The Augmented Reality Showroom: Where Imagination Meets Reality
April 5, 2021
According to Statista, the augmented reality and virtual reality market is expected to exceed $30 billion in 2021. The technology is used in the gaming world (like Pokemon Go!), in the beauty industry (preview cosmetics), in home design (preview paint colors in a room) and throughout the automotive sector. All these sectors and industries share a common use of augmented reality: the augmented reality showroom. This unique showroom is where imagination meets reality. Consumers can use their real world environment and preview products. Cars appear in living rooms, lipstick color sweeps onto lips, and living room walls are painted in any color of the rainbow (and beyond). The augmented reality showroom can aid shoppers on their hunt for perfection and, for some business, maybe it even leads to fewer returns. After all, if shoppers can see an item on their faces, their rooms or even in their garage, the decision to click buy may become less intimidating. An augmented reality showroom option also could heighten the user experience while shopping. Augmented reality showrooms can transform the seemingly flat online shopping experience into something that is immersive and interactive. If a website offers an augmented reality showroom, shoppers may play with the technology for a while…instead of clicking through the website and moving on. The site UsabilityGeek stated in a headline that augmented reality was “the shiny new toy syndrome.” Although the site noted that the technology could lead to “obsessive use.” And, when used in retail, “…people have started making unplanned purchases- all thanks to the tech’s influence.” How is the automotive sector leveraging this type of tech-heightened experience? And how do augmented reality showrooms aid new car buyers? Let’s look at the impact of augmented reality in the dealership realm. Augmented Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/The-Covid-Crux.jpg] THE COVID CRUX The impact of Covid on the automotive sector was devastating. Not only did the pandemic affect production, but it also impacted dealerships. The Drive reported that Ford, General Motors and FCA all ceased production during Covid; production plants shut down for several weeks in Ford plants to ensure proper cleaning and sanitation. Car and Driver reported that Subaru shutdown through early April (2020), Daimler closed for two weeks (starting in late March 2020), and Toyota suspended production through early April 2020. CNBC reported that Ford’s Chicago plant had to close twice when some workers tested positive in May; the closures were brief. In addition, CNBC reported that Ford’s Dearborn Michigan plant also had to be shut down briefly (in May) after positive cases were confirmed. Ford wasn’t the only automaker impacted by the spread of the pandemic. General Motors had to take on quite a juggling act when workers were out sick or in quarantine because of exposure. Fiat Chrysler and Ford took on temp workers. While car sales are now rebounding, National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) reported that new car sales in 2020 finished with 14.46 million units—a 14.7 percent decrease from 2019. HOW DEALERSHIPS RESPONDED TO CLOSED DOORS When shoppers couldn’t get into the physical location, how did businesses survive? Many had to pivot to online sales, and this transition may have been harder for car dealerships. Traditionally, the new car buying experience involved consumers visiting dealerships in person to check out different cars on the lot. New car shopping was very much a tactile experience. Shoppers opened doors, sat in the vehicles, played around with the features and took their favorite models out on the road for a test drive. Duplicating this experience required a bit of creativity. Before Covid, dealerships often offered photos of car models or used cars from their inventory online. Some dealerships might have provided photo slideshows that depicted these cars from all angles and gave shoppers a glimpse at the interior. The online experiences likely varied per dealership. During Covid, online experiences likely were a means of survival. Shoppers now had to limit their visits to dealerships…if they could even visit the dealership at all. While augmented and virtual reality showrooms were offered pre-Covid, during the pandemic these tech-savvy features might have increased in popularity. Shoppers needed a way to duplicate the in-person experience. Two-dimensional photos likely weren’t enough to provide the visual insight of the car. Dealerships responded with interactive showrooms that heightened the user experience. Augmented Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Cars-in-the-Living-Room.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOMS: CARS IN THE LIVING ROOM Dealerships may have offered virtual or augmented reality showrooms to provide online buyers with more detail about the cars offered in the dealership. While virtual reality showrooms transport shoppers into a virtual realm to preview vehicles, augmented reality showrooms overlay graphics onto a real-world environment. Virtual reality showrooms could be accessible through online portals or with the aid of virtual reality headsets. All vehicles and details in a virtual reality showroom are graphic depictions. That is, nothing in virtual reality uses any real world data. While the vehicles are virtual designs, they are completely accurate in their detailed simulations of their real-life counterparts. Augmented reality showrooms exist in various iterations. Many augmented reality showrooms—including RelayCars AR showroom—allow shoppers to integrate a graphic depiction of a specific vehicle into a real world environment. Using an app (in the case of RelayCars), users can use their camera to focus in on any area of the home or outdoor space. Then the car of their choice is dropped into this environment. The car can appear on a bed, in the living room or maybe in a garage. Augmented reality showrooms may allow shoppers to switch out elements of the car to preview different looks. Perhaps paint hues can be changed. Or maybe different features of the car can be examined. Often, shoppers can peek inside the vehicle for a glimpse of the interior and its features. Manufacturers and companies offering augmented reality showrooms may tailor their experiences differently. For example, Ferrari’s augmented reality app works in the physical showroom. The shopper can swap out colors and look at the inner-mechanics of the vehicle. The augmented reality showroom offered by RelayCars lets shoppers experience all different types of makes and models. The user can experience various vehicles in their own environment. These experiences can be a way to preview different cars but it also can help the consumer get acclimated to the idea of a simulated experience. Augmented reality showrooms require no special glasses or goggles, although users do typically need to utilize their smartphone or tablet camera. When physical dealership showrooms may have been closed to shoppers, the virtual and augmented reality showrooms offered online and via apps helped shoppers research cars and get an up-close look at their favorite models. When they found the cars that topped their wish list, they could contact the dealership and inquire about test drives. Some dealerships may have allowed the entire car buying transaction to happen virtually or online. HOW DOES AUGMENTED REALITY HELP SHOPPERS AFTER COVID? While the Covid vaccine is rolling out to the most vulnerable populations, soon the entire country will have a chance to receive the vaccine. The world may return to the old normal, but Covid also may have left an imprint on the shopping experience. Augmented reality showrooms existed before Covid. And after Covid, these offerings could remain popular for those who prefer to begin their shopping process online. Augmented and virtual reality allows the consumer to preview products at home, without commuting to a store, fighting traffic or dealing with crowds. Convenience could be a big perk of this tech. For car shoppers, augmented reality showrooms may help narrow down the wish list to a few favorites. Maybe seeing that SUV in the garage pushes the model higher up on the list. Even color preferences could change thanks to this tech. In the dealership, sometimes not all the available colors may be on the lot for buyers to see. Augmented reality showrooms, though, often let buyers switch out paint hues. That dark plum paint job could be the must-have hue, even if it wasn’t even on a buyer’s radar! Shopping for a new car could become a mix of real-life and virtual/augmented reality experiences. Virtual and augmented reality could be used for pre-buying research, with only the top models being investigated by consumers in the physical dealership. Augmented reality showrooms combined with other tools offered online by dealerships could greatly aid buyers in finding deals and their favorite cars. Augmented reality showrooms when combined with online customer service experiences could further ease the hunt for a new car. Dealerships often offer virtual customer service assistance via their website, and these virtual assistants can answer questions that buyers may have as they search for a new car. Even after Covid has dissipated, the virtual and augmented platforms that many buyers relied on to simulate the real-world experiences may continue to impact, aid and simply the task of shopping for a new car.
Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy
April 2, 2021
For the last few years, global consumers have been moving towards a shopping model almost entirely facilitated by e-commerce growth. From food to childcare, it’s possible to purchase goods and services – across virtually every sector – with the tap of a screen. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the automotive industry also saw a huge influx in commercial and consumer interest surrounding digital experiences and online tools. Since customers are getting used to handling the car-buying process from their desktop or mobile devices, automotive brands are being rushed into the e-commerce sphere like never before. To reach the growing base of consumers who spend the majority of their time online, auto brands have to adopt an online user experience strategy that can span across multiple demographics and niches. What was previously only a trend among younger consumers is being taken over by the masses, and teenagers and seniors alike are looking for ways to shop online. Read on to learn more about the core reasons why the automotive industry must embrace a digital-first customer experience strategy. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/digital-customer-experience.jpg] WHAT IS DIGITAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE? Making your online customers feel seen, heard, and valued is more important to the growth of your business than you might expect. As we enter the ever-expanding digital landscape, this element is becoming even more essential across e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping. In short, digitization starts and stops at the customer level. This means that all changes, actions, and functions in a digital marketing or business strategy should keep the customer’s goals at the forefront. Understanding the standard consumer profile for any respective brand’s target audience is always the first step, but there is more to the digital customer experience than a couple of email campaigns and some A/B testing. In the automotive industry, digital customer experience is used throughout the entire shopping process to target, reach, and communicate with the ideal consumer. This information is built from a variety of factors, including: * Online shopping trends * Mobile app use * SEO * Content branding * Email response rate * Social media marketing Essentially, a customer’s digital experience is a virtual representation of your brand from the eyes of a consumer, site visitor, or potential client. Tapering down the salesly language and focusing on objective, educational content is one way to move your digitization strategy to the level of the consumer. In general, customers are tired of being “sold to” and instead are looking for meaningful experiences when they’re shopping online. However, there are three primary forms of digital experience management: Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Desktop.jpg] DESKTOP Digital media and e-commerce activity is still heavily influenced by trends in desktop-based customer experience analysis. Since much of the world is continuing to work remotely, we’re spending even more time sitting behind a desktop screen. In between video calls and checking work emails, many users are spending their breaks on social media, or window shopping with their favorite brands. The auto industry is jumping onto this trend by making online car shopping more seamless and simplified than ever before. Content marketing, SEO branding, campaign planning, and analytics are easily adapted to desktop usage trends and customer behavior analysis. These tools can help brands to guide the right users to the right products while cultivating brand recognition and interest without the glaring conspicuousness of billboards and in-person sales pitches. Cultivating a favorable digital-first customer experience can help potential customers make the decision to pursue a purchase with a respective brand while making it easier for them to complete their purchase with a few clicks. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Mobile.jpg] MOBILE In many cases, mobile customer digital experience elements can be the same as those found on a brand’s desktop-based online environment. From marketing strategy to web analytics and paid media, these elements are built to be viewed and interacted with via a user’s mobile device – such as a phone or tablet. Other elements that can build a digital customer experience include social media marketing, proprietary apps, and email automation. The majority of the world accesses the internet from a mobile device, and this metric is only continuing to grow. Phones are more accessible than ever, and at least 85 percent of mobile users prefer apps over mobile-friendly browser sites. To tap into this growing corner of the digital market, automotive brands are expanding their mobile offerings to include: * AR-assisted shopping features * Ship-to-home or ship-to-store * Video and image search * Instant mobile financing * Two-factor identification for proprietary accounts While email, social media, and other marketing elements are reachable via desktop environments, mobile-friendly versions are typically more concise and accessible for users on the go. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/In-Store.jpg] IN-STORE Brick-and-mortar dealerships aren’t exempt from this digital expansion, as customers are looking for certain features no matter where they’re shopping from. AR and AI-assisted shopping apps, virtual showrooms, and enhanced in-store advertising are proven to reach more consumers – while keeping current ones in front of your inventory for more time. Using mobile apps, in-store virtual environments, or even a tablet in the showroom can give customers instant access to: * Live inventory updates * Virtual testing programs * Customizable content (color, features, add-ons to meet specifications) * Detailed self-led research Instead of limiting the shopping experience to the information provided by an onsite sales representative, customers can take their shopping trip into their own hands with digital customer experience management. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/What-trends-are-driving-digitization-in-automotive.jpg] WHAT TRENDS ARE DRIVING DIGITIZATION IN AUTOMOTIVE? Digitization isn’t a one-way street. There are a variety of different factors that are changing the way customers and brands interact with each other in 2020. Some of the top trends that are driving digitization in automotive are: * Increased connectivity * Wireless solutions * Internet of Things (IoT) * Heightened customer expectations * Increased client autonomy * Environmental regulations * Efficiency/productivity prioritization * Cybersecurity awareness As a result, online auto brands are taking these changes into account to create their best digital-first customer experience for their respective client base. While the auto industry has been historically resistant to change, these trends are showing that this is one sphere that prioritizes scalability, growth, and flexibility in the digital age. In fact, experts expect to see an increase in digital investment of at least 24 percent over the next couple of years. Customer centricity is paving the way for a new, consumer-first business model in the automotive industry as a whole. This follows the idea that shoppers should be in charge of their shopping experience, particularly through the use of digital functions and devices. To ensure a seamless transition into this strategy, auto brands must synchronize their mobile, desktop, and in-store shopping experiences to facilitate ease of use and intuitive design. As a result, customers can cultivate a shopping experience that reflects their own unique needs and goals. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/What-are-the-key-factors-affecting-the-automotive-industry.jpg] WHAT ARE THE KEY FACTORS AFFECTING THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY? Did you know that digital cybersecurity and personal data measures have changed significantly in the past few years? Are you aware of the environmental changes that are sweeping across the global automotive market? All of these factors, and more, are making a huge impact on the digitalization of car sales as a whole. As we’ve navigated through the recent economic downturn, amid a global pandemic, customers are looking for new ways to make their car shopping processes easier and safer than in previous years. Cybersecurity trends are driving development across the digital sphere, including the automotive industry. To prevent data theft, identity risks, and cyber-attacks across the board, facilitating secure communications is a current necessity. Consumers are harboring a growing distrust of digital brands, despite preferring this level of accessibility over in-person sessions. Automotive brands are prioritizing cybersecurity by enlisting added protection through: * Data encryption * Multi-factor identification * Biometric connectivity * Secure mobile app development * Firewalls Environmental changes, and subsequent regulations surrounding fuel efficiency and waste production, is another change that is sweeping through the global automotive retail sector. Not only have we seen an increased interest in electric vehicles, but customers are also prioritizing practical functions over flashy advertising tactics. These changes are being used by automotive brands to adapt and innovate their product offerings while adjusting their digital branding and commercial activities to appeal to this dynamic consumer base. Connected vehicles are also making waves, and affecting the widespread digitization of the auto industry. Not only are more shoppers looking for self-driving cars than in previous years, but they’re also shopping for more traditional models that offer car-to-mobile and car-to-car connectivity. Using this type of technology, through the IoT framework, cars are learning how to make decisions using external stimulus. This can include signals provided by other internet-connected vehicles, obstacles on the road, and even commands from a mobile device. Apps and mobile devices with connected vehicles can be used for everything from unlocking the vehicle remotely to sending information to the car’s built-in computer structure. In this way, mobile and wearable devices can connect to the vehicle to make every trip easier and more convenient – while keeping those inside and outside of the car safer than before. Proprietary apps, augmented reality connectivity, and enhanced security measures can rely on the vehicle owner’s Furthermore, consumers want more control in the process. From financing to delivery, shoppers are expecting to apply their lengthy research to make the best decisions for their unique needs. This means that brands have more responsibility to provide: * Intuitive site design * Functional mobile apps * Increased digitization in physical shopping spaces * Improved productivity across the supply chain * Detailed, easily accessible information and research material * Highly autonomous shopping tools and inventory management methods Shoppers don’t want to head to multiple car lots to scope out the inventory and negotiate terms with earnest salespeople. Instead, consumers are largely preferring to conduct a lot of the research and planning on their own to trim the transaction and save time from start to finish. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY IN GLOBAL E-COMMERCE? Many industries have changed and moved to adapt to rapid changes caused by the pandemic and related economic shifts around the world. Since the automotive industry is projected to account for more than $9 trillion worldwide through 2030, this sector is responsible for a significant amount of revenue for a multitude of countries, brands, and commercial entities. But, the automotive industry is evolving. Putting customers first is essential to tapping into virtually every demographic on the market. In fact, overlooking this element of the customer experience is one of the main setbacks auto brands are experiencing in 2021. To combat economic slumps and a reduction in the sales pipeline, putting the customer at the forefront of your sales and marketing strategy (throughout digital connectivity and virtual shopping tools) is one of the most impactful data points to boost turnover, reduce cart abandonment, and increase referrals. Responding to the significant growth in digital commerce and virtual shopping trends is one of the most influential factors that can keep the automotive industry powerful and scalable as the world continues to navigate through this untouched territory. We’re all still learning about our new digitally enhanced world, and reaching customers via virtual customer experience management is at the forefront. By quickly and seamlessly responding to consumer trends, economic changes, and even manufacturing shifts – automotive brands can continue to stay ahead of the curve and build favorable, user-friendly online experiences for every user. The automotive industry needs a digital-first customer experience to continue to keep decision-making power and autonomy in the hands of the consumer. Whether shoppers are looking for a used commuter car or a special-edition luxury model, they’re trying to move the shopping model into their own hands and out of the hands of industry retailers, salespeople, and third-party agents. This includes financing, customization, customer relationship management, and more. Tap into the growing sector of digital-first customers by building an e-commerce structure that is intuitive, scalable, and easily accessible from any and every IoT-connected device. Whether shoppers want to take their tablet to the dealership, test drive through a VR headset, or handle the entire process from their phone at home – building a digital-first customer experience is essential for all auto brands that want to keep up in this ever-changing consumer market.
Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market
March 31, 2021
Virtual reality and augmented reality have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Virtual reality is technology that transports users to a simulated environment where they can explore and interact with their surroundings. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is technology that allows users to project digital elements onto their real world environment. Whereas virtual reality takes a user to a different world, augmented reality simply adds to the user’s existing world. The competition in the virtual and augmented reality market has become more intense as a result of the increased interest in these technologies. So far, the major players in the virtual and augmented reality industry are large tech companies, including Facebook. Facebook entered the market in 2014 when it acquired Oculus, a virtual reality headset manufacturer. The company released its first higher-end virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest, in 2018. The headset was well-received by critics and consumers alike. Now, Facebook is taking additional steps in an effort to become the leader in the augmented and virtual reality market. The company recently released an updated virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest 2, and revealed plans to develop the first pair of augmented reality glasses. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE OCULUS QUEST 2 The Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset was released in October 2020. Just like the original Quest device, the Oculus Quest 2 can be used either as a standalone headset or while connected to a PC. At first glance, the Oculus Quest 2 looks very similar to the original Quest. But the Quest 2 has a number of new and exciting features that sets it apart from its predecessor, including: * Lower price. There are two Quest 2 models, each with a different storage capacity and price. The 64-gigabyte Quest 2 costs $299, whereas the 256-gigabyte Quest 2 costs $399. This means consumers can get the 64-gigabyte Quest 2 for less than the cost of the original Quest. * Lighter weight. The Quest 2 is nearly 70 grams lighter than the original Quest, so many consumers may find it more comfortable to wear. * More pixels. The Quest 2 features a high resolution screen that is designed with 50% more pixels than the original model. * Faster processor. The Quest 2 is much faster than the original model due to its upgraded Qualcomm XR2 processor. It also has 6 gigabytes of RAM, compared to only 4 gigabytes on the original model. * Increased storage. The original Quest came with either 64 gigabytes or 128 gigabytes of storage. But the Quest 2 is available with 64 gigabytes or 256 gigabytes of storage. * Color. The original Quest device is black, but the new Quest 2 is a sleek white color. There are some similarities between the two models as well. Both the Quest and the Quest 2 have an estimated battery life of two to three hours. Each of these models is also designed with four built-in cameras that allow users to freely move around in their simulated environment. Both devices also give consumers access to a wide range of games within the Oculus library. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-Can-You-Do-With-An-Oculus-Quest-2.jpg] WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH AN OCULUS QUEST 2? There are many ways to use an Oculus Quest 2, including: * Play Games * Exercise * Watch Movies and TV * Attend Live Events * Explore Nature * Relive Historic Moments * Hang Out With Other Users * Access A Virtual Desktop PLAY GAMES There are countless virtual games in the Oculus library, including puzzles, multiplayer battle games, shooting games, escape rooms, adventure games, and popular arcade games. Because there are so many games to choose from, there is truly something for everyone to play in the Oculus library. EXERCISE There’s more to the Quest 2 than fun and games. You can also use your Quest 2 device to engage in various types of virtual exercises, including dance, high-intensity workouts, and boxing. You can even burn calories while practicing your golf swing or playing a round of tennis against another virtual user. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways to break a sweat. WATCH MOVIES AND TV Binge watch all of your favorite TV shows and movies using the Oculus Quest 2 device. The movie or TV show will be displayed on a large virtual screen in a cozy virtual theater, which makes it feel like you’re at a real movie theater. You can use the device to access Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other major streaming services. It also connects to YouTube, so you can watch your favorite funny videos within your virtual theater. ATTEND LIVE EVENTS Use the Virtual Venues VR experience in the Oculus library to attend a live concert, comedy special, or sporting event without ever leaving your home. Once you’ve arrived, look around you to see other virtual fans who are attending from all over the world. You can get a front row seat at these live events for a small fee or watch from a box seat, which is positioned further away from the action, for free. EXPLORE NATURE Travel to far off destinations to explore beautiful beaches, tropical jungles, dusty deserts, and underwater oceans using the Quest 2 device. You can even see what it feels like to travel to the top of Mount Everest on the Everest VR experience within the Oculus library. You will be completely immersed in whatever environment you choose, so it will feel as if you are actually there. RELIVE HISTORIC MOMENTS A number of apps within the Oculus library allow you to relive famous historical moments. For example, the Apollo 11 VR experience recreates the historic mission to the moon. You can experience every moment from launch to landing inside the space shuttle with the rest of the crew. HANG OUT WITH OTHER USERS Most virtual reality apps are single-player experiences, but the Rec Room app gives you an opportunity to virtually hang out with friends, family members, or other virtual users from around the world. What you do inside the rec room is up to you. Some people prefer simply hanging out and chatting with their virtual friends, whereas others like to challenge their guests to fun games such as dodgeball or paintball. ACCESS A VIRTUAL DESKTOP Interact with your desktop computer screen in a virtual world using the Virtual Desktop VR experience. You can connect up to four different computers and switch back and forth between screens in seconds. You can also seamlessly scroll between monitors if you have a multi-monitor configuration. This app makes it easier–and more fun–than ever before to juggle more than one computer or computer monitor. However, this experience is only compatible with Windows 8.1 or 10. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-is-Facebooks-Project-Aria.jpg] WHAT IS FACEBOOK’S PROJECT ARIA? Facebook is already a major player in the virtual reality market, but it could soon be a leader in the augmented reality market as well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that the company is in the process of developing a pair of augmented reality glasses. But first, the company is launching Project Aria, which is a research project that will allow Facebook to gather the data that it needs to perfect the technology for augmented reality glasses. Last year, Facebook announced that they were sending about 100 researchers into the field in Seattle and San Francisco as part of the company’s Project Aria initiative. Each of the researchers will wear a pair of glasses equipped with sensors that will allow them to map their real world environment. The sensors on the Project Aria glasses are designed to capture video and audio footage of the wearer’s immediate surroundings. These sensors will also track the wearer’s eye movement and provide Facebook with location data. The purpose of this project is to collect a vast amount of data that will help Facebook understand what it will need to build the necessary software and hardware for augmented reality glasses. This project is seen as Facebook’s first major step toward reaching its goal of developing augmented reality glasses. HOW IS FACEBOOK ADDRESSING PRIVACY CONCERNS RELATED TO PROJECT ARIA? Facebook’s decision to send researchers into the real world to gather audio and video footage of their surroundings has raised a number of privacy concerns. The researchers will be wearing lanyards to identify themselves while out in public. But unless members of the public are familiar with Project Aria, they may not understand what these lanyards mean. This means anyone who is in the same area as one of the Project Aria researchers could be captured on audio or video without their knowledge or consent. This isn’t the only reason why people are concerned about Project Aria. Many people are also concerned about the possibility that the audio or video footage could contain potentially sensitive information, including license plates. If this data is not properly protected, it could fall into the wrong hands. Facebook has acknowledged the public’s privacy concerns related to Project Aria. But the company has promised to handle all data with care and provide training to researchers to ensure they know how to use the devices responsibly. Facebook is only allowing employees and contractors to participate in Project Aria. Everyone who wears a pair of Project Aria glasses is given specific instructions on when and where to use the device. Researchers are allowed to wear the glasses to collect data in public places, but they cannot collect data in certain public areas, including public restrooms. According to Facebook, researchers will not have access to the data collected by the sensors right away. Instead, the data will enter a three-day quarantine period after it is collected. During this period, sensitive information and identifying facial features will be blurred. This process was put in place to protect the public and ease privacy concerns. Furthermore, Facebook will encrypt the data before it is uploaded from the devices to a separate storage space. This will make it even harder for non-authorized parties to access the data. Facebook has also promised that the data will not be used to determine what ads people see when using the company’s apps. Instead, the company promises that it is only using the data to assist with the production of augmented reality software and hardware. It’s clear that Facebook has made an effort to address the public’s privacy concerns, but it’s not clear whether the company has done enough to make the public comfortable with Project Aria. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-Are-the-Four-Ethical-Principles-Guiding-Facebooks-Augmented-Reality-Efforts.jpg] WHAT ARE THE FOUR ETHICAL PRINCIPLES GUIDING FACEBOOK’S AUGMENTED REALITY EFFORTS? Facebook released a set of four ethical principles that will guide much of their future work, including Project Aria and other augmented reality efforts. These four ethical principles are: * Being clear about what Facebook products do, which includes outlining how the products should and should not be used. * Putting the user in control of their own experience. * Evaluating the impact that the product has on the user as well as those around the user. * Striving to meet the needs of both the Facebook business and the community as a whole. If there is ever a conflict between these two interests, Facebook will always do what is best for the community rather than the business. These are solid ethical principles, but many people are still skeptical about whether or not Facebook is committed to adhering by them. WHEN WILL FACEBOOK RELEASE AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES? For years, Zuckerberg has repeated that Facebook is serious about developing augmented reality glasses. But last year, he admitted that developing augmented reality glasses is no small feat. He acknowledged that it may be years before Facebook’s first pair of augmented reality glasses ever hits the market. However, it is possible that other Facebook products will hit the market in the years leading up to the debut of the company’s augmented reality glasses. In fact, Facebook is expected to release a pair of smart glasses within the next year. Few details have been released so far, but experts believe that the smart glasses will be similar to Snapchat’s Spectacles. Facebook’s actions over the last several years have shown that the company is committed to becoming a leader in virtual and augmented reality. The wait for the world’s first pair of augmented reality glasses is far from over, but for now, there are plenty of other virtual reality and augmented reality products available to consumers.
What is Extended Reality (XR) and How Do We Use It Everyday?
March 30, 2021
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality all hold different meanings. Virtual reality includes all graphic components that exist in a separate realm and is often accessed via goggles or other headsets. Augmented reality includes graphic overlays on top of a real-world environment. And mixed reality is a mix of the virtual and augmented realms; users interact with both real and virtual environments. Some consumers might also have seen a term called extended reality (XR). What is extended reality and how do we use it every day? Extended reality is simply the term used to encompass all these technologies—virtual, augmented, and mixed. Extended reality is not a separate technology. Elements of extended reality exist in many facets of our lives. Here’s how we can use extended reality as we go about our day. The incorporation of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality might surprise you! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-to-Display-Art.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY TO DISPLAY ART Not everyone can own a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. For many, rare works of art are out of the budget. Augmented reality might be changing the art world by allowing masterpieces and unique art creations to become accessible to a wider audience. Smithsonian Magazine explored how art was going augmented…and could be enjoyed from home using this technology. Smithsonian reported that artist Jenny Holzer’s work can be displayed in the home via an app. The same article detailed how Serpentine Galleries had to find a safe way to showcase a virtual reality art experience called The Eternal Wave by artist Cao Fei; allowing patrons to don goggles wasn’t an option. An augmented reality experience via phones became the solution. The augmented reality experience could be accessed via an app called Acute Art. The full experience could be accessed in the gallery, but a smaller “sample” could be enjoyed from anywhere. Could augmented reality be the future of how we enjoy art? Both Holzer’s and Fei’s work were either conceptual and/or multimedia and could translate to a tech platform; Holzer’s work includes LED signs. Fei’s exhibit was supposed to be experienced via virtual reality so the augmented reality pivot made sense. Yet, the potential for augmented reality could lead to other uses in the art world. During Covid, museums offered virtual tours of galleries. Some even provided at-home art classes. Perhaps famous works of art could be enjoyed via augmented reality at home. Art could be enjoyed and experienced in a living room. The home could transform into a gallery. What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Cooking-with-Augmented-Reality.jpg] COOKING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality might be ready to invade the kitchen! Yes, you may soon be able to cook up some culinary masterpieces thanks to augmented reality. Zack Johnson and a few fellow peers at Dartmouth used Magic Leap to create an augmented reality cooking experience app called Cook Along. The app required that users wear the Magic Leap during the experience. The augmented reality experience takes them through every step of the recipe. They see the directions as well as the ingredients. Johnson explained in an article via Forbes that users could even watch someone demonstrate a particular step. If you don’t know how to whisk, maybe this was shown. This helps simplify cooking, especially for those who aren’t masterful in the kitchen. While Johnson noted that the app wasn’t going to be available via Magic Leap, the article included a link to the app. Could apps like Cook Along be the future of cooking? Following a recipe can be frustrating, especially for those who are unsure how to interpret certain directions. A scene in Schitt’s Creek, for example, featured David asking Moira how to fold in the cheese while making enchiladas. Her response? You fold it in! Perhaps cooking apps that utilize augmented reality could show exactly how to fold in the cheese! AUGMENTED REALITY HELPS CONSUMERS PREVIEW RESTAURANTS, TOO While cooking apps could be a future phenomenon, there is an app that lets consumers see the food at restaurants or when ordering online. Not sure if that Chicken Carbonara is really going to be as amazing as the photos? Apps can help visualize the menu via augmented reality food. Could restaurants follow the trend and begin to offer augmented reality experiences of their food? Maybe previewing the menu happens via virtual or augmented reality in the future. Those interested in exploring augmented reality for ordering takeout can do a quick search for these apps via the App Store or Google Play. ESPRESSO MACHINES IN AUGMENTED REALITY Many enjoy a cup of coffee to perk up in the morning. Maybe the pandemic meant more of that coffee was brewed at home. Some may be considering upgrading to a fancy new espresso machine. But how will that machine look in the kitchen? Does it complement the other appliances? The hunt for the perfect espresso or coffee machine doesn’t need to be a mystery thanks to augmented reality. Whole Latte Love offers an augmented reality experience that lets consumers drop those investment machines that brew java magic right into their kitchen. See what model looks best…and fits the space. AUGMENTED REALITY WINE LABELS Pop open a bottle of Phantom Wine and have some fun with augmented reality, too. Wine has gone augmented! According to the Augmented Wine Labels app by the winery, Phantom Wines has been haunted by a presence…the phantom. Using the augmented reality app, the wine label becomes the ticket to a unique experience. Find the phantom and learn about the winery and its history. However, according to Wine Industry Advisor, the augmented reality wine label is becoming quite popular in the industry. The publication notes that hundreds (more than 500!) of wineries have embraced augmented reality and AI; the technology was built by Winerytale. That bottle of merlot now may have more body to it than the depth of the wine. The label may hold the key to a unique augmented reality experience! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-in-the-Car.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE CAR The drive time includes augmented reality, too! Now more than ever, the vehicles consumers drive include high-technology features like augmented reality. Backup cameras not only show the real-world background behind the vehicle, but they also project grid lines detailing the turning radius. This is augmented reality! GPS systems used in vehicles often include augmented reality, too. They may show the real environment while also projecting directions or arrows showing when or where to turn. Some vehicles have these types of augmented reality details built into the car, too. Smart rearview mirrors also include projections of the rear scenes of the car along with other details or data. Cars of the future likely may include even more unique technological features. We could see smart windshields or even self-driving cars. Projections of helpful avatars could enter the vehicle, too. Car manufacturers are working on all types of new technology to improve the driving experience. AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY FOR SHOPPING Many consumers shop online. Stores and businesses are adopting virtual or augmented reality experiences to improve the user experience in commerce. For example, there may be augmented reality features that allow shoppers to preview cosmetic colors or paint hues on walls. With augmented reality, shoppers no longer have to guess about the appearance of a purchase. They can preview those hues or maybe even virtually try on garments. Some apps even let users preview new hairstyles or hair colors. Will that bob haircut flatter the face? Stop guessing and use augmented reality! Even shopping for a new car became an augmented or virtual experience. RelayCars allows users to download either the augmented reality app or the virtual reality app to preview new cars and research their features before heading to a dealership. The augmented reality app lets users drop specific car models anywhere—inside a room or even in the garage or the driveway. The virtual reality app transports users to a virtual showroom. Both apps let users peek inside the vehicle and switch out paint hues. While many parts of the country may be opening back up to more foot traffic, some shoppers may prefer to research their options online. Buying a new car can now include virtual experiences to simplify the shopping process. Use augmented reality or virtual reality to find favorite makes and models, then visit the dealership to view them in person! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-and-the-Smart-Home.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE SMART HOME Augmented reality could control the home in the future. According to an article via As Mag, Hayo is creating a device that will easily control appliances and other tech in the home. The Hayo device (which looks a bit like a small speaker) maps out the room. Using an app for Hayo, homeowners can create buttons to control functions in the home…and the buttons can be anywhere! Touching the couch cushion could turn on the coffee maker…or whatever the Hayo controls. The app apparently lets users control where they place ‘virtual buttons.’ While smart home technology has usually been controlled via a handheld device like a smartphone or a tablet, Hayo might simplify typical functions in the home and users won’t have to be tethered to their devices. There are so many ways that augmented and virtual reality mix into everyday life. And all these technological features in our homes, cars and within user experiences online make up extended reality. The advancement of tech know-how may mean that virtual and augmented reality will continue to creep into our daily routine. One day, we all may be wearing glasses to see the virtual and augmented world around us!
In the Showroom: Automotive Features to Check Out During the New Car Hunt
March 29, 2021
Car shopping during the pandemic may lead consumers to begin their new car journey online, utilizing virtual or augmented reality car showrooms (like RelayCars). In some areas, however, dealerships may be open—although capacity may be limited. Whether consumers are checking out new cars via virtual experiences or the old standard in-person visits, in the showroom, automotive features to check out during the new car hunt are vast. While many shoppers will inevitably review all the basic options, here are all the other features worth examining, asking questions about to a salesperson and researching online. INTERIOR OPTIONS One of the major details customers will need to decide when choosing a new car is the interior color and material. Some buyers have a preference and will always choose leather over cloth. Depending on the model, cloth could be the standard feature with leather interior adding to the price. Luxury cars may opt for leather as the standard. After all, if a buyer is going to spend the price of a home on a new car, that interior should be luxe! However, even budget friendlier brands like Kia offer leather interior as the standard feature on specific models. Buyers don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on a new car to feel pampered in their ride! When looking at cars online via augmented reality or virtual reality platforms, buyers might want to peek inside at the interior. Make note if it’s cloth or leather—yes, even virtually this should be identifiable. During the research phase of the car buying process, consumers might look into if what is shown virtually is the standard interior or an upgrade. If leather is the upgrade, typically shoppers can inquire online about the price of this feature. Of course, cloth and leather interiors may include color options, too. However, the color that the buyer selects for the interior may depend on the paint hue of the vehicle. EXTERIOR PAINT OPTIONS The Drive reported that white was the top color (or perhaps non-color) for cars in 2020. Black and grey came rounded out the top three most popular hues. Perhaps many consumers like their vehicles to be neutral. Red is often cited as being a more expensive color, with many consumers surmising that choosing the flame-hot hue will boost insurance bills. However, Insure.com explains that this is a myth. Car insurance companies don’t look at a car’s hue when quoting insurance. Previewing different paint hues on a car is how virtual and augmented reality automotive showrooms may have an edge over their in-person counterparts. While dealerships may offer car models in many different hues on the floor, not every car color may be on the floor. Yet, many new makes/models are offered in an array of color choices. The Nissan Altima, for example, comes in nine different paint options, including Sunset Drift Chroma Flare (a hot orange). Nissan’s site lets shoppers preview the car in every color wave, but not all manufacturers may offer this option. Again, if shoppers are visiting the dealership to see a model in person, the color options on the floor may or may not include the full-color spectrum of choices. Online virtual and augmented reality showrooms like RelayCars could be a great resource for shoppers to swap out paint hues to find the color that fits their personality and lifestyle. When using online platforms, consumers may be able to swap out the interior colors to find the best combinations of interior and exterior hues. A black interior may look too intense when paired with a black exterior hue. Or some shoppers may love the black-on-black appeal. Virtual and augmented reality experiences may let shoppers experiment with different options to find the best pairings. Showroom Automotive Features [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Navigation-Features.jpg] NAVIGATION FEATURES Virtual experiences often let consumers peek inside the interior of the car to get an idea about the basic features. This includes visualizing the navigation screen and instrument panel. Virtual experiences might not let consumers fully interact with these features, but they can provide a basic context about what the vehicle offers. Shoppers can use the virtual experiences to gather information about the basic features of a particular model. While virtual or augmented reality experiences can offer a glance at the inside offerings, the manufacturers sites often provide more detailed specs on the basic features of each model. Today’s new models may offer backup cameras as a standard feature, while front cameras or more advanced navigation features may be an upgrade (bumping up the cost). However, luxury models may offer advanced navigation systems as a standard feature. When researching online, shoppers can gain more information about what is standard and the cost of upgrades via dealership sites. Many dealerships offer a virtual assistant (online) or virtual customer salesperson who can provide more information about a particular vehicle. They may be able to clarify the price of upgrades or specs on particular models. Shoppers also can keep in mind that buying a new car is often a negotiation process. If the buyer has a trade-in, this can lower the sale price of the new car. Rebates and other dealership offers also can bump the price down. Showroom Automotive Features [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Wheels-and-Rims.jpg] WHEELS AND RIMS The look of the car also is affected by the wheels and rims. Upgraded rims can seriously add to the appeal of a vehicle. And these upgrades can get expensive. Virtual and augmented platforms may let buyers play around with different wheel looks. Don’t assume that the standard look is the best! Upgrades can transform the appearance of even a basic car. Ask about upgrades—like alloy wheels–for larger models like SUVs. While some manufacturers may offer rim or tire options and upgrades, others might simply have one standard option. Some car owners pursue their own upgrades, but opting for bigger wheels is something that owners need to research. Popular Mechanics explains why and how the size of the tires matters and notes that “Bigger is not always better.” ACCESSORIES & MORE! Interior material and color as well as wheels and the outside paint hue might be the big features that many shoppers find most notable during their shopping experience. The interior features, however, can be vast…and those upgrades may seriously bump the price tag. High-end stereo systems may be an upgrade that buyers are willing to invest in if they drive long distances consistently. If drivers are stuck in the car for hours each day, the quality and clarity of the entertainment system may be something to consider. Some buyers may without question invest in audio or entertainment upgrades. Parents with the extra budget might add television screens to the backseat for children. These entertainment features come in handy during both long and short trips! Turn on a favorite movie or television show and let the kids snack and relax while parents battle those after-school pick up traffic jams. Upgrades and accessories also include weatherproof floor mats, emergency kits and even netting for the back storage area. Toyota even offers a Glass Breakage Sensor that triggers an alert when the vehicle’s glass is compromised. Add-ons can simply add to the owner’s feeling of security. An emergency kit, for example, may include jumper cables and other necessities an owner might need if they are stranded or broken down. Luxury auto manufacturers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and others may include far more extensive offerings for their clientele. Customization options could be nearly endless. The Ferrari Atelier is a design studio where clients create their own ‘bespoke’ vehicle. Rolls Royce offers the Starlight Headliner feature, which clients can customize in their own celestial patterns of choice. Want a specific zodiac constellation featured on the ceiling? It can happen! One Bugatti owner went so custom that the company almost didn’t think the requested paint specs for the body could be mastered. After two years, however, the tiny diamond pattern was completed on the Bugatti Divo, which, per TopGear, costs more than $4 million…before any custom features or options. Showroom Automotive Features [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Online-Virtual-Experiences-vs.-In-Store.jpg] ONLINE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES VS. IN-STORE When shopping for a new car and perusing all the add-ons, features and options available for the model, virtual experiences online may offer a way for shoppers to play around and experiment with colors and other options. However, visiting the dealership in person may let shoppers physically experience some of these features. Virtual experiences cannot necessarily allow shoppers to turn up a stereo system or explore the touch screen entertainment system. The dealership showroom also allows shoppers to sit in a vehicle and understand the tactile differences between different interior options. However, during Covid, these visits may be limited or require appointments. Mandates may vary per state. Both virtual/augmented reality and physical vehicle showrooms amplify the user experience when shopping for a new car. The online tools offered by virtual/augmented reality showrooms provide an easy way for shoppers to research different cars and preview these models. Paint hues can be changed, and consumers can virtually look inside the vehicles. When the new car wish list has been whittled down to a few favorites, the in-person experience allows shoppers to feel out their options. Test drives can let possible buyers decide if they love that stereo upgrade, if the heated seats are worthwhile and to fully experience other major features. Smaller upgrades or accessories also may be worth asking about at the dealership. Many manufacturers offer an array of add-ons that can further customize the vehicle. As for luxury vehicles, the available features may be completely customizable and quite extensive.
How AR Cars are Changing the Automotive Market in 2021
March 26, 2021
From social media to gaming and everything in between, augmented reality is becoming a digital mainstay in our everyday lives. As we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, digitization is here to stay and that means innovation is expanding this sphere more rapidly than ever. Automotive brands have also increased their use of this revolutionary form of immersive media, and AR cars are becoming the new norm across virtually every corner of the car sales market. Tools such as assistive driving technology, truly hands-free entertainment, safer navigation programs, and even parking guidance – the possibilities are truly endless for the use of augmented reality in cars. No matter what you’re shopping for or how you plan to spend your time behind the wheel, see why AR cars are going to be found on streets across the globe in no time at all. Automotive Market in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-exactly-is-AR.jpg] WHAT EXACTLY IS AR? In short, augmented reality is a type of immersive technology that allows users to view digital images, sounds, or text over their real-life line of sight. Whether someone uses a smartphone, tablet, wearable device, or integrated technology (like what is used in cars, virtual showrooms, and controlled environments), it’s possible to combine one’s internet life with what they’re seeing and experiencing in real-time. Since 2016, augmented reality has been a staple in the digital world. Now, this technology can be found across social media apps, advertisements, and even in-store shopping experiences. In most cases, the user simply needs a mobile or otherwise internet-connected device to access the apps and programs that facilitate AR media. However, there are a variety of different ways that commercial and consumer users can use AR in their daily lives. Automotive brands are using multiple avenues to bring AR technology to the mainstream market, including the following methods. Automotive Market in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-are-the-different-types-of-AR.jpg] WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF AR? Augmented reality is most widely known through social media filters and online overlays. But, there are four key types of AR technology that are being applied in the automotive sector. The four main forms of AR include: 1. Marker-based AR 2. Projection AR 3. Marker-less AR 4. Superimposition-based AR Depending on the applications and needs defined by the software function, each option provides different benefits and limitations. MARKER-BASED AR Also known as recognition AR, this method uses cameras to identify and focus on specific objects. By building a digital profile around objects that appear before these cameras in real-time, the AR system is able to learn about said object using various angles. By manipulating and analyzing objects digitally, AR cars can refer to the identified items to make decisions in regard to movement and directional planning. 3D imagery can be read by the AR app to help the car apply this information into alerts, navigational commands, and communication between the car and driver (or other cars on the road). PROJECTION AR Projection augmented reality is one of the simplest forms of the technology and is often used in cars to provide a fully hands-free experience for everyone in the cab. Using the projection of light onto a surface, such as a dashboard or road, projection AR is able to create deception for the orientation, position, and even depth of objects that are in front of the user’s viewpoint. This has already been used in cars for a few years to prevent distracted driving and subsequent accidents as a result. MARKER-LESS AR Instead of using cameras and sensors to discover and analyze objects, marker-less augmented reality uses location data from a connected device to make decisions. Using the GPS system in a mobile phone, tablet, or automobile, this form of AR connectivity reads data that is being provided by the accelerometer and digital compass to survey surrounding objects. SUPERIMPOSITION-BASED AR Just like Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go, superimposition AR is essentially a digital replacement of physical objects that are in the focus of the device user. By replacing part or all of the user’s view with a digital object, users can truly merge their digital and practical lives without skipping a beat. Automotive Market in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/How-do-AR-cars-work.jpg] HOW DO AR CARS WORK? Augmented reality in cars is a multifaceted technology that facilitates a variety of functions for drivers, passengers, and even those who are outside of the vehicles. This addition to the dash or windshield is changing how automobiles interact with each other, as well as the objects and people they could encounter while on the road. AR in cars can include any of the following virtual and hybrid digital capabilities: * Projection of dashboard metrics, navigation directions, and even upcoming traffic changes on the road * Hands-free entertainment for drivers and passengers * Accident and construction alerts using proximity sensors * Car-to-car signaling with potential to prevent bottlenecks and accidents By accessing this necessary information via built-in computer technology, drivers no longer need to use their phones or other mobile devices to check the weather, traffic patterns, construction updates, navigation, or even their music apps. This is helping automobiles to make the roads safer and more efficient in a few different ways. Additionally, real-time alerts in the driver’s direct line of sight give everyone on the road more time to react to spontaneous incidents. If a pedestrian runs into the road, or a tree falls suddenly, sensors that surround the perimeter of the vehicle can notify connected drivers instantly. By highlighting objects that could cause harm to drivers and bystanders, AR is making driving safer for everyone on the streets – including pedestrians, cyclists, and oncoming traffic. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AR IN CARS? While consumer-facing market research suggests that more buyers are going to be looking for AR features in new cars, this level of interest is also creating a buzz amongst sellers and corporate entities. This technology is also being used heavily behind the scenes to make automobile production cheaper, safer, and more adaptable to ongoing digital changes. Throughout the supply chain, AR apps and programs have made it easier than ever for remote technicians, dealers, and consumers to connect online. This has driven commerce significantly during the pandemic, while also helping tech-forward brands to grow amid a global economic downturn. For drivers, AR in cars can help with navigating throughout unknown areas, choosing the best routes based on live feedback, and even parking assistance using the vehicle’s sensors for spatial awareness. In minutes, a driver can head to their chosen destination while being directed to the closest parking area. Parallel parking anxiety can be a thing of the past, as smart sensors survey the exact movements needed to fit into any given space. Additionally, interconnectivity between individual vehicles has high potential to reduce road accidents, rubbernecking, and other driving dangers by alerting drivers of upcoming obstacles as they appear on the road. Removing the communication barrier that’s presented by hand-held apps and programs could be the single most effective change since many accidents are caused by distracted driving. Nearly 400,000 accidents are caused every year as a result of distractions like handheld devices. From safety to convenience, drivers and retailers are capitalizing on this digital development to widen the consumer net across the entire automotive industry. Automotive Market in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-are-some-examples-of-practical-AR-use-in-automotive.jpg] WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF PRACTICAL AR USE IN AUTOMOTIVE? Did you know that the computers in your car can help the vehicle operate more efficiently, from choosing the right roads to maximizing fuel consumption? Throughout the entire machine, there are cameras, sensors, and computerized elements that can communicate to make every trip better than the last. AR technology is no different, and this form of mixed media is being used by many major manufacturers including: * Mercedes-Benz * Toyota * Lexus * Jaguar * BMW * Volvo * MINI * Chevrolet Features such as automatic AR adaptation and hands-free commands can make driving easier and safer by molding the car’s functionality to the immediate environment. For instance, AR is able to tell the car to change lighting and reflection capabilities to increase visibility in tunnels, inclement weather, or other external conditions. Safely isn’t the only factor that is being improved by the practical application of AR in cars. Travel planning and time management is directly affected since drivers can also use the same technology to construct an airtight route that factors all obstacles and Furthermore, the augmented reality HUD is able to adapt in a way that ensures the driver can always read the content that’s being projected in real-time. Never miss an exit or overlook an upcoming construction zone again. Automotive Market in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/How-is-AR-in-cars-boosting-commerce.jpg] HOW IS AR IN CARS BOOSTING COMMERCE? As we experienced in 2020, access to online shopping and information from home could make or break an entire industry. As a response to widespread distancing measures and regulations, many brands and retailers have discovered that ecommerce is no longer an option – but a necessity – in the modern marketplace. By offering AR connectivity in cars that are rolling out to the consumer sphere, auto brands are attracting a growing tech-savvy audience while also meeting a need for home-based shopping. While the world is beginning to open up and commercial activity is expected to resume in the coming year, the dependency on fast, easy online shopping is likely to stick around. Consumers have become used to the simplicity of researching, selecting, and even financing automotive purchases online. Additionally, ship-to-home features have added a new level of convenience by eliminating the need for onsite dealerships (and pushy salespeople). As a result, many auto brands are using new ways to attract clientele via technological developments and in-car features – such as AR apps and car-to-mobile connectivity. With the majority of global consumers spending a significant portion of their days online, moving the automotive sector to the internet was a natural decision for most dealerships. From the consumer perspective, the addition of AR features is a major selling point. AR is even used in the shopping process, by giving potential buyers the ability to search through a library of high-quality images via AR apps on their mobile devices. Using these programs gives users more control over their online shopping experience using: * Detailed image descriptions * Dynamic zoom and article selection * Real-time chat and AI-assisted search features * Customizable images When you’re using AR to find the vehicle of your dreams, you’re able to look at each potential purchase with a high-powered lens – while also expanding the search significantly using the same smart features. From start to finish, consumers are using AR in cars to buy, sell, drive, and even work with their personal and business vehicles. Automotive Market in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Why-should-you-buy-AR-cars-in-2021.jpg] WHY SHOULD YOU BUY AR CARS IN 2021? When it comes to driver trends, consumers are turning to AR like never before. More than half of all consumers are putting their faith in AR as a way to augmented and transform the shopping experience. From the perspective of the manufacturers and dealers, this metric is playing a major role in driving innovation and corporate trajectory. Since at least 61% of consumers would prefer to make automotive purchases on sites that include some form of AR technology, we’re seeing augmented reality become a mainstay across virtually every industry and specialization. Behind the wheel, consumers are responding in kind to the practical use of AR as a driving tool. Rather than juggling mobile devices and upcoming road obstacles, AR in cars is providing a cushion of security and reducing driving anxiety at the same time. For those outside of the car, AR is protecting road workers, stray pets, and pedestrians simultaneously and seamlessly. In 2020 alone, AR technology has led to a reduction in related accidents. A staggering 95% of auto accidents are caused by some form of human error, and AR is one of the ways car manufacturers are working to reduce this metric. Whether you’re in the market for a new car or you want to maximize profits for your dealership, AR car software is a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down. This is one aspect of the industry that is solidifying itself as a pillar throughout the mainstream, used, and luxury markets.
Is Virtual Reality Car Shopping the Future?
March 24, 2021
The car buying journey has evolved over the years. In the past, automotive consumers visited an average of five dealerships before deciding which vehicle to purchase. But now, consumers complete many of the steps of the car buying journey online rather than at dealerships. Today’s automotive consumers go online to gather information, conduct research, compare and contrast different models, and narrow down their options. As a result, the modern automotive consumer only visits one or two dealerships before purchasing a vehicle. Furthermore, most consumers have already decided which vehicle they want and are ready to buy once they arrive at a dealership. To remain competitive, automotive companies must adapt to this sudden shift to a digital car-buying journey. This is why many automotive companies are moving toward virtual reality car shopping experiences. WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY? Virtual reality is technology that can be used to transport users to simulated environments. You aren’t simply looking at a different environment on a screen. Instead, the technology allows you to leave the real world behind and become fully immersed in the simulated environment. The technology even allows you to interact with different elements in the new environment. You may need a special device such as a headset or pair of goggles in order to experience virtual reality technology. Some of the most popular virtual reality devices include the Oculus, HTC Vive, and the Sony Playstation VR headset. However, you can access some virtual reality experiences with just your smartphone. Many people confuse virtual reality with augmented reality, but these are two distinct technologies. The former takes users to a completely new, simulated environment, whereas the latter does not. Instead, augmented reality allows users to enhance their real-world environment with images, sounds, and other digital elements. HOW IS VIRTUAL REALITY USED FOR CAR SHOPPING? The two main ways in which virtual reality is used in the car-shopping process are: * Virtual Showrooms * Virtual Test Drives Virtual Showrooms Automotive dealerships can use virtual reality technology to create virtual showrooms to showcase their inventory. A virtual showroom is just like a real showroom, except it exists online. Automotive consumers can visit a virtual showroom to explore the interior and exterior of a vehicle, rotate it to see it from different angles, and walk around it just as they would if they were actually inside a dealership’s showroom. Virtual showrooms can eliminate the need for consumers to travel to dealerships in order to see vehicles in person. Inside a virtual showroom, consumers can carefully examine vehicles and compare and contrast different models to help them reach a purchase decision. Thanks to virtual reality technology, consumers will feel as if they’re standing inside a showroom at a local dealership rather than shopping for a vehicle online. Virtual Reality Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Test drives are very important to automotive consumers. According to the 2021 Global Automotive Consumer Study, nearly two-thirds of consumers still want to take a test drive of a vehicle before purchasing it. In the past, these consumers may have needed to travel to a dealership to test drive a vehicle. But now, virtual reality gives these consumers the opportunity to test drive multiple vehicles without ever leaving their homes. A number of automotive manufacturers are already using virtual test drives to make it easier for consumers to shop online for new vehicles. A consumer can take a virtual test drive of any vehicle model using only their computer or smartphone. They can see how the vehicle drives and what it feels like to sit behind the wheel before making a purchase decision. Using virtual reality in this manner makes the process of taking a test drive easier, faster, and more convenient for both the dealership and the consumer. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SALES? The virtual reality car shopping experience can benefit both automotive consumers and dealerships. Some of the many benefits include: * Lowers Overhead Costs * Creates A More Convenient Shopping Experience * Increases Sales Staff Availability * Widens the Customer Base * Improves Customer Satisfaction LOWERS OVERHEAD COSTS Many dealerships are hesitant to invest in virtual reality technology. Although it requires an upfront financial commitment, it’s important for dealerships to realize that this technology will save them money over time by lowering overhead costs. Dealerships spend thousands of dollars per year on transporting vehicles to their showrooms and maintaining the vehicles until they are purchased. However, the use of virtual reality technology could drastically reduce or even eliminate these expenses. Virtual showrooms and virtual test drives could eliminate the need for dealerships to keep a large number of vehicles on-site. Instead of keeping these vehicles on-site at all times, dealerships could choose to only transport them to the showroom once they have been purchased online. Automotive dealerships could even choose to transport the vehicles directly to the customers’ homes instead of the showroom. Not only would this reduce transportation and maintenance expenses, but it would also allow dealerships to operate out of smaller spaces, which means they could save money on rent and other operating expenses as well. Virtual Reality Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Creates-A-More-Convenient-Shopping-Experience.jpg] CREATES A MORE CONVENIENT SHOPPING EXPERIENCE Most automotive consumers would agree that shopping for a vehicle online is far more convenient than shopping for a vehicle at a dealership. According to a recent study, nearly half of automotive consumers are unhappy about the amount of time it takes to purchase a vehicle from a dealership. Automotive consumers currently spend an average of three hours at a dealership when purchasing a vehicle. However, moving the car buying process online would drastically reduce the amount of time that consumers spent at dealerships, which would make the entire process more convenient. Even if consumers could only complete some of the purchase steps online, such as exploring vehicles in a virtual showroom, they could reduce the amount of time they spend at a dealership. This isn’t the only reason why shopping for a vehicle online is more convenient than shopping for one at a dealership. The use of virtual reality technology allows automotive consumers to start the car buying process on their own schedule from the comfort of their homes. This means they could technically explore a virtual showroom or take a virtual test drive at any hour—even if it is outside of the dealership’s standard operating hours. There’s no need to waste time traveling to dealerships—the entire process takes place online. INCREASES SALES STAFF AVAILABILITY The use of virtual reality technology could lead to increased sales staff availability, too. Sales representatives typically work one-on-one with customers who visit dealerships in-person, which means they usually only help one customer at a time. But if customers start shopping for vehicles online, this could free up a lot of time in the sales team’s availability. Digital automotive consumers may need online assistance from a sales representative throughout their car buying journey. For example, a customer may use a live chat feature on the dealership’s website to ask a sales representative a question about a specific vehicle they see online. But even if a sales representative must step in to provide help, they can still help other customers at the same time. This is because online shoppers typically won’t require a sales representative’s undivided attention. So sales representatives would be able to serve multiple customers at the same time, which means they could potentially sell more vehicles. Virtual Reality Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Widens-the-Customer-Base.jpg] WIDENS THE CUSTOMER BASE The traditional car-buying experience only allows dealerships to serve customers who are living in the immediate area. This is because customers must visit dealerships in-person in order to buy a new vehicle, and they typically only visit dealerships located nearby. But the use of virtual reality technology could help dealerships widen their customer base. If customers are able to virtually explore and test-drive vehicles online, they won’t need to visit a dealership in-person before buying a new vehicle. This means virtual reality technology could give dealerships the potential to serve customers from around the country. Serving a wider customer base would give dealerships the opportunity to sell more vehicles and increase their profits. Dealerships aren’t the only ones who benefit from this, though. Automotive consumers also benefit from being able to shop online at any dealership regardless of their location. This would make it easier for automotive consumers to find the exact vehicle they want. They would no longer be limited to choosing from the vehicles that are in stock at local dealerships. IMPROVES CUSTOMER SATISFACTION One of the reasons why so many automotive consumers want to take the car buying process online is because they aren’t satisfied with the traditional dealership experience. In fact, one survey found that 87% of consumers disliked at least one aspect of the process of buying a car at a dealership. Some of these consumers reported feeling anxious or uncomfortable at dealerships, whereas others felt like they were frequently taken advantage of when visiting automotive dealerships. The use of virtual reality car shopping could eliminate the need to visit a dealership to buy a car. This would please the majority of consumers who are unhappy with the dealership experience, which means it would improve overall customer satisfaction. To put it simply, using virtual reality technology to create a digital automotive shopping experience would give consumers exactly what they want when it comes to buying a new vehicle. For this reason, it’s safe to say that virtual reality car shopping will become increasingly popular in the years ahead.
Designing a Futuristic Augmented Reality Vehicle
March 22, 2021
Thinking about the technology of the future may leave consumers wondering if we’ll all be driving flying cars. Or if AI will be in the driver’s seat. Augmented and virtual reality are integrating into our devices and our cars, too. Those back-up cameras that make reversing out of tight spaces easier utilize grid line overlays are an example of augmented reality. The future of virtual and augmented reality might change the way we drive, however. Could we see an augmented reality vehicle? It’s possible. Here are our imaginative ideas on what this car could look like! Augmented Reality Vehicle [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Augmented-Safety.jpg] AUGMENTED SAFETY Augmented reality already is a staple in many new vehicles. Currently, many models come standard with backup cameras. These handy cameras may reduce fender bender accidents, and, at the very least, make backing up much simpler (especially when parallel parking!). Backup cameras weren’t always considered standard, though. For many makes and models more expansive safety camera systems are an upgrade. This may include front cameras or cameras that show the entire view of the vehicle. However, additional cameras that feature augmented reality grid lines (like the backup cameras) could one day become standard. Since cameras could reduce some accidents like fender benders, maybe, in the future, research shows that cars are safer when equipped with all-over intelligence. AUGMENTED DIRECTIONS Today’s drivers may rely on GPS devices either on their phone or via a different portable GPS device. Many GPS navigation systems include graphic overlays on top of the real environment. Could future vehicles include a built-in GPS navigation system? The self-driving car may need to utilize this, as the AI driver might require a programmed destination. While using apps via phones is simple enough, as many new models allow for phones to plug into the entertainment system, having a full map system in the car would be pretty cool! Augmented Reality Vehicle [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Augmented-Reality-Windshield.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY WINDSHIELD Digital Trends reported back in October that the windshield may be the new augmented reality home in your vehicle. The site explained that the company Envisics was working on incorporating augmented reality into the windshield in a heads-up display function. The technology, per the site, is found in Range Rovers. An updated version of the windshield will be featured in the Cadillac Lyriq (which won’t hit the market until around 2023). APPLE’S AUGMENTED REALITY WINDSHIELD Apple also may be delving into the augmented reality windshield. Back in 2018, the site Patently Apple reported on a patent application from Apple regarding an augmented reality windshield. Per the site: “The detailed patent covers a future augmented reality windshield system which also is known as a Heads up Display. Apple describes every aspect of their AR display system in painstaking detail. It even describes occupants of an autonomous vehicle having a FaceTime session between different vehicles. The system will even be able to detect and make adjustments so that a panicky occupant could remain calmer in the autonomous vehicle.” The vehicles of the future could allow teleconferencing…from the car! This could be an interesting feature in a self-driving vehicle. If the driver became the passenger, then the car could be another work or entertainment space. Self-driving cars are still in development, so who knows what augmented reality details they could feature! INVISIBLE-TO-VISIBLE TECHNOLOGY Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible technology which is currently in development also could be an exciting prelude to augmented reality in automotive. This technology would allow the driver to wear goggles and visualize companion avatars in the vehicle (companions would need virtual reality goggles to join). In addition, the technology would show the driver obstacles ahead that may affect driving and can even find parking spots. Via the Tourism Scenario, the driver also could request a tour guide to provide recommendations about a destination. Invisible-to-Visible also could project beautiful skies on windows during dreary days! This could enhance the driving experience for weary drivers during long trips. PANASONIC’S HEADS-UP DISPLAY Car and Driver reported that Panasonic’s augmented reality heads-up display may debut in cars around 2024. The display can show drivers obstacles, enhance the lane lines, provide guidance on merging and alert drivers about dangers (like a car pulling in front). It also provides directions and alerts drivers when they arrive at their destination. So the idea of having in-car GPS…it will likely be a reality thanks to an advanced heads-up display. AUGMENTED REALITY VEHICLE…FOR MARKETING While augmented reality features may weave into the vehicles of the future, manufacturers are using the technology to create a literal augmented reality vehicle. That is, the vehicle is nothing more than a graphic overlay displayed in front of the user. Lamborghini used an augmented reality experience to debut its Huracán EVO RWD Spyder. The experience is compatible with Apple devices. Users can drop the car in their environment, walk around the vehicle and explore inside. Lamborghini wasn’t the first manufacturer to use augmented reality for marketing purposes, however. “Porsche Augmented Reality Visualizer App” can be downloaded via Google Play (for Android) or the App Store (for Apple). Users can design their own vehicle and place it in their real-world environment. The Visualizer app debuted in 2019. Ferrari uses The Ferrari AR app in the showroom to simplify and amplify the user experience while shopping. The app lets users look into the internal structure of the vehicle. Users also can change the paint colors and other features. RelayCars offers an augmented reality vehicle showroom for around two dozen vehicle models. Users can drop the vehicles into their environment, and even see if the new car can squeeze into the garage. The app also lets users see inside the vehicles for an up-close peak at special features. Those on the hunt for a new vehicle can use RelayCar’s augmented reality vehicle showroom, and dealers also could recommend the site to those who can’t visit the dealership showroom in person. THE FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY So what does the future hold for augmented reality vehicles? We can only assume that the augmented reality windshield may become a reality. This could mean that the driver interacts with the windshield—kind of like a heads-up display—or perhaps this could be a feature for self-driving cars. As many tech giants are jumping into the smart vehicle playground, the internal technology of these cars of the future could be incredibly cool. Imagine sitting in the car and engaging in a face-to-face business meeting…with the boss’ hologram! Perhaps digital assistants take on a visual appearance. Maybe their services become more personal; their voice becomes tied to an actual presence. Perhaps every car manufacturer programs the self-driving vehicle with a personal driver and the user can design the hologram. Augmented reality features might not be the future for all drivers just yet. It took years for backup cameras to become standard. Many of these new tech features could be upgrades but become standard. Self-driving cars also could be too expensive for the average consumer when they debut. Still, the smartphone was once considered an upgraded luxury. Flip phones used to be the standard. Now nearly all teens have a smartphone. As technology advances, its older iterations may be much more affordable. When considering the future of a self-driving car equipped with advanced augmented reality features, though, we may be many years away from every driver or car owner having access to a self driving vehicle. When AI takes over the driver’s seat completely, driver’s licenses could be obsolete. In addition, our highway system could see changes too. Could traffic lights speak to our cars in the future? Maybe road signs communicate, too. And all this information appears via an augmented reality windshield. BACK TO THE PRESENT For now, in the present, our vehicles have the very beginnings of an augmented reality. Those who are buying new models may enjoy the standard backup cameras with graphic overlays. To find the way to a new city, the smartphone may display GPS information on the car’s information screen, offering directions via augmented reality. When consumers shop for a car during the pandemic, augmented reality vehicles in cyberspace may take the place of physical dealerships in a brick and mortar dealership. Sites like RelayCars may be the access to a new type of virtual shopping experience. Consumers can shop at their leisure by previewing cars in augmented reality and using these experiences to better understand the cars that are the best fit for their lifestyle (and budget). Instead of visiting dealerships with only a vague idea of what car they might like, consumers can have a well defined list with narrowed down preferences. This can simplify the user experience and keep in-person visits to a minimum (especially as the pandemic may continue to pose restrictions on capacity). Consumers also may be exposed to more augmented reality marketing experiences that provide them with a unique introduction to new makes and models from major automotive manufacturers. Being part of a virtual debut also could get consumers more excited about a future purpose and preview the models of the future.
How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021
March 19, 2021
Snapchat has been around for years as a way for friends to connect, without commitment, using disappearing text, images, and video. In recent years, this platform has become a world leader in the mainstream adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology. Businesses are hopping on the trend to capitalize on this growing movement while using virtual reality technology to maintain sales metrics during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. From offering virtual try-on solutions across multiple commercial spheres to understanding user behaviors for more targeted advertising, Snapchat is changing the world for e-commerce brands, brick-and-mortar stores, and consumers alike. Just last year, Snapchat released 15 different products that all use virtual and augmented reality to create an immersive experience for their users. Additionally, over the past few months, the value of the app has increased by more than double. This mobile app is taking over the world in a unique way, and these are just a few ways that Snap is turning virtual reality into real money. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Augmented-Reality-Reaches-Millennials-and-Gen-Z.jpg]A teenager boy is holding a Samsung phone in his hand. He reads about social network Snapchat in Play Market. He wants to download and install the program on the phone. April, 2017 – Minsk, Belarus. AUGMENTED REALITY REACHES MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z Younger consumers have been sticking to social media like glue, even before the pandemic took hold around the world. Gen Z and Millennial buyers want instant access to thorough research and product testing, in comparison to older generations. Using augmented reality and virtual reality during the shopping process is an easy and efficient way to try different colors of a product, review item specifications, and even check stock levels instantly. And, these trends aren’t only applying to e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar stores have also started using Snapchat to simplify the shopping process. In order to keep up with consumer demand for immersive reality experiences, Snapchat has doubled down on infrastructure costs during the pandemic. This investment is already proving to provide a high ROI for the tech brand, as daily usage has soared over the past few months. In the first quarter of last year, Snapchat had 229 million daily active users (DAUs) – which is an increase of at least 20 percent YoY. And, that’s only in the American market. France and the United Kingdom, for example, experienced an increase of more than 30 percent among DAUs. The increase in adoption among key demographics has translated to an increase in overall engagement, as well. This has driven sales through the roof for Snapchat’s brand – a 44 percent increase to a total of $462 million in 2020 alone. Gen Z and Millennial consumers want instant access to impressive tech solutions, and virtual/augmented reality are leading the way. From shopping to communication to everything in between, Snapchat is paving the way for widespread adoption of immersive and mixed media in everyday life. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Immersive-Media-Brings-More-to-the-Table.jpg]woman updating her snapchat in cafe IMMERSIVE MEDIA BRINGS MORE TO THE TABLE Virtual reality is creating buzz across the gaming, commerce, and even real estate spheres as more people find value in video and immersive media. These solutions provide users with the unique ability to try products in a realistic environment, without ever leaving home. Additionally, Snapchat’s approach to the tech trend removes the need for auxiliary equipment – such as headsets and motion-capture elements. With just a mobile device and the app, users are able to apply visual elements over real-world images – or simply by highlighting their chosen product through the lens. Buying a new couch? See what each color would look like staged in your living room. Shopping for a car? Check out the features with a digital magnifying glass, and test drive the unit on your choice of terrain. AR/VR technology is finding its way into virtually every industry, and Snapchat has capitalized on that boom among their growing consumer base in a huge way. Even though the world is opening up in waves, the consumer pool as a whole has become accustomed to instant digital access to everything they need for day-to-day life. Experts expect that trend to continue, even once the pandemic officially comes to a close. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Digital-Try-On-Solutions-Reduce-Returns-and-Buyers-Remorse.jpg]Online shopping – Paper cartons or parcel with a shopping cart logo and credit card on a laptop keyboard. Shopping service on The online web and offers home delivery. DIGITAL TRY-ON SOLUTIONS REDUCE RETURNS AND BUYER’S REMORSE Returns make up a significant amount of revenue loss across various corners of the market, from clothing to furniture to even cars. By having a way to truly test a product in a virtual setting, consumers are able to have more faith in their purchases. As a result, returns have dropped by more than 22% among top brands. Snapchat users are among the growing group that is prioritizing digitization in the shopping experience, with at least 40 percent of their consumer base using augmented reality technology in the past 12 months for day-to-day commerce. Additionally, as we’ve seen with the growth among Snapchat users, these apps make shoppers more likely to buy while they’re shopping online or in the store. Window shopping has always made up a considerable amount of the commercial sphere, and looking for products online is free of costs AND commitments. But, with cart abandonment rates being such a powerful metric for online stores, AR/VR tech is helping brands to get more out of their window shoppers through sales engagement standards and improved conversions. As Snapchat continues to penetrate multiple spheres and demographics, businesses and individuals are jumping on the bandwagon to make shopping easier and more satisfying than ever before. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Pandemic-Shopping-Behaviors-Extend-to-Mobile-App-Use.jpg]African young man in glasses shopping online with credit card using smart phone at home. Indoor. PANDEMIC SHOPPING BEHAVIORS EXTEND TO MOBILE APP USE Americans, in general, prefer to surf the web on their mobile devices, and recent data shows that more than 92 percent of online users access the internet from a phone. This dependence on hand-held connectivity is one of the reasons why stores have been prioritizing social media engagement and mobile accessibility. More consumers are shopping from their phones, and this trend is bleeding into a wide range of digital markets. Social media, such as Snapchat, can be credited with coaxing this wave of cyber shoppers and the growth of digital integration into our daily lives. Following the Coronavirus, app downloads and usage skyrocketed to break records across the entire web. In fact, consumer spending as a whole reached record highs in the second quarter of last year. How was this possible during one of the largest economic downturns of recent years? One of the reasons why Americans are spending more time on their phones is to cope with the changing world around them. Online shopping, as well as social media use as a whole, is one way to mitigate the stress and uncertainty of a global pandemic. Additionally, as more and more businesses have sent their employees home to work remotely, we’ve become accustomed to the instant access to goods and information that these apps provide. From small-scale businesses to global brands, people are using programs and apps like Snapchat to: * Appeal to a wider consumer base * Approach new potential customers * Increase engagement across other platforms * Drive online store activity * Boost brand recognition * Stay tapped into their target audiences, and what users are looking for By helping to increase customer conversions, using social media for brand growth, and adopting immersive media as a mainstay in modern society – apps like Snapchat are effectively changing the digital sphere and the commercial world as we’ve always known it. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/More-Consumers-Want-Instant-Shopping-Options.jpg]Online shopping concept, young woman hands holding mobile phone showing payment success information on screen with credit card and laptop computer on table while relax at home MORE CONSUMERS WANT INSTANT SHOPPING OPTIONS If the pandemic changed anything about the commercial sphere, it’s the type of instant gratification that was created by the dearth of instant shipping options as a result of social distancing measures. To keep up with demand and meet sales goals, retailers responded by upping their delivery and mobile accessibility measures in 2020. Following the close of the pandemic, that trend is expected to stick around – and even grow – according to experts in these key industries. As previously mentioned, we’re getting used to the instant access to goods that food delivery, rapid shipping, and AR-based shopping tools provide. Even once stores are able to fully open up to the public, online shopping trends will continue to drive a major section of the commercial market. In fact, e-commerce is also boosting social media apps in a symbiotic way. With more and more consumers looking to online solutions to get through daily life, brands like Snapchat are swooping in to bridge the gap. By offering a new way for brands and business professionals to reach their target consumers, this technology is being more widely used in the commercial sphere. Since more consumers are driving the demand for digitization in the commercial, social, and professional worlds – apps and tech brands are facilitating this change. Providing resources to their consumer base while also catalyzing the upcoming “digital boom” sweep is helping to drive this change that is taking over the world. WHY IS SNAPCHAT MORE COST-EFFECTIVE THAN PROPRIETARY AUGMENTED REALITY OPTIONS? While many brands have started offering their own AR/VR apps and programs to connect with consumers, Snapchat has proven to be the more affordable option for certain functions such as: * Product try-on functions * Image and video capture * Scannable product data and information planning * Referrals and sharing accessibility To keep ROI high while still utilizing this powerful social trend, brands are turning to established apps like Snapchat for the same features at a fraction of the cost. Building a proprietary AR app or program requires a heavy amount of overhead, and this trend is really only in use among technical brands such as electronics or automotive. For clothing, consumer goods, furniture retailers, and more – utilizing third-party programs proves to be more affordable and accessible for many businesses and corporate brands. With Snapchat’s free features, growing brands are able to access the booming technology that is building the social media sphere without the cost and overhead of spearheading their own initiatives. Snapchat, in return, is seeing a steady increase in corporate usage as well as individual adoption from 2020 on. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/How-Snap-is-Turning-Virtual-Reality-into-Real-Money.jpg]Alushta, Russia – May 23, 2017: Woman holding iPhone with social networking service Snapchat on the screen. iPhone was created and developed by the Apple inc. HOW SNAP IS TURNING VIRTUAL REALITY INTO REAL MONEY Virtual reality as a concept has been generating buzz for decades, but it has only recently become affordable enough to truly turn a profit. Additionally, businesses who are looking for a fresh and unique way to appeal to their audiences have adopted some form of AR/VR connectivity to tap into this growing consumer base. While their expenses have increased as a result of the sharp intake, they have also maximized value by monetizing these changes through advertising, premium product offerings, and more. With a paid service option that expands user capabilities, premium users could take advantage of a wide range of features for a small fee. Gaining access to the Snapchat premium plan included: * Exclusive, paid content that isn’t available to free users * Personal connection with brands and personalities that are in-demand * Screenshot production * Snapcash integration * Spotlight access Snapchat’s Spotlight feature actually pays users to make viral posts, which is another way the brand is generating revenue during this unprecedented time in the company’s history. Payment for this feature is largely determined by the post’s success, as well as the reputation the user is able to maintain online. Viral posts are all over the web, and this is yet another way for social media platforms and users alike to gain public attention – and make a profit – based on their creative content. Augmented and virtual reality is changing the world before our eyes, and social media brands are taking this technology to expand their brand’s reach while appealing to current consumers. As we continue to dive deeper into the digital world, technology is paving the way for future trends and the growth of global commerce in the immediate future. For these reasons, Snap is turning virtual reality into real money across the entire network of brands, companies, and even influencers on the web. Despite a rise in their operational costs, Snapchat is using their approach to integrated augmented and virtual reality to build their own brand significantly during an ongoing health and economic crisis.
6 Automotive Industry Predictions for 2021
March 17, 2021
The automotive industry has changed significantly over the years. To stay competitive, automotive manufacturers have no other choice but to rapidly evolve in order to keep up with changes in consumer demand, environmental regulations, and technology. Yet many experts believe that the biggest changes to impact the automotive industry are still to come. Industry analysts believe that the automotive industry will enter a period of transformative change over the next 12 months. What will drive this change? What’s next for the automotive industry? Here are X automotive industry predictions for the year ahead: AUTOMOTIVE DIGITAL RETAIL For years, automotive consumers have shown an interest in purchasing vehicles online rather than in-person at dealerships. But now, the desire to go digital when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle has grown exponentially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey revealed that over three-fourths of automotive consumers are open to the idea of buying a vehicle online. Some consumers prefer a virtual buying experience because it is easier, faster, and more convenient, whereas others prefer it simply because they don’t like the experience of going to a dealership. However, this doesn’t mean that automotive consumers want to go through the car-buying process on their own. In general, consumers still want to be able to interact with someone at the dealership while going through the process of buying a new vehicle. This person must be available to answer questions, address concerns, and help consumers come to the right decision regarding which vehicle to purchase. To address this need, automotive companies may want to offer virtual consultations or add live chat options to their website. Automotive consumers expect the same level of customer service even if they choose to purchase a vehicle online rather than in a dealership. For this reason, automotive manufacturers must make an effort to provide an “at-home” dealership experience. For example, automotive manufacturers can build a virtual showroom so consumers can explore vehicles from the comfort of their own homes. Manufacturers can also offer virtual test drives or deliver vehicles to consumers’ homes to make the experience more convenient. [https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/oX2_tLBHpkj1bwruPgBxaqXNyzeFI_h9TI7WVEbne2G7fxQcOVzb1qRwNP5VrH_f8q4AsCPILsvYcBYGG7o2nExeyew5bfnhxe7qonWcBB-t-8V3QZynUYOUAxUz7H_JaUcl-cRp] Some automotive consumers prefer to complete the entire car-buying process online. But others are open to only completing the final steps of the process online, including the price negotiation, selection of add-on features, and signing of documents. Automotive manufacturers and dealerships should keep this in mind when designing an automotive digital retail experience for their consumers. HEALTH AND WELLNESS ADD-ON FEATURES Luxurious add-on features such as seat warmers, complex infotainment systems, and self-closing doors have dominated the automotive industry in the past. Although these features will still be found in vehicles this year, industry experts believe that manufacturers will prioritize health and wellness amenities over luxurious amenities for the first time. Automotive designers will look at every part of a vehicle to determine how it can be used to promote health and wellness. For example, the seats may be redesigned to include massage functionalities. This would allow passengers to relax their muscles, improve circulation, and alleviate muscle tension while on the go. Experts believe that automotive manufacturers may also introduce vehicles designed with ionizers and ozonizers to purify the air inside the cabin. New vehicles may also be designed with self-cleaning surfaces, which would have the ability to remove dirt, dust, and other debris from inside the vehicle. Not only would this create a sanitized environment for passengers, but it would make it easier for car owners to maintain their vehicles. Some experts predict that air pollution sensors will also be included in new vehicles this year. These sensors would be placed on the exterior of the vehicle to measure the level of air pollution outside. The sensor would deliver this data to the vehicle’s main computer, which could then display the information on the dashboard next to the outside temperature reading. This would allow the driver to see air pollution information in real-time just by looking down at their dashboard. These add-on features could be used to win over health-conscious consumers who are looking for new and innovative ways to improve their health and wellbeing. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 22% of automotive consumers are looking for vehicles with anti-microbial interiors. This indicates that health and wellness add-on features could be welcomed by automotive consumers with open arms, especially because of lingering health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. CAR SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES Automotive consumers who want their own vehicle typically have two options: buy or lease one. But automotive manufacturers recently introduced a third option: car subscription services. Now, experts believe that these services will become increasingly popular in the year ahead. To participate in a car subscription service, members must pay a monthly fee. This fee typically covers the use of a car, insurance, roadside assistance, and maintenance. Members can use the same vehicle for the entire month, but they also have the option of “flipping” in and out of vehicles made by the same manufacturer. [https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/wUsgqvRLV5Rs45_IlG2dxxtM39TY8HbT43Ze3oDzKEwuj2UiNdUZytQHI3Bi0DABNRCvcFDK6d-HZqSC0m_Jx00tG2a1hGi4Nowtm7YP5y_kKUOaQN7nENYpngTqrbFN4XtIcnHv] For example, a consumer may choose to drive a practical sedan during the week, but switch to a smaller, sportier vehicle during the weekend. If they choose to flip, a concierge will travel to their home to make the switch as convenient as possible. Subscription services offer more flexibility than traditional leases. If subscribers want to continue using the service, they must pay the fee every month. But if they are no longer interested in subscribing, consumers no longer need to pay the monthly fee. It’s as simple as that. Car subscription services are usually more popular in large cities such as New York City and Boston, where consumers are less likely to own a vehicle. However, experts predict that these services will start to catch on in more rural areas over the next 12 months. There’s no doubt that consumers are open to the idea of using a car subscription service. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Automotive Consumer Study, over one-quarter of automotive consumers in the United States are interested in using a car subscription service. The concept is even more popular in other countries, including India, where nearly 70% of automotive consumers would be open to trying these services. Automotive consumers are willing to pay for these services, too. In the United States, over 60% of automotive consumers are willing to pay at least 10% more to participate in a subscription service that gives them access to different vehicle models across the same brand. Nearly 20% of these consumers are willing to pay at least 20% more for these services. Based on this data, it’s clear that there is a legitimate interest in the car subscription model, which could explain why experts are predicting a rise in these services this year. SHIFT FROM HORSEPOWER TO COMPUTING POWER In the past, automotive manufacturers focused on producing vehicles with the highest horsepower. But now, experts believe that automotive manufacturers will start to focus more on computing power rather than horsepower. Many vehicles are already designed with infotainment systems, collision-warning features, and navigational assistance. But in the next year, the technology used in these vehicles will become more advanced. Furthermore, more vehicles will feature these technologies, which means automotive consumers won’t need to purchase a high-end, luxury vehicle to enjoy these features. In fact, McKinsey estimates that the number of networked cars will rise by 30% every year for the next several years. Automotive consumers should expect to see a rise in the number of services that are delivered through their vehicles. This may include driver assistance, tourism, entertainment, information, or Internet radio services. Automotive manufacturers may even start to build a wide range of apps that are only compatible with their vehicles’ software. If these predictions come true, vehicles will be smarter and more connected than ever before. Many consumers look forward to increased vehicle connectivity. In the United States, 44% of consumers believe that increased vehicle connectivity is beneficial. In China, 83% of consumers share this view. These consumers aren’t necessarily willing to pay more for increased vehicle connectivity, though. Two-thirds of automotive consumers in the United States and 51% of automotive consumers in China said they would not be willing to pay more than $500 for these advanced features. But not all consumers are sold on the idea of increased vehicle connectivity. Nearly two-thirds of automotive consumers in the United States worry that hackers could gain access to a connected vehicle and put the safety of the passengers at risk. Despite these consumers’ concerns, experts predict that increased vehicle connectivity will take the automotive industry by storm over the next year. [https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/1JWeqDd4aKQRnww7--MtEVSeKNmh_8ju7Scb9-pPWPb0OsV9UAZnzZzr4RsuO83gMIaqy7RmIBQUho5TaDDYKlakJFwbvaHLPLZeJjR6OYYXR9Oqlfp_22CHxPe4QQ5wuleZqRuP] EXPANSION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES Experts predict that the electric vehicle segment of the automotive industry will experience significant growth in the next year. Although Tesla currently dominates the electric vehicle segment, the competition is growing. In 2020, there were 59 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on the U.S. market, but this number will grow to 75 in 2021. New competition could emerge over the course of the year, too. Fifty-four percent of consumers and 63% of dealers believe that a new electric vehicle company will enter the market and rival Tesla in 2021. The predicted growth in the electric vehicle market could occur as a result of new state laws. Over 40% of automotive consumers and dealers believe that more states will establish laws that require or encourage consumers to only purchase electric vehicles. Even though experts are confident that the electric vehicle market will expand rapidly in 2021, some consumers are still hesitant to purchase an electric vehicle. Some of the automotive consumers’ greatest concerns regarding electric vehicles include a poor driving range, lack of charging infrastructure, cost, and the time required to reach a full charge. If automotive manufacturers fail to address these concerns, the electric market segment may not grow as quickly as experts anticipate. Furthermore, the percentage of consumers who intend on purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle has dropped. In 2020, 41% of automotive consumers in the U.S. said they intended on purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle. But in 2021, this number dropped to 26%. Some experts believe that this drop occurred as a result of the global pandemic. In uncertain times, consumers are more likely to turn to tried and true options, which are gas-powered vehicles. If this is the case, more consumers may be interested in purchasing electric vehicles once the global health crisis has been resolved. [https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/0C7nCxVsUcsk80kijz2jS97Rrmv0K5cYVJ83zzXDCRGY3hdIujs5WxEXET3aAyVnVJz5zZsZfZPJX8faRXFqBWHhEYABRs0CfrbjNU_K9Vl8qOLK53IMG0ANYszs5C1i-ArycH2F] GROWING GEN Z CUSTOMER SEGMENT Members of Generation Z, which include anyone who was born in 1997 or later, are now becoming automotive consumers for the first time. This generation has incredible spending power. In fact, it’s estimated that Gen Z influences between $600 billion and $3 trillion in consumer spending every year. But this generation also has different purchase habits and needs. Because of this, the increase in Gen Z automotive consumers could force automotive consumers to adjust their advertising, marketing and sales strategies to meet the demands of this unique customer segment. In general, Gen Z consumers are sensible, rational, and frugal. In the past, these consumers have preferred car-sharing over car ownership. Ridesharing services and public transportation were seen as affordable, practical, and eco-friendly modes of transportation to Gen Zers. But many Gen Z consumers are now thinking of purchasing a vehicle for the first time due to the risk of using ridesharing services or public transportation during a pandemic. To appeal to these consumers, automotive manufacturers must remember that Gen Zers tend to evaluate the entire company, not just the company’s products, when making a purchase decision. Automotive manufacturers must display a commitment to important social causes and get involved in local communities in order to win these consumers over. Previous generations favored trucks and SUVs. But Gen Z automotive consumers are more likely to purchase practical sedans manufactured by Toyota, Honda, or Nissan. This generation is also drawn to vehicles with innovative technological features that make the driving experience more pleasant, convenient, and comfortable. Automotive manufacturers must also realize that Gen Zers are savvy shoppers who use their smartphones to compare models, find the lowest prices, and research dealerships. They are well-informed and willing to aggressively negotiate for the best possible price on a new vehicle, so dealerships must be prepared to sell to this new customer segment. It’s still too soon to measure the impact that these changes would have on the automotive industry. But one thing is for certain: automotive consumers should be excited about the direction in which the automotive industry is headed. [https://contentgm.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/content_uploads/App%5CDynamicModules%5CItem/45748/car-predictions.png]