or purchase a digital sculpture, not a physical art piece. PRODUCT TUTORIALS Some retailers are using augmented and virtual reality technology to create unique product tutorials for consumers. Lowe’s used virtual reality to build its Holoroom Test Drive in-store experience. To participate, consumers must put on an HTC Vive virtual reality headset and hold onto a specially designed controller. The headset will transport consumers to a simulated environment created by Lowe’s where they can learn how to use and test out specific products. For example, the Holoroom Test Drive experience allowed consumers to test out cordless hedge trimmers. Inside the virtual environment, consumers would be given helpful tips on how to use the product. This gave consumers the opportunity to learn how to use and test out a potentially dangerous product in a safe, virtual environment. After the experience is over, consumers can take what they’ve learned and apply it to the real world to avoid making dangerous mistakes while using power tools and other equipment. How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Employee-Training.jpg] EMPLOYEE TRAINING Retailers are also using virtual reality technology to train new employees. Instead of training in-person, employees are trained in a virtual retail environment. In this environment, retail workers can learn how to handle difficult customers, emergency situations, and other scenarios that they may encounter while on the job. This type of training helps new employees build their confidence so they are fully prepared to handle whatever comes their way once they are out on the sales floor. It also helps them develop crucial interpersonal skills that they will need to achieve success in their role. Because it takes place in a virtual environment, the training won’t interfere with the retailer’s business operations. This means customers won’t have to be patient with new employees who are still learning the ropes. It also allows retailers to train large groups of employees at once, which is difficult to do when conducting in-person training sessions. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS Some retailers are using augmented and virtual reality technology to build virtual showrooms for consumers. In the automotive industry, for example, many auto retailers now allow consumers to visit virtual showrooms using their smartphone or computer. Inside these showrooms, consumers can explore different vehicles just like they would if they were in a real showroom. They can see the vehicle from different angles, examine the exterior, and open the door to inspect the interior. Consumers can use this experience to learn about different models, compare vehicles, and decide which one they want to purchase without ever stepping foot outside of their home. Thanks to virtual showrooms, consumers only have to visit a dealership when they are ready to purchase a vehicle. This simplifies the process of buying a new car and meets the needs of consumers who want to move as much of the car buying process online as possible. THE BENEFITS OF USING AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY IN RETAIL Both retailers and consumers benefit from the use of augmented and virtual reality technology. Some of the many benefits include: * Improve the Shopping Experience * Reduce Product Returns * Increase Conversions How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Improve-the-Shopping-Experience.jpg] IMPROVE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE The internet dramatically reshaped the retail industry. Brick-and-mortar stores began to suffer, whereas e-commerce stores thrived in the new digital world. This transformation was underway long before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. However, IBM’s 2020 Retail Index report revealed that the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping by about five years. In other words, online shopping exploded in popularity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this growth in e-commerce, it’s important for retailers to focus on enhancing the online shopping experience. One way to do this is by incorporating augmented and virtual reality technology. According to Nielsen, consumers want the opportunity to use virtual and augmented reality technologies to make their everyday lives easier and more convenient. Over half of consumers surveyed by Nielsen also said they would like to use these technologies to evaluate different products. To meet this demand, retailers must use augmented and virtual reality technologies to improve the online shopping experience for consumers. REDUCE PRODUCT RETURNS Using augmented reality and virtual reality technologies can help consumers make more informed purchase decisions. This benefits consumers by increasing their satisfaction with their purchases, but it also benefits retailers by reducing product returns. In the past, consumers didn’t have access to tools that allowed them to virtually try on or preview products before purchasing them online. Consumers who were shopping for cosmetics online, for example, may have chosen the wrong shade of foundation or an unflattering shade of lipstick. As a result, many online purchases were returned to retailers. But now, consumers can use augmented and virtual reality technologies to test out their options and choose the right product when shopping online. These technologies have given consumers the power to shop with confidence online. How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Increase-Conversions.jpg] INCREASE CONVERSIONS A conversion rate is a metric that measures the percentage of visitors to a retail store that actually make a purchase. Every retailer strives to increase their conversion rate and generate more sales. In the past, retailers often invested heavily in digital marketing and SEO campaigns to increase conversion rates. But now, they may need to incorporate augmented reality and virtual reality into the mix in order to get the results they desire. Research shows that retailers can improve their conversion rates simply by using augmented and virtual reality technology. Some studies show that these technologies can increase conversion rates by anywhere from 10 to 200%. According to Shopify data, products with augmented reality content have a 94% higher conversion rate than products without this content. Based on these statistics, it’s clear that retailers can greatly benefit from taking advantage of augmented and virtual reality technology. How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/How-Retailers-Can-Start-Using-Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality-Technologies.jpg] HOW RETAILERS CAN START USING AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGIES It’s not too late for retailers to start using augmented reality and virtual reality technology. The first step retailers must take is defining their business objectives and goals. Retailers need to determine what they would like to accomplish by using augmented reality and virtual reality technology. The next step is identifying the right tools to implement their augmented and virtual reality strategy. The main challenge that retailers will face when implementing these technologies is the development of new software. Retailers may need to invest heavily in this strategy in order to develop software designed solely for their consumers. This might explain why Goldman Sachs predicts that the augmented reality/virtual reality software market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2025. Once the tools have been built and tested, retailers need to launch effective marketing campaigns to introduce them to consumers. Retailers can create instructional videos that show consumers how to use the new tools and feature them prominently on their websites. This ensures that all website visitors know about the tools and more importantly, how to use them.
Best Augmented Reality Apps…for Fun!
August 25, 2021
Augmented reality experiences are used by companies and businesses to improve the user experience for online shopping or to create unique and immersive marketing campaigns that introduce consumers to a new product. These experiences can be used to help consumers virtually try-on products, view products in their home or even check out a new car. But augmented reality is used for entertainment, too. Augmented reality also can be used to help consumers to gain or to access information about the world around them. Let’s check out the best augmented reality apps to use for fun at home…and outside, too! BEST SCIENCE-CENTRIC AUGMENTED REALITY APPS Sometimes parents might stumble across cool apps because their kids use them for school. Augmented reality apps can help students–and anyone with a curiosity about their surroundings–to explore the world, dig deeper and learn more. These augmented reality apps use the camera to point at the sky, the ground, the trees and even little crawly bugs to uncover more beyond the two-dimensional photo. Check out these apps and experiences to explore nature, celestial bodies, and even the other side of the world. FLOOM Google’s Floom can only be used by those with an Android device. But this cool experience lets users dig a hole or whirl a portal to the other side of the world. What makes Floom so cool, though, is that the user actually digs the hole or the portal in their environment. Users then can see the other side of the Earth and explore their surroundings on the flip side. Floom lets users angle their portal or hole so they can explore different destinations from the same original place. SKYVIEW LITE Download SkyView Lite for free via Google Play or the App Store. The app lets users point their device camera at the sky to find constellations and other bodies in the night sky. Graphics will appear over the user’s view of the sky with information about the patterns of stars. While the main app is free, upgrades provide access to more features…but the upgrade is an extra cost. Gearbrain reviewed the app and explained that it also can display coordinates and other information. The site also explains that the app can be used during the day…and users don’t necessarily have to point the camera at the sky. Users can actually use the app anywhere to see the night sky. The app will ask the user’s permission to access location and other data. Of course, this app is probably more fun to use outside looking up at the night sky…but, again, anyone could use it from any location (even in a bedroom!). SEEK BY INATURALIST Not sure what plant lurks beneath your feet, use Seek to find the answer. What about that unique looking bird perched in a tree? Seek can identify both the bird and the type of tree. This app can be addicting for those who love to go out in nature and explore their surroundings. Seek is easy to use, too. A smartphone or tablet camera captures whatever it is the user wishes to identify. The user will need to hold the image on the screen as the app thinks. Then data will begin to appear that identifies the image. Users can find out the species and data of almost any living thing. Some insects, though, might be too tiny to identify. Students also can take challenges via the app! ANIMAL SAFARI AR Who needs the zoo for visiting animals? Use Animal Safari AR and the animals can appear anywhere. The app is free and takes users on a virtual safari. See a penguin, a zebra, a tiger, an elephant and more. Animal Safari also displays information about each animal. Users also can walk around any animal, feed them (virtually, of course) and hear the noises each one makes. Plus other cool features, too! While this app is available via the App Store, Google Play offers the app Safari Friends – AR Animal. SKIN & BONES This app is meant to be used within the Smithsonian Museum to put a visual depiction over the bones of animals displayed in the museum’s Bone Hall. However, the app also can be used with printouts of the exhibits…so individuals at home can use the app, too. With this app, users can actually see animals in action or what they looked like…plus other activities, too! ODDLY FUN APPS Not in the mood to learn something new? Sometimes it’s fun to just use an app that’s random…and weird. But fun. These apps aren’t really games. They are not necessarily instructional. However, they are fun nevertheless. One even helps find your car while another catches the Tooth Fairy! AR SPIDERS The app lets the user choose spiders that appear in their space…and, yes, users can interact with the spider. They can also record their interaction to mess with their friends or family. Arachnophobes beware! TRACING PROJECTOR This app lets users select any image to use as a sort of design map to trace the picture on paper. Draw anything in your surroundings. Or choose from images via the app. Tracing Projector also lets users record their drawing experience. Become an artist! While this app is available via the App Store, Google Play offers an app called Trace Anything…which is similar. UFO VIDEO CAMERA This app lets users record and create their own UFO video. No, those flying objects via the app aren’t real! But maybe friends think those UFOs are the real deal! TOOTH FAIRY CAMERA This app might be great for parents. Tooth Fairy Camera lets users create videos that feature the Tooth Fairy! Fly her around the home, then show children that the Tooth Fairy visited! FIND MY CAR The app for users that are prone to not remembering where they parked. Yes, this app is both fun and useful. The app instructs users to save their location…and the app will help find the car when the user is lost. Plus, users can set alarms via the app so they don’t run out of time on a parking meter! Best Augmented Reality Apps [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Game-On.jpg] GAME ON! Looking for more fun? Augmented reality integrates into many games for an immersive playing experience. While many gamers probably have already played well-known games like Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, there are many more augmented reality games to play via apps. Here are five apps that augment gaming reality: AR DRAGON This game is a bit like a virtual Tamagotchi. Hatch and care for a dragon and drop it into the real-world environment. Users can play catch with their pet and even style their dragon. Users must be sure to feed their pet for optimum health and happiness. The app also notes that all dragons are unique! Speaking of the old-school Tamagotchi, there is an app for an augmented reality Tamagotchi experience. Check out My Tamagotchi Forever to care for this classic virtual pet! KINGS OF POOL This app is for ages 17 and up and lets users play augmented reality pools. Challenge friends or challenge the ‘bot. There are in-app purchases, but the app is free to download. SMASH IT! AR-STRESS RELIEF Should this be categorized under the oddly fun apps? Perhaps. But it’s also a game…and recommended for ages 12 and up. So what’s the object? Destroy everything! Smash objects in augmented reality. The app notes that this game is great for stress release. Had a hard day at the office? Maybe smash up the world in augmented reality…no harm done! DAGAME What is DaGame? It’s a racing app. It boasts that it features “epic music” as well as several different characters, “epic sound effects,” and more. The game was rated 4.9 stars from more than 20,000 reviewers! It’s recommended for ages 4 and up. BUILD A BRIDGE Engineers will love this game. The app notes in its description that it “…is a complex yet approachable physics-based puzzle game.” Players build bridges at different playing levels. Will the construction hold? Will it be built with the best material? AND THERE ARE MORE When looking for augmented reality apps, users are going to have to hunt through an extensive list. Augmented reality has seeped into games, random entertainment apps, store experiences, educational apps and more. Creating a complete list of available augmented reality apps would probably take up an entire book. Consumers can find so many ways to experience augmented reality, and the variety is incredible. There really is an augmented reality app for every user. Looking to solve a cube puzzle? There is an augmented reality app that was designed to help. Users also can download fitness apps that incorporate augmented reality. Run from zombies…and get a workout in the process! Augmented reality features also can project planets into an environment or draw graphics over a photo. Different devices all offer unique augmented reality apps. Want to explore this technology? Do a search and start enjoying the augmented fun!
How Businesses are Using Augmented Reality Features to Reach Customers
August 23, 2021
Snapchat is eyeing an augmented reality future, and the social media app already provides resources and tools to provide businesses with this enhanced user experience for advertising and marketing purposes. Bloomberg reported that Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok are among the other social media players that are incorporating this tech, too. While Snapchat might be at the forefront of this unique advertising and marketing experience, businesses are utilizing augmented reality across different platforms. Bloomberg also noted that NYX Cosmetics, Gucci and Lexus all recently launched augmented reality experiences. Here’s how businesses are using augmented reality features to reach customers and provide an immersive online shopping experience. How Businesses are Using Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/NYX-Cosmetics.jpg] NYX COSMETICS Named for Nyx (pronounced like Nix) the Greek goddess of the night, NYX Cosmetics is available in retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Target, and Ulta. But customers can also order products online. NYX created an augmented reality experience via Snapchat as part of the debut of its Spring 2021 collection. The debut was in the midst of Covid, and many were probably still shopping online. AR.Rocks reported that shoppers could access the augmented reality experience via Triller (another app) to virtually test out products in a virtual pop-up shop. LEXUS Toyota launched the Lexus AR Play to preview its 2021 IS model; the sedan was revamped for 2021. Like many augmented reality automobile experiences, AR Play enables users to walk around the car, look inside and even open the trunk. Marketing Dive also reported that the app lets users see 3D mechanics of the car, including the engine and chassis. Users can even change the color. Where’s the ‘play’ in the app? Lexus AR Play also functions a bit like a virtual remote control car; users can drive their augmented reality vehicle in their own environment. No racing, though! The app is free for download via Google Play (for Android) or the App Store (for Apple devices). GUCCI Exclusivity can move merchandise, but it also can entice shoppers to try out augmented reality products, too. Dezeen reported back in March that Gucci launched the Gucci Virtual 25 sneakers, which could be previewed in augmented reality and then worn in photos for social media. The sneaker experience was a collaboration with Wanna, and Dezeen noted that the shoes could be purchased via Wanna or Gucci’s app for about $9 to $12. So what do sneakers look like? They feature neon green and pink uppers. In addition, Gucci’s “…double G logo is emblazoned both on the chunky blue sole and on a dial, which holds the shoes together in place of traditional laces.” This isn’t the only augmented reality experience from the luxury brand, though. Gucci also offers a virtual try-on experience via Snapchat for its Rhyton, Tennis 1977, Ace and Screener sneakers. Stylus explains that a lens is used via Snapchat for the experience; point the camera at the feet and check out the shoes! PRINGLES The chip maker used augmented reality to make popping open one of their cans even more delicious…and they entered the world of augmented reality before it really became popular. Back in 2010, Pringles cans in Asia experienced interactive World Cup games via the can! Users downloaded software and then focused their webcam on the Mr. Pringles logo to access the experience. The site Potato Pro described the experience: “In the first level, the can became the “mouth,” and the player could move the can to control the mouth to eat Pringles chips. In the second, the player could move the can to control a soccer player to kick.” The brand also recently launched an augmented reality game via Snapchat filters called “Floor is Lava.” The goal? Get the Pringles but don’t get burned by the lava floor! The lava-hot game is on-brand with Pringles’ line of fiery flavors. KELLOGG’S In the Middle East, Kellogg’s launched an augmented reality experience tied to its cereal Coco Pops. The experience is geared towards children; users simply use a smartphone camera to scan the box to enter a virtual jungle with Coco the Monkey. Blippar reports that children can explore two different worlds—Maya and Arabian—and they even get transported via “a chocolate vortex!” The experience includes games, puzzles, and more…kids can even wear virtual headdresses. HARIBOU Haribou, the candy-maker that offers those cute and tasty gummy bears, offered an augmented reality experience that transforms adults into kids! The augmented reality experience is through Instagram, and it makes adults sound just like a child. The campaign is called—appropriately!—Kids’ Voices. Adult lovers of the candy could share their childlike video through social media and possibly win a year’s supply of the fruity sweet gummy bears. BURBERRY Google Search AR might be a treasure hunt of augmented reality animals, anime characters and cars. But users might not know that some luxury brands—or at least ONE luxury brand—lurks in 3D search results, too. Through Google Search AR, users can preview Burberry bags via augmented reality. How will that bag look on the table? Check it out with the search component. Burberry also noted on its own site that users can place the bag up to certain outfits to see how the bag would complement the outfit choice. This could allow users to explore different colors with different dresses or maybe sit the bag next to a pair of shoes, too. CHANEL Many different cosmetics brands and stores allow users to virtually try on products like lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, etc. Chanel offers its own virtual try-on experience for lipstick, eyeliner and eyeshadow via its website. The experience requires webcam access to show the user’s face (this acts a bit like a virtual mirror). Using the camera, users can try out different Chanel products. PHILADELPHIA CREAM CHEESE Marketing Dive reported that shoppers in Britain can access augmented reality experiences via pointing their camera at a tub of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The experience provides access to recipes and more via the Blippar app (which partnered with the brand). Ads for the cream cheese brand also can transport users to augmented reality experiences. M&M’S CARAMEL When M&M’s launched its new caramel filled candy back in 2017, it used augmented reality to create a unique and fun user experience. To check out the games and experience, users downloaded the free app Blippar. Marketing Dive explained that users located in the Big Apple could scan New York City billboards to open up the games. Others located elsewhere just needed to scan a package! The ARcade lets users play old-school arcade games with an M&M focus, of course! AUGMENTED REALITY ISN’T AS NEW AS CONSUMERS MIGHT THINK While augmented reality experiences might be adopted by more businesses to create immersive shopping options or to offer cool experiences, this technology was used for years by businesses who might have been a little ahead of their time. Consumers in Asia enjoyed augmented reality experiences in 2010 for Pringles. Now, though, these experiences might be savvier and more intricate. With Covid’s impact, businesses also might have embraced augmented reality to offer try-on experiences to customers when shopping in-person wasn’t an option. For example, while Ulta offered its GLAMlab back in 2016, shoppers today are still using it. And even if customers couldn’t physically try on the products during the pandemic, they still had a way to see if a color or product flatters their complexion. Shopping online could be less about guesswork. GLAMlab users could simply use their camera to show their face and then select the product they want to virtually try on. Instantly they could swipe on eyeshadow, lipstick, blush or even try on false eyelashes. They can even see how all these products look together. Shoppers who are looking for a new hair color also can preview different hues online via the GLAMlab. They can easily transform their hair into light blonde, chestnut and various hues of red. How Businesses are Using Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Virtual-Try-On-Experiences.jpg] VIRTUAL TRY-ON EXPERIENCES COULD BE THE FUTURE What about clothes, though? While cosmetics can be previewed via augmented reality, some businesses might allow for virtual try on experiences with clothes, too. However, these experiences also could be the future. Maybe augmented reality allows us to have a virtual model representation of our body. Then we can try on different outfits and maybe the store can suggest sizing or even predict sizing. For now, though, there are many different augmented reality experiences available to the consumer. While many are available through apps, others might be hosted online. Shoppers might do a search of their favorite store to find out if any augmented reality experiences are offered. There also could be hidden experiences in Google Search. Not all the products, animals, characters and cars are listed. Google Search AR remains the ultimate augmented reality scavenger hunt. Users will have to do their own searches to find out if a brand or car has been modeled in 3D for an augmented reality experience. As augmented reality further transforms online shopping, consumers may discover new immersive games, virtual try on experiences, and more from their favorite brands and businesses.