How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales
June 29, 2021
The automotive industry is known for its willingness to embrace new technologies. Over the last several decades, the industry has used GPS, bluetooth, electromagnetic sensors, on-board diagnostic systems, cruise control, and other technologies to create more advanced vehicles. Many major players in the automotive industry are now turning to another technology in an effort to boost their profits: virtual reality. Virtual reality is not a new technology. In fact, it’s been used in gaming, shopping, and other industries for years. However, it is fairly new to the automotive industry, and many experts believe that it will help automotive companies boost their sales. How are automotive companies using this technology? How will it impact automotive sales? Here’s what you should know: WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Virtual reality is a type of technology that is used to generate a simulated environment with scenes and objects that feel real. The user is completely immersed in this simulated environment and is even able to interact with their virtual surroundings. Because virtual reality is fully immersive, everything the user sees, hears, and experiences is part of the simulated environment. Users typically need a virtual reality headset in order to experience this technology. Some of the most popular virtual reality headsets include the Oculus and HTC Vive. However, sometimes it is possible to experience virtual reality using just a smartphone or computer. Virtual reality is often confused with augmented reality, but these are two very distinct technologies. The main difference is while virtual reality completely immerses the user in their simulated environment, augmented reality combines elements of the digital world with the user’s real world. How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-the-Automotive-Industry-is-Using-Virtual-Reality.jpg] HOW THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY IS USING VIRTUAL REALITY Automotive companies have found a number of different ways to use virtual reality technology. Some of its many applications in the automotive industry include: * Market Research * Automotive Design * Employee Training * Virtual Showrooms * Virtual Test Drives MARKET RESEARCH Before designing new models, automotive manufacturers often conduct market research by hosting car clinics. During these clinics, automotive consumers are asked to provide feedback on the latest models. This gives automotive manufacturers an opportunity to find out what consumers like and don’t like about the newest designs. Hosting a car clinic is not cheap. Manufacturers must book a venue, pay for the consumers to travel to the selected location, and transport vehicles to the area as well. But now, manufacturers are drastically cutting costs by hosting virtual car clinics. At these virtual car clinics, consumers can evaluate countless different makes and models of vehicles using a virtual reality headset. They can explore the interior and exterior just like they would if they were seeing the vehicle in person, but at a fraction of the cost. In fact, using this technology allows manufacturers to solicit feedback on a wider range of vehicles since they are no longer limited by space or budget constraints. Using virtual reality technology in this manner has significantly enhanced the market research process for automotive manufacturers. How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Automotive-Design.jpg] AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN Designing a new vehicle is not easy. Every design may go through dozens of rounds of edits and tests before it is finalized. Every time the design changes, the design team must take the time to create a new clay prototype that reflects the latest revisions. This is why designing a new vehicle is so time-consuming and expensive. But now, automotive manufacturers are streamlining the design process with virtual reality technology. The design may still go through dozens of rounds of edits, but the team doesn’t need to take the time to create new clay prototypes for each round of revisions. Instead, the design team can quickly create a new virtual model. This is far less expensive and much faster than building a new prototype, which allows manufacturers to speed up and save money on the design process. Using virtual models also allows teams to collaborate on a design from thousands of miles away. This brings global design teams together in a way that was not possible before. EMPLOYEE TRAINING Automotive manufacturers are also using virtual reality technology to improve employee training programs. In the past, maintenance and manufacturing workers were trained under the supervision of more experienced employees. Because of the complex nature of the work, new employees often made costly errors even though they were supervised. But now, these employees can receive hands-on training in a simulated environment thanks to virtual reality technology. This gives them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment before they start working on vehicles in the real world. Maintenance and manufacturing workers aren’t the only ones who are being trained in virtual environments. Some automotive companies are also using virtual reality technology to provide training to sales employees. In this virtual environment, sales employees are taught about each model’s different features and selling points. They are also trained on how to interact with customers, guide them through the sales process, and close the deal. This virtual training thoroughly prepares sales employees for the showroom sales floor. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS Before the introduction of virtual reality technology, automotive consumers had to visit multiple dealerships in-person to research different vehicles and narrow down their options. However, it’s no longer necessary for consumers to travel to different dealerships to explore vehicles they are considering purchasing. Now, they can use virtual reality technology to visit a virtual automotive showroom without ever leaving home. Inside this virtual showroom, consumers can explore the interior and exterior of countless vehicles just like they would if they were in a dealership’s showroom. They can see what a vehicle looks like in different colors, from different angles, and even see what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat. This makes it far more convenient for consumers to research and compare vehicles when deciding which one is right for them. It also makes it easier for automotive dealerships to cater to consumers. Because of this technology, consumers can explore a wider range of vehicles, so dealers don’t need to pay the costs of keeping as many on-site. Virtual Test Drives [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Automotive consumers can use virtual reality technology to do more than just explore the interior and exterior of the vehicle. This technology also gives automotive consumers the power to take a virtual test drive without ever stepping foot inside the actual vehicle. Because virtual reality technology creates a fully immersive experience, a virtual test drive feels just like a real test drive. Automotive consumers will still get the chance to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle, but they won’t have to travel to the dealership to get this experience. They can also test drive as many vehicles as they want without spending hours in a dealership’s showroom. Plus, consumers won’t need to invest in a virtual reality headset to take a virtual reality test drive. All they need is a smartphone or computer to hit the virtual road in a car of their choice. Many automotive manufacturers are already using virtual reality technology in this manner to make the car buying journey more convenient for consumers. WHAT CHALLENGES WILL VIRTUAL REALITY PRESENT TO THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY? There are always challenges associated with using new technologies, and virtual reality is no exception. Automotive companies must be willing to invest in virtual reality technology in order to experience its benefits. Even if the upfront costs are steep, using this technology could translate to higher sales, so companies could recoup the money they invested in the long run. It could also be a challenge to get certain segments of consumers to adopt this technology. For example, researchers asked consumers of all ages to rate the usefulness of different information channels at automotive dealerships. Thirty-six percent of younger consumers were able to obtain useful information from an augmented or virtual reality headset provided by a dealer. However, only 6% of Baby Boomers found this information channel useful. This could indicate that older consumers are less likely to adopt new technologies like virtual reality, which could present a challenge to automotive companies targeting this demographic. How Virtual Reality Will Impact Auto Sales [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/How-Will-Virtual-Reality-Impact-Automotive-Sales.jpg] HOW WILL VIRTUAL REALITY IMPACT AUTOMOTIVE SALES? There’s no question that the automotive industry has warmly embraced virtual reality technology. Although utilizing a new technology is always risky, many experts believe that the decision to use virtual reality technology in so many different ways will pay off for the automotive industry. Using virtual reality technology to streamline employee training, the design process, and market research will save automotive companies a significant amount of money. By reducing these operating costs, automotive companies can boost profits or allocate the money toward other areas of importance. Other uses of virtual reality technology, including virtual showrooms and test drives, may have a direct impact on automotive sales. The idea of purchasing a vehicle online is becoming increasingly popular among automotive consumers. In fact, 60% of automotive consumers in the U.S. are at least interested in the concept. These consumers are interested in moving different parts of the sales process online in order to minimize the amount of time they spend at the dealership. By offering virtual showrooms and virtual test drives, automotive companies are giving consumers exactly what they want. Offering these virtual experiences may help automotive companies set themselves apart from their competitors, win new customers, and increase automotive sales.
Augmented Reality for Car Shopping
June 28, 2021
Augmented reality and virtual reality are elevating the online experience and amplifying the mundane habits that were once not so exciting or even maybe a hit-or-miss experience. Like trying to find the perfect paint hue for a wall, the ideal lipstick for a complexion…or even the perfect car. Now all of these shopping experiences are augmented with excitement…thanks to augmented reality. Yes, consumers can shop for a new vehicle by previewing it anywhere. Drop a 3D augmented reality into the garden. Plop it on the table. Augmented reality for car shopping is easy to use and so much fun! Here’s how consumers can use augmented reality for car shopping, immerse in technology…and enjoy the augmented journey! ALL ABOUT AUGMENTED REALITY Some consumers might be unfamiliar with augmented reality. This technology is considered part of extended reality (or XR) along with virtual reality. However, while virtual reality is viewed in a virtual realm with or without a headset, augmented reality projects graphic elements over a real-life environment. Augmented reality is present in everyday life, and it’s included in newer cars via features like the backup camera. The camera projects the scene behind the car while graphic gridlines detail the turning radius of the vehicle. The grid is augmented reality. GPS devices may also use augmented reality. According to Statista, the mobile global augmented reality market hit nearly $9 billion in 2021.The site also reported that 410,000 augmented reality glasses were sold in 2021. However, glasses aren’t a necessary tool for augmented reality. Unlike many virtual reality games and platforms where headsets may be a requirement for stepping into the virtual space, augmented reality sometimes only requires a camera. How does it work? Many apps and augmented reality tools use the camera from a device like a smartphone or tablet to show the real environment and project a graphic element into that space. So while an expensive headset isn’t a necessity, some type of device is needed to enjoy augmented reality experiences. However, smartphones have now become the standard phone for many users; in fact, Pew Research reported back in 2018 that 95 percent of teens have access to one. This means that for many consumers augmented reality is quite accessible. And owning a phone can open up a unique and extremely entertaining way to shop online and preview many different products from the comfort of home. Augmented Reality for Car Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Navigating-Augmented-Reality.jpg] NAVIGATING AUGMENTED REALITY For consumers new to using augmented reality, the technology is fairly simple to navigate and explore. When using the technology to simplify shopping online, augmented reality experiences are usually downloaded either via the business’ web site or app. Not every store or business offers augmented reality experiences but many do. One of the easiest ways to find out if a business uses augmented reality for shopping is to search in either the App Store or Google Play. Just type in ‘augmented reality,’ and scroll through the options. Need a cheat sheet on augmented reality shopping experiences? Here’s a list of some stores/businesses that offer augmented reality apps or online experiences as well as a few details about those offerings: IKEA Use augmented reality to preview furniture or other products in a room. The app is called IKEA place and is available on both the App Store and Google Play! WARBY PARKER Try on those frames in augmented reality using Warby Parker’s app. This is available on Apple’s App Store (for iPhone X and newer models). SEPHORA Sephora’s Virtual Artist experience recognizes your face and lets users try on different products…virtually. Or maybe, more accurately, augmentedly! Unfortunately, this app feature might not be available across the globe. ULTA Ulta’s GlamLAB also lets users preview shade. And, yes, this feature works…at least in the U.S. Have fun trying out tons of products…including cheek tints, lipsticks, eyeshadow, eyeliner and even foundation. This is a great way to shop for cosmetics at home without the fear of buying the wrong shade. Thinking about that goth black lipstick? Shoppers can get an idea if that dark hue will flatter. SHERWIN-WILLIAMS ColorSnap Visualizer lets shoppers preview paint hues right on their own walls. Try out a rainbow of hues to find the one that looks best in any room. This experience can get addicting, though. Shoppers might try out all different hues, because, really, who doesn’t want to see what their walls will look like when painted neon green? RELAYCARS Yes, augmented reality can help shoppers preview different car models, too! Download RelayCars’ augmented reality app via the App Store or Google Play and drop different cars into any place! Augmented Reality for Car Shopping [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Use-Augmented-Reality-When-Shopping-for-a-Car.jpg] HOW TO USE AUGMENTED REALITY WHEN SHOPPING FOR A CAR Using augmented reality to try on makeup products or even paint hues on walls seems pretty self-explanatory. Using augmented reality, though, when trying to find that perfect vehicle might sound foreign to some shoppers. So how do you use augmented reality apps like RelayCars during the car shopping experience? Augmented reality can be incredibly helpful for shoppers who want to look at different cars without going to a dealership. The benefit that augmented reality has over virtual reality is that it allows users to place items onto or into a real environment. When shopping for cosmetics, this means that the shopper can apply a lipstick hue onto their image even at home. Car shopping with augmented reality allows the shopper to explore the car at home…or anywhere. With RelayCars and other augmented reality experiences, users place or drop the vehicle into a location. This can be the living room, garage, basement or maybe even the backyard. The camera shows the real environment but drops in the 3D image of the chosen vehicle. However, this vehicle can appear nearly full-size (depending on the app or the technology). Augmented reality images allow the user to hold their phone or device to view the image in their space and then walk around this seemingly holographic image, exploring the interior and exterior of the vehicle. RelayCars even lets users swap out paint hues. The ability to explore the vehicle—even digitally—might be able to help shoppers gain a better perspective of the vehicle and whether or not it’s a good choice for their lifestyle. While augmented reality doesn’t allow shoppers to physically touch or interact with the vehicle, the technology does let users get a close up view of their favorite models. From there, shoppers can visit dealerships to see if their favorite vehicle is in stock and check out the price of the vehicle as well as other info. Augmented reality also has an interesting edge over virtual reality apps for car shopping. With the augmented reality app, users can place the car in their garage or in their driveway. This can help the buyer really visualize the car as their own. Maybe the deciding factor over two vehicles comes down to how they look parked in the driveway! With virtual reality, though, previewing the car usually takes place in a virtual showroom. WILL AUGMENTED REALITY BE A MUST-HAVE TOOL FOR CAR SHOPPERS? Not all shoppers might be proficient in using augmented reality or virtual reality, but both types of technology are seemingly easy to navigate for shoppers willing to explore extended reality. Automotive News highlighted how some automotive companies are using Snapchat to deliver augmented reality experiences. Shane Dwyer, the head of automotive for Snap Inc., was interviewed for the story and envisioned the possibilities for this technology for car shopping.Interesting to note that Snapchat Spectacles allow Snapchat ‘creators’ to create unique augmented reality content. Augmented reality experiences could become more prominent if/when more buyers head online for their purchases. Maybe these experiences are deployed via social media sites like Snapchat or on the stores’ or business’ website or apps. When car shopping during Covid, consumers might have been forced online as dealerships might have been closed in their area. The hunt for a new car might have required shoppers to click through photo galleries to gather info about their favorite models. Or shoppers could have utilized sites like RelayCars to preview vehicles in augmented reality or virtual reality. Covid also might have helped more buyers understand the comfortable convenience of online tools. Why waste gas visiting dealerships when you can go online and research cars in virtual and augmented reality? Plus, virtual or augmented reality showrooms don’t require a sales force. For buyers, this means that they can shop at their leisure. Without pressure. Will augmented reality for car shopping be the future? Possibly. Of course, the preference could simply depend on the individual buyer. And popularity of extended reality experiences also might impact the tools offered by companies and dealerships. If buyers embrace the augmented and virtual experiences, then companies and dealerships might wish to increase these offerings. Whether or not more dealerships or auto makers jump on augmented reality, sites like RelayCars will continue to offer these unique tools and experiences to shoppers. And, as COO, Evox Images Gina Callari points out in an article for WardsAuto, “As consumers continue to expect this elevated, online shopping experience, standard images or basic videos are no longer going to cut it.”
Blockchain-Based VR and How It’s Taking Virtual Reality to its Next Level
June 25, 2021
If you’ve paid any amount of attention to the investment world, you’ve likely heard of cryptocurrency, which incorporates blockchain, which is a record-keeping technology made famous by the Bitcoin network. Blockchain might come off as a complicated concept, so much so that some people avoid the subject due to its perceived complexity. Although there are definitely complex aspects to blockchain, the core concept behind blockchain is actually pretty simple. WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN? Think of blockchain as a kind of database, which is a collection of information stored electronically — on a computer or computer system. Blockchain is different from a traditional database in the way that the data is structured. Blockchain collects information in groups (also called blocks). Different blocks will have certain storage capacities. Once a block is filled it is added (or chained onto) the previous group of filled blocks, which ends up forming a chain of data. This chain of data (you guessed it) is known as “blockchain.” The normal databases we deal with structure data into tables while blockchain arranges its data into chunks/blocks that end up being chained together. As a result, all blockchains are databases, but not all databases are blockchains. Another result of this way of record keeping is that it creates a definite and unchangeable timeline of data when blockchain is implemented in a decentralized system. As each block gets filled it becomes set in stone, becoming a part of this living timeline. Not only that, but each individual block in a blockchain is given a digital timestamp the moment it is added to the chain. Blockchain-Based VR and How It’s Taking Virtual Reality to its Next Level [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/decentralized-systems.jpg] “DECENTRALIZED” SYSTEMS Since blockchain can be implemented into decentralized systems, this has users quite interested in its capabilities. Let’s talk about Bitcoin a little more for a second before we get into virtual reality and more blockchain. Just like a company would need a computer system to store its data, Bitcoin needs a collection of computers in order to store its blockchain. With a company, it’s likely that all of their computers are going to be located under one roof, while with Bitcoin (via blockchain), each computer (or multiple computers) holds its blockchain while being located in an entirely different geographic location, operated by separate individuals or even groups. Fun fact: computers that make Bitcoin’s network are referred to as nodes. Using this sort of model, Bitcoin blockchain ends up being utilized in a decentralized way while private, centralized blockchains are located on computer systems owned and operated by a single entity. Blockchain is not limited to cryptocurrency. Virtual reality companies are using blockchain to create full-fledged virtual worlds which can become populated by its users and its users’ creations, operating off of rules created by the users themselves. These virtual worlds can be experienced without intervention from platform developers, which many users find desirable. Blockchain is helping virtual reality developers create worlds that truly live on their own, allowing users to experience these worlds without risk. HOW DOES BLOCKCHAIN RELATE TO VIRTUAL REALITY There seems to be no limit to the ways we can benefit from blockchain applications. Recently, a project has been underway that links blockchain with virtual reality. Just like technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality can be incorporated into industries other than gaming (think medical, dental, advertising) just like blockchain can be used in areas other than cryptocurrency. This particular blockchain project claims to be taking virtual reality to an exciting next level via “3D internet” — a three-dimensional virtual world built, owned, and operated by the people who use it. Victoria VR is set to offer its Massive Multiplayer Online Open World that features photorealistic graphics set in glorious VR. Victoria VR aims to be a universal platform which encompasses games and utilizes a decentralized application. What results is a metaverse shared in a virtual realm where people can be free to do absolutely anything they like, everything from playing zombie shooters to selling or trading jewelry creations. Just like in video games, certain objectives and quests can be completed that will help a user gain access to various rare rewards — sort of like Legend of Zelda. Victoria VR gives its users the freedom to craft their very own avatars — as realistic as one likes. Obviously, with cutting-edge technology such as this, the user is able to create incredibly detailed customization. Billions of customizations are at Victoria VR user fingertips. Avatars can also express emotions, conveying emotions and reactions as well. Blockchain-Based VR and How It’s Taking Virtual Reality to its Next Level [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Not-Your-Average-Non-Fungible-Tokens.jpg] NOT YOUR AVERAGE NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS Victoria VR also supports NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and not just in a way that serves as some sort of decoration. NFTs on Victoria VR and its platform can be used in a much more compelling way, delivering a variety of different, even giving certain players superpowers as well as additional values and resources. NFTs can also be modified, even combined or created from scratch. Victoria VR also provides a 3D marketplace for its users and its NFTs, enabling beautiful digital assets that can be viewed, interacted with, and traded. Victoria VR also converts 2D NFTs into 3D objects, which helps them take on a lifelike dimension. Artists can also publish works of art, which can be enjoyed by everyone (even those who do not have virtual reality hardware) via a special plugin. Blockchain-Based VR and How It’s Taking Virtual Reality to its Next Level [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Going-Where-No-One-Has-Gone-Before.jpg] GOING WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE… VIRTUALLY! Game players and VR enthusiasts have been waiting for the day when life can be lived online and via a cooperative platform, which Victoria VR seems to be the latest answer to this consumer desire. Victoria VR users can do really cool things, like purchase VR land where users can stake their claim and create anything they like, monetizing it. Users do not have to experience limitations governed by the laws of physics and even space. Things like shops, boutiques, casinos, schools, and showrooms can be created in this new virtual horizon. VR tokens will be the way this multifaceted ecosystem runs — this will be the cryptocurrency of choice as far as settling user transactions goes. 3D INTERNET Victoria VR has stated that their pioneering portal system puts forth an ecosystem which can be connected to by all VR projects, games, and even worlds. This will end up creating a 3D internet that simply has not existed before. The platform itself is also decentralized and autonomous, completely controlled by its own engaged and passionate community. But who can create this amazing VR content? Well, again, anyone! Victoria VR users will be able to create content without having a lick of prior programming experience or applicable skills. Victoria VR personnel adds that “The gaming industry is booming, businesses, communication, education and processes are transferred online, and the next logical step is virtual reality and the 3D internet. The interest in VR is also going up because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, social isolation, and lockdown measures. There is no doubt that virtual reality will change everything in every field, and in every industry.” But where is this whole blockchain/VR relationship headed? Blockchain-Based VR and How It’s Taking Virtual Reality to its Next Level [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Blockchain-VR-Moving-Forward.jpg] BLOCKCHAIN VR MOVING FORWARD This whole blockchain and VR thing has some serious synergy. Not only are VR companies creating virtual communities and landscapes, but blockchain VR is also being used and incorporated into entertainment events, like concerts, where a person with a VR headset can gain access to private and secure content, paying for such content and services with virtual tokens. Token holders can often vote for acts they’d like to see with smart contract technology. Fund-curated content can also come from such a community without celebrities or famous musicians being involved at all. Blockchain helps create a unique model that encourages users to get and interact. Virtual venues utilizing blockchain will act like actual concerts with areas for users to hang out and even chat with others while they watch the show together. Virtual reality and blockchain seem to have few boundaries and those boundaries are continuously being tested and expanded. Innovators have stopped waiting for the next best thing and many are making moves to create it themselves. Each industry and contributor ends up taking a different approach to incorporating blockchain and VR technology, but this means that the possibilities for future development are endless. VR and blockchain will continue to evolve as the technologies are made available to and embraced by the mainstream. New highly immersive virtual experiences and opportunities will continue to take shape as time goes on and innovation occurs.
Virtual Reality Car Simulator: How It Works
June 23, 2021
Car sales exploded in April, but that run on the dealerships also put a crunch on inventory for May. According to Cox Automotive, the remaining supply after the April sales boom was 2.24 million vehicles—approximately 440,000 fewer vehicles than the available inventory at the end of March. Unfortunately, that lower inventory also may be further exacerbated by the microchip shortage. Looking for a new car might need to begin online for consumers looking for favorite models or backup models to add to their wish list. Consumers can test drive RelayCars’ virtual car simulator to preview vehicles online and find the models that fit their personal taste, budget and lifestyle needs. CAR SHOPPING WITH A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SIMULATOR According to data from Cox Automotive’s 11th annual Car Buyer Journey Study, third-party sites like Kelley Blue Book (a Cox Automotive site) were popular with shoppers with “…up to 79% of buyers noting they used a third-party site in 2020.” These sites might be popular research destinations for shoppers wanting to find out how much their car is worth or to browse data about other makes or models. Other third-party sites like RelayCars can be used during the research phase of the hunt to further explore vehicles beyond typical two-dimensional photos. Car shopping with a virtual reality car simulator offers shoppers a virtual showroom that displays the car in 3D and allows consumers to interact with the vehicle, too. Virtual Reality Car Simulator [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Exploring-the-VR-Car.jpg] EXPLORING THE VR CAR Exploring the car in virtual reality is fun…and easy! Using just the fingertips, consumers can enlarge the vehicle or even look inside. The VR car also can be viewed from different angles and vantage points so that users can get more insight about the car, its shape and its overall size. The VR cars and vehicles are all scaled model representations of the real vehicle. In the virtual reality car showroom, users also can swap out the paint hues of the vehicle. This can help shoppers decide what paint colors they prefer. THE PRE-OWNED VIRTUAL CAR RelayCars doesn’t just include new makes and models. The virtual car inventory also includes older models, which can help shoppers who might be on the hunt for pre-owned vehicles. An earlier model of the same vehicle could be an option for consumers who really want a specific car. The virtual cars on RelayCars aren’t depictions of any single pre-owned model; they are simply a 3D replica of that specific model year. These virtual cars can provide insight about the interior and other features of earlier models. EXPLORING VIRTUAL CARS Looking for an SUV? Click through the offerings from different brands. Compare Volkswagen to Nissan or Infiniti. Look inside the different models and get an idea about the leg room and interior set-up. For some buyers, the color of the car might be a big deal. Right now, though, when some car models might face an inventory crunch, getting particular about color might not be an option. Use RelayCars to check out all the offered hues for a particular model. When heading to the dealership, shoppers will know in advance if they like the look of a certain color. Virtual Reality Car Simulator [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmented-Reality-Cars.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY CARS VS. VIRTUAL CARS The RelayCars app is offered in augmented reality and virtual reality. What’s the difference? The virtual reality showroom app displays cars in a virtual environment. With RelayCars, users choose a vehicle from the inventory list. However, instead of the car being displayed in a virtual showroom on the phone, the user actually drops the car into their environment. How does this work exactly? The app accesses the device’s camera to show a 3D image of the chosen vehicle in whatever space the user chooses to place it. The vehicle can be dropped in the driveway, a garage, the backyard or even the living room. Users can then walk around the vehicle while viewing the augmented reality image with their phone. Yes, users can even look inside the car and change the paint color, too! WHY USE A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM? In the past—before Covid—car shoppers might have researched options online and then visited dealerships for a test drive or to explore the car in person. Dealerships might have closed to foot traffic, which meant shoppers had to find other ways to preview vehicles. The virtual showrooms might have been a great option to simulate the in-person experience. An augmented reality showroom may save time and cut down the need for a lengthier visit to dealerships. With RelayCars, car shoppers can preview many popular makes and models and see these cars up close…albeit virtually. This can help buyers sort through cars they don’t like and find the models that best meet their needs. And their budgets. Visiting the dealership then can become more of a streamlined process. Shoppers enter the dealership with a list of top vehicle models—or maybe just one. Then they can explore the vehicle in person, take a test drive and pursue the deal. Or they may simply decide to move forward with a different model. EXPLORE VIRTUAL CARS Covid might have relaxed the shopping experience for consumers. It’s true that online shopping has been quite popular for some time, but car buying really wasn’t so virtual before the pandemic. Consumers researched online, but many visited the dealership for test drives and to iron out the paperwork. Staying at home, working virtually and shopping virtually might have led to more consumers feeling comfortable using online resources to go virtual with bigger purchases, too. Online resources like RelayCars might help decrease the time at the dealership, while dealer resources like virtual test drives delivered to the door could give the buyer a bit more control. Consumers can now find the ideal vehicle then research prices, promotions and other incentives at dealerships. If one SUV is out of the budget, explore other options virtually…then look up those prices. Exploring the virtual inventory is fun, but it’s also empowering. Preview those cars, then dig deeper. Find prices, promotions, and maybe even read reviews. Use RelayCars to begin the car-shopping journey and to take the driver’s seat of the buying process.
The Virtual Reality Workout
June 21, 2021
The pandemic changed daily habits, and, for some, it also decreased workouts or made them a bit less exciting. Gyms were closed, and, let’s be honest, most people during the height of the pandemic might not have been venturing outside to mingle. While walks and runs were still an option, not everyone had the space to social distance on the pavement. The world may be getting closer to the old normal, but workout options have broadened. During quarantine, some might have discovered virtual workouts. For those who own a virtual reality headset, virtual workouts could have brought joy back into fitness. Not familiar with virtual reality workouts? Here’s everything you need to know to go virtual with fitness. DO YOU NEED A HEADSET? To enter the virtual realm, users do need a headset. Virtual reality fitness apps might require this, especially if users are downloading apps from Steam. During the pandemic, the term ‘virtual’ was conflated to mean anything that wasn’t in-person. School was virtual. Work was virtual. Conferences? Yes…virtual. Platforms like Zoom aren’t virtual reality. They are simply video applications. The meeting or school session is ‘virtual’ because it isn’t in-person. Virtual reality is a different kind of virtual. Accessing virtual reality platforms typically—although not always—requires a headset. Using the headset, individuals enter virtual realms. This can be a fantasy realm or a replica of a gym, studio or some other destination. Virtual reality can really take users anywhere. Users can have a virtual workout or fitness routine with or without a headset. Both options will be highlighted, as not all consumers have access to a headset. FITNESS IN VIRTUAL REALITY: YOU NEED THE HEADSET Steam offers many fitness apps that users can access via a headset. Want to feel the burn in virtual reality? Try out these apps for a fun, virtual and heart-pumping workout: BOOT CAMP FITNESS Described as “a home cardio and bodyweight workout app/game,” Boot Camp Fitness offers a built-in playlist of more than 150 songs to keep users moving. The game offers 13 ranks and 18 different locations users can unlock. Select the length of the workout and fitness level (beginner, normal or advanced). The app offers workout tips, too! VR IMMERSIVE FITNESS GYM The app includes football, cycling, running and other games. A yoga option is ‘coming soon.’ REALFIT (VR FITNESS) Stick with standard fitness options or opt for a game to make the competition a bit more fun. Earn points for exercises, too! Do squats, jumping jacks and more! This game keeps fitness fun and provides a unique immersive environment to pull users from their home-bound rut. VR FITNESS This is a game that combines fitness with action. User’s participation will burn calories. Go after the enemies and then discover how many calories were burned during the mission. VIRTUAL YOGA RETREAT Namaste! Practice yoga virtually. Features tranquil scenery to add to the ambiance. Users can choose their appropriate level, and, yes, beginners can use the app, too (just choose ‘beginner!’). All the above apps require a headset to enter the virtual lesson. Some may require other equipment, too, like a stationary bike. Users can explore the different apps and choose the one they like best…or the app that fits their needs. Virtual Reality Workout [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Virtual-Fitness-Without-the-Headset.jpg] VIRTUAL FITNESS WITHOUT THE HEADSET Virtual workouts don’t always require a headset. Working out from home with the aid of a video or conferencing app also could be considered ‘virtual.’ The internet offers many virtual workout options, and many can be found on YouTube. Check out these workout videos to get moving at home: BEGINNERS YOGA SERIES: 10 MOST IMPORTANT YOGA POSES FOR BEGINNERS New to yoga? Beginners can start a routine by learning the easiest positions. This video shows 10 yoga poses for beginners and may be a nice introduction to the practice. The video is less than five minutes long, so this is very much just an introduction to a few poses. Yoga for Complete Beginners-20 Minute Home Yoga Workout! Looking for an actual yoga workout as a beginner? Try this video from Yoga with Adriene. Not only does the video provide a good introduction to the practice, but it also provides a full yoga workout. HULA HOOP HOP (A WORKOUT FOR EVERYONE) All you need for this brief workout is a hula hoop. And, yes, that hoop will get your body moving and your blood pumping. The video progresses in difficulty, so prepare for some challenges. DANCE OFF THE CALORIES PopSugar posted a 30-minute Cardio Latin Dance Workout. Have fun, move the body and get dancing for fitness! 10 MIN BEGINNER JUMP ROPE WORKOUT Jumping rope is actually great cardio. This video is for those new to jumping, and it’s not long. Although 10 minutes of jumping rope can get the heart pumping. Grab a jump rope and embrace this fitness routine. AUGMENTED REALITY WORKOUTS Virtual reality workouts may require the need for a headset while virtual at-home workouts are typically just a workout done at home via a video or other platform (no headset required). However, there are also augmented reality apps for fitness. The difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is that augmented reality features the real environment with graphic overlays while virtual reality is viewed in a separate virtual environment. Both of these technologies are part of extended reality (XR). Some apps let users race against augmented reality zombies or an augmented reality competitor. Want to get fit in augmented reality? Try these options: ZOMBIES, RUN! The app is a game combined with a fitness program. Users are running, jogging or walking away from zombies, which are shown via a device in augmented reality. There could be zombies behind the runner. So look out! During the game, users have to complete tasks (like getting supplies) while outrunning the zombies. THE GHOST PACER This isn’t an app but a headset that lets runners train against an augmented reality competitor. They also can race against friends. The headset also features Strava. AR RUNNER For less than $1, users can download the app and race against friends. The app takes users through various checkpoints. Try to beat the previous time! Virtual Reality Workout [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Why-Use-Technology-for-Workouts.jpg] WHY USE TECHNOLOGY FOR WORKOUTS? Covid restrictions are easing around the country and the globe. More people may be heading back to the gym and back outside for sports and other fitness routines. Yet, technology may still be a perfect fit for fitness enthusiasts. Not everyday is ideal for outdoor activities, and virtual and augmented reality fitness options provide indoor fitness routines that won’t get rained out. Those who are still working from home or whose employers have permanently pivoted to virtual offices might use these virtual platforms for a fitness break during the day. Virtual reality also breaks up the monotony of workouts. Fitness enthusiasts may enjoy a virtual day of workouts, as apps and games can offer something unique to the fitness journey. And those who are new to running might enjoy an augmented reality platform that transforms their surroundings into a game…or a zombie apocalypse! DOWNLOAD THE DATA BEFORE THE WORKOUT Before starting a workout, users should check with their doctor first. And before downloading that app, research what it offers. Not every workout is ideal for every individual, and some apps may provide advisories or warnings related to who should use the app. And while some apps are free, others are not. Ghost Pacer, for example, isn’t an app but a headset. So, in some cases, there is an investment cost. Going virtual via videos, though, might be a budget-friendly way to find a fun but free workout. Beyond yoga, hula hooping, dance and jumping rope, there are so many workout options on YouTube. Find belly dancing tutorials, running in place videos, weight training videos, ab workout videos and more. Yes, there are even surfing lessons on YouTube! BEGINNERS AND THE VIRTUAL WORKOUT While apps via Steam require a headset, virtual video workouts require nothing but an internet connection. Thanks to the internet anyone can workout virtually. Some studios or gyms may even offer virtual classes or fitness training. Videos and virtual tutorials are a great way to learn a new exercise without any awkwardness. Even one-on-one virtual classes can help a beginner grow confident with a new routine. While the gym or studio can be intimidating to those new to a practice, a home-based introduction can ease the beginner into the routine and help them become comfortable. IS VIRTUAL FITNESS THE FUTURE? While working out via video, augmented reality or via virtual reality is unique and convenient, is it the future of fitness? As Covid restrictions have eased, many people may be craving their old routine. This might mean heading back to the gym or pounding the pavement with friends. Virtual and augmented reality fitness apps and programs, though, may have a place for those who are new to a practice and want to grow confident without a crowd. And virtual videos and apps also may be a great option when the weather isn’t quite so great or when an individual just doesn’t have time for the gym. While many may crave the social interactions of the gym or just the experience of an outdoor environment, virtual and augmented reality can provide a unique element to add to the fun of a workout routine. After all, who doesn’t want to be chased by zombies!?
How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision
June 18, 2021
Augmented reality (otherwise known simply as AR) has to do with the art of superimposing computer-generated content over what we see in the real world. AR is possible through integrating digital information with our own real world environment occurring in real time. A majority of AR content can be viewed through the average smartphone. VR is becoming more and more accessible (not to mention affordable) for new industries to adopt it. VR can be applied beyond the video game and virtual realm, branching off into industries to create a more educational and engaging experience in areas like self-help, marketing, medicine, dentistry, as well as nurse training. Augmented reality is proving to be particularly useful in medical education and imaging. Popular AR solutions that are already available include AccuVein, ARnatomy, VA-ST, and VIPAR. WHERE DID AUGMENTED REALITY COME FROM? AR was first developed, to a certain extent, by someone in the film industry — a cinematographer named Morton Heilig… in 1957. Heilig invented a contraption called the Sensorama, a device that delivered visuals, sounds, vibrations, and, yes, even smells to the user. This first iteration of AR was not computer controlled, however the Sensorama remains the first example of an individual making an attempt to add sensory data to a virtual experience. In 1968, a man named Ivan Sutherland (an American computer scientist) invented a head-mounted display that could be used as a sort of window into a virtual world. However, this invention stumbled upon a primary problem in antiquated versions of VR and AR technology: these inventions were impractical for popular and wide use. Then, in 1975 Myron Krueger (a computer artist) developed the very first virtual reality interface, an invention called Videoplace. Videoplace gave its users the ability to manipulate (and even interact with) virtual objects in real-time. The very first properly functioning AR system is believed to be developed in 1992 at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab — by Louis Rosenberg. Virtual Fixtures was a complex robotic system that Rosenberg designed in order to make up for lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power that was available back in those times. Virtual Fixtures enabled the overlay of sensory information onto a common workspace, which was done in order to boost productivity. Of course, more recently, advancements like ARToolkit (an Adobe Flash design tool), Google Glass, and Mocrosoft HoloLens have helped make augmented reality a household name… and this technology is finally ready to reach the masses! How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AR-and-the-Medical-Industry.jpg] AR AND THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY As far as the medical industry goes, AR is being used in conjunction with smart glasses that can superimpose real-time data sent from a dental scanner, which gives dental practitioners the ability to build more precise crowns and caps. Nurses are now utilizing AR-enabled, tablet-based simulations that expose trainees to a variety of different patient scenarios. As a result, nurses are better able to connect with patients and are better prepared to handle daily work situations. AR can also help enhance CT and MRI visualization by superimposing stereoscopic projections, which can be used over the course of an actual surgical procedure. This information helps medical professionals better perform surgeries that require extremely precise navigation, especially when it comes to a very particular organ. AR can also be used during pre-operative planning, enhancing accuracy when it comes to locating tumors and surrounding structures, especially in instances where the anatomy of the vascular or nervous system ends up complicating a tumor removal procedure. AR AND THE VHA The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has partnered with Verizon, Medivis, and Microsoft in order to develop Project Convergence, which is an initiative to provide veterans with 5G medical campuses in the United States as well as sophisticated surgical visualization tools — campuses which will be the first of their kind. The initiative itself is led by the VA’s National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation. The way it works is by fusing together the following: * Verizon’s 5G technology * An FDA-approved use case in Medivis’ surgical augmented reality clinical visualization software (SurgicalAR) * Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset with Azure cloud service So what do all these awesome ingredients add up to? This initiative aims to improve healthcare delivery at VA facilities, and, ultimately, in the broader healthcare community at large. How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/More-on-Medivis.jpg] MORE ON MEDIVIS Medivis has developed a SurgicalAR platform that is truly groundbreaking, integrating augmented reality, artificial intelligence, as well as computer vision in order to help advance medical procedures like surgical planning. SurgicalAR leverages the Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset, which provides a holographic visualization for physicians, allowing for far better precision, helping drive effective real-time decision making. SurgicalAR is being used both in and out of the operating room as we speak. Neurosurgeon Osamah Choudhry and radiologist Christopher Morley are the pioneering physicians behind Medivis and SurgicalAR. The pair began laying their groundwork for SurgicalAR when they were still senior residents at NYU Medical Center. From the very beginning, these two doctors recognized the essential need for 3D technology and that this sort of technology could vastly improve surgical precision by providing surgeons with more comprehensive and immersive views of imaging. Today’s most commonly used imaging tools happen to be 2D currently. Surgical teams have struggled in the past to understand critical 3D anatomy while scrolling through 2D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) slices. Not only that, they’ve also struggled to mentally re-create what they’ve been able to see through a microscope. The obvious question for Dr. Choudhry and his colleagues was: Why use 2D imaging when solving a 3D problem? This problem put Dr. Choudhry and Dr. Morley on the correct path that led to the development of SurgicalAR, not to mention the use of AR (as well as AI) to create extremely exact 3D holographic images, images that are much more helpful for surgeons who need to perform their jobs and procedures with the utmost precision. Medivis has undergone a meteoric rise to prominence when it comes to the world of surgical visualization and that rise has partly been fueled by amazing partnerships with world-class technology companies — which includes Dell Technologies, NVIDIA, and other notable names. “The way we work is that we take our imaging and we reconstruct it using our software technology,” Dr. Choudhry explained in a recent case study by Dell Technologies. “And because the reconstruction is very compute-intensive, we do it using a Dell Precision 7750 workstation with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. That system uses parallel processing capabilities that allow the holographic rendering to be created in real time.” How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Gotta-Be-the-Glasses.jpg] IT’S GOTTA BE THE GLASSES Wait, we feel like we’re missing one important part of the SurgicalAR solution. Oh yeah, the Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset. Dell Precision workstation sends the data to the HoloLens, which helps the user visualize content in immersive 3D powered by the Verizon 5G network. But can AR be used beyond the operating room? With this new SurgicalAR solution, doctors will be better able to plan and prepare for surgeries of various types and complexities, not to mention view and orient themselves to the patient’s internal anatomy virtually. AR will only help the medical field create a more and more immersive learning environment for existing and training doctors, not to mention nurses and other professional clinicians. AR is proving to be especially beneficial and important for VA hospitals, which provide a training ground for over 70% of doctors in the United States. The SurgicalAR solution is scheduled to be deployed at VA sites in: * Palo Alto * Portland * Puget Sound * Philadelphia * Orlando However, the larger vision of this incentive is to bring these sorts of surgical precision improvements powered by AR to VA facilities and other healthcare service providers across the country and ultimately the globe. So, it’s clear that AR and VR are being used for far more purposes than simply creating an awesome video game or a convincing online/virtual experience. AR and VR have the capacity to touch and change a variety of industries and their applications are becoming more and more practical. Soon, even children will be able to use AR and VR technology with ease just as they do a smartphone. The medical industry itself is fertile ground for exploring the true uses and benefits that humankind stands to gain from augmented reality technology, especially when it comes to complicated operations and procedures like surgeries. Now that AR is being applied by the masses, it will continue to change the way we interact with our world and each other.
The Army’s Augmented Reality
June 15, 2021
Augmented and virtual reality platforms are often used to simulate real life experiences for training employees. Virtual reality platforms are also used in the medical field to help doctors safely expose patients suffering from anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder to experiences that make them anxious (this is called exposure therapy). Now the military is about to use extended reality to provide data and visual enhancements to troops. The Army’s augmented reality may be the future of military tech. In March, the Army announced a more than $20 billion augmented reality (known as “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” or IVAS) deal with Microsoft for augmented reality headsets that would include night vision and cameras among other features. CNBC reported that the new headset is similar to Hololens in that it overlays data on top of the actual environment; however, the IVAS also included (per a CNBC reporter’s demo in 2019) a compass, map, night imaging and could even include weapon data (e.g. aiming). The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/The-Armys-Announcement.jpg] THE ARMY’S ANNOUNCEMENT Media reported that the Army made its official announcement on March 31, and a press release from the Army announcing the contract was posted to the site. According to the press release, the contract had been officially awarded to Microsoft on March 26, 2021. The press release also detailed capabilities of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System: “The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train using a single platform. The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries,” the Army stated in the press release. “The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.” WHAT ABOUT OTHER MILITARY BRANCHES? Will the Marines, Navy, Army Reserves or other branches of the military also utilize augmented reality? Currently, only the Army has announced plans for augmented reality. However, according to The Drive: “The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. special operations forces might also piggyback onto those orders in the future.” THE HISTORY OF IVAS Back in 2019, ArmyTimes reported on the Army’s and Marine’s exploration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS); The Times actually was able to use some of the devices. The details on the technology’s capabilities—even two years prior to the Microsoft announcement—could showcase the future of military technology. According to ArmyTimes, IVAS could show the location of teammates or squads (this is in real-time) and users could also mark enemy sites and other information using symbols. Essentially, the maps could include data that could alert squads and aid them. ArmyTimes explained that these symbols or marks even show up on the real environment (without the map). So data doesn’t just disappear. As the story was reported back in 2019, technology has likely changed…and the new headsets could be even savvier. What the final product looks like might only be known to the military, however. The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/A-Look-at-Augmented-Reality-and-Training.jpg] A LOOK AT AUGMENTED REALITY AND TRAINING The development of IVAS for the Army could provide yet another tool for training, which could help soldiers better prepare for future scenarios. With augmented reality and virtual reality, training platforms are simulated to allow users to learn how to react and prepare…without, of course, putting anyone in danger. While the headsets for the Army could be used in different ways, augmented and virtual reality is often integrated by businesses as part of training platforms and perhaps even new employee onboarding. Virtual reality allows employees to enter a simulated environment with the aid of a headset that allows the employee or interviewee to experience aspects of the job or face tough situations…without the actual real-life stress of that situation. With virtual simulations, employees can learn how to handle a robbery or maybe just a tough customer. While a face-to-face real experience could leave an employee tongue-tied or maybe even flustered, virtual reality allows them to face these same issues in a safe environment. Screw-ups can mean that maybe the employee needs to rehearse and go over the situation again. For employers, these simulations could mean the difference between a really frustrated customer and a tense situation to a more relaxed interaction and a happy customer. A mistake in virtual reality isn’t the end of the world…or the end of the job. It could simply mean the employee needs more training or more practice. Augmented reality also has aided businesses during mechanical training. For example, augmented reality platforms can allow instructions to appear on top of machines or other equipment to help techs or others on the job. These tech platforms also could help reduce downtime. If a new employee has to learn how to fix new equipment, having the instructions via augmented reality means that they don’t have to hunt down a manual. They can simply do the job. Even automotive mechanics are using augmented reality glasses! Mercedes-Benz technicians are assisted with augmented reality glasses that can connect with a support team. The glasses can show the remote team what the tech sees to provide help to the tech during repairs. Once again, this saves the tech time flipping through a manual or halting repairs to call remote experts. The glasses seamlessly connect the service tech and the remote experts. The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmented-Reality-for-Everyday.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR EVERYDAY While the military and businesses embrace augmented reality, this technology is used by individuals every day. Whether they know it or not. Augmented reality can help keep drivers from backing into an obstacle and it may help navigation, too. Backup cameras don’t just show what’s behind the car, but they also show how that car will turn. Grid lines show the turning radius, and this can help a driver eyeball the best angle for backing out of a tight spot. Front cameras offer the same capabilities. Those small cameras could help drivers from nicking their bumpers or scratching another car while navigating tight parking lots. Some vehicles also include smart rearview mirrors that aid visual acuity at night. Instead of seeing the reflection in the mirror, smart rear view mirrors access the rear camera to show a well lit and clear image of the back of the vehicle. Even GPS systems could infuse augmented reality. Some systems include graphic overlays on top of the image of the real road or street view. Some may include arrows to indicate when to turn. In addition, some newer vehicles also could include navigation data that also shows augmented reality data that highlights bikers, speed and other information to help keep drivers safer on the road. AN AUGMENTED FUTURE REALITY Virtual and augmented reality may be upgrading jobs, training and even everyday activities like driving. As this technology is adopted by more industries, it may become an accepted norm. Not only will individuals find this technology as part of job training in some industries, but it also follows drivers on the road in many vehicles. Even online shopping experiences are upgraded with augmented (or virtual) reality features. Augmented reality can let consumers preview different products –including paint colors on their walls. Augmented reality, though, also can help individuals get fit. Apps like Zombies, Run! lets users run away from augmented zombies. Yes, the zombies appear in the environment…and this may help challenge runners or even fast walkers to pick up that pace. Ghost Pacer also can help runners beat their time and challenge their limits with augmented reality competitors. Augmented reality also can help individuals find out data about the world. Use apps to better understand the stars in the sky. Or even peek through the other side of the Earth and find more about what exists on the other side. In the future, augmented and virtual reality could be a part of the job interview process. Or maybe telehealth. Could doctors see patients virtually…in virtual reality? Maybe virtual conferences are held in virtual reality, too. Forget online conference platforms! Maybe, in the future, meetings will be held in virtual boardrooms with every employee appearing as their own personal avatar. Education could get augmented or go completely virtual, too. As Covid forced many schools to hold classes virtual, the idea of learning from home isn’t so foreign to many families any longer. Perhaps the future includes real virtual learning environments. Students don a headset and sit in a virtual classroom. Or maybe the teacher is augmented into the student’s environment. Even drives could be augmented to include friends and family, as avatars of companions may appear in the passenger seat during a long journey to keep the driver company (Nissan’s Invisible to Visible is working on this!). Augmented reality and virtual reality also could augment the world in ways we could only dream…because who knows what the future holds.
Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects
June 14, 2021
When it comes to design and decor, lighting is often a crucial yet overlooked element. Lighting a room or a display properly is crucial to successful presentation. Disney is one company that recognizes the importance of lighting, and they’ve been in the process of developing augmented reality technology that allows users to add virtual illumination to real life objects when viewed through an AR display. Being recognized as one of the biggest brands and organizations in the world, Disney has always had a sense of cinema, incorporating this into each and every one of their theme parks. Go on any ride and pay attention to how they use lighting to accentuate a certain prop or certain part of the ride in order to achieve a certain effect for those who experience the attraction. Epcot, a theme park at Walt Disney World Resort that features a number of exciting attractions, international pavilions, award-winning fireworks, as well as an extensive list of seasonal special events, recently unveiled new night time lighting for attendees to enjoy. This is actually a useful example of effective light design. Lighting in the fountains of Epcot as well as the three new pylons ends up changing and shifting subtly throughout the night, creating an amazing ambiance that you really have to see to believe. If you sit and watch the full cycle of lights you’ll notice that the light is different at the edges of the fountain when compared to the middle. These lights turn to different colors that can be viewed from a number of angles. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Shed-Some-Light-on-the-Subject.jpg] SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT Examples of successful lighting when it comes to design and decor includes Spaceship Earth, where participants gaze upon a variety of theater-style lighting fixtures. The Sistine Chapel also uses effective scene lighting that is going to be markedly different from the lighting provided in, say, a computer lab. Different types of lighting can even affect the mood of a space or room. Conversely, proper lighting will absolutely transform a room in its shape, size, and energy. For instance, if you have a den that is small in size, you might end up painting the walls some sort of light color, then making sure to provide extra lighting, which will end up making the room appear larger than it really is. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Whats-the-Big-Deal-About-Lighting.jpg] WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT LIGHTING? There is even a job called “Lighting Designer” where a person is tasked with illuminating a room or a scene — in sort of the same way that television productions or stage shows utilize effective lighting. Lighting designers carry the responsibility for design, installation, as well as operation of lighting and additional special electrical effects that end up being used in an exhibit or a production of any sort. Lighting designers will often use some sort of light plot which specifies light placement and configuration. A light plot is used when it comes to all instruments incorporated in the project in question. Lighting designers also end up having to furnish all required and associated paperwork, which includes: * Hook-ups * Schedules * Cut lists * Cue synopsis * And more! This means that a lighting designer has a ton of responsibilities and there are many moving parts to the job. Augmented reality actually stands to assist lighting designers and production coordinators in successfully lighting a production without the normal amount of equipment and ingenuity that the job would normally entail. HOW DOES AUGMENTED REALITY PLAY INTO LIGHTING? Augmented reality is a newer thing that we’re just now beginning to realize has some serious implications when it comes to enhancing everyday life. Augmented reality and virtual reality have played a huge hand in helping video games get more expansive and immersive, of course, but AR and VR has actually helped a number of other industries and companies in a variety of ways. The medical industry now uses AR and VR technology for research purposes as well as in surgical procedures and training modules, which helps medical students get a better idea of what their job is going to look like in the real world. AR and VR technology are also being used by big businesses and organizations to help their workers get away from the office setting and explore new worlds, all from the comfort of one’s own cubicle. Marketers are also utilizing AR and VR technology in order to better connect their brands and products with customers, creating newly immersive experiences that help build new brand loyalty, which translates into profit and growth. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Let-There-Be-Light.jpg] LET THERE BE LIGHT But what can AR possibly have to do with lighting and how can one light something virtually? Take the light bulb, for instance, which was invented in 1878 by none other than Thomas Edison. Edison began a serious experiment that would help people gain the advantage of using artificial light, rather than relying on the sun and/or candlelight. Edison filed his first patent application for “Improvement In Electric Lights” in order to make people’s lives better and easier. He did so by bringing light to a place where there was darkness, so to speak. There are AR apps available now, for instance, that incorporate virtual lighting in order to bring a variety of experiences to the comfort of one’s own home. With the help of augmented reality, users can now enjoy the Northern Lights in their living room, even when it’s pitch dark inside or outside. Why would people be interested in AR virtual lighting? During COVID-19 quarantine AR technology proved especially beneficial for those looking to shelter in place and experience nature in some way, shape, or form simultaneously. Many of us found out just how useful AR and VR technology can be when we’re left to our own devices and have to turn to ourselves and the items we already have for entertainment and engagement. The technology works when a person peers through a smartphone camera, where virtual renderings are able to be layered over what we really see through our viewfinders. You can use AR technology to make a cloud start to rain virtually, or you can point your camera at a bird and have an AR interaction with it through your smartphone camera. DISNEY AND AR VIRTUAL LIGHTING Disney is currently developing a new invention that could eliminate traditional lighting altogether, which has many lighting designers quite interested, especially since Disney’s new invention would mean that designers wouldn’t have to carry around so much paperwork. If Disney is successful at their aims, then lighting effects responsibilities would be mostly assigned to some sort of augmented reality viewer. The Disney project’s patent application is called “Introducing Real-time Lighting Effects to Illuminate Real-world Physical Objects in See-through Augmented Reality Displays” (US 2021/0097757 A1), which was published April 1, 2021. So, how does this AR virtual lighting thingy work? First, a shader and a light source generator are utilized in order to apply virtual illumination to real-world physical objects, which can be viewed through an applicable AR display. Disney’s new system has the ability to map three dimensional objects that occur and exist in the real world. The shader helps identify points of interest on the subject/object, which end up being the object’s vertices. These vertices are connected, creating numerous polygons, which helps map the real-world object in some sort of computer. Then, a computer-generated lighting source is applied to these special polygons that have been mapped out by the shader. As a result, the rendered scene lighting can now be displayed on top of real-world objects when viewed through an AR screen. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Disney-and-AR-Moving-Forward.jpg] DISNEY AND AR MOVING FORWARD Disney’s patent application abstracts go into pretty extensive detail about their new AR inventions, extensive details that we’ll spare you from. Essentially, users will be able to see “virtual content specific to the interaction entity… presented to augment an appearance of the interaction entity,” according to Disney’s patent. In layman’s terms, the user will view an object through a smartphone or some sort of headset. Objects will then either illuminate and/or come to life via augmented content that is created by Disney. The implications of such technology will enable users to, say, pick up a Mickey Mouse toy, look at their Mickey toy through a headset, and have the toy talk to you. Body channel communication (BCC) technology is technology that will surely be combined with Disney’s AR virtual lighting technology to exciting results. This kind of technology will allow and promote two-way communication via touch interaction. One thing is for certain, Disney will continue to be on the forefront of AR and VR technology due to the fact that they are so embedded in entertainment and creating a good old fashioned spectacle. When you look at Disney, you’ll always get a sense that tomorrow’s future is being made today.
Get Playing with Google Search AR
June 11, 2021
Google’s augmented reality experiences bring anime characters like Hello Kitty, Evangelion, Ultraman and more into the user’s personal space. These anime additions join other augmented reality search animals that make finding info via the search engine a bit more entertaining. So what animals are available via Google’s augmented reality search? The full list might be a mystery, as Google hasn’t published a list of all the augmented reality wildlife. While The Verge sends readers to Android Police for an extensive list, we’re about to tackle an alphabetical list to find all (or hopefully…some!) of Google’s animals. Let’s get playing with Google Search AR! Will every animal be included? Is Google’s augmented reality search an AR Noah’s Ark of variety? You’re about to find out! AARDVARK The first animal to enter into Google’s search engine apparently does NOT bring up an augmented reality feature. So, no, users cannot place the aardvark on their bed. That aardvark also will not be able to work next to you at home. Aardvark’s are not AR-compatible. Bummer. AFRICAN ELEPHANT Not only are African Elephants lacking any kind of AR feature…but elephants (as a general search) also don’t pull up augmented reality or virtual reality. There might need to be a petition to AR the elephants. Imagine dropping one into the home! Thanks to augmented reality, everyone could have a pet elephant…in AR! ALPACA No fuzzy, fluffy augmented reality alpacas. Sorry. ANTEATER Google is now 0 of 2. Anteaters also are not, apparently, going to pop up in augmented reality or virtual reality. This could have been a really crazy augmented reality experience, too. Maybe the anteater could suck up some ants in AR. ANTELOPE The species native to Africa and Eurasia also is not going to gallop in the user’s backyard thanks to augmented reality. Antelopes also are not part of the AR experience. ARMADILLO Like most of the above animals that lack any augmented reality, there is a link that takes users to facts about this animal. However, yet again…no AR! BADGER Welcome to the B’s. Badgers do not include augmented reality features. BAT This is probably becoming monotonous to read. Bats also are not highlighted with augmented reality. BEAR HOORAY! Google allows users to bring a bear to life and view a brown bear in 3D! Augment the bear into your space. BEAVER The fact that the beaver isn’t given some type of fun experience is disappointing. The augmented reality beaver should be a reality! BLUE WHALE While the blue whale is the largest mammal in the world, users cannot augment this marine mammal into their environment. An augmented reality blue whale could have had so much potential. Get Playing with Google Search AR [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AR-Animals.jpg] GOOGLE’S ARK OF AR ANIMALS ISN’T QUITE SO PACKED The list of animals obviously does not end at ‘blue whale.’ Not even close. There are more than eight million animals across the globe, and searching each one on Google would be incredibly time consuming. However, in searching some of the most common animals, there seem to be many missing from Google’s augmented reality ark. Elephants aren’t augmented. Bats can’t fly around the room. What animals can come alive in augmented reality via Google Search? It’s time to cheat. It’s time to consult that masterful list via Android Police. Check out the site’s roundup of all the animals it found that could be augmented via the search. Many of the known animals are dog and cat breeds, which means many of the more unusual animals around the world aren’t augmented…at least not that the site has discovered. While Android Police offers a pretty comprehensive list of about 50 animals, it did miss ‘bear.’ And also lions. According to Android Police, Google doesn’t offer a list of the animals. There is no way of knowing how many are out there! What’s unusual, though, is that even some of the more popular animals—like monkeys—aren’t augmented. The discovered animals also don’t include many species of reptiles, birds or even fish. These missing species could be a missed opportunity for a really unique augmented reality feature. Think about a snake slithering in the house via AR. A fish swimming in midair. Or an eagle flying. Searching for boa constrictor, anaconda and rattlesnake only brought up typical search results…in addition to a section with more info. This doesn’t mean that snakes aren’t included; there could be a snake among the many species. Finding it means searching for every snake. However, even searching for the generic term “snake” failed to bring up augmented reality. An augmented reality experience featuring birds would be unique. Would the birds fly or just perch? Google could get creative! Currently, searches for Bald Eagle, owl, hawks, parrots and dove also turn up no additional augmented reality features. Fish aren’t very exciting, so it shouldn’t be shocking to find them without much augmented reality. Goldfish, barracudas, and even piranha resulted in zero augmented or virtual reality experiences. However, the Great White Shark does have its own augmented reality feature! The Great White can swim right into the home. Or hang out on the porch. Whatever works! Other marine life—including squid, whales and crabs—can’t drop into your personal space! At least not yet. Who knows, though. Maybe a crustacean is lurking in augmented reality in the abyss of Google. Augmenting Anime [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmenting-Anime.jpg] AUGMENTING ANIME While many animals are not featured on Google’s augmented reality search list, favorite anime characters can pop in to say hello. Sanrio’s popular characters–including Hello Kitty and Little Twin Stars—are among the many anime friends that can appear in the user’s space. The coolest character, however, might just be Pac-Man. While Google mentioned in an April 2021 blog that Pac-Man would be a featured augmented reality character in Search, the query yielded no yellow pellet-eating Pac-Man. However, searching for Pac-man did bring up the fun Google Doodle! THE POTENTIAL OF AUGMENTED REALITY SEARCH While many search queries failed to bring up an augmented reality experience, there might be a lot of room for Google to grow with this feature. With more than eight million animals, augmented reality could bring many more of them into the lives of the user. As augmented reality and virtual reality evolves, though, perhaps these experiences become more immersive. Could Google create more unique interactions with each animal? Maybe the augmented reality experience includes options for movement or, in the case of some species, even changing their fur or feather color. In birds, for example, males plumage is often more colorful. Dogs also could have different colorings. WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY SEARCH? Currently, search results via Google can include a 3D augmented reality experience for different animals and characters. But could Google or another platform create a virtual reality search? With the ever-evolving technology, search platforms could one day feature virtual reality. Maybe all users will wear glasses or a headset and search queries will pop up before our eyes. Searches might become interactive. Perhaps searching for a zebra takes the user on an adventure into the Serengeti. While virtual reality searches aren’t a reality, many apps are infused with virtual and/or augmented reality to elevate the user experience. For example, IKEA features an augmented reality experience that lets users preview furniture. Sephora and Ulta offer a virtual try-on experience. Even paint can be previewed in augmented reality. Whether a user owns an Android device or an Apple, each company offers many different augmented reality apps in their stores. And there are augmented reality apps for many favorite hobbies or interests. SkyView Lite uses the phone’s camera to view the night sky; the app then shows the constellations drawn into the stars. Augmented reality and virtual reality apps also can help shoppers looking for a new car. RelayCars offers both an augmented reality and virtual reality app that lets users preview different makes and models of cars. The virtual reality showroom doesn’t require a headset; users simply enter a virtual 3D showroom where they can rotate their favorite vehicle to view it from different vantage points, change paint colors and even look inside. The augmented reality app lets users drop a car into the real world environment. Users can see how that new car might look in the driveway. Or in the garage. Wineries even offer apps where customers can explore the wine label in augmented reality. Experiences can be tailored to the unique needs of each vineyard. Some might include mysteries! Even kids can use augmented reality apps to help understand the world around them. There are apps that help identify different flora and fauna. And apps that let children (and adults) explore the solar system in any space (augment the planets). Some apps like GeoGebra Augmented Reality augment math concepts. Google even offers unique augmented reality experiences beyond the Search bar. There’s Floom, which lets users create a portal to the other side of the planet. Another experience lets users augment social distancing. There’s even an app in the works that will augment a user’s photos! Unfortunately, these experiences can only be enjoyed by Android users. Search, however, can be used by anyone. While sites like Google Police have found many augmented reality animals on Search, there may be many more to explore. Bored? Search for an animal, and you might find a new augmented reality friend.
How a Virtual Reality Car Showroom Simplifies Car Shopping
June 9, 2021
Car buying has moved online because of Covid, and while the automotive industry might not have anticipated the sudden pivot to the virtual world, consumers have embraced the new virtual trend. According to Cox Automotive’s Digitization of End-to-End Retail study, “…64% of shoppers want to do more of the purchase process online the next time they buy a vehicle.” Shopping for a car online might be the future of car buying, and many dealerships may be adding more online resources—like a virtual reality car showroom—to aid potential buyers. Here’s how a virtual reality car showroom simplifies car shopping and why and how consumers can use these resources. Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/What-is-a-Virtual-Reality-Car-Showroom.jpg] WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM? Before Covid, most consumers on the hunt for a new car might have looked at dealership inventory online, scrolled through pictures, priced their favorites and then headed out to visit a few dealerships for the best price. When the pandemic shut down most nonessential businesses, car dealerships might have moved their business online. This meant that many consumers might not have been able to leisurely stroll around the showroom. While pictures might capture the basic look of the vehicle, those photos don’t—and really can’t—tell the whole story. Yes, there can be photos of the interior. Dealerships can even take videos or up-close snapshots of the details. However, those photos don’t allow for much interaction beyond clicking through a slideshow or watching a video. Virtual reality car showrooms allow dealerships to digitally replicate the in-person experience in a virtual realm. These showrooms can be accessed via an app, with or without a headset. In its most basic form—without headset navigation—consumers can choose a vehicle and view it in a three-dimensional space. The vehicle is shown to scale, and consumers can look inside, change the color of the body paint…and more. With a headset, these spaces are much more interactive. Users actually come up close to these three-dimensional virtual cars and can interact with them in the virtual space. Again, this allows the consumer to access the interior of the car, swap out the paint hue and even look at the vehicle from different vantage points. Virtual reality car showrooms—like the one offered by RelayCars—provide consumers with the option to preview many different makes from multiple manufacturers, including luxury brands like Porsche and Ferrari. HOW DO VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS SIMPLIFY SHOPPING? While Covid restrictions kept many consumers at home or limited their visits to stores, some consumers still needed to purchase a new car. Virtual reality car showrooms allowed the car shopping experience to be accessible at home…or anywhere. But it also may help to simplify the experience beyond Covid. In fact, dealers surveyed for the Cox study believed that online experiences might be more personalized. The study noted that “…75% agree that digital retailing provides shoppers a more customized experience.” How can online resources and digital retailing provide this type of experience? Online resources can be used however the consumer desires. Customers using a virtual reality showroom might only preview the vehicles on their wish list. They don’t have to scroll through a list of online inventory. They can look at the cars that interest them, and then pursue the dealerships. Dealership experiences also could allow for more customized experiences in that even the sales interactions can happen virtually. This may help customers cut through the red tape of the experience by simply requesting info on the cars they need or want and not getting sidetracked with other vehicles in the inventory. Online interactions also could be more direct and to the point, eliminating a time-consuming in-person experience that could have taken hours. When shopping online, consumers also can look at their leisure, without pressure. If needed, they could request a virtual test drive or head to the dealership to view their favorite vehicles in person. USING VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS TO COMPLEMENT THE IN-PERSON EXPERIENCE The light at the end of the Covid tunnel is visible, and this may mean that in-person shopping may come with fewer restrictions to consumers. However, the online experience may still be valuable and can work to complement the in-person shopping experience. Consumers can use virtual reality car showrooms as a research tool to preview the vehicles that most interest them. The virtual realm can help consumers explore the look of the vehicle and what it has to offer. Using their online favorites as a guide, consumers can then check out local dealerships to find price points and any promotions or savings. Or consumers may have a list of their favorite vehicles and then visit the dealership for a test drive. Virtual reality car showrooms also can help consumers understand what they don’t want. Maybe a specific vehicle seemed ideal, but previewing the vehicle in the virtual space might have revealed space constraints in the back seat or perhaps other issues that crossed that dreamy vehicle off the list. Pictures are two-dimensional, but viewing the car in 3D may provide a better physical understanding of the vehicle. Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Future-of-Virtual-Reality-Car-Showrooms.jpg] THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS While RelayCars can be accessed via a headset, a more immersive virtual reality experience is on the horizon. The future of car shopping will be virtual…and very close to the in-person experience. The next generation of the virtual reality car showroom will be accessible via Steam. The app is known as Roomscale, and the experience is a true virtual reality showroom experience. In this new virtual realm, users will be able to walk around and interact with whatever vehicle is on the must-see list. There will be an inventory of vehicle choices, and the interactions will closely mirror those in an actual showroom. Even better? Users can explore whatever car they wish. If it’s in the inventory, check it out! Not only does this give users the freedom to explore new types of vehicles, maybe it also helps some car buyers set a goal for a dream car of the future. Or, of course, users can just check out cars for fun. Roomscale and the immersive virtual reality car showroom may represent what the future holds for car buying. Consumers have shown that they like the virtual shopping option. Perhaps this is due to the laid-back atmosphere that the virtual realm offers. There is no sales pressure when visiting virtual showrooms. The power might shift to the consumer. VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS WITHOUT THE HEADSET Roomscale will require that users have a virtual reality headset. However, RelayCars will continue to offer a virtual reality car showroom that can be accessed by anyone…with or without a headset. Using the standard app, users can preview cars in the virtual environment and interact with the vehicles via a phone or other device. Multiple app options provide accessibility to a wider audience. And, for users who want an augmented experience, RelayCars also offers an augmented reality car showroom. This app lets users preview the vehicle of their choice within their own environment. Drop a vehicle in the garage, the living room, the backyard…anywhere. With augmented reality, users can walk around the vehicle, peek inside and switch the colors of the exterior of the vehicle. Augmented reality provides a different type of immersive experience. By allowing users to drop a vehicle anywhere, it also allows users to customize their car hunt. Now shoppers can actually see what that car looks like in the driveway! It might be too big. Or too green! Change it up! WHAT’S THE COST OF A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM? For consumers, the big question about online resources is “what’s the cost?” All the apps offered by RelayCars can be downloaded for free. There is no cost to experience virtual reality or augmented reality…unless, of course, users want to purchase a headset. Buying a new car is a major purchase. MarketWatch reported that the average cost of a new car has soared to more than $40,000. While there are models far below this average, many consumers may face sticker shock when hunting for that new vehicle. Researching options helps consumers find the best car for their lifestyle and, hopefully, helps them find the best price, too. While virtual reality or augmented reality car showrooms don’t provide price data, they can help consumers better understand what vehicles they like so they can narrow down their choices. Maybe a consumer finds a few favorites via the virtual reality showroom only to research the models and discover that they are just too expensive. That shopper didn’t have to spend gas money driving to a dealership or waste time looking at cars that simply were beyond their budget. Instead, shoppers can browse the virtual inventory, taking their time to find the best car for them…and then focus on finding deals at local dealerships. Not only can these online resources simplify the shopping experience, but it also can help lower stress, frustration and time waste. Shoppers who know what they want also might be a dream customer for sales teams who can then focus on finalizing the deal…instead of touring a lot. A win-win for everyone!