Is Huawei Passing Tesla on the Innovation Highway?
May 10, 2021
According to an article on Automotive News, Huawei will invest $1 billion into self-driving technology. This encompasses both research and development, and, interestingly, the company claims to already have bumped Tesla’s self-driving accomplishments. Automotive News reported that the company claims that its self-driving tech can allow cars to drive up to 1,000 kilometers unaided by humans. While Huawei’s outreach into the U.S. might be limited because of trade sanctions, the company’s executives seemed confident that it would capture enough business elsewhere to be quite successful. But is Huawei passing Tesla on the innovation highway? Will Huawei post its brand on more vehicles? We’ll dig a little deeper. THE SELF-DRIVING CAR MARKET PLAYERS To be fair, while Tesla vehicles offer some autonomous capabilities, a true self-driving car hasn’t hit markets yet. The safety features of a fully autonomous vehicle will need to be studied and tested fully before it can hit roads. News reports of a Tesla colliding with a tree drew attention to the fact that the accident featured no one in the driver’s seat. Both passengers in the car were killed. Per a story on The Verge about the crash, “It’s not yet clear whether the car had its Autopilot driver assist system activated.” The article also explained that Tesla has been clear that its autopilot isn’t self-driving; that is, drivers still need to be in control when using it. Tesla is still working on perfecting a true self-driving vehicle. However, many tech giants also have entered the highway of competition. Microsoft’s website includes a page devoted to “Accelerated vehicle innovation.” The rumor of an Apple car keeps getting sparked, too. A patent application for a smart windshield probably added to the speculation. Waymo was once known as the “Google self-driving car project.” And Amazon unveiled the Zoox “self-driving robo taxi” in December. The Zoox has three test markets: Las Vegas, Foster City (Calif.), and San Francisco. WHO IS HUAWEI? While many know Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Tesla, the name Huawei might not be as familiar. Make no mistake, however, the company is quite the competitor in the tech sector. Huawei manufactures computers (including laptops and tablets), routers, headphones and watches. HUAWEI Health is a fitness app that tracks health, sports data, etc. And Huawei also offers mobile services like Petal Search, HUAWEI Music, and more. While the company is a tech giant in its own right, there has been something called a “Huawei ban” in the U.S., and Huawei was placed on The Entity List on May 19, 2020. What is The Entity List? The answer is found on The Bureau of Industry and Security’s website noting that the bureau “…publishes the names of certain foreign persons – including businesses, research institutions, government and private organizations, individuals, and other types of legal persons – that are subject to specific license requirements for the export, reexport and/or transfer (in-country) of specified items. These persons comprise the Entity List….” The Bureau of Industry and Security for the U.S. Department of Commerce explains the reasons for Huawei’s list inclusion in detail via an FAQ: “…on the basis of information that provided a reasonable basis to conclude that Huawei is engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests and its non-U.S. affiliates pose a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security of the United States. This information included the activities alleged in the Department of Justice’s public Superseding Indictment of Huawei, including alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions….” Is Huawei Passing Tesla on the Innovation Highway? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Autonomous-Cars.jpg] AUTONOMOUS CARS IN THE U.S. As long as Huawei stays on The Entity List, any self-driving car bearing anything related to the company’s brand likely won’t be spotted on highways. The future of autonomous vehicles in the U.S. falls to the major tech players noted above. Tesla has been vocal about its commitment to developing a fully autonomous vehicle. However, it’s clear that as this technology is being viewed as the upcoming future of the automotive sector, everyone might be trying to make the first big development. The idea of a robotaxi might be the first foray into the self-driving reality. Since the development of a self-driving car marketable to the general public would likely take much more time, these robotaxis could be the consumer’s first introduction to a car without a human behind the wheel. Waymo’s Zoox test markets are worth watching to see how these autonomous taxis fare among the public. If the Zoox (and other models, too) are successful, perhaps the shuttle or ehail services become the first sector that embraces automation. Is Huawei Passing Tesla on the Innovation Highway? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Get-Electric.jpg] BUT FIRST…GET ELECTRIC! While the prospect of a self-driving vehicle seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, the idea will likely become a reality. Before we surrender the driver’s seat to AI, though, drivers will most likely face another new tech change in the cars they drive: electric power! The electric car is the near future. In fact, automobile manufacturers are embracing this technology. General Motors has pivoted to an all-electric design. The company has stated its intent to “…help put everyone in an EV….” Gasoline-powered motors and the reliance on fossil fuels may become obsolete as cars go electric. Gas stations may transform into electric stations. And while fossil fuel reliance won’t disappear overnight, the switch to electric may help provide a cleaner and greener planet. Consumers will still drive gas-powered motors until they fail. But when those older models fail, perhaps the only option, the only alternative will be electric. Besides the benefit of possible savings at the pump, many electric cars can go on a charge for about 250 miles. Some Tesla models, however, can push beyond 300 miles. Two Denver Tesla Club members drove more than 600 miles on one charge. Is Huawei Passing Tesla on the Innovation Highway? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Smart-Car.jpg] WHAT ABOUT A SMART CAR? The electric car also might pave the way for a smart car, which is already a bit of a reality. Cars have gained intelligence through the years. The vehicles of decades ago included tape decks that we once thought were so high-tech. CD players became the norm. Then when compact discs became equated to dinosaurs, vehicles had to adapt again. Now vehicles allow smartphones to connect into the entertainment console. Music on phones can stream through the vehicle. Apps can be used on the road. Text messages can be sent via voice commands. Drivers can accept phone calls without lifting a finger off the steering wheel. Yet, this technology is still evolving. Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible technology could bring avatars into the vehicle. No one would have to drive alone, as friends could connect into the car. Drivers could receive driving instructions from a pro. Even the windows could turn a dreary day into a blue sky beautiful day. Smart cars of the future could integrate smart windshields. Apple’s patent for an augmented reality windshield hinted that it may be possible to have teleconferences in the vehicle. While this could be used in an autonomous car, what if the smart windshield is the future of the modern automobile? Wayray created the first holographic augmented reality display for vehicles. This allows drivers to see graphics overlaid atop the real environment. The display is smart in its own way in that it gives drivers additional data during their drive. Other companies are introducing their own augmented reality displays. Car and Driver reported that Panansonic could launch their augmented reality heads-up display by 2024. Panasonic’s display includes data related to obstacles up ahead, lane data, updates on directions and more. Essentially, this technology makes the drive easier. It could also eliminate a need to have a separate GPS. Car and Driver also explained that the technology adjusts as the driver moves. OTHER SMART FEATURES AI isn’t in a place to bump humans from the driver’s seat quite yet, but vehicles do have some unique intelligence features that already aid our safety on the road (beyond AR). Many current models include sensors that stop the car if a person or obstacle is in the way. Vehicles also include sensors that emit a rapid beeping sound if the car is about to collide with an obstacle. This can help minimize fender benders in parking lots, too, especially when a car is backing out of a tight parking spot. Cars also can aid in parking the vehicle. Those who haven’t mastered parallel parking can now rely on their car to help them out a bit. Not only do front and/or rear cameras make parking easier, but some cars actually maneuver the car into the parking space. This might not be completely autonomous, but it’s definitely on the road to autonomy. The future of the autonomous car is definitely close. Many leading tech players have invested in this technology, and the cars of tomorrow may be bearing tech logos as well as those of well known car brands. However, as long as Huawei remains on The Entity List, consumers in the U.S. will likely not see self-driving vehicles branded by the company on local streets and highways.
Imagining a Virtual World: Step Inside a Virtual Reality Car Dealership
May 7, 2021
Virtual reality might have once been considered futuristic, but today it’s a growing technology used by businesses and the entertainment world to provide a unique vantage point to consumers. Virtual reality headsets are offered at varying price points and with unique features, and platforms like Steam offer many downloadable virtual reality games. AR Insider projected that virtual reality revenues would soar to more than $14 billion by 2023, a figure encompassing the expanse of the technology (consumer, software, hardware, etc.). Virtual reality might be the future. Could consumers soon experience virtual reality stores or perhaps virtual reality car dealerships? Get ready to imagine a virtual world, and explore hypothetical virtual reality car dealerships. THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM Virtual car showrooms are popular for consumers starting their car buying hunt online. These showrooms allow consumers to see a scaled image of a vehicle and explore its different features. Different virtual experiences might have different features. For example, RelayCars lets users change the vehicle’s paint color, rotate the vehicle for a different viewpoint and look inside the car at the interior features. Exploring cars virtually also doesn’t necessarily require the user to have access to a virtual reality headset. Instead the showroom could be accessible via an app or online. The ‘virtual’ of this experience refers to the setting. Users see the vehicle in three-dimensions, and can interact with the vehicle using a mouse or fingertips (for apps). However, RelayCars also offers a Room-Scale app that can be downloaded via Steam. This app allows the user to interact with a vehicle in a virtual room, accessible via a headset. The app is compatible with Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest headsets. This type of virtual experience is extremely immersive and could be how a consumer imagines virtual car dealerships. Virtual Reality Car Dealership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Shopping.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOPPING The internet is virtual in that it isn’t a physical presence. Consumers aren’t interacting face-to-face with a salesperson or the products being offered. Any question or inquiry that a shopper might have during their online browsing might be answered by a virtual sales assistant. Many consumers are familiar with the little pop up box displayed at the bottom of a website that is the portal for a virtual chat or virtual assistance. Some websites or businesses automatically send a message virtually when a new individual lands on the page. In-person shopping means physically interacting with the products or services. Consumers look through racks of clothes, try on favorites, touch fabrics. When shopping for a new automobile, they will walk through a car showroom, opening doors, sitting in the seat and exploring features. Physical interaction may be a key aspect of the experience. Online is different, however. When shopping online, consumers scroll through their options, clicking on their favorites to learn more. Virtual car shopping isn’t different. Scrolling is the same as walking through aisles of cars. However, pictures don’t allow for much interaction, and this may be why virtual showrooms surged in popularity. With virtual and augmented reality showrooms, the consumer can interact with a scaled representation of the vehicle of their choice . Augmented reality apps or platforms usually allow for the vehicle to be dropped in a real world environment, while virtual reality showroom apps showcase the car in a virtual world or backdrop. Again, virtual experiences could be available online and require no special headsets or glasses. Others might be fully immersive and can only be accessed while wearing a headset. Just how popular is online shopping? According to Statista, more than $4.2 trillion in sales came from the internet (e.g. e-commerce). This number represents worldwide sales, and the site notes that, in 2023, e-commerce will represent nearly a quarter (22 percent) of sales across the globe. Covid likely led to an increase of online buying for some sectors (groceries!), as many consumers didn’t want to visit the stores. In addition, many stores deemed non essential might have closed during the pandemic. Making purchases from these businesses might have required consumers to go online. However, Big Commerce reported that, in general, online shopping didn’t necessarily see a huge spike during Covid. Again, online grocery sales did increase, and medical, cleaning and baby products also were popular online purchases. Clothing purchases, however, dropped. Tools, auto, jewelry/luxury and several others also showed decreased online sales per BigCommerce. Virtual Reality Car Dealership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Stores-and-Virtual-Car-Dealerships.jpg] VIRTUAL STORES AND VIRTUAL CAR DEALERSHIPS While figures for online shopping might have been mixed during Covid, the idea of shopping online and shopping beyond bricks and mortar might have become a more ingrained habit for some. The hesitancy of shopping in-store combined with stores that were closed completely to foot traffic might have led shoppers online. Some consumers were faced with a unique situation during Covid in that they needed to purchase a new car. Normally, shopping for a new car might have meant visiting a few dealerships and walking through the lot. During the pandemic, though, some dealerships might have been closed to shoppers. The only option might have been shopping online. As virtual reality and virtual experiences replaced in-person experiences during the pandemic (even work and school were virtual), could virtual experiences soon become the norm? Will there be a rise of virtual stores and dealerships? The future of virtual is still a question mark, yet the rise of self-driving cars is on the horizon. It might not be a stretch to think that in the future the shopping experience—even for cars—could go virtual, too. Virtual car dealerships could be designed a bit like virtual car showrooms. The virtual experience could be accessible via an online site (without any special headsets or glasses) or may be more immersive and require that shoppers download an app and use a headset to enter the virtual realm. Currently, many dealerships may offer virtual assistants who chat with online customers about their preferences or answer any questions. A virtual car dealership could include salesperson avatars who interact virtually with shoppers. The experience could include both a virtual showroom and a virtual lot. Imagine walking around a virtual car lot and exploring different makes and models. Shoppers may be able to virtually sit in the car and play with the unique features of the vehicle. What about used car sales, however? Hosting a virtual showroom or car lot for used cars could be a bit more complicated. For example, some used cars might have scratches or imperfections in the interior. The virtual vehicles would need to be all-inclusive of these details. Could technology fully replicate such intricate imperfections? In the future, virtual car dealerships might be relegated to those that sell new makes and models, as these would likely be easiest to replicate in virtual reality. Perhaps the whole shopping experience takes place virtually, and maybe users could upload financial data via a secure site online. There really are so many possibilities, but there are also so many details that would need to be perfected for the entire car shopping experience to exist in a virtual realm. The unique features of virtual reality, though, could allow for a more personalized shopping experience, especially for buyers who want to customize their vehicle. While the in-person experience of buying a new car can let the shopper see and touch different features, not every detail can be seen on the lot. Virtual experiences, though, could be inclusive of all the options available for the make and model. So perhaps the buyer can change out the color of the paint, switch out the tires or even upload a different interior fabric. A virtual experience could be more accommodating to visualizing a vehicle. And the virtual car dealership could be a much more immersive and entertaining shopping option. Consumers also could explore different virtual dealerships without leaving their home. Technology could evolve for a more laid-back process. CAR SHOPPING VIRTUALLY….TODAY While virtual reality car dealerships don’t yet exist, shoppers can access virtual reality car showrooms. Visiting a virtual platform could be one of the first steps during car shopping to help decrease the time spent at the dealership. Consumers could use sites like RelayCars to explore different makes and models. After finding the top choices, shoppers can then search local dealerships for pricing, deals and incentives. Shopping and browsing online can help simplify the car buying process and save time…and gas money. For consumers at home and in need of a new car, virtual experiences can be downloaded on phones or tablets. Some experiences might require a headset, but many apps can be experienced without any special accessories. Ready to find the perfect car? Download RelayCars via the app store (for Apple) or Google Play (for Android). 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You Can Now Play Pac-Man on the Side of a Pizza Hut Box Through Augmented Reality
May 5, 2021
“Why on earth would someone want to put Pac-Man on the side of a pizza box?” Well, why not? Now the classic Pac Man arcade game experience is available on the sides of Pizza Hut delivery and to-go boxes for consumers to play as they eat pizza and pizza-related creations. This modern twist on a cherished video game has been whipped up by Pizza Hut as a nostalgia promotion in an effort to move more products. PIZZA HUT BY THE NUMBERS Pizza Hut itself is coming off a year of somewhat suspended numbers with Pizza Hut International scraping together 13% growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Dominos reported a 14% growth in the third quarter of 2020, which might not seem like much of a difference, but those little percentage points tend to equal big dollars in the eyes of the pizza makers. When a business starts to hit a plateau or even a decline, it’s time to shake things up, and new creations will start to come out of high priced think tanks which incorporate the latest product and technological innovations. Since necessity is the mother of invention, it’s times such as these when consumers start to see attractions like Pac-Man-playable pizza boxes. Sure, this sort of innovation isn’t going to win the Nobel prize or any such humanitarian award, but it’s a testament to how amazing, immersive, and omnipresent AR technology is starting to become. Pizza Hut Box Through Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Pizza-Hut-History.jpg] PIZZA HUT HISTORY Pizza Hut is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. and is one of the world’s largest restaurant companies. Pizza Hut has turned itself into a household name over the years as an American fast-food pizza chain, ultimately growing to the point of becoming an international franchise. Founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas by Frank and Dan Carney, Pizza Hut offers its titular delicacy in addition to other Italian-American dishes, including: * Bread Sticks * Pasta * Salads * Chicken Wings * Desserts Unlike high-priced artisanal pizza shops, Pizza Hut prices their product to move, and their business model has stood the test of time. As of April 25, 2021, there are 6,672 Pizza Hut locations in the United States alone and 17,639 restaurants worldwide, both numbers down due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pizza Hut is now positioning itself to get back to some semblance of regular growth after a challenging 2020. Even after its slight 2020 downfall, Pizza Hut remains the world’s largest pizza chain — if we’re speaking in terms of number of locations. Domino’s has the crown when it comes to pizzas sold with 7.04 billion in sales in 2019. Even during a global pandemic, people across the globe turned to Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Little Caesar’s and other pizza delivery shops to keep them fed while they sheltered in place. NOSTALGIA MARKETING Putting an 80s arcade game on the side of a pizza box is an interesting piece of “Nostalgia Marketing” that is sure to get folks to purchase more pizzas by the box, but why do companies and organizations rely on nostalgia in the first place? There’s a reason why there is an app you can download on your phone that makes your smartphone operate like a rotary phone. The entertainment industry capitalizes on nostalgia with shows like Stranger Things and Mad Men. There is a ton of currency in helping people bridge the gap between the present and the past. Big box brands and Fortune 500 companies around the world pay big bucks to ad agencies (names like Ogilvy, Deloitte, Epsilon, and McCann) to tug at consumer heartstrings in order to get them to empty their pockets and often purchase something they may or may not want or need. Coming off a rough year (to say the least), many businesses are now pivoting away from COVID-19-heavy rhetoric and messaging and favoring normalcy and getting back to connecting with consumers on some sort of regular and real level. Pizza Hut Box Through Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Arcade-and-Video-Game-Nostalgia.jpg] ARCADE AND VIDEO GAME NOSTALGIA Nostalgia products are on the rise in our current ever-evolving climate, which might seem like an ironic thing. Old school Nintendo products are being picked up on Ebay at a rapid clip — and the same goes for other vintage video game consoles. Any respectable gamer will likely not only have the latest Playstation or Xbox device, but they’ll also have their Super Nintendo, NES, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, and other consoles which have long been out of production. Said gamer might even end up playing Mario Kart on that Super Nintendo in lieu of using their latest VR headset. WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT PAC-MAN? Pac-Man might inspire questions like: * How do you play Pac Man? * Is there a pattern to Pacman? * When was Pacman made? * Then, ultimately, Can I play Pac Man on my phone? Pac-Man itself took the world by storm in 1980 and remains widely played today — except in different iterations than kids, teens, and adults played in earlier decades. Instead of playing the game at an actual arcade, most people today have probably first played Pac-Man on a smartphone or on their computer. To this day, gamers learn to beat Pac Man through repeatable patterns and “Cherry Partners” that help the subject character eat all of the dots before getting caught by antagonistic monsters. At first, Pac Man could only be played in an arcade, then, later, on NES, Atari, and other consoles. Ultimately, Pac Man became available online (often free of charge), giving gamers the ability to play Pac Man anytime anywhere. PAC-MAN MEETS AR TECHNOLOGY… Now, with the help of AR technology, you don’t need your phone or your laptop to play Pac Man. You can grab a Pizza Hut pizza, maybe some wings and breadsticks, head to the park, have a nice picnic (either with a friend or solo), and play Pac Man to your little heart’s desire. If that’s not innovation, we don’t know what is. Pizza Hut isn’t the only organization that has Pac Man on the brain. In 2010, Google celebrated Pac Man’s 30th anniversary — by unveiling its first ever interactive doodle. Users were able to log in and play Pac Man straight from their home page, which has a lot of similarities to what Pizza Hut is doing right now — now that’s clever nostalgia marketing. Pizza Hut Box Through Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/AR-Technology-and-Applications.jpg] AR TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS What is AR technology and how is it used in the world today? Augmented reality has to do with the creation of an interactive experience having to do with a real-world environment. In augmented reality, objects residing in the real world can be enhanced via computer-generated perceptual information. AR is sometimes utilized across multiple sensory modalities. AR includes elements that are: * Visual * Auditory * Haptic * Somatosensory * Olfactory Augmented reality allows people to superimpose digital content (which can be either images, sounds, text, or some combination of the three) over real-life canvases. Video games have always been synonymous with AR. In 2016 augmented reality received a vast amount of exposure for the Pokémon Go launch, which gave gamers the ability to interact with their Pokémon which were superimposed onto the environment via a smartphone screen. AR is being used in the medical field to help with surgeries as well as the automotive industry and real estate industry with virtual showrooms and virtual open houses, not to mention helping provide enhanced training, even to skilled apprentices. AR is even being used for immersive therapy, which helps individuals with social anxiety get the treatment they need in an environment they are comfortable with and acclimated to. Even though in the past pizza restaurants have primarily focused on the dine-in experience, perhaps Pizza Hut is providing this attraction as a way to bring that same dine-in experience to those who have been enjoying pizza at home. Perhaps there will be a time again when people will flock to the red roofs of Pizza Hut to have a pie or two and play an arcade game (or three). Pizza Hut partnering with Pac Man to bring this limited edition product to market is only the beginning of AR/product collaboration, and AR is set to enhance even the most banal experiences for people all over the world. Sure, not everyone on the planet is going to be able to experience AR as it applies to the medical field, but anyone who has a spare $14.99 (and a craving for hand-tossed dough, marinara, mozzarella, and either veggies and/or meat) can experience for themselves just how far AR has come and get a glimpse at how far its grasp can possibly reach.
Can Augmented Reality Lessen Downtime?
May 3, 2021
Rockwell Automation created a short YouTube video about how augmented reality tools can help reduce downtime of machines and productivity. While the video is geared toward specific products, the company also released an extensive video webinar that was published via Auto.com delving deeper into the use of augmented reality to save time—especially machine downtime. Can augmented reality lessen downtime at work? The short answer is yes. Rockwell Automation gives four reasons in its video on how augmented reality is effective: * “AR doesn’t disrupt existing technology. AR exists in parallel to OT and IT technology, without disrupting existing infrastructure and investments.” * “AR requires a low technical hurdle. With the right tools, subject matter experts can create and refine effective AR content with little to no coding experience.” * “AR can utilize existing digital assets. Repurposed CAD and other digital files created during the design of physical equipment can enrich AR experiences.” * “AR is flexible and extensible. AR experiences can easily be updated to reflect changes to products and procedures. AR is less dependent on translation requirements.” If all this sounds quite like a technological explanation, that’s because it sort of is a technological explanation. The video from Rockwell Automation that was posted to Auto.com is a bit extensive—running for more than 40 minutes. However, it delves into the heart of why augmented reality might be a crucial adaptation for factories and businesses. DOWNTIME IS COSTLY! No video has to explicitly state that downtime is costly. Minutes lost to someone waiting for an answer on how to handle a problem, fix a machine or manage a task can waste billable business hours. Of course, if production is affected, that downtime also could hurt profits. So costly are these incidents that Garvey Conveyers hilariously—and perhaps truthfully—refers to the word downtime as a four letter word. In 2013, Industry Week and Stratus Technologies teamed up for the second Manufacturer IT Applications Study. Frank Hill, with Stratus, revealed the study results to Industry Week. Hill noted that the cost of a downtime incident clocks in at about $17,000, and there might be about seven incidents each year. One of the problems that Hill noted from the results is that while many manufacturers have “traditional backup” for their systems, this isn’t a time efficient solution. Restoring data could take days. Hill explained that companies “…need to make the right technology investments to keep their critical applications up and running.” The solution pointed to technology that was “always on.” How is Augmented Reality Beneficial [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/How-is-Augmented-Reality-Beneficial.jpg] HOW IS AUGMENTED REALITY BENEFICIAL? Hill didn’t specifically mention augmented reality from the study results, but Augmenta explains that augmented reality can help prevent downtime incidents and maximize time efficiency in repairs. Augmented reality technology can prevent incidents by notifying workers of issues before they may become a problem. Think about augmented reality in vehicles. The predictive technology can help pinpoint obstacles on the road and warn drivers about other issues. Machines aren’t so different. Perhaps augmented reality technology could alert an employee that a belt is in need of repair. As Augmenta noted, augmented reality can help employees stop a problem before it becomes a major issue. Repairs also can be aided with the help of augmented reality. Many automobile manufacturers use augmented reality glasses to aid technicians in repair. These glasses show problems and solutions in front of the technician’s eyes. There is no need to stop in the middle of repairs and check a reference guide. Some of these glasses even allow the technician to connect to additional support personnel—hands-free! In the manufacturing environment, augmented reality can keep techs focused on their tasks and save them time during repairs. Perhaps the technology even lets them connect to a help desk, too. In the past, fixing a machine could have required contacting numerous people by phone or consulting a manual. Now technology can simplify the process and save time. THE ADAPTABILITY OF AUGMENTED REALITY For manufacturers and other businesses, augmented reality also could be an adaptable technology. Companies can use existing files for an augmented reality experience, according to Rockwell. For example, the augmented reality program could include data files or information related to repairs or other details. These programs, as Rockwell also noted, can be changed and updated as needed. If something changes, the augmented reality experience can be updated to reflect the new information. Manufacturing Business Technology cites Lockheed Martin’s success with augmented reality. The company builds spaceships, so there is no room for any error. When Lockheed Martin implemented augmented reality for the Space division, the company saw “…a 35-50 percent reduction in overall technician time, a 90-99 percent reduction in the time it takes technicians to interpret drawings and text instructions and an 85 percent reduction in overall time for training.” Augmented reality allowed techs to see instructions and details overlaid on actual aircraft. The visual guidance provided likely meant that the techs didn’t have to reread text or consult with another technician. AUGMENTED REALITY AIDING AUTOMOTIVE In the automotive sector, augmented reality and virtual reality is used to simplify processes and aid in collaboration. Augmented reality also is being used to aid repairs in the industry. Motortrend reported in September that Mercedes Benz technicians are eyeing repairs with HoloLens 2 glasses. The goggles let techs show issues to other experts virtually. The expert can make notes about repairs—they can actually visually note issues on the car to point out the problem. Both the tech and the expert see the engine, and the technology will superimpose arrows or other notes to show issues. The technology doesn’t come cheap to dealers, however. Motortrend reported that the price of the augmented reality experience is $10,000 per dealer. Manufacturers also are using virtual reality as a means of collaborating remotely. Ford used virtual reality during the pandemic to allow executives to discuss design details. With virtual reality, executives could use laser pointers to note any details on the car (which was also a virtual model). Executives also could switch positions with each other to gain a different vantage point. AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE CONSUMER While augmented reality benefits companies and manufacturers by decreasing downtime and aiding in repairs, the technology also has many benefits to consumers. Augmented reality follows consumers each day they drive. Many new car models feature augmented reality within heads-up displays. The most basic form of augmented reality is the rear back-up cameras. The cameras show the real world view behind the car, but the technology also projects grid lines to show drivers their turning radius. Those superimposed gridlines are a hallmark of augmented reality. More advanced heads-up displays, however, are being introduced constantly in new car models. Mercedes Benz introduced the new MBUX Hyperscreen (MBUX stands for Mercedes Benz User Experience). The Hyperscreen is massive at 56 inches and includes voice recognition and augmented reality features. Augmented reality in the car might become even more detailed. While many cars include front and rear cameras or even heads-up displays that feature augmented reality elements (like arrows for navigation), Nissan is working on the ultimate in-car technology. Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) would feature avatars of friends or family to make the ride more enjoyable. However, drivers also could have a professional driver join them (as an avatar) for advice. I2V also would allow for the windows to project bright skies to create a joyful ambiance. Road obstacles and other hazards could be predicted with I2V, and the driver would be alerted ahead of time. Augmented Reality and Consumer Downtime [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Augmented-Reality-and-Consumer-Downtime.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND CONSUMER DOWNTIME Downtime in industry terms is related to manufacturing, and while augmented reality can lessen downtime for the manufacturing sector, it also could aid consumers, too. Shopping can be simplified with augmented reality and the technology also can heighten the user experience. Buying cosmetics or clothes can be a guessing game. Sizes vary, and colors don’t look the same on each person. Augmented reality try-on experiences allow consumers to preview their choices before they buy. This can save time for the consumer, but it also could decrease returns for the company. Even car shopping can be simplified with augmented or virtual reality. Online showrooms exist in virtual and augmented reality to help consumers find their ideal car. With augmented reality, users can drop their car of choice into their real-world environment. Virtual reality showrooms can be accessed online or by wearing a virtual reality headset. Both types of showrooms allow users to swap out paint hues and look inside the vehicles. Even home improvement can be simplified with augmented reality. Thinking about painting a bedroom a new hue? Preview the color choices with augmented reality! Some companies let users photograph their room and then superimpose new paint colors to try-on the paint! This can help homeowners decide what hue will complement their décor…and what hues to avoid completely! Downtime is money wasted, both for the consumer and a manufacturer. Augmented reality can have the same time and eliminate downtime. Augmented reality allows technicians to make repairs without pausing to consult a book or an expert. The technology also helps stop accidents before they happen; augmented reality can alert companies that a machine needs a repair or that a part might be failing. The same benefits apply to consumers, too—especially in the car. Augmented reality features in the car could provide additional safety benefits (like a backup camera), and the technology also helps simplify the drive (through graphic directions). Augmented reality also can help consumers while shopping for new clothes, cosmetics or even deciding on a new paint hue. Visualizing choices or instructive content can provide yet another aid to simplify decisions and processes…and save time!
A Spotlight On: RelayCars’ Virtual Reality Car Showroom
April 30, 2021
Virtual reality is a multi-billion dollar industry. While this technology was once a reality that seemed only like a virtual possibility, today virtual technology heightens the user experience in games, shopping and even communication. The possibilities for this industry really are endless. With autonomous cars peeking out from the horizon of the internet superhighway, virtual reality may become the norm in communication and high-tech experiences. Will everyone wear a headset? Or perhaps virtual reality experiences will be accessible through sleek glasses. Virtual reality has disrupted the automobile industry in many ways and has changed how consumers shop for a new (or used) vehicle. Virtual reality showrooms like RelayCars provide consumers with a way to experience the shopping experience without actually stepping into a physical dealership. The virtual reality app doesn’t allow the consumer to click ‘buy,’ it does provide insight into many makes and models. How does a virtual reality car showroom work? Why should consumers take advantage of these unique experiences while hunting for their dream car? Here’s everything consumers need to know about RelayCars’ virtual reality showroom. WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? When consumers think of virtual reality, they often assume that the gateway to such experiences is an expensive headset. RelayCars’ virtual reality showroom is accessible with or without a headset, however. The RelayCars virtual reality showroom app can be downloaded to many Apple or Android devices. The virtual showroom is simply an interactive three-dimensional experience. The fingertips are the only tools users need to navigate around the experience in the traditional app. For consumers who do have access to a virtual reality headset, RelayCars also can be downloaded via Steam. This allows consumers to access the virtual reality showroom as a truly immerse virtual reality experience. While the traditional app shows cars in a three-dimensional website type layout, the Steam app lets users actually enter the showroom. They can step into the experience and examine each different vehicle up close. WHY SHOULD CONSUMERS USE A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Using a virtual reality showroom allows consumers to research the cars that interest them before visiting a dealership. Virtual reality showrooms are open 24/7, and there are no sales people who engage consumers during the process. Visiting a virtual reality showroom can be done at the consumer’s leisure. There is no sales pressure, no hassles, and no price tags. Consumers can preview different cars from a wide range of price points. While many consumers might not feel comfortable perusing the models at a Lamborghini dealership if they don’t have the funds to purchase a vehicle, they can check out many luxury models via a virtual reality showroom. These virtual tools can be used for fun as well as for shopping research. Some consumers may visit RelayCars to gain more knowledge about a particular vehicle, or they may stumble onto the app and play around in the virtual showroom to look at many different models. There are so many ways—and reasons—to visit a virtual reality showroom. RelayCars doesn’t care why a consumer visits, we’re happy you visited! Car shopping should be fun! Why should consumers use a virtual reality showroom? For fun, for research…for whatever reason they wish! HOW MUCH DOES A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM COST? Visiting a bricks and mortar car dealership doesn’t cost a fee, although sales teams might be on the lookout for the serious buyer. Downloading RelayCars virtual reality app is free, too, on Steam, Google Play and the App Store. There are no monthly fees to use the app or to check out all the cars in the virtual inventory. WHAT ARE THE FEATURES OF A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Virtual reality is an immersive experience, and the headset fully immerses the user into the virtual world. Again, though, the RelayCars virtual reality showroom can be accessed with or without a virtual reality headset. Once users download the app, they can begin exploring different cars. Choose a make and model, and the app transports the user into a three-dimensional showroom. Those using the app without a headset will view the showroom in a similar way as a web page. However, the vehicle will be shown in three dimensions. Users can turn the car around, change the paint colors and look inside the vehicle. Using a virtual reality headset, users become a part of the experience in true virtual reality fashion. Step into the showroom and walk around the vehicle. Peek inside the car and use tools to change the paint color, too. Using the apps also doesn’t start some type of user time clock. Consumers can experience the virtual reality showroom for as long as they wish. There also aren’t any parameters or limits related to the number of cars and vehicles that users can explore. Have fun, and check out all the different vehicles. WHAT IS AN AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM? Users may notice two different apps when they search for RelayCars via the App Store or Google Play. RelayCars offers both a virtual reality showroom app and an augmented reality showroom app. What is the difference between the two options? The virtual reality app showcases cars in a virtual environment. Whether users experience the showroom with or without goggles, the vehicles will be displayed in a three-dimensional showroom separate from their own environment. The showroom will be visible on the screen (for those without a headset) and in what seems like a separate realm (with the headset. The augmented reality showroom, however, allows users to bring the vehicle of their choice into their own environment. Users can preview a vehicle in a living room, a bedroom, in a garage, outside or even on the driveway. The car drops into whatever environment the user chooses. Once the vehicle is placed in the physical environment, consumers can use their device to view the vehicle, walk around it and explore all its features. The augmented reality showroom also allows users to swap out paint hues. Vehicle selection also is a bit more limited on the augmented reality app than the virtual reality app. However, new makes and models are being integrated into both apps regularly. HOW MANY VEHICLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Users visiting the virtual reality showroom app may be surprised at the number of vehicles that they can experience and preview. Just how many vehicles are in RelayCars’ online inventory? For the virtual reality showroom, RelayCars offers many used and new models of virtually all the major automobile manufacturers. The online inventory includes models from more than 40 manufacturers, from Acura to Volvo. Luxury manufacturers like Lamborghini, Jaguar, Bentley and Ferrari also can be previewed in virtual reality. HOW CAN CONSUMERS USE THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM FOR SHOPPING? While consumers can’t purchase a car directly through RelayCars’ virtual or augmented reality apps or showrooms, these tech-savvy tools can be used by consumers to help narrow down their shopping list. Virtual showrooms allow consumers to take their time in investigating different vehicles. Shoppers who are on the fence about a particular model or who might be new to a certain brand can download the app and preview the car from the comfort of home. There are no sales teams who will email a visitor about the car they previewed. There is no pressure. Some consumers may spend a great deal of time visiting different dealerships and looking at multiple models. With virtual reality showrooms, consumers can cut down their drive time and focus on finding the car that fits their needs and their lifestyle. Once they’ve narrowed down their choices, they can begin researching dealerships in the area and any applicable promotions, sales or incentives. RelayCars helps simplify the shopping process by streamlining the experience. While virtual or augmented reality doesn’t allow for a tactile experience (yet!), visitors to the virtual reality showrooms can still gain a wealth of information about the car’s interior option, space constraints and, of course, the physical appearance of both the interior and exterior features. As the virtual showroom also lets users swap out paint hues, shoppers can gain a sense of how a color will look before they buy the car. Not every dealership has the full spectrum of paint hues on the lot. A Spotlight On: RelayCars’ Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Visit-the-Dealership.jpg] AFTER THE VIRTUAL…VISIT THE DEALERSHIP When using a virtual reality showroom, consumers might choose to make a list of their top makes and models. This can help narrow down choices at the dealership. Visiting the dealership may be the final step of the shopping process. While a lot of information about a vehicle can be found via a virtual reality showroom, the physical aspects of the car can really only be ascertained at the dealership. Consumers will likely want to sit in their favorite models and even request a test drive. While a vehicle may seem perfect in virtual reality and even on the lot, if the consumer doesn’t like how the car drives or feels cramped while driving, then it might not be the dream car. This is why consumers may want to visit the dealership with at least a few models in mind. The budget also becomes part of the dream car reality. When researching a car in virtual reality, consumers also should hunt down the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to find out just where that car sits in relation to the budget. While this dollar amount may nudge a bit with a trade-in, dealer incentives and other promotions, consumers need to know their budget when shopping. While that Lamborghini might be the car of your dreams, it may be completely out of the budget. Sometimes a car dealership can feel like a pressure-cooker; that is, the buyer may feel pressured to commit to buying a car. It’s perfectly ok to walk away to think, to review the budget or to hunt for a better price or loan. Bankrate explains that it isn’t uncommon for sales people to keep shoppers at the dealership for a long time. Why? The site explains that hunger or simply being tired gives the salesperson the advantage. A Spotlight On: RelayCars’ Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Buying-a-Car-Without-Seeing-it-in-Person.jpg] BUYING A CAR WITHOUT SEEING IT IN PERSON? During Covid many dealerships were closed to foot traffic. This might have put buyers in an odd predicament when shopping for a new car. While the automotive industry wasn’t in a rush to head online for sales, Covid might have pushed many dealerships in that direction. Cars were delivered to shoppers for virtual test drives, and dealerships likely had to get creative in many aspects of the sales process. Shoppers likely utilized online sales assistants for questions related to vehicle availability. The rising popularity of the online car market, though, leads to the question of if a consumer needs to see the car before purchasing. Many shoppers will likely prefer to head to the dealership to physically see the vehicle or at least request a virtual test drive at home. Testing out the vehicle can be extremely valuable for consumers; while seeing a car in virtual reality provides a physical preview of the vehicle, it doesn’t provide consumers with an understanding of the actual feel of the vehicle. Not all vehicles are comfortable for everyone. The mechanics or features of a car might not be appealing. Testing out the car at a dealership or at home provides a better understanding about the car’s mechanics and if that vehicle is a good fit for the lifestyle of the individual. No one wants to buy a car only to realize that they have to adjust the driver’s seat so far that their child has no leg room in the back seat! VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM: A POWERFUL SHOPPING TOOL The virtual reality showroom provides a powerful shopping tool for consumers. Previewing a car in virtual reality allows consumers to better understand the basic features of the vehicle. This high-tech showroom provides an understanding of the car’s design and space limitations. Vehicles previewed in virtual reality allow consumers to better narrow down their car wish lists and to preview vehicles that might not have been available to them in a standard dealership. Virtual reality showrooms also can provide a leisurely window shopping experience…from home. Consumers can look at as many cars as they wish without any sales pressure. Virtual reality accelerates the excitement of the shopping joyride and puts the brakes on the fear of the hard sale.
Tim Cook: Augmented Reality is Critical to Apple’s future
April 30, 2021
Google launched several augmented reality experiences for Android users. There’s the new Floom, which lets users peek into the other side of the world via an augmented reality hole or portal that they dig/draw. Sodar lets users draw a perimeter around their bodies (in AR, of course). An augmented reality measuring app provides 3D overlays that measure volume, and an upcoming app can give photos (via Google) an augmented reality upgrade. Google has a host of other augmented reality products, too. Will Apple take a bigger byte out of augmented reality? ZDNET reported on an interview Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, did with Kara Swisher on her podcast. While Cook wouldn’t discuss any details in particular regarding what may or may not be in the pipeline, he did talk about how augmented reality could complement conversations—like his interview–with graphics. In a first quarter earnings call last year, Cook touched on augmented reality, too. “This is the reason I’m so excited about it,” said Cook via the call. “You rarely have a new technology where business and consumer both see it as key to them. So I think the answer is that’s the reason that I think it’s going to pervade your life.” But just how big of a bite will Apple take out of augmented reality? How invested is the company in this particular market segment? Companies—including Apple—don’t often disclose what’s in the works. Technology is a competitive market, and the tight lips likely ensure that all products under development remain incognito to those on the outside…including competitors. Innovation and innovative products are valuable, and Apple has enough experience to know just how valuable their products are to the consumer. Tech sites and publications often speculate about what could be next for Apple. The popular speculation is that Apple could release augmented reality glasses. Other sites have found patent applications from Apple that delve into a mixed reality windshield. While the future of Apple augmented reality products isn’t so clear, there are many ways Apple fans can utilize augmented reality. Apple isn’t a stranger to this technology, and the company has an augmented reality platform. In addition, the App Store is filled with many augmented reality apps that Apple users can explore. While Apple may indeed take a juicy bite out of augmented reality with innovative new products, there are still many augmented reality experiences to explore…and some of them are simply out of this world! Check out these five unusual augmented reality experiences available via the App Store: LightSpace For those who want an app that augments art, get ready to paint in neon lights! LightSpace is an augmented reality app that lets users paint via augmented reality. Apparently—per the description—the app went viral on TikTok. Users can create 3D GIFS! Backyard Apollo AR Place the Apollo Saturn V rocket in the backyard and get ready for launch. With augmented reality, users can see the rocket from different vantage points. solAR System Augmented Reality The app lets users drop the entire solar system anywhere and explore the planets. Zeroing in on a specific planet brings up additional data. Find My Car Can augmented reality help drivers find their car? Apparently, yes it can. The app also lets users set timers so they don’t end up running out the parking meter. Catch Santa AR Augmented reality for the holidays. Santa can drop into any environment. Who said Santa isn’t real? He’s on video with this augmented reality app! Through augmented reality technology, Santa is shown moving in the room and leaving gifts. APPLE & AUGMENTING LAMBORGHINI During Covid, Apple teamed up with Lamborghini to unveil the new Huracán EVO AWD Spyder via augmented reality. The experience required an Apple device with iOS 11. Users could drop the vehicle anywhere in their environment, walk around the car and check out its features. Macrumors reported that Apple’s QuickLook (AR) would be an option for all future Lamborghini vehicles. In the future, visitors to Lamborghini’s site may be able to drop all their cars into a room, a driveway or the garage. Augmented Reality is Critical to Apple [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Augmented-Reality-Glasses-on-the-Market.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES ON THE MARKET Augmented reality glasses seem to be the loud whisper related to Apple products featuring augmented reality. Many sites have been speculating about Apple releasing glasses, but no one really knows what they could look like…or if they will even become a reality. There are, however, several types of augmented reality glasses already on the market. They offer different designs and features…not to mention price points. Epson Moverio Smart Glasses pop up on the company’s business tab. They can be used by businesses for aiding technicians. They also could be used to provide captioning during movies and to provide unique experiences for exhibits and more. Wareable reported that Facebook will have its own smart glasses featuring augmented reality. Per the story, the glasses will be Ray-Bans. A YouTube video from Ray-Ban Films teased the new glasses. No details were leaked via the video, however. Will the glasses be aviators or Wayfarers? Vuzix Blade Upgraded Smart Glasses also feature augmented reality. While some augmented reality products are focused towards business use, the company notes that it can be for business or personal use. Augmented Reality is Critical to Apple [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Augmented-Reality-in-the-Future.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE FUTURE Smart glasses aren’t the only augmented reality infused products on the market, though. While rumors often swirl about Apple’s next big launch, there is one major product that many tech titans seem to be pursuing: autonomous cars! While products like smart glasses can be infused with augmented or virtual reality, the idea of a smart car that is self-driven is really space-age. Several companies are testing robotaxis that are self-driving, and this technology could be the future. But will augmented reality wire into these futuristic cars? Anything is possible. Nissan is developing technology that allows for avatars to join the ride. Invisible to Visible technology also would show drivers obstacles up ahead and even transform the windows to include pleasant skies on dreary days. Avatars with this technology wouldn’t exist in a virtual realm, instead they would sit in the actual car and would exist as a type of augmented reality. Our cars are already infused with augmented reality. Backup cameras, smart rearview mirrors and even GPS systems can project graphic overlays on top of the real world environment. These features might boost the driving experience and might even help reduce fender benders (in the case of backup cameras). Businesses use augmented reality to improve the user experience. Augmented reality can create virtual try-on experiences that let shoppers preview cosmetics, paint hues on walls or even drop furniture into a room. Some augmented reality experiences may even let users try a new hairstyle. Museums also could use augmented reality to create interactive exhibits for visitors. The Smithsonian’s Skin and Bone app can be downloaded onto a device and used to interact with exhibits in the Bone Hall. Users who can’t visit the museum can print out pictures of the exhibits and use the app at home. In the automotive industry, augmented reality is used to provide help to technicians during repairs and to help consumers preview new cars. Glasses show details during the repair and can even communicate with a team of experts in another location. RelayCars offers an augmented reality showroom that lets users drop different cars into their home or other space; they can walk around the vehicle, swap out paint hues and look inside. WHEN WILL APPLE RUMORS BECOME REALITY? The buzz about any possible new Apple products can be deafening. The talk of augmented reality glasses has been swirling for quite some time. Who knows if or even when any type of augmented reality glasses could launch. Tech companies, however, are always developing and innovating. Consumers crave new products, and the excitement over a new phone—whether Apple or Android—or other device shows just how popular new products are to the consumer. When a new phone launches, the old technology becomes old news…perhaps even obsolete. Cameras now deliver crisp and precise images. And many phones are now capable of showcasing augmented reality. In the early aughts, a flip phone was popular and considered high-tech; the cameras weren’t great, texting was a chore…and apps weren’t a thing. Now our handheld devices can launch augmented reality games, apps and experiences. The phones can show videos. Texting can be dictated. So what’s next in the world of augmented reality? From Apple…only the insiders of the company likely know. However, Facebook x Ray Ban is on the horizon. Those Wayfarers might be smart in ways we never knew possible. Will they feature augmented reality? According to a story by The Verge, not so much, as Facebook confirmed to the site that the glasses will not be an AR product. The wait is still on for the next cool pair of augmented reality glasses.
How Companies Use Extended Reality in the Workplace
April 29, 2021
Extended reality can help move businesses future forward, drive the employee experience and simplify the hiring process, too. As extended reality becomes mainstream, companies of all sizes may be incorporating augmented and/or virtual technology into their processes. Individual sectors may have different uses for these tech platforms, but businesses across different sectors might have discovered that extended reality can transform business for the better. How companies use extended reality in the workplace may depend on many factors, including their unique needs and maybe even their budgets, too. Businesses that have pivoted to work from home also may rely on virtual or augmented reality to create a sense of community and help employees stay connected and breach the geographic distance. Let’s look at some of the ways that extended reality is being used internally. WHAT IS EXTENDED REALITY? Extended reality isn’t a unique or separate type of technology. Instead, extended reality (or XR for short) is a bit of an umbrella term that encapsulates augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. All three of these platforms make up the larger ‘extended reality.’ Companies may use one or more of these platforms. Extended Reality in the Workplace [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-in-Training.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN TRAINING Employee training in the past meant different things in each industry. For restaurants, for example, maybe employees were given a handbook that highlighted all the safety protocols, dress codes, meal prep guidelines and other information related to an employee’s particular role. After being trained in all these areas, maybe the employee then had to take a test to ensure that they learned all the information. Training in other industries might have looked similar, with employees receiving a handbook and going through one-on-one training sessions detailing their new job. The training processes could have taken days and might have required multiple employees to acclimate the new hire to the company. Most companies understand that training a new employee is costly. However, the numbers and the price for this training can vary wildly by industry. According to an article on Chron, hiring or replacing a new nurse might cost about $40,000, the cost associated with hiring a new employee in the tech sector can soar to the six figures. While replacing a seasoned employee might always be costly, training doesn’t have to be so time-consuming. So how can companies simplify the hiring process? Augmented reality could help streamline training processes. PTC highlighted several ways that augmented reality is helping to propel employee training to another level. The site explained that since some companies need to train employees off site, this can be expensive and remove the employee from the work environment. However, augmented reality can often be used anywhere, providing flexibility to new employees and maybe serving as a more cost-effective training tool. Augmented reality also is able to provide more immersive training experiences, without having a co-worker sitting nearby. Some factories or manufacturing plants may use augmented reality to aid new technicians in their jobs. Perhaps augmented reality glasses show graphics on top of the machine or other work component that relays visual instruction to the tech. Augmented reality training also could include access to reference books and other critical documents. GE Healthcare uses an Xbox and a Kinect to create their augmented reality training experiences. The employee doesn’t need to wear glasses; instead, a projector displays the data onto the work environment. If the employee makes a mistake, the technology also alerts them so it could be fixed. Extended Reality in the Workplace [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Reality-In-Training.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY IN TRAINING Augmented reality can be used as a way to display data on top of real environments, but virtual reality allows for employee training to take place in another realm. Virtual reality can be used to prepare employees for potentially dangerous situations (like a robbery), and it also can help employees better understand how to handle specific interactions with customers. Other industries use virtual reality to simulate physical experiences—like flying an aircraft or even navigating space missions. Last summer (June 2020) Boeing and Varjo partnered to create a virtual reality experience to enable astronauts to train on launching the Starliner space taxi. With the aid of virtual reality, astronauts enter a simulation where they can navigate the space taxi in preparation for their mission. Supply Chain Dive reported that FedEx turned to virtual reality for its employee training to better prepare new hires. The site reported that the company had issues with employees quitting soon after starting their job, as they weren’t prepared for the physical demands. FedEx’s virtual reality experience was powered by Striver, which also created virtual reality training for Fidelity and Verizon. PwC reported that businesses also are using virtual reality for training employees on ‘soft skills’ and conducted a study that compared the effectiveness of three different types of training for these skills; participants (new managers) used either e-learning, classroom or v-learning. Those who used v-learn modes were “275 percent more confident to apply skills learned after training.” They were also much more focused (four-times!) than those using e-learning and were much faster to train (again, four times more!) than those who used classroom instruction. Virtual learning also was “more emotionally connected to content than classroom learners.” Extended Reality in the Workplace [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Extended-Reality-for-Collaboration.jpg] EXTENDED REALITY FOR COLLABORATION Augmented and virtual reality also help keep employees connected and collaborating, especially when Covid pushed many to work from home. Employees likely engaged in virtual meetings via platforms like Zoom. Some businesses even integrated virtual environments, as executives donned headsets to see each other even when they were miles apart…or perhaps even separated by oceans. Augmented reality appeared in the virtual environments that employees (and students!) used to connect, learn and work together. What is augmented about Zoom and other conference platforms? Many employees used unique backgrounds that appeared behind them during conferences. These augmented backgrounds were, in fact, a form of augmented reality. Some might have used filters to create a new (and funny) identity. Sometimes, however, these virtual experiences didn’t go quite as planned. During Covid, courts went virtual, too. And one a lawyer hilariously went viral for not knowing how to take off his cat filter. The video showing the attorney as a cat was highlighted across the internet, and, of course, made it to late-night television, too. For schools, virtual experiences were part of keeping classes open…without having students in-person and at desks. The business of education used virtual platforms for distance learning plans. Some districts are even planning to offer virtual learning after Covid, because some students might have learned better in such an environment. The automotive industry used virtual reality to continue car design during the pandemic. GM and Ford both used virtual reality for car design during Covid. GM’s Hummer EV was designed much faster because of virtual reality’s remotely collaborative options. As CNBC reported, GM’s team could work from home and still collaborate via the virtual. VIRTUAL REALITY FOR HIRING, TOO! GMetri reports that extended reality can be integrated into the hiring process, and, with virtual reality, potential candidates enter into virtual tests to assess their suitability for the position. However, virtual interviews also can be part of the process. GMetri explains that a virtual interview could make the process more equitable. As an avatar, the employee is masked in a way. This could possibly eliminate the potential for any type of bias. The possibilities for using virtual reality for the interview process could be groundbreaking as it relates to eliminating these potential biases. For example, the ‘pretty privilege’ has shown to give an edge to more attractive individuals. CNBC cited a survey from Fairygodboss given to 500 individuals in charge of hiring that noted that the weight of a potential job candidate was an issue. More than one out of five of those surveyed described a picture of an overweight woman as “lazy.” The survey had asked them to answer questions related to the individuals pictured. An avatar-based virtual reality hiring platform could ensure that weight or other factors weren’t contributing to a candidate being filtered out for the position. VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY TO ENHANCE USER EXPERIENCE Separate from the employee experience, businesses also use extended reality to help market their products and enhance the user experience. Virtual try-on experiences and virtual and augmented reality showrooms help provide the consumer with a way to visualize and engage with the products before actually purchasing them. With virtual car showrooms, users can visualize the car and even check out the different features. Augmented reality showrooms bring the car into the user’s environment. If the virtual reality experience is accessed via a headset, the user also can interact with the vehicle in some ways and/or switch out paint colors to find their perfect car shade. Try-on experiences via virtual or augmented reality may help to minimize returns as well as provide a unique user experience. The customer can preview shades of paint on their walls, makeup products on their face or maybe even try on a new hairstyle. And if the customer doesn’t like the look, they can opt for something else. Businesses are embracing extended reality for training, collaborating and marketing, too. Augmented and virtual reality may become an integral part of how we interview, train and even shop in the future.
The Art of Augmented Reality
April 28, 2021
Tech platforms and the evolution of technology reverberate across industries. When the smartphone first hit the market, not everyone could invest in its sleek offerings. Yet, today the smartphone has become the norm, and many industries have created apps or other experiences to satiate the smartphone gusto within society. Now mobile devices like the smartphone have evolved to become a gateway to an augmented reality of the world. Marketing success requires evolution—digital evolution. And technology has evolved to create alternate realities—both augmented and virtual. Businesses have learned that the art of augmented reality creates heightened user experiences for the consumer. Museums and artists have also realized that the augmented and virtual worlds may be the gateway to unique forms of expression and a conduit to provide greater outreach to the masses. Covid might have been a game-changer for museums and other cultural institutions. As shelter-in-place mandates affected numerous countries, nonessential businesses likely shut their doors to foot traffic. Museums were not deemed essential. Art galleries and concert venues postponed or cancelled performances or special exhibits. The tourist industry halted. And those iconic museums and cultural institutions that were once prime destinations sat empty. As businesses struggled to survive in a world without foot traffic, these venues also were left trying to find ways to exist when many across the globe were stuck inside their homes. Online experiences might have been the ticket to survival. Businesses that could sell online likely pivoted to this platform. While tourists couldn’t travel, they likely still craved unique experiences. Travel, without the travel. Yet, how could museums hold tours or showcase exhibits without in-person traffic? Museums went virtual! Many included virtual tours online, and some allowed for individuals, groups and families to sign up for personal virtual tours. Cultural venues also might have offered classes online to give bored consumers a unique experience at home. Art of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmenting-Art.jpg] AUGMENTING ART While virtual reality experiences integrated into online sites, there were still issues that museums faced regarding some exhibits. Not every exhibit could translate easily to a virtual tour, especially exhibits that were highly visual or that relied on technology for the full experience. Smithsonian Magazine highlighted how a few museums and artists were using augmented reality to allow art to be showcased at home. Jenny Holzer, whose exhibits include LED signs and light-up quotes featured on the sides of vans, made her You Be My Ally project accessible to anyone at home. An app allowed users to place quotes from the project on a wall…or anywhere they wanted to view it. Serpentine Galleries also embraced augmented reality for an exhibit that was originally meant to be experienced in virtual reality. Artist Cao Fei’s The Eternal Wave could be experienced in the gallery via augmented reality through an app called Acute Art. A small preview of the exhibit could be experienced anywhere. Cuseum allows individuals to bring famous works of art into their home via augmented reality. Museums that partner with Cuseum include The White House Historical Association, Timken Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Center for Creative Photography, Royal Tyrrell Museum, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. CNET reported that Smithsonian museums partnered with Verizon to create augmented reality experiences during Covid. To view the augmented reality exhibits and experiences, CNET explains that users just have to click the camera on their phone and scan the code via Verizon’s virtual museum webpage. Users can choose from multiple exhibits; check out a blue crab, extinct animals, view sculptures and more. After scanning the code of the exhibit of choice, on an iPhone the user will be prompted to open up Yahoo!, and then the augmented reality experience begins! The coolest part? Users can drop the exhibit anywhere in their real-world environment. Explore art and other exhibits from anywhere at home. AUGMENTED ART BEFORE COVID Augmented and virtual reality might have flourished during Covid, but museums and cultural venues were already integrating this technology long before the pandemic. Back in 2017, Smithsonian Magazine profiled five augmented reality experiences at museums: * At the National Museum of Singapore, an exhibit called Story of the Forest included an augmented reality component. Visitors to the museum could use the cameras on their phones to find different plants and animals throughout a massive mural (it’s composed of 69 different works of art) inThe William Farquhar Collection of Natural History. It was a bit like an artistic scavenger hunt. * The Bone Hall at the Smithsonian takes the bones that are exhibited and lets users superimpose skin using augmented reality. Dubbed the “Skin and Bones” exhibit, visitors download an app that lets them place skin on the bones…and see the skeletons (with skin!) move, too. The Skin & Bones app is still available, and, yes, it can be used at home. For individuals at home and unable to visit the real exhibit, the app allows users to print pictures of the bones and use the printed photo for the augmented reality experience. The app also includes information about the animal, videos about the scientists, and more. * The Heroes and Legends exhibit at Kennedy Space Center in Florida lets visitors see a hologram of Gene Cernan over the Gemini 9 capsule. The exhibit also includes narrations by Cernan. * The Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, China uses augmented reality to allow visitors to learn more about relics and see the relics in 3D. CGTN highlighted the exhibit and augmented reality experience and how augmented reality allows relics to be translated and explained for visitors to learn more about their significance. “This helps us better understand the reconstruction of the past, the way of life, how people in the past built structures, or the artifacts, how they appeared in this area,” Ramsi Shoocongdej, Associate Professor at Silpakorn University of Thailand, told CGTN. * The last exhibit highlighted by Smithsonian Magazine was England’s Historic Cities. How did augmented reality create memorable experiences in ancient sites across England? Visitors had access to virtual guides who happened to be historical figures. The experience also let visitors view data about different artifacts; each city offers its own unique experiences. In Carlisle, for example, the artifacts open up a story about a Roman Cavalry Officer’s wife. AUGMENTED REALITY TO CREATE ART Technology often bleeds into art, and as the camera allows visual artists to explore and express their creativity in photographs, tech platforms also are an artistic medium. Augmented and virtual reality can serve as surrealistic galleries accessible only through the lens of technology. Art is digital, virtual and augmented. Museums are exploring these media for allowing artists to draw inspiration and create unique works of art in realms beyond the physical. Design Boom reported that Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Snap, Inc. partnered with a group of artists to “create virtual monuments that reflect on history and representation across the city of L.A.” Currently, the exhibit that is part of LACMA x snapchat: monumental perspectives total five monuments that can be viewed via augmented reality using the Snapchat camera. Those interested in viewing the augmented reality exhibits can check them out at LACMA, Macarthur Park, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Park, and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. LACMA’s augmented reality monuments could lead to other museums and galleries to explore augmented reality or virtual reality as a medium for the creation of art. Could paintings or sculptures soon be displayed in a separate realm? Perhaps virtual galleries infuse into the physical galleries of museums. Blank walls could become superimposed with unique artwork visible via a camera function or an app. Virtual reality experiences are nothing new, and artists may be exploring them as an art form more and more. Technology provides another mode to create and further express artistic ideas. While exhibits could infuse elements of augmented or virtual reality, they also could exist exclusively within these platforms. Art of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Museums-Go-Virtual.jpg] MUSEUMS GO VIRTUAL While augmented reality experiences have been utilized by many artists, galleries and museums, virtual reality has provided another doorway through which to access the arts and culture. Not everyone can afford a trip to France or Italy or elsewhere across the globe to visit historic art institutions and landmarks. Virtual reality has allowed museums and other cultural venues to create tours of exhibits that can be enjoyed from anywhere…even from the couch at home. These virtual tours were likely enjoyed often during shelter-from-home mandates during Covid. Yet, even now, as many parts of the world are reopening, virtual tours continue. For those on a limited budget, for those individuals who once felt that the world of arts and culture was closed to them, these virtual tours can serve as an all-access pass to works of art that everyone can experience. Perhaps these virtual and augmented reality experiences serve to equalize the accessibility of experiences that were once enjoyed by the privileged. And through this accessibility, perhaps the power of augmented and virtual reality allows the passion of art to reach a new audience and inspire a new generation of creators.
The Many Uses of Virtual Reality in Cars
April 28, 2021
Embracing new technologies is one of the keys to success in highly competitive industries such as the automotive industry. Automotive companies must continue to find new ways to implement exciting technologies in order to set themselves apart from their competitors and meet their consumers’ demands. One technology that has been widely used in the automotive industry is virtual reality. This technology transports users to a simulated environment where they are free to interact with and explore their virtual surroundings. Virtual reality is often associated solely with the gaming world, but it has countless other applications outside of this industry. In fact, there are many different ways in which automotive manufacturers can use virtual reality in cars, including: IN-CAR ENTERTAINMENT Most modern vehicles are designed with in-car infotainment systems, which provide different types of information and entertainment to passengers. But in the future, virtual reality technology may take in-car entertainment to a whole new level. In 2019, the first public demo of in-car virtual reality entertainment was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show. The “Rocket’s Rescue Run” experience was produced by Audi, Marvel, Disney, and Holoride. Using an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, consumers could travel to a virtual world with their favorite Avengers characters while riding in an Audi E-Tron. In this game, what happens in the virtual world will depend on how the driver of the Audi E-Tron drives in the real world. The passenger’s movement through the virtual world will mimic the Audi E-Tron’s movement in the real world. For example, the Audi E-Tron turns left, the virtual spaceship in the game will turn left as well. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/virtual-reality-experiences.jpg] This game, which was only available to passengers who ride in the backseat, is just the beginning when it comes to in-car virtual reality entertainment. Holoride plans on creating a wide range of in-car virtual reality experiences for passengers in the future. This could completely transform the experience of traveling by car for people who aren’t in the driver’s seat. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Autonomous-Car-Control.jpg] AUTONOMOUS CAR CONTROL Autonomous cars are meant to drive on their own without any human intervention, but virtual reality technology could be used to help drivers maintain some degree of control over self-driving vehicles. Several years ago, Toyota filed a patent for a virtual reality navigation system that would be used solely in self-driving vehicles. The system would show drivers where their self-driving vehicle intended on driving at any given point during their journey. Drivers would be able to see the exact path that the vehicle planned on taking in order to reach their final destination. If the driver isn’t satisfied with the chosen route, this system would give them the opportunity to change the self-driving vehicle’s plans. In other words, the self-driving vehicle would handle the actual driving, but the human driver would still be able to call the shots. For example, say the driver sees that the self-driving vehicle is planning on taking a toll road. This route may be the fastest, but the driver may not want to pay the toll. In this case, the driver would have the option of adjusting the self-driving vehicle’s route to avoid having to pay this toll. Toyota has not introduced this technology to consumers yet, but based on the patent filing alone, it’s clear that virtual reality will be incorporated into future Toyota vehicles in some way. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS In the past, automotive consumers had to visit dealerships in-person to explore their options before deciding which vehicle to purchase. However, virtual reality has changed that. Now, automotive consumers can explore vehicles from the comfort of their own homes by visiting a virtual showroom. A virtual showroom is similar to a real showroom, but it exists in a simulated world rather than the real world. Automotive consumers can visit a virtual showroom online using their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Once inside the showroom, they can explore the interior and exterior of every vehicle just like they would if they were inside a real showroom. They can even walk around the vehicle and rotate it to see it from different angles. Audi is one of the many automotive manufacturers that has already built a virtual showroom for its consumers. Consumers can visit a virtual showroom to explore the full range of Audi vehicles. The company believes that this will help smaller Audi dealerships, which can’t carry a wide range of models due to space limitations. Now, these dealerships won’t have to turn customers away simply because they don’t have a vehicle in stock. Instead, they can direct customers to virtually explore the vehicle before making a purchase decision. The introduction of virtual showrooms has made it easier for automotive consumers to research different vehicles online. Because of virtual reality, automotive consumers can get the dealership showroom experience without stepping foot in a dealership. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Taking a test drive is an important part of the average automotive consumer’s car-buying journey. In fact, nearly two-thirds of consumers said they would not purchase a vehicle without taking it for a test drive first. But thanks to virtual reality, automotive consumers may not need to visit a dealership in-person to take a vehicle out for a spin. Many automotive dealerships now offer virtual test drives, which are test drives powered by virtual reality technology. Consumers can select which make and model they want to test drive. Then, they can take the selected vehicle on a simulated test drive to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel. A virtual test drive gives consumers the chance to experience how the vehicle drives and explore the interior of the vehicle. Consumers can test drive as many vehicles as they would like, which will help them compare different models, narrow down their options, and determine which vehicle is right for them. Taking a virtual test drive is also far more convenient since consumers can do it without scheduling an appointment in advance or leaving their homes. Automotive consumers won’t need to purchase a special virtual reality headset or device to take a virtual test drive. All they need to start their virtual test drive is their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Then, they can buckle up and hit the virtual road. SAFETY TESTING Every vehicle goes through rigorous testing before it is sold to consumers. For example, every vehicle must go through crash tests, which determine how the vehicle will hold up when hit by another car from various angles. In the past, automotive manufacturers could not perform these tests until the vehicle was actually produced. But now, automotive manufacturers have the option of using virtual reality to conduct these safety tests early on in the design and development phase. For example, in 2017, many vehicles did not pass the headlight safety test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The next year, automotive manufacturers were committed to improving their headlights to ensure they could pass this crucial safety test. Instead of waiting for a vehicle to be produced, automotive manufacturers began using virtual reality to test their headlights during the vehicle design and development process. This allowed them to determine whether or not the headlights met the IIHS’s standards while the vehicle was still being designed. If the headlights did not meet these standards, the automotive manufacturer could simply tweak the design and retest the headlights. This way, the automotive manufacturer could perfect the design of the headlights before the vehicle went into production. This is just one example of how automotive manufacturers have used virtual reality technology to reduce the time and costs associated with safety testing. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Design-and-Prototyping.jpg] DESIGN AND PROTOTYPING It takes a long time to design a new vehicle. Countless changes are made to the design of a vehicle before it is approved for production. Every time a change is made to the design, a new clay prototype must be built to reflect the changes. Building these clay prototypes is not only time-consuming, but also expensive. Fortunately, virtual reality technology can eliminate the need for these prototypes. Several automotive manufacturers, including Ford, are now using virtual reality technology to design new vehicles. Ford designers now create virtual models of new designs instead of clay prototypes. Once the virtual model is complete, the designers can rotate the vehicle to view it from every angle. They can even put a virtual driver in the front seat to inspect the interior design. If a change is requested, the team simply updates the virtual model instead of creating a new clay prototype. This drastically reduces the amount of time that it takes to complete the design of a new vehicle. Ford estimates that virtual reality has shortened the design process from weeks to hours. Using virtual reality in this manner also reduces the cost of designing a new vehicle. It’s also easier for designers to collaborate on a virtual design. Everyone on the team–regardless of where they are located–can visit the virtual room to view the model and provide their input. Because it is easier to collaborate, this process could lead to more innovative and exciting design ideas. EMPLOYEE TRAINING Virtual reality technology has also changed the way in which employees in the automotive industry are trained. Employees used to learn how to assemble different car models by observing others. After watching someone else correctly assemble a vehicle, these employees were given an opportunity to test their knowledge by assembling a car model under the supervision of trained experts. Even though they were supervised, employees often make mistakes during this stage of the training process. Each mistake can cause significant damage to the vehicle, which can cost the manufacturer hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some mistakes can also jeopardize the safety of employees. Now, automotive manufacturers are using virtual reality technology to train new employees in a virtual environment. Employees can now get hands-on experience assembling a vehicle in a virtual world rather than a real world. This way, employees are free to make mistakes without worrying about the safety or financial repercussions. Instead, they can learn from their mistakes in the virtual world so they don’t make the same errors when assembling vehicles in the real world. Virtual reality also makes it easier for automotive manufacturers to train large groups of employees at once. Employees from around the globe can join virtual training sessions, so automotive manufacturers can train everyone at the same time instead of hosting training sessions at each location. DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR TEENS Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are injured in traffic accidents every year. Many of these traffic accidents are caused by inexperience. Teenagers are fairly new to driving, so they don’t always have the experience necessary to avoid accidents. To address this problem, Toyota developed a driving simulator powered by virtual reality technology called TeenDrive365. TeenDrive365 allows teenagers to practice driving in a virtual world before they get behind the wheel in the real world. This simulator, which is compatible with Oculus Rift devices, provides teenagers with the skills they need to safely operate in a vehicle in the real world. It focuses on teaching teenagers how to avoid distractions while operating a vehicle. Teenagers will encounter a number of different distractions while virtually driving in the TeenDrive365 simulated world. For example, they may hear their phone ringing or a passenger in the backseat asking them a question. Teenagers must train themselves to avoid these distractions so they can continue to safely drive their virtual vehicle. This prepares them for the real world, where they will have to learn how to ignore these distractions every time they get behind the wheel. Teenagers who are unable to ignore these virtual distractions may get into an accident. Even though it occurs in a simulated world, it still feels real, which helps teenagers understand the dangerous consequences of distracted driving. The automotive industry was one of the first industries to embrace virtual reality technology. Now, automotive companies have found countless ways to use this technology to their advantage. Some of these virtual reality applications are already in use, whereas others are planned for the future. This means virtual reality will continue to drive change and innovation in the automotive industry in the years to come.
All About the Audi Virtual Reality Showroom
April 23, 2021
The Coronavirus changed the world in a variety of ways, but one of the biggest impacts has been made in the virtual and immersive reality spheres. Retailers throughout the consumer services, commercial goods, and automotive sectors are relying on this technology to connect customers with brands from wherever everyone is located. To limit personal contact and keep business thriving, virtual reality is more important than ever before on the mainstream market. The Audi virtual reality showroom is one example that shows the practical use of VR and immersive media in the automotive industry. From the time someone starts researching their chosen vehicle to the moment their purchase leaves the lot, virtual reality can give potential buyers more control than ever without requiring a visit to a brick-and-mortar car lot. Using mobile technology, innovative projection elements, and smart connectivity – Audi is one of the leaders in this rapidly growing part of the automotive retail industry. Read more about the Audi virtual reality showroom and how this luxury retailer could change the car sales sphere as we’ve known it – even after the pandemic no longer has an impact on the global marketplace. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/virtual-reality-in-Audis-showrooms.jpg] WHAT LED TO THE USE OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN AUDI’S SHOWROOMS? Audi has been using virtual reality technology in the shopping experience since 2016, but this capability has only grown in the current digital landscape. The leading retailer is using VR connectivity to design, manufacture, market, and sell cars in a new and innovative way. When onsite showrooms closed around the world in 2020, this technology became more than just a way to attract tech-savvy consumers to the high-end brand. VR showroom technology allowed buyers and sellers to continue maintaining operations. This capability is also responsible for boosting in-house development by connecting designers, engineers, dealers, and decision-makers across the global corporation. While Audi’s virtual reality showrooms have always incorporated a hybrid experience between onsite and remote features, shoppers have relied on this corner of the virtual world to explore and learn about emerging models with the same level of granularity of showing up to the dealership. The deployment of real-time VR has made the shopping experience more accessible, without taking away the exclusivity and level of luxury the brand is known for. VR showroom technology has been used by Audi to facilitate: * Virtual test driving * Remote supply management * Real-time customization * Car delivery * Instant product selection and quote comparison * Access to an unlimited inventory While physical dealerships are limited by the amount of physical space they can provide, virtual reality showrooms can house an infinite amount of individual SKUs – as well as limitless customization options from color to function to accessories and more. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Audi-manufacturing-and-sales-processes.jpg] WHY IS VR CHANGING THE AUDI MANUFACTURING AND SALES PROCESSES? Audi is credited with producing the first completely functional VR experience in the dealership environment. Starting in Europe, this technology took the automotive world by storm and created a new culture surrounding digitization in large-scale retail. Using VR in the sales and supply chain processes has provided customers and partners with a first-hand look at the inner workings of this global brand’s approach to innovation and accessibility. With just a VR headset, dealerships have expanded their product offerings and level of service to give customers a realistic but digitized look at the inventory, sourcing, materials, and functions provided by each individual car lot. As we experienced during the pandemic, customization and technological innovation continue to reign as king throughout the entire automotive industry. But, limited access to physical car lots is just one problem that needed to be solved in order to keep auto sales high. Since 2017, Audi has been perfecting this technology to give customers the ability to: * Customize individual products * Search through limitless inventories * Expand their shopping experience from any connected location * Dive into the minute functions of each product available * Create the exact vehicle of their dreams, with their own hands On the level of manufacturing and production, VR has changed the way automakers collaborate to create new models, perfect existing SKUs, and build new ideas in a fully digital workspace. This type of technology has allowed dealers and retailers to significantly cut costs by reducing overhead tied to inventory management, onsite workspaces, and even physical equipment needed for modeling, testing, and merchandising. By moving the entire dealership to the digital sphere, the possibilities are endless when it comes to: * Variety and customization of existing inventory * Simplicity of placing new orders * Expanding office space without increasing overhead * Building a sustainable showroom environment Digitization is cheaper, more efficient, and often more effective than in-person tactics which provide the same results. Additionally, Audi’s use of VR in the dealership has reduced error margins by utilizing automation and machine learning to perfect the sales process. By applying customer data to personalized the shopping experience, virtual reality can cut hours from each individual consumer’s vehicle search process. In just a matter of minutes, someone can customize a potential purchase to their chosen specifications while navigating through the sales process using smart, AI-generated prompts and solutions. Instead of spending hours walking up and down a vast car lot to find the right model, with the right specifications, it’s possible to quickly browse through hundreds (or thousands) of options at your fingertips. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/How-is-VR-used-to-visualize-new-products.jpg] HOW IS VR USED TO VISUALIZE NEW PRODUCTS? Typically, innovation in automotive has been tied to extensive testing and analysis of physical prototypes and new releases. This method is expensive, wasteful, and dependent on a wide range of unpredictable factors that can occur during any cycle. Virtual reality has allowed auto brands such as Audi to test, analyze, assess, and fix new vehicles before they ever hit the market. Using detailed manipulation of digital renders and simulating those parts in realistic virtual environments, the manufacturing and testing processes can be completed in an entirely digital world. With VR design capabilities, specialists and engineers can create new vehicles from anywhere, at any time. Not only has this opened up an entirely new culture of workplace flexibility and corporate stability, but it’s made it possible to drive brand growth in a previously limited industry. Whether designers are working from home, shared office spaces, or the showroom – they can collaborate in real-time using virtual tools and file-sharing options. Additionally, the growth of secure cloud storage allows individuals to communicate and transfer files, images, renders, and more in an entirely digital work environment. Removing human testing and physical prototypes has also saved automotive giants millions in production costs, as each individual trial would typically require a new set of equipment. Cutting down on these materials, while eliminating the need for human testing in self-contained environments, has made the production process cheaper and safer from start to finish. When it comes to creating new models, virtual reality has simplified the ideation and creativity parts of the production line like never before. Instead of meticulously changing physical prototypes to meet designer specifications, engineers and testing specialists can simultaneously work on digital prototypes and revise the information as often, or as frequently, as needed. From design elements like shapes and colors to functionalities in the cab and motor, VR facilitates an open environment where each collaborator can work on any element of a vehicle for as long or as detailed as necessary until the capability is up to par. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Is-virtual-reality-impacting-Audi.jpg] IS VIRTUAL REALITY IMPACTING AUDI’S HOME-BASED SALES? In short, virtual reality has allowed Audi’s customers to see the future of the automotive industry in real-time. No matter where they’re starting to conduct their vehicle search, they can visit a virtual dealership just as easily as before. But, with this new development, they can ensure that more control rests in their own hands instead of the salespeople who are running the car lot. By allowing consumers to lead the way, VR has positively impacted Audi’s home-based sales and onsite sales that involve immersive VR technology. Virtual and augmented reality technology is more accessible for consumers than ever, and it’s now possible to access these capabilities with just a mobile phone or user-owned device. While Audi is still utilizing VR technology to enhance the in-store experience, the same innovation is revamping the at-home shopping experience for the brand’s consumers. Interest in at-home auto shopping reached all-time highs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While many consumers would still prefer to handle at least part of the buying process onsite, more and more shoppers are opting for virtual reality solutions to speed up the process, cut back on time spent comparing models and quotes, and eliminate the need for assistance by an in-person sales representative. Virtual test driving, real-time customization, and access to an endless inventory are just a few reasons why VR dealerships are appealing to the average consumer. Furthermore, VR connectivity has changed the way auto brands advertise to their target audiences – improving conversion rates and reducing returns at the same time. VR technology is still in the beginning stages, and there are a few hitches in the process that are turning off mainstream consumers. Some issues include: * 26% of consumers claimed poor user experience (through bulky equipment, glitches, bugs, and more) is hindering the process * 24% of consumer cited low content availability as a hindrance to mainstream adoption * 10% of consumers are worried about rising costs associated with VR technology * 13% of consumers feel limited by VR regulations and related legal issues However, with more than half of the younger consumer base showing some interest in virtual reality technology, auto brands like Audi are seeing positive trends surrounding consumer adoption and acceptance of VR. Immersing customers into targeted ads, providing personalized information using machine learning, and allowing buyers to lead their own shopping processes is bringing VR to the forefront of the automotive industry. As adoption rates and consumer opinions surrounding VR continue to grow, we’re sure to see even more virtual reality capabilities and functions throughout the entire at-home buying process. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Audi-virtual-reality-showrooms.jpg] WHICH TECH INNOVATORS ARE INVOLVED WITH THE AUDI VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? The gaming industry continues to be the top provider for VR demand in the mainstream marketplace, but automotive is following closely. As a result, there is a considerable amount of overlap among top tech innovators across multiple spheres and specializations. Around the world, these continue to be the top brands in VR technology across the board: * Google * Oculus * Autodesk * Robert Bosch GmbH * Onboard * Microsoft * HTC * Audax * OmniVirt * 4Experience Virtual reality companies are popping up in droves to respond to the influx in consumer and corporate demand for simplified, accessible VR access. Audi, in particular, also utilizes proprietary technology to provide streamlined innovation to their consumers. Germany-based startup holoride has been a leader in the advent of dealership and in-car VR experiences. The virtual reality experience facilitated by holoride can transform driving for everyone inside of Audi’s suite of luxury vehicles. From entertainment to safety features and beyond, VR is effectively transforming the way drivers, pedestrians, and even businesses interact with each other on the road. When it comes to technological advancements in the automotive sphere, virtual reality is a hot-button topic that continues to generate buzz year after year. From the time a shopper searches for a potential vehicle purchase to the moment they put their key into the ignition, virtual reality has the potential to remove time, money, and stress from the entire equation. By simplifying the shopping experience, streamlining automotive manufacturing, and even enhancing the in-car atmosphere – Audi is making a name for itself as a tech giant within the luxury car sphere. The Audi virtual reality showroom continues to be the pioneering service that is effectively changing the automotive industry as we’ve always known it. As we become more accustomed to VR technology in the consumer retail sector, we’re sure to see more of this brand’s strategic developments for years to come.