How the Car Dealer Showroom Experience Has Changed
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
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!
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
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.
Check Out These Augmented Reality Applications
Grand View Research estimates that by the year 2028 the augmented reality market is estimated to surge beyond $340 billion! Even now, though, augmented reality has seeped into video games, online experiences and even the automotive market. This technology is more widely used than some individuals might assume. Our cars now display augmented reality to aid navigation, and these experiences also can be found in apps for smartphones or tablets. Ready to find some unique augmented reality experiences? Check out these augmented reality applications that are smartphone-friendly! WHY SMARTPHONES ARE THE PERFECT WAY TO EXPLORE AUGMENTED REALITY For individuals who have never played around with augmented reality, what’s the big deal about the technology? What makes augmented reality so cool? Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality is easily accessible to almost anyone with a compatible mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet. While some augmented reality experiences for businesses (known as enterprise applications) might require the use of special augmented reality glasses, most consumer-driven experiences don’t demand any special glasses, goggles or headwear. And some of these experiences might even be free to download! Augmented reality shouldn’t be confused or conflated with virtual reality. While both types of technology encompass extended reality (or XR for short), augmented reality is a very different experience than virtual reality. With augmented reality, the user provides an application or website access to their device camera. The user then uses the camera to capture their real world environment, and they can choose where they drop in an augmented reality feature. Augmented reality features or models are graphic depictions created in 3D. These graphics are overlaid onto the user’s real environment. With augmented reality, users can swipe lipstick colors on their lips using their camera to show their face. The lipstick is, of course, just a graphic or illustration of a real lipstick hue. Games, marketing campaigns, stores and companies can all offer augmented reality experience. For the consumer, augmented reality can heighten the experience and create a more immersive interaction online or via an app. AUGMENTED REALITY APPLICATIONS FOR ANYONE Consumers who want to try out these experiences can find them via Google Play, the App Store or maybe via Windows apps, too. While searching for augmented reality will bring up many search results, let’s narrow it down by the experiences that might be the easiest to explore for those new to the extended reality universe. Augmented Reality Applications [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Augmented-Reality-Games.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY GAMES For individuals who love adventure games, augmented reality could add another element to the excitement. Players will see their real environment—whether it’s their backyard, the park or somewhere else entirely—combined with graphic depictions from the games. Here are a few games to try out augmented reality. Pokemon GO The classic augmented reality game, Pokemon GO is fun and really easy to navigate. Users can find and collect cute Pokemon everywhere in the real world…and then do battle. Who knows where the Pokemon might hide! Users have to be cautious, though, when playing. Don’t ignore surroundings while hunting for these anime creatures! The game is currently ranked as the top game in the strategy category by Apple’s App Store! Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs Love Angry Birds? Play it with an augmented reality twist! Instead of just looking at those angry birds, they can now be launched in the home, the backyard…anywhere! Stack AR Stack a tower of blocks on your table, the floor or maybe the toilet (no one’s judging!). This is a fun stack game that can be viewed in any real life backdrop. Paper Bin AR Drop a trash can into the room and start tossing augmented reality balls of paper. See how many can get into the trash can. The game features several different levels for those who like a paper throwing challenge. Avo! Who is Avo? That’s a living avocado…the creation of inventor Billie. And, apparently, Avo is a crime-solving avocado! This game features an augmented reality avocado! AR Robot Build robots, train them and then do battle against other robots. These robots appear via augmented reality…so drop them anywhere. Augmented Reality Applications [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Augmented-Reality-Experiences.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERIENCES Augmented reality offers consumers an interesting power; with the technology’s graphics combined with real world data, experiences can be tailored for a ‘try on’ preview for clothes, makeup, haircuts and more. One of the easiest ways to try out augmented reality is via marketing experiences created by companies. These experiences are a bit like a virtual fitting room. Check out these augmented reality experiences that can help consumers when shopping online. Augmented Reality Furniture Ikea Place lets users drop different products into their real world environment to preview how it might look. Preview chairs in the living room or maybe a table. The app notes to check back daily…there could be new items to preview. The site Thinkmobiles listed DecorMatters as a great app for a furniture preview experience. The site notes that users can drop in furniture from many different retail stores like Crate & Barrel and even furniture store Ashley. Cosmetics via Augmented Reality Ulta and Mary Kay all offer augmented reality experiences to let users preview makeup shades. Individual brands also might offer these experiences via an app. For example, E.L.F. offers a virtual experience via its app for customers to preview shades. Previewing Paint For consumers who are interested in repainting a room in their home but maybe aren’t sure what hue would look best, augmented reality has the solution. Yes, there are apps and experiences that let consumers preview paint colors on their walls. Check out Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer app or Home Depot’s Project Color™ app. Choose the paint hue and preview it! Previewing Cars Shopping for a new car can mean that consumers are often stuck looking at static two-dimensional photos of vehicles. While a video might help shoppers gain more insight about a car or maybe photos depict up-close looks at certain features, pictures don’t always show everything. Augmented reality showrooms let shoppers view a 3D vehicle model right in their environment. Using a phone or tablet camera, users can project the model anywhere. Then they can explore the car and even walk around it using their phone. Some experiences even let users look inside. While augmented reality showrooms don’t let users actually physically explore the models, the technology can better simulate a dealership showroom experience. These 3D models might be able to give shoppers enough basic data about the vehicle that they know whether it’s going to remain as a possible ‘must buy’ contender or be deleted from the list…and the user’s environment! WHY EXPLORE AUGMENTED REALITY? While some augmented reality apps (like games) might have a price associated with them, many of these apps, games and experiences are free and don’t require any extra investments (like a headset). Augmented reality is an accessible technology that has the power to heighten the user experience. So why should consumers explore augmented reality? Why not! It’s a fun and immersive way to check out new products, play games and even preview cars from home. With the digital graphic overlays, users can virtually swipe on eyeshadow using just their camera. Paint hues can color the living room without actually dipping a brush into paint. Even clothes and haircuts might be previewed before actually committing to a purchase or letting the scissors take a few cuts. Augmented reality lets shoppers take the guesswork out of their purchases. Finding out if a blush shade flatters a complexion isn’t a mystery anymore. Will a chair fit in the living room? Make some space and drop it in to find out! Digital graphics might even decrease buyer remorse. Sometimes a paint shade looks great in the can, but once it’s swiped on the walls it takes on a whole new look…and that look might be atrocious! Now homeowners can see if that pea green shade really will open up the room. Or if the scarlet red hue will create a romantic bedroom ambiance. With the pandemic, many consumers were likely stuck and home and using the computer to shop for purchases. However, many were used to being able to look at products, feel them, maybe even try that out. The internet and web sites can’t offer that physical aspect of the shopping experiences. However, augmented reality can add a more interactive element. Although shoppers can’t touch the product, they can experience them…even if it’s just via graphic elements. The future of shopping might include more of these experiences. And shoppers might search their phones to find different experiences, too. Sometimes these experiences can be found within company or business apps. Other times, they stand alone. Want to know if a favorite store offers augmented reality try-on experiences, download their app or visit their website to find out. Companies and businesses may evolve to meet the needs and demands of their customers. And if the customer experience begins to favor augmented reality, then perhaps these unique and interactive shopping experiences might become the norm.
How Audi Uses Augmented Reality
Throughout its history, the automotive industry’s success has relied heavily on its ability to capitalize on new technologies. From new safety features and infotainment systems to electric and self-driving vehicles, technology has played a major role in the evolution of the automotive industry. The newest technology to make waves in the automotive industry is augmented reality. This technology superimposes images, sounds, and other digital elements over the user’s actual surroundings. In other words, it blends elements of the digital and real world together. A number of automotive manufacturers are already using augmented reality technology to gain a competitive edge. Audi, for example, has found several different ways to utilize this technology. Here’s what you need to know about how Audi uses augmented reality: HOW DOES AUDI USE AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Over the last several years, Audi has used augmented reality technology in various ways, including: * Heads-Up Display * Logistics Planning * Marketing Heads-Up Display [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Heads-Up-Display.jpg] HEADS-UP DISPLAY Earlier this year, Audi debuted its first augmented reality heads-up display in the latest models of the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron. This heads-up display uses augmented reality to project important information directly onto the driver’s windshield. The 70-inch heads-up display windshield is divided into two separate sections. The first is the status field, which is found on the bottom of the windshield. This section provides drivers with basic information including how fast they are traveling and how much gas they have left in their tank. The images that are displayed in this field will appear to be about three meters away from the driver. The second section is the augmented reality field. Some examples of information that is displayed in this field include: * Navigational assistance such as bright blue arrows that tell drivers where to turn. * Lane keeping assist such as a red line that appears on the lane marker when the vehicle starts to drift into another lane. * Animations that track the location of the car ahead to maintain a safe distance while the vehicle is using the adaptive cruise control system. The images that are projected onto the augmented reality field will appear to be about ten meters in front of the driver. Because of this location, the driver will be able to quickly and easily interpret the symbols shown on the display without taking their attention off of the road ahead. Projecting this information on the heads-up display allows the driver to see what’s going on without having to look down at a smartphone or GPS device. The images projected onto both the augmented reality field and status field will remain in place regardless of whether the driver is turning, driving over a bumpy road, or coming to a complete stop. The vehicle uses data from over 1,000 sensors to determine the best place to position these images on the heads-up display. This heads-up display is considered one of the most exciting and innovative uses of augmented reality in the automotive industry. LOGISTICS PLANNING Audi recently began using augmented reality technology to improve the efficiency of logistics planning. In the past, Audi created physical prototypes of tools and equipment in order to properly plan where everything would go inside a production facility. But now, the automotive manufacturer uses Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality glasses to virtually plan out the layout of new structures in an existing facility. Using these glasses, logistics planners can project life-size digital holograms of each structure into their production facility to determine where everything should go. If multiple planners are involved in the project, they can connect their HoloLens devices to ensure everyone sees the same thing. They can even reach out to touch, rotate, or move a hologram to another location. If a change is made, everyone who is wearing their HoloLens device will immediately see the updated layout. This makes it easier for teams to collaborate on the layout of a production facility. Using augmented reality in this manner also eliminates the need for physical prototypes, which reduces the cost of logistics planning. How Audi Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Marketing.jpg] MARKETING In 2018, Audi became one of the first automotive manufacturers to incorporate augmented reality into its marketing efforts. The app, which was only available in select markets, was launched to promote the release of four new Audi Quattro models. The app was designed to detect when the Audi Quattro ad was playing on the consumer’s TV. If the app was open while this commercial was playing, it would automatically launch an augmented reality experience showing the Quattro bursting through the consumer’s TV into their living room. The digital projections of the vehicle would remain in the consumer’s environment even after the commercial was over. The app allowed consumers to choose between a life-sized or miniature version of the Quattro. Choosing the life-sized model gave consumers the opportunity to explore the vehicle in person. The app also included a feature that allowed consumers to build test tracks for the miniature version of the Quattro to race on. Using this app, Audi was able to build brand awareness, generate buzz around the newest Quattro models, and increase engagement with its target audience. OTHER USES OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Audi is not the only automotive manufacturer to take advantage of augmented reality technology. Other manufacturers, including BMW, Porsche, Land Rover, and Kia, have also embraced the use of augmented reality. These are some of the many automotive manufacturers that have used augmented reality for: * Maintenance Assistance * Design * Manufacturing * Virtual Showrooms How Audi Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Maintenance-Assistance.jpg] MAINTENANCE ASSISTANCE Several manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi, are using augmented reality technology to assist with the maintenance and repair of vehicles. For example, Mitsubishi maintenance technicians can use augmented reality glasses to project information or how-to guides directly onto their real world environment. This makes it easier for them to quickly diagnose and address issues without having to waste time flipping through a manual. Because the glasses can project step-by-step instructions, this technology also ensures the repair is done correctly. At Mercedes-Benz, technicians can put on a pair of augmented reality glasses to connect to automotive experts located remotely. These experts are able to connect to the glasses to see exactly what the technician is looking at. Then, they can use augmented reality to project digital elements onto the technician’s screen to help them make the appropriate repairs. DESIGN The process of designing a new vehicle is also changing as a result of augmented reality technology. Automotive engineers can now create digital models of new designs instead of physical prototypes, which are expensive and time-consuming to build. These digital models can be projected onto the team’s real world environment, which gives everyone else an opportunity to examine the design and provide feedback. If changes are required, the digital model can quickly be adjusted, so there’s no need to waste time or money on building a new prototype for every new round of edits. Using augmented reality to design new vehicles has streamlined the design process and allowed manufacturers to quickly finalize new designs and move them into production. MANUFACTURING Many automotive manufacturers use augmented reality technology to assist with the manufacturing of new vehicles. Assembly line workers are given access to augmented reality glasses, which they can put on whenever they need assistance. Using these glasses, workers can quickly pull up information on how to put together a specific car part or model. This way, they can get the information they need without ever leaving the assembly line or asking someone else for help. It’s also much easier for workers to learn by seeing a step-by-step guide directly in front of them rather than having them read a manual for instructions. Using augmented reality in this way improves the efficiency of the manufacturing process and reduces the number of errors made during production. How Audi Uses Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Virtual-Showrooms.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS In general, automotive consumers are not happy with the car buying process. Eighty-three percent of automotive consumers want to complete at least one step in the car buying process online, and 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to do business with a dealership that allows them to start the process online. Many consumers want to shift the car buying process online to avoid spending as much time in a dealership. In fact, the less time a buyer spends at the dealership, the better they tend to rate their overall experience. In an effort to meet these consumers’ demands, many automotive manufacturers now allow consumers to explore vehicles in virtual showrooms powered by augmented reality technology. Consumers can now project life-sized vehicles into their real world environment and explore them without ever stepping foot inside an actual showroom. This gives them the chance to learn more about vehicles, compare different models, and narrow down their options before visiting a dealership. Thanks to augmented reality technology, automotive manufacturers can create an at-home showroom experience for consumers. Augmented reality has already taken the automotive industry by storm, but experts predict that its impact will continue to grow in the years ahead. There’s no telling how automotive manufacturers will use this technology in the future. But one thing is for certain: augmented reality will continue to bring about new and exciting changes in the automotive industry.
Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend?
Virtual reality isn’t just for gaming but for enterprise use too—this is called Enterprise VR. What is ‘enterprise virtual reality?’ The term enterprise just means that it’s used for business or by businesses. And enterprise VR has been adopted in the business world for employee training and for collaboration or design. Back in 2019, data was already showing that enterprise use for virtual reality was far exceeding its use among consumers. Hypergrid Business reported on a study from VR Intelligence that revealed that enterprise virtual reality use was showing much stronger growth according to vendors in the field; while only 24 percent reported strong growth for consumer use, nearly half (46 percent) reported strong growth for enterprise virtual reality. Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Enterprise-vs.-Consumer.jpg] ENTERPRISE VS. CONSUMER For the consumer, virtual reality might only serve one purpose: gaming. While some consumers might use virtual reality apps for a more unique experience, the technology tends to be popular for gaming experiences. While these games are incredibly immersive, the virtual experience requires a headset. These headsets allow gamers to enter the virtual world, but many headsets come with a rather expensive price tag. Oculus Quest headsets cost a little less than $300. An HTC Vive Cosmos can soar to almost $700. Playstation also offers a virtual reality headset; the headset is usually bundled with other accessories and/or games and may cost more than $500. Even when consumers choose the least expensive virtual reality headset on the market, the experience is still a considerable investment. If the headset is being given to a teen, the concern could be that the trendiness of the tech might not hold interest for very long; after all, technology is constantly changing. ENTERPRISE VIRTUAL REALITY With Enterprise Virtual Reality, though, the price of the headset may be less of an issue especially for businesses that consider it an investment for training or other uses. Businesses may get more use out of the technology, and virtual reality also could help them improve internal processes like new employee training or interviewing. In this way, virtual reality might actually save money for businesses who invest a considerable amount of time for hiring and training. Strivr is a company that creates virtual reality training experiences for businesses; Strivr has been used by companies like Verizon and Fidelity. Strivr’s virtual reality platforms can be tailored to each business’s training needs . For retail customers, experiences could include virtual training sessions that include customer interactions. Virtual reality also could be used to simulate dangerous situations for which employees need to be prepared—like how to handle a robbery. In fact, one of the case studies highlighted on Strivr’s site included the work it did for Verizon; the immersive VR experience prepared employees on armed robberies. In the real world, this experience likely couldn’t be realistically simulated. In the virtual realm, Strivr explained that employees learned how to de-escalate the situation and also learned how to handle ‘snatch and grab’ events, too. Enterprise virtual reality also could be used for other employee training experiences, too. New employees could face difficult customers and learn how to handle confrontation situations without losing their cool. One of the greatest benefits about virtual reality is that it can be re-experienced. Maybe an employee didn’t handle the situation correctly; the manager could discuss other ways of handling the event, and the employee could re-enter the virtual realm and try again. Businesses could build their entire training program around virtual reality if necessary. The use of the technology also could free up other team members. For many companies, managers or other team members are pulled in to help train a new employee. With virtual reality, technology could manage the training. This allows other team members to continue to do their job, stay productive and keep the cost of employee training lower. VIRTUAL REALITY FOR COLLABORATION During Covid, companies used virtual reality for team collaboration. Ford used headsets to enter a virtual realm and critique new car designs. Team members could join the virtual experience from home, and, while executives might have been miles apart, virtual reality allowed collaboration to continue. Even after the pandemic subsides, teams may continue to work from home. Many companies might have realized that allowing employees to work from home helped reduce office costs…and maybe employees were happier. Virtual reality headsets could allow a unique space for meetings and conferences that require everyone to view the same data at once. Is Virtual Reality a Dying Trend [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Enterprise-Virtual-Reality.jpg] WHAT INDUSTRIES ARE USING ENTERPRISE VIRTUAL REALITY? Virtual reality can be used for training and collaboration, and many different sectors are embracing this technology. Automotive, healthcare, retail, tourism, real estate, architecture and even gambling industries use virtual reality. HEALTHCARE The healthcare industry has used virtual reality experiences for medical training. Some experiences could provide immersive environments for students. At University of California San Francisco (UCSF), medical students use virtual reality to explore anatomy; the technology lets students “…deconstruct and reconstruct muscles, organs, and bones layer-by-layer.” However, the healthcare industry also could use virtual reality to aid patients. Virtual reality provides a safe realm for those experiencing anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to engage in ‘exposure therapy’ to help overcome their fears. Someone who is afraid of spiders, for example, could enter virtual reality and deal with spiders in a virtual environment. The therapist remains by their side, and the patient could exit the experience at any time. Virtual reality can provide a gentle way to slowly build up a tolerance to fears. RETAIL Retail industries can use virtual reality for employee training or even as a customer experience. IKEA provides a virtual reality experience in the store that allows users to design their dream kitchen. In this virtual realm, users can actually interact with things in the kitchen. They can change colors of different features and create the kitchen they love. Even more amazing? The experience lets users transform themselves into kid-size…yes, you can shrink yourself! This could help parents figure out how their child would see and experience the kitchen and possibly help them find potential dangers, too. TOURISM The tourism industry also has embraced virtual reality. Some museums offer virtual reality experiences to interact with particular exhibits. However, during Covid, many news outlets (including the BBC) reported that virtual reality was providing unique tourism experiences. The BBC reported that Germany released tourism experiences for the Oculus Rift and a few for Hololens, too. Could virtual reality provide a tourism gateway for the future? Perhaps headsets provide a unique way to experience different parts of the world without investing in a plane ticket, hotels and transportation. Virtual reality could be the budget-friendly travel of the future! REAL ESTATE Real estate agents might have used virtual reality, too. Virtual tours of homes were popular even before the pandemic. However, touring a home during the height of Covid might have meant many restrictions. Virtual tours could provide a way for buyers to preview a home without actually walking through it in person. These tours also could have helped buyers narrow down their choices to homes that really ticked off all the boxes of their ‘must-have’ list. ARCHITECTS For architects, virtual reality can provide a unique way to enable clients to not only visualize but experience a design concept. Looking at a drawing may require clients to visualize the concept, while stepping into virtual reality actually lets them walk into the concept and potentially understand what they like…and maybe what they don’t like. GAMBLING & CASINOS Online gaming is ideal for virtual reality deployment. While many assume gaming is all about video games that immerse players into the action, virtual reality also can be a great platform for online casinos. Virtual reality can transport players from the screen into a virtual casino. They can play cards, play slot machines or just interact with other players. OTHER INDUSTRIES Virtual reality also has been embraced by many other industries. Spas may use it to create a relaxing escape for clients; these virtual experiences could transport spa guests to a tropical oasis or somewhere serene. Some industries—including automotive—use virtual reality to create virtual showrooms for a heightened user experience. Sites like RelayCars allow users to preview vehicles in a virtual environment with or without a headset. They can switch out the paint hues and look inside at the interior features. IS VIRTUAL REALITY DEAD? Virtual reality is clearly not dead. The technology is widely used across numerous industries for many different reasons. Some industries use virtual reality for employee training or collaboration between teams. Others use virtual reality to create unique experiences for customers, like virtual tours or virtual showrooms. This technology will likely evolve into more detailed and possibly more sensory experiences. Customers could soon begin to experience the smells of a destination or feel certain elements in the immersive environment. Virtual reality is not only alive and well but it will likely experience many different resurrections as its form and functions change, evolve and become more complex.
Cars Can Appear Anywhere Using an Augmented Reality Showroom App
Imagine never having to go into an automobile dealership. Instead, shoppers can choose to view a car in 3D in their bedroom. Or out in the backyard. Using just a phone or a tablet, the car appears before the user’s eyes. Walk around the vehicle. Look inside. This isn’t a futuristic scenario, it’s the power of augmented reality. Cars can appear anywhere using an augmented reality showroom app or experience. Cars Can Appear Anywhere Using an Augmented Reality Showroom App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Augmented-Reality-Showroom.jpg] WHAT IS AN AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM? Augmented reality showrooms aren’t just for automobiles. There are numerous examples of these unique experiences, and they can enhance the user experience by helping to simplify shopping decisions. So how do they work? Augmented reality combines the real world environment with overlays of graphics. An example of this would be a GPS system in a car that shows the street view but places graphic arrows to show drivers where to turn. Augmented reality is different from virtual reality and it doesn’t necessarily require any special glasses or headsets to experience. With augmented reality showrooms or try-on experiences, users can preview products like makeup, paint colors, glasses or even vehicles! With ‘try on’ experiences for products like makeup, users will have to allow an app or website access to their device camera (this can be on a phone or a tablet). The photo or image of the individual is then projected with the graphic depiction of the makeup or product of their choice. So lipstick colors will magically appear on the lips, hair color on the hair, etc. Warby-Parker even created an augmented reality experience for shoppers to try on their frames so they can find the best shape for their face. Augmented reality is a great way to try a product before purchase, and for stores it might also help to lessen returns! But augmented reality isn’t just used for makeup or even eyeglasses. Experiences even let users swipe paint hues on their walls (without actually painting them!) and drop furniture into a room. Some augmented reality experiences even let users try out new haircuts, too! While many companies offer ‘try-on’ experiences via augmented reality, some of these experiences could aptly be considered showrooms. When shoppers think about showrooms, they really think of a big open space in the store with all the products featured. But with technology, users and shoppers need to broaden their view of this definition. During the pandemic, most shoppers had to hunt for products online from home. They couldn’t visit store showrooms. Maybe the home, the bedroom, the backyard had to be the showroom. Apps or experiences that allow users to drop furniture or even a car into a room can transform the home and the user’s space into a showroom. Technology has really transformed the shopping experience, but how does this digital transformation impact consumers? Cars Can Appear Anywhere Using an Augmented Reality Showroom App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Augmented-Reality-Showroom-Apps.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM APPS AND EXPERIENCES: THE POWER IS IN THE HANDS OF THE CONSUMER Augmented reality showroom apps and experiences likely became more abundant during the pandemic, and consumers seemingly have embraced these high-tech experiences. Harvard Business Review reported that “…e-commerce company Shopify recently released new data that interactions with products having AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR.” Harvard Business Review’s article focused on how augmented reality made an impact on shopping during Covid. However, the convenience of augmented reality and the power it gives the consumer also might drive its popularity. Augmented reality showrooms allow customers to take their time and try out different products. In the case of Ulta’s GLAMlab, shoppers can try on a vast array of products. GLAMlab is accessible via the Ulta app. Users can then use their device camera to show their image (think of the camera like a mirror) and then select from different products. The lipstick options are seemingly endless, and users could easily spend an hour trying on different combos of products. The user’s image from the camera can display false eyelashes, lipstick, blush, eyeliner and probably more products at once! Other stores offer the same type of experience, though. Stores like Ikea let users drop furniture into a room. Sherwin-Williams lets users try different paint hues. Users could literally try out an endless amount of paint hues on their walls just for fun! For consumers, while these experiences can be entertaining (especially when everyone is stuck inside), they also are incredibly helpful. Before augmented reality showroom apps and experiences, shoppers had to guess what product would flatter them…or look good in a room. Now, some clothing companies even offer virtual try-on experiences so shoppers can preview different looks! WHO WANTS TO PREVIEW A CAR IN THE LIVING ROOM? Augmented reality showroom apps or experiences can even include vehicles. Different manufacturers have created augmented reality experiences that let users drop a specific vehicle model into any space. But why would a consumer want to see a car in their home? Or on the bed? Augmented reality automobiles are replica models of the real vehicle. So these digital models can give consumers more details about the car than a two-dimensional photo. Using the camera on the phone (or tablet), the user shows the space where they would like the car to appear. Then the car appears before their eyes. However, this isn’t just a fun graphic. The user can walk around the car or maybe even look inside. The augmented reality showroom app or experience for automobiles allows customers to have an experience that is somewhat similar to what they would have in a car showroom. While the consumer can’t touch or physically interact with the augmented reality vehicle, they can explore it visually. Augmented reality gives consumers a bit more freedom to preview cars at their own leisure. And from anywhere. Plus, the augmented reality experience is fun! Seeing the car appear and then exploring a 3D model just seems almost surreal…and, well, a bit futuristic. THE FUTURE IS TODAY…AND BEYOND Augmented reality showrooms can be found within a company or a brand’s app, online or maybe even via their own unique app. Consumers who are interested in exploring all the augmented reality shopping possibilities just need to do a quick search via their app shop to find out what’s available. Or visit the website of a favorite store (there could be an augmented reality experience!). Snapchat also could become an augmented reality hub for retailers. The Verge recently reported that Snap recently purchased Vertebrae. And what is Vertebrae’s expertise? The company creates virtual try-on experiences as well as other augmented reality and 3D commerce experiences for companies. What consumers see now might only be the beginning of augmented reality shopping experiences. In the future, the options could be extensive. Imagine if all stores included some type of augmented reality experience. Maybe in the future technology allows us to depict a to-scale model representation of our entire body and then try on clothes via an augmented reality experience. Maybe a device could take measurements and predict size, too! While none of this is in the works (at least not that anyone has announced!), the potential of augmented reality could further simplify the shopping experience. Even auto manufacturers might one day decide to launch augmented reality showrooms that let shoppers choose any model, customize it and then preview the vehicle in their own environment. Perhaps dealerships include these augmented reality showrooms, too. DO CONSUMERS NEED TO INVEST IN AUGMENTED REALITY? While augmented reality glasses are on the market, they are expensive and might be geared more for enterprise use than for the average consumer. However, there are always whispers about the consumer augmented reality glasses. The question is what company will launch them first? While Facebook announced a partnership for new glasses with Ray-Ban, these glasses are not going to include augmented reality. What they will feature is still up in the air, though. While a teaser video was released, no one knows what the glasses will look like or anything about their capabilities. Maybe there will be color choices? Maybe they will look like Wayfarers? Really, the details are a big question mark! If augmented reality glasses for consumers eventually launch and become mainstream, perhaps more augmented reality experiences would link and sync up to them. What if we put on augmented reality glasses and enter a shopping mall experience that appears before our eyes. Maybe we could use our fingers to navigate store icons in front of us. Then start shopping and use augmented reality to try on items, too! Maybe augmented reality is side-swiped by virtual reality. Perhaps virtual reality showrooms become another type of option for consumers. Could we all have an avatar that features our exact measurements and serves as our personal virtual model for clothes, makeup and more? For now, maybe consumers simply need to wait and see what happens with those augmented reality glasses to find out if augmented reality becomes reality through new lenses.
How Facebook Has Embraced Augmented Reality Technology
Facebook first indicated its interest in virtual and augmented reality in 2014 when the company purchased Oculus. Since this time, Facebook has invested heavily in these innovative technologies. In 2017, Facebook had about one thousand employees in Reality Labs, which is the company’s virtual reality and augmented reality division. But now, this number has grown to nearly 10,000 employees. This means that about one-fifth of all Facebook employees are working on the development of virtual and augmented reality products. What exactly is Facebook doing with augmented reality technology? What Facebook augmented reality products should consumers expect in the future? Here’s what you need to know: HOW FACEBOOK IS USING AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY The team of researchers, developers, and engineers at Facebook Reality Labs are working on a number of augmented reality products, including: * Augmented Reality Glasses * Augmented Reality Wearables * Spark AR Augmented Reality Glasses [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Augmented-Reality-Glasses.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES The development of smart glasses is Facebook’s biggest project involving augmented reality technology. Facebook hasn’t released a great deal of information about its glasses, but the company has made a few details public. First, the company has acknowledged that its goal is to create a pair of stylish, comfortable glasses that can eliminate the wearer’s need to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Recently, a Facebook executive suggested that facial recognition technology would be incorporated into the design of the glasses. Some experts believe that this means the glasses will be protected with face ID security, which means they will only operate when they detect the owner’s face. Facebook has also partnered with Ray-Ban and its parent company, Luxottica Group Spa, to create these glasses. This indicates that Facebook is not prioritizing function over fashion. In other words, the glasses should be stylish and appealing to consumers. In the past, Facebook has released videos that highlight some of the many ways in which augmented reality glasses could be used. The videos show augmented reality glasses projecting step-by-step directions onto the street as a consumer tries to figure out how to get to their final destination. Another video shows the glasses helping a consumer decide what product to buy by projecting recommendations onto the shelves in front of them. Facebook hasn’t confirmed whether its glasses will function like the glasses shown in the videos, so it’s still too early to say what features consumers should expect. AUGMENTED REALITY WEARABLES All smart glasses are designed with features that allow the wearer to interact with the information presented in front of them. For example, the Epson Moverio glasses connected to the wearer’s smartphone, whereas Google Glasses were controlled by a touchpad located on the side of the device. Based on the information Facebook has made public so far, it seems that consumers will be able to interact with their Facebook glasses by wearing a line of “soft, all-day wearable systems.” The first wearable that will pair with Facebook augmented reality glasses is a wristband. Facebook has not released many details related to this product, but it seems that consumers will be able to control their smart glasses by moving their finger across, tapping, or flicking their wristband. For example, a consumer may be able to navigate the menu displayed by their smart glasses simply by tapping on their wristband. This allows the consumer to discreetly engage with and control their smart glasses in public. Facebook has also mentioned introducing a pair of “soft, lightweight haptic gloves” that will pair with the company’s augmented reality glasses. These gloves would allow the wearer to use a virtual screen and keyboard projected in front of them to control the information displayed on their smart glasses. This would make it easier for consumers to quickly search for information or perform other tasks without pulling out their smartphone or tablet. Spark AR [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Spark-AR.jpg] SPARK AR Spark AR is a Facebook platform that allows you to build augmented reality effects and experiences that can be used on Facebook or Instagram. You don’t need to be a tech expert to use Spark AR. In fact, the platform includes step-by-step guides and video tutorials to help users who have never worked with augmented reality technology before. Spark AR allows you to import your own files and 3D objects or pull them from Facebook’s extensive asset library. There are even easy-to-use templates that you can build off of to create your own custom augmented reality experience. Once your creation is complete, publish it so other Instagram and Facebook users can enjoy it. This platform can be used in many different ways. Some users build augmented reality effects that can be used as Instagram filters, whereas others build experiences that allow users to interact with and manipulate digital objects. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook introduced a new category of augmented reality experiences available in Spark AR that would enhance video calls between Facebook users. Now, consumers who are using Facebook to place a video call can add interactive augmented reality effects to their conversation. Businesses can benefit from Spark AR, too. Companies can create branded filters that consumers can apply to their Instagram stories or photos. Businesses can also use Spark AR to allow customers to virtually try on cosmetics, clothing, shoes, sunglasses, or other products using their smartphone. Furniture companies can use this platform to help consumers visualize what specific pieces of furniture would look like in their home. The augmented reality effects that are created in Spark AR can even be applied to Facebook Ads, so businesses can run interactive, innovative ads that are sure to grab consumers’ attention. WHEN WILL FACEBOOK’S AUGMENTED REALITY DEVICES BE AVAILABLE? Facebook’s augmented reality glasses have been years in the making. The company first confirmed that it was in the process of developing augmented reality glasses in 2018. But three years later, Facebook still has not released its first pair of augmented reality glasses. Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have acknowledged that developing augmented reality glasses has not been easy. Zuckerberg recently referred to the task of creating augmented reality glasses as “one of the hardest technical challenges of the decade.” Despite these challenges, Facebook is still committed to developing augmented reality glasses, but it’s unclear when these glasses will be available to consumers. Last year, Facebook announced that it would reveal its first pair of smart glasses at some point in 2021. However, these glasses have been described as “the next step on the road to augmented reality glasses,” which means they won’t have augmented reality capabilities. There’s no telling when Facebook will release its augmented reality glasses, but for now, consumers can look forward to the company’s first smart glasses, which should be available by the end of this year. What’s Next for Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Whats-Next-for-Augmented-Reality.jpg] WHAT’S NEXT FOR AUGMENTED REALITY? Facebook isn’t the only company that is working tirelessly to develop augmented reality products for consumers. Here’s an overview of some augmented reality products that consumers should expect in the near future: * Augmented Reality Contacts * Apple Mixed Reality Headset * Augmented Reality in the Automotive Industry * Video Conferencing AUGMENTED REALITY CONTACTS Mojo Vision is in the process of developing augmented reality contact lenses designed with a display that is the size of a grain of sand. The first version of these contacts will be designed solely for the vision impaired. These contacts will use augmented reality technology to magnify objects, clearly display text, and darken the contrast between different colors to make objects more noticeable. Mojo Vision hopes that focusing on these contact lenses first will help them quickly get the stamp of approval from the Food and Drug Administration. However, the company eventually plans on releasing augmented reality contact lenses for all consumers. These lenses are not designed to help consumers with their vision, but rather to present important information to them in their field of view. For example, say you are sitting at home and someone rings your doorbell. If you’re wearing Mojo Vision lenses, you may immediately see a live feed of the video from your doorbell camera projected in front of you. The lenses may also be able to provide navigational assistance, weather updates, breaking news, and other information. The lenses fit just like other contacts, so no one else will be able to tell you’re wearing them. Mojo Vision says the lenses may be powered by an external battery pack that the wearer carries with them. The lenses will also need to connect to the internet via the wearer’s smartphone or another device. There’s still a long way to go before Mojo Vision’s prototypes are available for sale, but once they are available, they could potentially disrupt the augmented reality wearables market. Apple Mixed Reality Headset [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Apple-Mixed-Reality-Headset.jpg] APPLE MIXED REALITY HEADSET Many industry analysts believe that Apple will release its own mixed reality headset by the end of next year. Experts believe that Apple’s headset will be more expensive than the Oculus, HTC Vive, and other virtual and augmented reality headsets on the market. Whereas these devices sell for around $500 to $700, experts predict that Apple’s mixed reality headset could cost more than $3,000. Experts also believe that the mixed reality headset will be designed with 8K displays, eye-tracking technology, and as many as 15 cameras on the inside and outside of the headset. Apple has not publicly commented on the mixed reality headset rumors. However, experts concluded that a mixed reality headset was in the works after analyzing Apple’s patent filings. Over the last several years, Apple has been incorporating more advanced virtual reality and augmented reality features into its smartphones, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the company to branch out into mixed reality headsets. Furthermore, Apple recently acquired NextVR, which is a virtual reality streaming company, and Akonia Holographics, which is a company that manufactures lenses specifically for augmented reality headsets. These transactions, along with the patent filings, indicate that Apple is working on a mixed reality headset. Augmented Reality in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Augmented-Reality-in-the-Automotive-Industry.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY The automotive augmented reality market is booming. Augmented reality technology is used in many different ways in the automotive industry, including: * Design: Some automotive manufacturers use augmented reality during the process of designing new vehicles. Instead of creating clay prototypes, engineers build digital models using augmented reality technology. This drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to finalize new vehicle designs. * At-home automotive showroom experience: Augmented reality is also used to create a virtual automotive showroom experience for consumers. Now, consumers don’t need to visit a dealership in person to tour a showroom and explore different vehicles. Instead, they can project digital models of these vehicles into their environment and explore them from the comfort of their home. * Manufacturing: Many automotive manufacturers provide workers on the assembly line with augmented reality headsets that they can use to pull up instructions on how to assemble specific car parts. The instructions are projected right in front of them so they can follow along without having to stop what they are doing to look down at a manual or handbook. * Repairs: Auto technicians use augmented reality headsets for assistance with repairs. For example, if the technician isn’t sure how to make a specific repair, the headset can display step-by-step instructions to guide them through the entire process. Using augmented reality in this manner ensures that repairs are done quickly and correctly. * In-car features: Many vehicles are designed with in-car features that are powered by augmented reality technology, including navigation systems, heads-up displays, and backup cameras. VIDEO CONFERENCING Video conferencing has exploded in popularity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced millions of employees to work remotely. Video conferencing essentially replaced in-person meetings for remote workers. However, this technology is far from perfect. Many remote workers find it uncomfortable to stare at their co-workers on a computer screen for an extended period of time. Fortunately, experts believe that augmented reality can be used to solve this problem. Remote workers could use augmented reality video conferencing to project three-dimensional, photorealistic versions of their co-workers into a meeting space. This way, remote workers wouldn’t be stuck staring awkwardly at their co-workers for the duration of the meeting. Instead, they could use augmented reality to conduct a virtual meeting that feels more like an in-person meeting. This may help address “Zoom fatigue” and satisfy many remote workers’ desire for more face-to-face communication. [https://contentgm.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/content_uploads/App%5CDynamicModules%5CItem/48115/facebook-ar.png]
Using a Virtual Car Modifier
Car shopping has become an online experience. More shoppers are comfortable doing their early research online, and, for many, this could save time. Online browsing also is convenient; there are no trips to a dealership. Instead, shoppers can simply visit a website and search info about different models at their convenience…and then make that dealership trip. Kelley Blue Book noted that during Covid online tools helped internet savvy buyers cut down their time at the dealership to a few short hours. But beyond virtual showrooms or slide shows of inventory models, shoppers also may be using a virtual car modifier to build their new vehicles before that dealership visit. What is a virtual car modifier? Here’s what buyers need to know about this cool tool…and how to use it! VIRTUAL CAR MODIFIERS: NO HEADSET REQUIRED Shoppers who don’t own a virtual reality headset, take a deep breath…this tool can be used without entering the actual virtual space. The term virtual is sometimes used loosely to refer to experiences that take place online instead of in-person. Shoppers don’t need to purchase a headset or any special equipment. And these experiences are typically free! Virtual car modifiers can be found on major vehicle manufacturer’s websites. Toyota, General Motors brands, Subaru, Nissan, Honda and probably many others offer ‘build your own’ experiences or car configurator tools. Each model offered by the brand may allow different options for building or configuring a vehicle. Some may let the user select the Powertrain, paint color and any add-ons. Shoppers who are researching different vehicles might check out these experiences and look at the different options. In addition, some luxury auto brands might offer buyers a completely customizable car experience. Maybe shoppers can choose or customize every detail of their car and add unique features. Rolls Royce offers Starlight Headlining, which allows buyers to customize a celestial design on the roof created with fiber-optic lighting. Virtual Car Modifier Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Virtual-Car-Modifier-Showroom.jpg] VIRTUAL CAR MODIFIER SHOWROOM Those looking for a new car and using online tools to research their options also can use a virtual car modifier showroom. This is a tool that is fully interactive. While configurator or ‘build your own’ tools might show a photo of the car, the virtual showroom lets users explore the car virtually. So how does this work? RelayCars provides an online virtual showroom that allows users to interact with the car in unique ways. Using RelayCars, users will be presented with options of the site’s vehicle inventory. Visitors choose the vehicle they want to explore and also select the trim and year, too. The visitor will then be free to explore their vehicle in the virtual showroom. No special equipment is required to view the vehicles, although RelayCars does recommend a high-speed internet connection for the best viewing experience. In the showroom, visitors can use their mouse or their fingers (if accessing the site on a tablet or phone) to view the car from different angles. Visitors also can see inside the vehicle and navigate to view different aspects of the interior, too. For every vehicle model, users can select different paint hues (depending on which paint options are offered for that particular model). This option can help find the perfect shade for a new car! WHY SHOPPERS SHOULD USE A VIRTUAL CAR MODIFIER So what’s beneficial about a virtual car modifier? Online tools like virtual car modifiers can help create a more relaxed shopping experience. Car shopping has evolved greatly through the years, and the pandemic forced the industry to, hopefully, create more online-friendly shopping experiences. While not all shoppers want to buy a car online, for some this is now a viable option. Shoppers might use online tools to decrease the time they have to spend at a dealership. Virtual car modifiers and virtual showrooms both allow shoppers to explore their options without leaving home. With a car modifier, shoppers can virtually build their car. They can then save this data or maybe even print it out to take to the dealership. Car configurers might not always show the finished car in picture form but they will let shoppers build their own vehicle. Virtual showrooms also can be useful for shoppers to explore and maybe even compare different vehicle options. For example, RelayCars can be opened in two different web browser pages and the user can choose to preview a different vehicle on each page. In this way they may be able to compare and contrast different models. Even shoppers who aren’t serious in their hunt quite yet can take advantage of virtual showrooms. These tools can be fun to use to just explore different models and see all the options available. Looking at different brands and the models they offer can be a great way to gain more information about the choices available. After viewing different models and checking out their different features, shoppers can then start researching prices of their favorite models. For shoppers who love a particular model, online configurators also might let them tweak different options to fit their budget. This might mean removing leather upgrades or other features that were optional. Online tools provide power to the buyer. And prior to the digital revolution—and maybe even the pandemic—these tools were not always available. Buying a car once meant spending hours at a dealership or even traveling to multiple dealerships to find the best price or the right car. Even the hunt for a vehicle can be narrowed down on dealership websites. Site visitors can search for particular models or see if older models are in stock. Pre-owned inventory also could be viewable online. And customer service reps can usually be messaged on the website, too. Navigating Online For Digital Shy Consumers [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Navigating-Online-For-Digital-Shy-Consumers.jpg] NAVIGATING ONLINE FOR DIGITAL SHY CONSUMERS Some car shoppers might not be completely comfortable searching online or navigating the virtual tools. Not everyone loves technology, and some may be intimidated by tech tools and online resources. The good news, though, is that car brands make their configurator tools extremely easy to navigate. The tools tend to walk the customer through the experience. RelayCars also is incredibly easy to navigate. All users have to do is select the car they want to view. In the showroom, visitors can either explore using their fingertips or the computer mouse. The showroom also includes options to view the interior or change the vehicle’s color. There are no apps to download. For digital shy consumers, taking advantage of online customer service reps also might be a good idea. While they may be there for sales questions, they also could help answer any tech questions, too. It never hurts to ask! BUYING ONLINE Buying a car online was a trend during the pandemic. And dealerships might still offer this as an option to customers. There are other sites online where deals may take place virtually and the car is delivered to the home. Many shoppers, though, might still want to negotiate in person. Or finalize the deal and the details of their vehicle in person, too. Buyers also might want to visit the dealership to sit in the car or experience specific features firsthand. While virtual test drives could still be an option, some buyers might simply want to take that test drive at the physical dealership. The future of car shopping might include savvier virtual car modifier tools. There may be options to configure the car in a virtual realm and maybe shoppers can build the car before their eyes. Perhaps car buying becomes interactive in the virtual sense. Maybe buyers see the car model in front of them and can choose the paint color, interior color and type and other features as well. In the future, online tools for car shoppers could become high tech and completely interactive. Unless, of course, the self-driving car takes over. Then the car buying experience could be something else entirely! Maybe buyers pick out their virtual driver! Maybe buyers choose an avatar design or a unique voice. Plus all the details about their car. Or maybe the car becomes more like a comfortable entertainment area that buyers can customize to fit their needs. For now, though, online tools like virtual showrooms and car modifiers and car configure tools are the interactive answer to simplifying the shopping process. And those who want to take their time to look for and create the perfect car can do so online.