How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market
The United States has a computer chip shortage, and according to experts, it’s not likely to get much better for a few years. How has the tiny computer chip become a thorn in the side of multiple industries, including automotive? According to CNN the shortage is related to several issues, all of which have created the perfect electronic storm. Low supply has been exacerbated by Covid; shutdowns likely contributed to the availability. However, CNN also reported the automobile manufacturers cut back on buying chips…while tech sectors might have embraced them (perhaps a bit like consumers embraced toilet paper). In addition, there have been trade sanctions on some companies in China, which also could have squeezed the supply. All these factors have led to a low supply that has translated into higher costs, and the consumer may be seeing higher prices, too. As automotive companies may be grappling with a low supply of the chips they need for the now computer-dominated car mechanics, the price on the sticker might reflect this supply/demand dynamic. How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Is-Automotive-the-Only-Industry-Affected.jpg] IS AUTOMOTIVE THE ONLY INDUSTRY AFFECTED? While CNN noted that the issue of the shortage had primarily affected the automotive industry, now it has trickled down to other sectors. We live in a smart world, and consumers own a LOT of smart products. Those shopping for new products that are reliant on the brains of a computer—or more directly, a computer chip—might find that the prices could be higher on appliances and other goods. Even modern refrigerators feature smart screens and other advanced features that rely on computer technology. Even Fido the family dog could be affected by the chip shortage. According to The Washington Post, high-tech dog washing stations might be feeling the electrical burn of the chip shortage. Other options were procured to keep the production running on the stations, according to the Post, but those alternatives were pricier as using a different chip required changing other aspects of the mechanics. While automotive isn’t the only manufacturing sector affected, it is being hit extremely hard. Automobiles feature complicated mechanics and computerized systems, and some models are much more tech-savvy than others. Fox2 in Detroit reported that Fiat-Chrysler actually had to announce a month-long shutdown of a minivan plant because of the shortage. Other manufacturers also had to cease production. The mechanics of a vehicle are complicated, and, as Fox2 reported, some vehicles require about a dozen computer chips. The demand of the automotive industry on the computer chip is staggering. Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant produces more than 460,000 vehicles each year; divided up over each month, that’s nearly 40,000 cars…representing nearly half a million chips every month! Multiply that over all the other manufacturer’s plants across the United States, and it becomes clear why the automotive industry has been hit so hard by the shortage. WHEN WILL IT END? Consumers likely remember a lot of shortages during Covid, particularly toilet paper. While the supply eventually caught up with demand—and people stopped hoarding—it took some time for the supply chain to fully recover and match the consumer’s needs. Auto Blog published a story detailing how President Biden’s infrastructure plan may help the shortage; Biden was encouraging U.S. companies to boost production of chips nationally. A new infrastructure plan could infuse $50 billion into the industry to help grow production of the chips. Back in February (2021), Reuters reported that Biden sought $37 billion to help the microchip shortage and stimulate U.S. production; the blog also reported that he signed an Executive Order urging action related to the shortage. Unfortunately, the shortage may be continuing beyond 2021. In an interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS News, Intel’s CEO Paul Gelsinger explained that it may take some time for supply and demand to be a bit more balanced. “I think we have a couple of years until we catch up to this surging demand across every aspect of the business,” said Gelsinger in the interview with Stahl. How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Shopping-for-a-Car-During-the-Chip-Crisis.jpg] SHOPPING FOR A CAR DURING THE CHIP CRISIS With car production shutting down in some areas because of the chip supply issues, consumers may wonder what they may face when shopping for a car. Detroit News reported that manufacturers may produce fewer vehicles—by the millions (2.5 million!). Less supply could be an issue if more consumers are on the hunt for a new car. If demand for new vehicles exceeds supply, then prices could reflect this imbalance. While manufacturers are primarily being hit with the full force of the shortage, that little chip could chip away at consumers’ pockets too. Car prices can vary wildly already between makes and models. Consumers shopping for a new car should be mindful of the chip shortage and may need to hunt for deals. For many consumers, though, car shopping may already begin at home (especially during Covid). To prepare for a trip to the dealership and to ward off any sticker shock, consumers may want to visit dealers’ web sites to price popular vehicles and understand what rebates, deals and incentives are currently offered. Some consumers, however, may have no idea what car they want or need. In that case, online virtual or augmented reality showrooms could help to sort through many different options. Some manufacturers or dealerships offer their own virtual or augmented reality showrooms. However, RelayCars can be accessed by consumers online; RelayCars also offers both augmented reality and virtual reality apps. RelayCars’ virtual reality app can be accessed with or without a headset. The virtual reality showroom offers an array of different makes and models from many different years (beneficial for those on the hunt for a pre-owned automobile). The augmented reality app allows consumers to bring a vehicle into the user’s environment; cars can be viewed in a living room, outside or even in the garage. These experiences help consumers filter out their vehicle preferences. By viewing different vehicles in a remote or augmented reality space, consumers can gather basic information about their favorite vehicles. Then they can narrow down their wish list to a few models and begin to research prices and different promotions offered by local dealerships. HOW WILL THE CHIP CRISIS IMPACT THE NEW CAR SELECTION? Even those who use the internet and its vast resources to narrow down their vehicle choices to their most favorite models could be in for a rude awakening at the dealership. USA Today reported on the microchip crisis in April 2021 and explained that consumers might be unable to purchase the car of their dreams, because it might not be available. Instead, consumers could wind up buying a different vehicle…perhaps a model that isn’t so tech savvy. Of course, while the consumer may find their choices lacking at the dealerships, the biggest loser of the chip crisis is likely going to be the automobile industry as a whole. USA Today reported that industry anticipates seeing sales drop by $60 billion…just in the first half of 2021. For consumers who find their selection limited at the dealership, the chip crisis may force them to compromise on what they want. However, consumers also could consider buying a used car that offers the technology that they desire. USED CARS WILL BE AFFECTED, TOO! Shopping for a used car could be one way that consumers dodge the availability issues during the chip crisis. However, USA Today reported in a separate story that used car prices are rising, too. Consumers looking into the used market for an older version of their dream car might see higher prices. USA Today noted that while the prices are higher, consumers who are trading in their vehicles may see a higher trade-in value. As demand increases, supply needs to keep up. In the used car market, the suppliers are often the consumers! While the price of a new car could be higher, those with trade-ins could balance the higher price with a better trade-in value. MAKE A LIST AND HAVE A BACK-UP Shopping during the chip crisis could become a bit more complicated. While consumers could have no issue finding their favorite car, those looking for high-end features could see few options. When researching online, consumers might want to make a car wish list complete with backup options, just in case their ideal model isn’t available. Shopping the used market also could provide more options, but, again, prices could be higher because of the crisis. Consumers should be armed with information related to any dealer promotions, incentives or other deals. Of course, a higher down payment also could help lower the monthly payments (although not every consumer has the ability to come to the table with a large down payment). Eventually supply will catch up to demand and the industry will recover. However, consumers should be prepared for the chip crisis to continue for a while longer. Research car choices online before heading to a dealership, then review the dealerships web site to understand model availability. Come to the dealership prepared with backup options in case that dream car is nowhere to be found on the lot.
Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?
Augmented reality and virtual reality are playing larger and larger roles in our daily lives and branching into just about every industry under the sun, often with spectacularly successful results. Businesses and advertisers in particular are utilizing AR and VR technology in order to better connect with consumers, creating more dynamic and engaging experiences on websites. However, there is a question right now as to whether or not it is too risky to incorporate AR and VR into e-commerce sites due to the fact that online shoppers are in need of enhanced security while making purchases on the internet. Sources show that around 1.8 billion people around the world do at least a portion of their shopping online, and that figure has only grown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, where most consumers around the world had to resort to online shopping amidst a vast global shutdown. As a matter of fact, during March of 2020 42% of the US population did their shopping online, a number that was double from the same time in 2018. A whopping 85% of customers around the globe have made at least one online purchase at some point in their life. Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/E-Commerce.jpg] E-COMMERCE: WHY MESS UP A GOOD THING? If your e-commerce site is running well and your customers have good things to say about your secure purchasing process online, then maybe you’re wondering why you would even entertain the idea of incorporating AR or VR technology into your e-commerce site/business. However, you could be missing out on having your site and services stand out among the rest of the noise. AR and VR technology are synonymous with top-of-the-line — so any visitor who uses your site will notice this right off the bat, giving your site a certain level of authority and credibility that a more basic e-commerce site simply isn’t going to be able to match. If you do incorporate AR or VR into your site and people are going to be making purchases on your site, you’re going to want to make sure that you double-down on your security measures as a result. You don’t want to learn the hard way when it comes to security breaches. There are a number of ways that your e-commerce site and network can be compromised due to security threats, which can come in the form of malware, phishing, scams, hacking, and more. The Internet is a markedly unsafe place — when it comes to your e-commerce site browser security, site security, and network security are crucial. AR/VR AND E-COMMERCE E-commerce businesses and websites are trying to bridge the gap between online and brick-and-mortar shopping, and augmented reality and virtual reality are avenues that give them the power to do just that. Virtual reality is being used by online sellers to create more of an in-store experience, not to mention help consumers visualize how a product can be used or how it will look in their home. Down the road, VR aims to create a completely immersive and sensory experience, incorporating sight, audio, smell, touch, and even taste. Augmented reality is used to add outside elements onto an existing environment. In the e-commerce world, augmented reality helps users interact with products in order to increase buying confidence. AR and VR are helping bring products and e-commerce businesses to life… right before the consumer’s eyes! However, AR and VR can open certain doors that can be exploited by hackers and other compromises in security. With new technology springs new surfaces of attack. One upside of AR and VR is that they offer very few new attack surfaces, since they both predominantly operate off of existing platforms. AR and VR can operate on the computers, consoles, and mobile devices we already use, AR/VR tracking software can be used without internet connection in many cases — which means that this technology doesn’t necessarily pose any greater risk than any other kind of software, perhaps even so than, say, the average network connected video game. Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Online-Security-and-E-Commerce.jpg] ONLINE SECURITY AND E-COMMERCE Online security is of crucial importance for any business, and e-commerce businesses need to take every precaution available to protect themselves and those who make purchases on their site. In 2018 alone, over 32% of all online attacks happened to online businesses. Make sure to protect the trust of your customers’ by taking a few e-commerce security measures which include: * Integrity * Privacy * Effective Authentication * Non-Repudiation Integrity is important in order to ensure that any piece of information your customers enter on your site remains incorrupt and unchangeable. The altering of any information your customer enters will result in a loss of trust. Privacy is of obvious importance, which includes the prevention of any sort of activity that involves the sharing of customer information with third parties that have not been authorized. At the very least, every online business should have anti-virus protection, firewall, encryption, as well as additional data protection. Authentication is important in order to ensure both parties are real, which will help ensure that both parties deliver what they promise to. Since e-commerce transactions occur on the internet and not in person, it’s important to ensure that both parties hold up their end of the transaction, and non-repudiation is essential in finalizing the sale. Non-repudiation adds a layer of protection for the seller and the buyer to ensure that both parties are 100% satisfied with the business transaction. TREADING LIGHTLY WITH AR/VR AND E-COMMERCE Now that the global pandemic is starting to subside in many areas of the world, customers are changing their behaviors and over 75% of customers have shifted brand loyalty during this time of global pandemic. This creates a unique opportunity for smaller brands and e-commerce businesses to stake their claim and convert consumers to their respective brands. Customers have a new set of expectations when shopping online. Now, many consumers expect to get a clear picture of what they’re purchasing ahead of time, and without even stepping foot into a brick and mortar location in order to make such findings. Larger online retailers like IKEA and Gucci can easily make the shift into incorporating AR into their online shopping experience with very little risk, while smaller businesses might be rolling the dice trying to capitalize on changing customer expectations and shopping preferences. Many small businesses do not see the appeal in jeopardizing an already seamless shopping experience they’ve worked so tirelessly to create. However, failing to address a new customer need could have an online store failing to experience new growth and connect with new customers. Ideally, e-commerce sites will be able to incorporate AR and VR technology into their online purchasing experience without disrupting the sales process. Remember that AR and VR can both be used as part of the sales funnel, which will help inspire new and existing customers to make a purchase. You will want to make sure that your process, from start to finish, is quick and easy. Google asserts that for every one second page load delay, 20% of customers leave the site. Striking the right balance between functionality and familiarity is crucial in crafting a successful online shopping experience. Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Know-Thy-Audience.jpg] KNOW THY AUDIENCE Taking the time to correctly identify your target audience is also incredibly important when deciding whether or not to incorporate AR and VR technology into your ecommerce site. If your target audience is younger and more tech savvy, then you are going to want to consider accommodating those sorts of needs and expectations. However, if your target audience is more advanced in age and less familiar with the latest technology, you might want to consider keeping your online sales process as simple and easy as possible. Credibility is extremely important as customer loyalty trends continue to shift during these uncertain times. As uncertain as the times may be, your e-commerce site has the ability to provide continuity and consistency, which consumers put a lot of stock in these days. If your brand/business can weather the storm and provide your products and/or services without faltering, even in the online world, then that is going to increase your authority, credibility, and your relevance. Making the decision to incorporate AR/VR into your online purchasing experience might also simply come down to money. Incorporating augmented reality and virtual reality into a website can be quite expensive, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Integrating AR and VR into your e-commerce site might cost more money than you’re willing to put up, especially if the return on investment isn’t very convincing. At the end of the day, it’s an important decision to make. If you do decide to incorporate AR and VR into your e-commerce site, it’s a good idea to do your research, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish (keeping the customer experience in mind, of course), and execute a well-made plan to ensure everything happens in a timely and productive manner. Keeping in mind some e-commerce fundamentals mentioned above will help ensure that you make the right decision for your e-commerce brand/business.
Google’s Floom Lets You See Other Side of the Planet
Google has launched a new augmented reality experience called Floom that allows the user to actually create a tunnel (or portal, as Floom looks a bit like a swirling cloud) and peek on the other side. Using the augmented reality tool, users become sort of like virtual explorers. There’s only one downfall, though: Floom is only compatible with Android devices. Consumers clinging to an Apple device won’t be drilling via Floom. Since Android is a Google device, though, there shouldn’t be any sense of surprise that Apple devices aren’t yet welcome. Those lucky enough to experience Floom have more adventures awaiting them. Ready to drill through the Earth? Here’s what you can discover with Floom. google floom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Traveling-to-the-Other-Side.jpg] TRAVELING TO THE OTHER SIDE Floom is incredibly creative in its adventure potential. Users don’t have only one way to dig through the Earth. In fact, the tunnel or hole you dig depends on how the phone is held. Tunnels or holes can angle in a different direction, and Google explains that in this way users can explore different areas with Floom. This is where the experience gets really interesting. While one hole may lead the user into an ocean, another could place you on top of a mountain. Then it’s time to explore the area. Once the user discovers their location, they can explore it on Google Earth. A writer for The Verge used Floom and could reach Antarctica, New Zealand and the Middle East at home. The potential to discover different parts of the world can be seemingly endless; imagine using Floom on vacation or in a different state. Every different location creates a unique experience. HOW IS FLOOM AUGMENTED REALITY? Floom uses WebXR, which includes augmented reality. The term ‘XR’ is typically a reference to extended reality, encompassing both augmented reality and virtual reality. Floom is considered augmented reality as users draw a hole (or tunnel) in their real world location. This could be on the carpet, on the kitchen tile…anywhere! The hole isn’t actually there, but graphic overlays provide the augmented experience of a tunnel. Once the user draws the tunnel, the vision of the real world environment on the other side of the Earth is shown. So Floom includes an augmented reality tunnel that leads to an augmented reality projection of another real world location. Confused, yet? Like most augmented reality experiences, Floom doesn’t require any special headsets or goggles. Augmented reality typically uses the camera from a phone or other mobile device to produce the graphics overlays on top of the real environment. GOOGLE IS ON A ROLL WITH AUGMENTED REALITY Since Floom is only compatible with Android devices, not everyone will have access to the experience. The bad news? Floom isn’t the only cool augmented reality experience created by Google for Android. There are actually several augmented reality experiences that can be enjoyed at home or anywhere…if and when the mood strikes. Check out these cool augmented reality experiences from Google: MEASURE UP If you’re curious about the volume of the empty coffee mug sitting on your desk, Google has you covered. Measure Up allows users to measure anything around you. Yes, Measure Up will even calculate volume. Just don’t share the experience with a middle schooler who desperately needs to learn how to calculate volume the old fashioned way! How does this experience work? With Measure Up, users can actually draw three-dimensional shapes around an object to gain the measurement. SODAR Sodar is the social distancing app for experience. We’re still living with a pandemic, and safety is a must. Sodar can be used to check social distancing guidelines. Google explains that the experience actually draws a ring around the user—the ring is two meters! Just be sure to stay in the ring! PICTURESCAPE This experience isn’t yet completed, per Google. But it’s going to be something that those with access will likely really enjoy. Picturescape will take the user’s photo library and turn them into augmented reality. You can explore your photos in augmented reality! AR FUN FOR USERS WHO DON’T HAVE AN ANDROID DEVICE Google’s immersive experiences are incredibly unique…and really cool. For those lacking an Android device, though, all hope is not lost. There are other ways to explore an augmented world using an Apple phone or table. Unfortunately, though, Apple users can’t yet tunnel through the Earth. So what’s available from the App Store? Here are some augmented reality experiences available on the App Store (some also might be available via Google Play, too): PORTALS: LEARNING WITH AR Instead of digging a tunnel through the Earth, Portals lets you open up portals to different lands or scenes. The augmented reality app is fairly immersive; users step into the portal and can virtually explore their new environment. Choose from different environments; portals also come in different designs. STACK AR Stack AR is an augmented reality stacking game. The blocks or playing pieces appear in the real world…on whatever surface the user chooses. INKHUNTER Want to get a tattoo but are afraid of the commitment? Get an augmented reality tattoo via INKHUNTER. Choose from many different designs and get inked! The app also might help you visualize what that dream tattoo might look like. AR SPIDERS AR Spider lets users place a spider anywhere. What’s the fun of this? Apparently the app states you can start stomping on the ground and freak out your friends. APPLE’S MEASURE Most iPhones or Apple devices include a measuring tool. This actually uses augmented reality as a graphic ruler to help you measure anything anywhere. google floom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Other-Ways-to-Experience-Augmented-Reality.jpg] OTHER WAYS TO EXPERIENCE AUGMENTED REALITY While tech companies are constantly introducing new products and experiences for users (like augmented reality or virtual reality), companies also have embraced the use of augmented and virtual reality to enhance the user experience. For those interested in exploring different augmented reality experiences, look no further than your favorite stores: IKEA PLACE Download IKEA place and start redecorating your home. Users can place IKEA products in a room in your home with the aid of augmented reality. This is a great way to preview a new rug, sofa and more. SEPHORA Sephora’s Virtual Artist lets you try on different cosmetics, thanks to augmented reality. Stop guessing what lipstick hue will flatter your complexion! The app doesn’t require a picture, instead it scans the face and applies the product (virtually, of course). ULTA GLAMlab is Ulta’s augmented reality experience. On Ulta’s website GLAMlab allows users to choose a face that closely matches their own to try on products. However, the Ulta app may be much more immersive. SHERWIN-WILLIAMS Not sure what paint hue will look best in the bedroom? Painting the room without actually painting the room with Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnap Visualizer has multiple options. With iPads, users can paint their walls any hue they choose (take a picture of the room, and augmented reality does the rest). For Android and Apple phones, the ColorSnap Visualizer actually identifies colors from anywhere and matches them to a paint hue. HOME DEPOT Preview a new oven or refrigerator in the home with augmented reality from Home Depot. Just scan the room, and start previewing your product. Download the app for the experience. WARBY PARKER Shopping for new eyeglasses can be so frustrating, especially when shopping online. Will the frames look good? Are they flattering? Stop guessing. Warby Parker’s app lets users try on frames virtually to find the best look. MAGNOLIA MARKET Chip and Joanna Gaines are utilizing augmented reality, too! The Magnolia Market app lets users place different items in their home using augmented reality. Sorry, though, the app might not let users preview shiplap on their walls. RELAYCARS Looking for a new car but don’t want to visit a dealership? Pictures only can give shoppers so much information. RelayCars offers both a virtual and augmented reality showroom where shoppers can preview new car models. With the augmented reality app, users actually drop the car into their environment. Walk around the vehicle and look inside; the app also allows the paint hue to be swapped out. The virtual reality app allows users to preview cars in a virtual environment; the experience can be viewed with or without a headset. While Android users might have a blast trying out the new Floom augmented reality experience (and other Google drops), there are many augmented reality experiences that can be downloaded to other devices, too. For those interested in exploring all that augmented reality has to offer, a quick search via Google Play or the App Store brings up a list of choices. And don’t forget to explore augmented reality experiences when you’re shopping. Many stores offer these unique experiences, and it’s fun to try out all the different options!
How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption
Perhaps since humankind began exploring its innate ability to create, the desire arose to craft an entirely interactive reality outside of our physical, earthly realm. In the early days, usually this would end up as some sort of depiction of reality with varying levels of accuracy, depending on the individual recreating what they experienced or saw. Virtual reality just might be the closest thing we have to such an ability in this day and age, and it’s being used for a variety of purposes, especially in the content creation and consumption world. But what is virtual reality, really? Old school definitions pegged VR as computer-generated simulations of three-dimensional images and environments, images and environments which can be interacted with in what feels like a real, visceral way. Over the decades, the vehicle for VR has generally been electronic equipment of varying complexities — helmets, headsets, and even gloves with customized sensors. VIRTUAL REALITY HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 50S VR has made an undeniable impact in many different industries as it has been applied, especially in the ways that people create and consume content. But the true beginnings of virtual reality are often disputed. Although VR might be thought of as new technology, early virtual reality technology was actually invented in 1957 by Morton Heilig. Heilig created a multimedia device (called the Sensorama) which is now considered one of the earliest VR systems made available, except back in those days the term “Virtual Reality” had not been coined yet. Much later, in 1987, researcher Jaron Lanier called this technology “Virtual Reality”, a name which has obviously had staying power. VR hardware and content creation has also gotten more intuitive and pragmatic as time has gone on. VR has already been used in major motion pictures like Ready Player One and John Wick, and virtual reality has proven to be helpful in production, direction, and audience consumption. New technologies like face-tracking and other types of sensors and tracking are continuing to help content creators achieve what seems impossible. How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/virtual-reality.jpg] Since its inception, virtual reality has been a medium which empowers a vast array of creative-minded individuals to challenge (and altogether change) the way we experience art. What started first as three dimensional video games has now transcended video game consoles and headsets, breaking new ground into other areas of expression. With VR technology, artists and art brokers can now craft immersive exhibitions which take place entirely in virtual reality, which helps artists both show and sell artworks without experiencing time and geographical constraints. Virtual reality is helping more and more artists reach more and more people while driving consumer engagement with each virtual experience. Those who are interested in VR might also immerse themselves in an IMAX-style moviegoing experience from the comfort of their own home to amazing effects. Virtual reality technology is being packaged more and more for the average consumer, instead of the intensely tech-savvy. Eventually, VR might even task itself with making the viewer a part and central character of movies themselves as technology continues to evolve. VR: NOT JUST FOR ENTERTAINMENT We all know how VR has impacted video games and the entertainment industry, but virtual reality is not limited to these two fields. As a matter of fact, VR has changed the way most industries do what they do. The medical industry is utilizing VR technology to help plan and practice complex procedures, to help patients with pain and trauma management, and to even “print” various living tissues. VR can help surgeons improve their skills and explore human biology in entirely new ways. VR and the health and wellness industries will continue to evolve in tandem as industry leaders continue to think outside the box and really investigate how VR can be used to help humankind as a whole instead of simply using VR to provide distraction and entertainment. Those who experience PTSD are turning to virtual reality for therapeutic purposes. VR is able to help create new experiences for traumatized individuals while helping them explore the incidents that created trauma in the first place. The automotive industry is providing new VR content that helps consumers hop inside a vehicle and even take it for a test drive… all from the comfort of one’s own home. The real estate industry is also utilizing VR technology to provide contactless immersive tours in order to help consumers make more informed decisions. Online gambling is another industry that VR is set to change dynamically. Online gambling sites have an interest in creating immersive gaming environments for those who gamble online, which will help online gaming compete with brick and mortar casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City. VR technology is being used to bring the upscale casino straight to you. VIRTUAL REALITY AND CONTENT CREATION We already know that virtual reality has a place in the video game world. We now have VR headsets that can take us to new realms with starkly real circumstances and stimulation. Devices used for virtual reality continue to change, evolve, and become more streamlined. Film festivals across the globe are now incorporating VR technology into their screenings and events. Sundance showcased a VR film called “Spheres” in 2018, raising the important point that films and other modes of storytelling are social experiences while being introspective at the same time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, VR has helped film festivals go online in order to continue with their operations. Smartphones have also had an indelible impact on content creation, consumption, as well as virtual reality as a whole. With the advent of social media, we’ve found that movies and TV shows are as much personal experiences as they are communal experiences, and VR is set to help bridge the gap between making movies and stories happen on the screen and in real life. Down the road, we might even be purchasing smartphones that incorporate VR technology themselves, at which point headsets will no longer be necessary. Film and TV execs across the globe are trying to find a way to create content that transcends the large and small screen and provides supplemental information and content available on all smartphone brands. Instead of telling people to turn off their phones in movie theaters, the entertainment industry might start pushing the idea of keeping your smartphone on and in front of you for an entire cinematic experience. How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/VR-potential.jpg] Marketing experts have also mined VR potential to dramatic results. Businesses, brands, and influencers are turning to virtual reality to help better connect with consumers. Not only are marketers creating content that can be viewed on VR headsets, but social media platforms are utilizing filters to overlay pictures and other objects/content over images and videos. Filters available on social media outlets like Instagram are categorized as augmented reality (AR), which is a type of virtual reality that allows users to overlay content and images onto what they capture in the real world. AR and VR are working hand-in-hand to make the world around us (and the sources of entertainment we seek) more interesting and interactive. Just like with the entertainment industry, all of the industries mentioned above have a vested interest in keeping consumers interested, engaged, and having interactions with businesses, brands, and each piece of individual content that is consumed. Virtual reality is a fantastic way to connect and keep audiences engaged for long periods of time. VR AND HOW WE CONSUME CONTENT It’s pretty much agreed upon nowadays that those watercooler moments of yesteryear when people would discuss content in the form of TV shows, movies, news, books, and more on Mondays during work breaks are over. Instead, people can share their thoughts, input, ideas, satisfaction and dissatisfaction over a said piece of content pretty much instantly via social media and smartphone apps/technology. Marketers and top brass executives have noticed that with the advent of smartphones many consumers tend to interact with their phones while they’re experiencing content. How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/content-creators.jpg] As VR continues to create increasingly believable alternate realities, content creators are aware that visual and audio cues have to work in tandem to create this powerful sense of “new reality” or else consumers are not going to believe in whatever virtual reality is presented to them. Image and video technology continues to evolve with VR and so does 3D audio that creates as close to a natural listening experience as possible in the consumer. Now when consumers view a vlog, for instance, they can now be fully immersed in whatever environment they are presented with, giving a sense that the viewer is experiencing the event right there with the content creator. Moving forward, VR will continue to set its aim on capturing all of the human senses. Down the road, it’s not unreasonable to envision a virtual reality experience that incorporates sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound, which will help those involved in virtual reality create a more immersive and convincing virtual experience. As VR technology continues to evolve, the ways we craft and consume content will continue to change as well.
COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution
Over the course of history, there have been three industrial revolutions that completely transformed society. The first, which began in the 1700s, was sparked by the invention of the steam engine, which was used to mechanize production. The second took place in the late 1800s and was defined by the emergence of electric power, which was used for mass production. The third industrial revolution occurred as a result of the introduction of digital technologies and the internet. Each of these industrial revolutions has left its mark on society. Now, experts believe that a fourth industrial revolution is right around the corner, and it’s largely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts predict that this revolution will be driven by the widespread adoption of two new technologies: augmented reality and virtual reality. WHAT ARE AUGMENTED REALITY AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGIES? It’s important to have a basic understanding of augmented and virtual reality technology before learning how they could spur the next industrial revolution. Augmented and virtual reality are two types of extended reality technologies, which are technologies used to enhance the senses. But the two technologies provide very different experiences. Virtual reality technology transports users to simulated worlds where they can move around and interact with their surroundings. This technology blocks out the real world so users can completely immerse themselves in the simulated environment. Users typically need a virtual reality headset such as an Oculus or HTC Vive to experience virtual reality technology. Augmented reality, on the other hand, does not completely block out the real world. Instead, it combines elements of the digital world with the user’s real world. It allows users to superimpose digital elements such as images, videos, and sounds onto their real world environment. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality typically does not require the use of a special headset. COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/COVID-19-Pandemic.jpg] HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CHANGED THE WAY PEOPLE WORK The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of day-to-day life, including the way people work. Many offices and workplaces were forced to temporarily close as a result of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. This left employers with no other choice but to let their employees work remotely until they could return to the workplace. Prior to the pandemic, only one in five employees worked from home some or all of the time. But now, 71% of workers are working from home all or most of the time. Although the coronavirus pandemic will eventually come to an end, many people hope that remote working is here to stay. In fact, more than half of the workforce hopes that they can continue to work remotely once the pandemic has been resolved. Remote work benefits both employees and employers. It provides employees with flexibility and gives employers the chance to save money on operating costs. Because it is a win-win situation, many employers may be happy to let their employees continue working from home in the future. This shift to remote work could completely transform the business world and increase demand for augmented and virtual reality technology. COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/image.jpeg]Focused young businessman in eyewear wearing headphones, holding video call with clients on laptop. Concentrated millennial man in glasses giving online educational class lecture, consulting customer. HOW AUGMENTED REALITY AND VIRTUAL REALITY COULD MAKE REMOTE WORK EASIER It was easy for some people to start working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. But shifting to remote work was impossible for other people who work in the field, one-on-one with customers or patients, or in industrial occupations. Performing their job duties remotely was not a possibility in the past. But now, augmented and virtual reality can help people in these professions perform their work from any location. Not only will this change the way people work, but it could also change the way in which businesses operate, leading to a massive industrial revolution. THE INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS OF AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY There are many different industrial applications of augmented and virtual reality technologies, including: * Virtual/Interactive Demos * Training * Remote Support * Remote Meetings and Conferences * Product Design VIRTUAL/INTERACTIVE DEMOS Businesses can now provide virtual, interactive demos to consumers and third party partners using virtual reality technology. This gives consumers and third party partners the opportunity to test out new products without ever seeing it in person. The experience will be just like an in-person demo with one exception: it will take place in a simulated environment. TRAINING Both augmented and virtual reality technology have revolutionized the way in which businesses and schools train their employees and students. For example, aspiring surgeons and nurses practice everything from needle placement to neurosurgery on augmented reality models. This allows them to practice in a safe environment where mistakes will not have serious consequences. Augmented and virtual reality technologies are also used to train employees in the automotive industry. Some assembly line workers are now trained on how to put together different parts of a vehicle in a simulated environment. Pilots train in a simulated environment created by virtual reality technology, too. This gives pilots the opportunity to practice what they would do in certain emergency situations. These technologies have even been embraced by law enforcement agencies, who use it to train personnel on how to make good judgment calls in stressful simulated situations. All of these training sessions can take place remotely, which is a major change that the new industrial revolution will bring. REMOTE SUPPORT In the past, it was impossible to provide certain types of support to employees or customers from afar. For instance, an automotive technician typically cannot diagnose an issue with a customer’s car without inspecting the car in-person. An IT professional usually cannot help an employee troubleshoot an issue without running diagnostic tests on the computer in-person. But augmented reality technology makes it possible to provide remote support in situations like these. For example, if a customer has a problem with their vehicle, they can get remote support from an experienced automotive technician. The technician can use augmented reality technology to project instructions or highlight certain components of the vehicle into the customer’s field of view. This way, the technician can guide the customer through each step of the process of making simple repairs on their own. An employee who is having trouble connecting to the company network can now receive remote assistance from an IT support representative. Just like the automotive technician, the IT support representative can guide the employee through the process of addressing their issue. These are just two examples of how augmented reality technology can be used to provide remote assistance to employees and customers. COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Remote-Meetings-and-Conferences.jpg] REMOTE MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES Remote teams can participate in audio or video conferences using services like Zoom or Skype. But virtual reality technology offers a better way for remote workers to meet and collaborate with one another. Remote workers can use virtual reality technology to attend virtual meetings and conferences with their co-workers. This technology can transport them to a simulated conference or meeting room where they will be able to see their virtual co-workers, write on a virtual markerboard, and sit at a virtual conference table. This technology will make them feel as if they are actually in the same physical location as their co-workers, so it can satisfy their need for face-to-face time. It will also create a welcoming environment where remote workers may feel more comfortable sharing ideas, voicing concerns, and working together just as they would in a real office. PRODUCT DESIGN Thanks to virtual reality technology, engineers can remotely collaborate on the design of new products. In the automotive industry, for example, some manufacturers are now building virtual models of new designs instead of creating clay prototypes. Every member of the design team can access and make changes to the virtual model. As a result, an engineering team can create and finalize a design without ever touching a physical model of the vehicle or being in the same room with one another. Being able to remotely collaborate on virtual models isn’t the only benefit of using virtual reality technology to design new products. Building a virtual model is far less expensive than building multiple clay prototypes. It also allows the engineering team to make changes more quickly so they can finalize the design and get the product in the market as soon as possible. COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Reality-Industrial-Revolution.jpg] HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Businesses must start preparing for the upcoming augmented and virtual reality industrial revolution. Here’s how: * Budget accordingly. Businesses may need to invest in headsets or other extended reality accessories for their employees. Each headset should cost about the same as a laptop, so it’s important to factor this into budgets over the next several years. * Find the right team. Businesses may need to hire programmers with experience building augmented and virtual reality platforms. These programmers can ensure your augmented and virtual reality platform is designed with all of the unique features you need to reach your business goals. * Expect a learning curve. It’s not hard to use augmented and virtual reality technology, but businesses should still be prepared to provide training to employees. Some employees may catch on faster than others, so businesses should be prepared to provide additional assistance to employees if necessary. Taking these steps now will ensure your business is ready for the changes that the augmented and virtual reality industrial revolution may bring.
Is Huawei Passing Tesla on the Innovation Highway?
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
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
“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?
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
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.