A Spotlight On: RelayCars’ Virtual Reality Car Showroom
April 30, 2021
Virtual reality is a multi-billion dollar industry. While this technology was once a reality that seemed only like a virtual possibility, today virtual technology heightens the user experience in games, shopping and even communication. The possibilities for this industry really are endless. With autonomous cars peeking out from the horizon of the internet superhighway, virtual reality may become the norm in communication and high-tech experiences. Will everyone wear a headset? Or perhaps virtual reality experiences will be accessible through sleek glasses. Virtual reality has disrupted the automobile industry in many ways and has changed how consumers shop for a new (or used) vehicle. Virtual reality showrooms like RelayCars provide consumers with a way to experience the shopping experience without actually stepping into a physical dealership. The virtual reality app doesn’t allow the consumer to click ‘buy,’ it does provide insight into many makes and models. How does a virtual reality car showroom work? Why should consumers take advantage of these unique experiences while hunting for their dream car? Here’s everything consumers need to know about RelayCars’ virtual reality showroom. WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? When consumers think of virtual reality, they often assume that the gateway to such experiences is an expensive headset. RelayCars’ virtual reality showroom is accessible with or without a headset, however. The RelayCars virtual reality showroom app can be downloaded to many Apple or Android devices. The virtual showroom is simply an interactive three-dimensional experience. The fingertips are the only tools users need to navigate around the experience in the traditional app. For consumers who do have access to a virtual reality headset, RelayCars also can be downloaded via Steam. This allows consumers to access the virtual reality showroom as a truly immerse virtual reality experience. While the traditional app shows cars in a three-dimensional website type layout, the Steam app lets users actually enter the showroom. They can step into the experience and examine each different vehicle up close. WHY SHOULD CONSUMERS USE A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Using a virtual reality showroom allows consumers to research the cars that interest them before visiting a dealership. Virtual reality showrooms are open 24/7, and there are no sales people who engage consumers during the process. Visiting a virtual reality showroom can be done at the consumer’s leisure. There is no sales pressure, no hassles, and no price tags. Consumers can preview different cars from a wide range of price points. While many consumers might not feel comfortable perusing the models at a Lamborghini dealership if they don’t have the funds to purchase a vehicle, they can check out many luxury models via a virtual reality showroom. These virtual tools can be used for fun as well as for shopping research. Some consumers may visit RelayCars to gain more knowledge about a particular vehicle, or they may stumble onto the app and play around in the virtual showroom to look at many different models. There are so many ways—and reasons—to visit a virtual reality showroom. RelayCars doesn’t care why a consumer visits, we’re happy you visited! Car shopping should be fun! Why should consumers use a virtual reality showroom? For fun, for research…for whatever reason they wish! HOW MUCH DOES A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM COST? Visiting a bricks and mortar car dealership doesn’t cost a fee, although sales teams might be on the lookout for the serious buyer. Downloading RelayCars virtual reality app is free, too, on Steam, Google Play and the App Store. There are no monthly fees to use the app or to check out all the cars in the virtual inventory. WHAT ARE THE FEATURES OF A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Virtual reality is an immersive experience, and the headset fully immerses the user into the virtual world. Again, though, the RelayCars virtual reality showroom can be accessed with or without a virtual reality headset. Once users download the app, they can begin exploring different cars. Choose a make and model, and the app transports the user into a three-dimensional showroom. Those using the app without a headset will view the showroom in a similar way as a web page. However, the vehicle will be shown in three dimensions. Users can turn the car around, change the paint colors and look inside the vehicle. Using a virtual reality headset, users become a part of the experience in true virtual reality fashion. Step into the showroom and walk around the vehicle. Peek inside the car and use tools to change the paint color, too. Using the apps also doesn’t start some type of user time clock. Consumers can experience the virtual reality showroom for as long as they wish. There also aren’t any parameters or limits related to the number of cars and vehicles that users can explore. Have fun, and check out all the different vehicles. WHAT IS AN AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOM? Users may notice two different apps when they search for RelayCars via the App Store or Google Play. RelayCars offers both a virtual reality showroom app and an augmented reality showroom app. What is the difference between the two options? The virtual reality app showcases cars in a virtual environment. Whether users experience the showroom with or without goggles, the vehicles will be displayed in a three-dimensional showroom separate from their own environment. The showroom will be visible on the screen (for those without a headset) and in what seems like a separate realm (with the headset. The augmented reality showroom, however, allows users to bring the vehicle of their choice into their own environment. Users can preview a vehicle in a living room, a bedroom, in a garage, outside or even on the driveway. The car drops into whatever environment the user chooses. Once the vehicle is placed in the physical environment, consumers can use their device to view the vehicle, walk around it and explore all its features. The augmented reality showroom also allows users to swap out paint hues. Vehicle selection also is a bit more limited on the augmented reality app than the virtual reality app. However, new makes and models are being integrated into both apps regularly. HOW MANY VEHICLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? Users visiting the virtual reality showroom app may be surprised at the number of vehicles that they can experience and preview. Just how many vehicles are in RelayCars’ online inventory? For the virtual reality showroom, RelayCars offers many used and new models of virtually all the major automobile manufacturers. The online inventory includes models from more than 40 manufacturers, from Acura to Volvo. Luxury manufacturers like Lamborghini, Jaguar, Bentley and Ferrari also can be previewed in virtual reality. HOW CAN CONSUMERS USE THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM FOR SHOPPING? While consumers can’t purchase a car directly through RelayCars’ virtual or augmented reality apps or showrooms, these tech-savvy tools can be used by consumers to help narrow down their shopping list. Virtual showrooms allow consumers to take their time in investigating different vehicles. Shoppers who are on the fence about a particular model or who might be new to a certain brand can download the app and preview the car from the comfort of home. There are no sales teams who will email a visitor about the car they previewed. There is no pressure. Some consumers may spend a great deal of time visiting different dealerships and looking at multiple models. With virtual reality showrooms, consumers can cut down their drive time and focus on finding the car that fits their needs and their lifestyle. Once they’ve narrowed down their choices, they can begin researching dealerships in the area and any applicable promotions, sales or incentives. RelayCars helps simplify the shopping process by streamlining the experience. While virtual or augmented reality doesn’t allow for a tactile experience (yet!), visitors to the virtual reality showrooms can still gain a wealth of information about the car’s interior option, space constraints and, of course, the physical appearance of both the interior and exterior features. As the virtual showroom also lets users swap out paint hues, shoppers can gain a sense of how a color will look before they buy the car. Not every dealership has the full spectrum of paint hues on the lot. A Spotlight On: RelayCars’ Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Visit-the-Dealership.jpg] AFTER THE VIRTUAL…VISIT THE DEALERSHIP When using a virtual reality showroom, consumers might choose to make a list of their top makes and models. This can help narrow down choices at the dealership. Visiting the dealership may be the final step of the shopping process. While a lot of information about a vehicle can be found via a virtual reality showroom, the physical aspects of the car can really only be ascertained at the dealership. Consumers will likely want to sit in their favorite models and even request a test drive. While a vehicle may seem perfect in virtual reality and even on the lot, if the consumer doesn’t like how the car drives or feels cramped while driving, then it might not be the dream car. This is why consumers may want to visit the dealership with at least a few models in mind. The budget also becomes part of the dream car reality. When researching a car in virtual reality, consumers also should hunt down the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to find out just where that car sits in relation to the budget. While this dollar amount may nudge a bit with a trade-in, dealer incentives and other promotions, consumers need to know their budget when shopping. While that Lamborghini might be the car of your dreams, it may be completely out of the budget. Sometimes a car dealership can feel like a pressure-cooker; that is, the buyer may feel pressured to commit to buying a car. It’s perfectly ok to walk away to think, to review the budget or to hunt for a better price or loan. Bankrate explains that it isn’t uncommon for sales people to keep shoppers at the dealership for a long time. Why? The site explains that hunger or simply being tired gives the salesperson the advantage. A Spotlight On: RelayCars’ Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Buying-a-Car-Without-Seeing-it-in-Person.jpg] BUYING A CAR WITHOUT SEEING IT IN PERSON? During Covid many dealerships were closed to foot traffic. This might have put buyers in an odd predicament when shopping for a new car. While the automotive industry wasn’t in a rush to head online for sales, Covid might have pushed many dealerships in that direction. Cars were delivered to shoppers for virtual test drives, and dealerships likely had to get creative in many aspects of the sales process. Shoppers likely utilized online sales assistants for questions related to vehicle availability. The rising popularity of the online car market, though, leads to the question of if a consumer needs to see the car before purchasing. Many shoppers will likely prefer to head to the dealership to physically see the vehicle or at least request a virtual test drive at home. Testing out the vehicle can be extremely valuable for consumers; while seeing a car in virtual reality provides a physical preview of the vehicle, it doesn’t provide consumers with an understanding of the actual feel of the vehicle. Not all vehicles are comfortable for everyone. The mechanics or features of a car might not be appealing. Testing out the car at a dealership or at home provides a better understanding about the car’s mechanics and if that vehicle is a good fit for the lifestyle of the individual. No one wants to buy a car only to realize that they have to adjust the driver’s seat so far that their child has no leg room in the back seat! VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM: A POWERFUL SHOPPING TOOL The virtual reality showroom provides a powerful shopping tool for consumers. Previewing a car in virtual reality allows consumers to better understand the basic features of the vehicle. This high-tech showroom provides an understanding of the car’s design and space limitations. Vehicles previewed in virtual reality allow consumers to better narrow down their car wish lists and to preview vehicles that might not have been available to them in a standard dealership. Virtual reality showrooms also can provide a leisurely window shopping experience…from home. Consumers can look at as many cars as they wish without any sales pressure. Virtual reality accelerates the excitement of the shopping joyride and puts the brakes on the fear of the hard sale.
Tim Cook: Augmented Reality is Critical to Apple’s future
April 30, 2021
Google launched several augmented reality experiences for Android users. There’s the new Floom, which lets users peek into the other side of the world via an augmented reality hole or portal that they dig/draw. Sodar lets users draw a perimeter around their bodies (in AR, of course). An augmented reality measuring app provides 3D overlays that measure volume, and an upcoming app can give photos (via Google) an augmented reality upgrade. Google has a host of other augmented reality products, too. Will Apple take a bigger byte out of augmented reality? ZDNET reported on an interview Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, did with Kara Swisher on her podcast. While Cook wouldn’t discuss any details in particular regarding what may or may not be in the pipeline, he did talk about how augmented reality could complement conversations—like his interview–with graphics. In a first quarter earnings call last year, Cook touched on augmented reality, too. “This is the reason I’m so excited about it,” said Cook via the call. “You rarely have a new technology where business and consumer both see it as key to them. So I think the answer is that’s the reason that I think it’s going to pervade your life.” But just how big of a bite will Apple take out of augmented reality? How invested is the company in this particular market segment? Companies—including Apple—don’t often disclose what’s in the works. Technology is a competitive market, and the tight lips likely ensure that all products under development remain incognito to those on the outside…including competitors. Innovation and innovative products are valuable, and Apple has enough experience to know just how valuable their products are to the consumer. Tech sites and publications often speculate about what could be next for Apple. The popular speculation is that Apple could release augmented reality glasses. Other sites have found patent applications from Apple that delve into a mixed reality windshield. While the future of Apple augmented reality products isn’t so clear, there are many ways Apple fans can utilize augmented reality. Apple isn’t a stranger to this technology, and the company has an augmented reality platform. In addition, the App Store is filled with many augmented reality apps that Apple users can explore. While Apple may indeed take a juicy bite out of augmented reality with innovative new products, there are still many augmented reality experiences to explore…and some of them are simply out of this world! Check out these five unusual augmented reality experiences available via the App Store: LightSpace For those who want an app that augments art, get ready to paint in neon lights! LightSpace is an augmented reality app that lets users paint via augmented reality. Apparently—per the description—the app went viral on TikTok. Users can create 3D GIFS! Backyard Apollo AR Place the Apollo Saturn V rocket in the backyard and get ready for launch. With augmented reality, users can see the rocket from different vantage points. solAR System Augmented Reality The app lets users drop the entire solar system anywhere and explore the planets. Zeroing in on a specific planet brings up additional data. Find My Car Can augmented reality help drivers find their car? Apparently, yes it can. The app also lets users set timers so they don’t end up running out the parking meter. Catch Santa AR Augmented reality for the holidays. Santa can drop into any environment. Who said Santa isn’t real? He’s on video with this augmented reality app! Through augmented reality technology, Santa is shown moving in the room and leaving gifts. APPLE & AUGMENTING LAMBORGHINI During Covid, Apple teamed up with Lamborghini to unveil the new Huracán EVO AWD Spyder via augmented reality. The experience required an Apple device with iOS 11. Users could drop the vehicle anywhere in their environment, walk around the car and check out its features. Macrumors reported that Apple’s QuickLook (AR) would be an option for all future Lamborghini vehicles. In the future, visitors to Lamborghini’s site may be able to drop all their cars into a room, a driveway or the garage. Augmented Reality is Critical to Apple [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Augmented-Reality-Glasses-on-the-Market.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES ON THE MARKET Augmented reality glasses seem to be the loud whisper related to Apple products featuring augmented reality. Many sites have been speculating about Apple releasing glasses, but no one really knows what they could look like…or if they will even become a reality. There are, however, several types of augmented reality glasses already on the market. They offer different designs and features…not to mention price points. Epson Moverio Smart Glasses pop up on the company’s business tab. They can be used by businesses for aiding technicians. They also could be used to provide captioning during movies and to provide unique experiences for exhibits and more. Wareable reported that Facebook will have its own smart glasses featuring augmented reality. Per the story, the glasses will be Ray-Bans. A YouTube video from Ray-Ban Films teased the new glasses. No details were leaked via the video, however. Will the glasses be aviators or Wayfarers? Vuzix Blade Upgraded Smart Glasses also feature augmented reality. While some augmented reality products are focused towards business use, the company notes that it can be for business or personal use. Augmented Reality is Critical to Apple [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Augmented-Reality-in-the-Future.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE FUTURE Smart glasses aren’t the only augmented reality infused products on the market, though. While rumors often swirl about Apple’s next big launch, there is one major product that many tech titans seem to be pursuing: autonomous cars! While products like smart glasses can be infused with augmented or virtual reality, the idea of a smart car that is self-driven is really space-age. Several companies are testing robotaxis that are self-driving, and this technology could be the future. But will augmented reality wire into these futuristic cars? Anything is possible. Nissan is developing technology that allows for avatars to join the ride. Invisible to Visible technology also would show drivers obstacles up ahead and even transform the windows to include pleasant skies on dreary days. Avatars with this technology wouldn’t exist in a virtual realm, instead they would sit in the actual car and would exist as a type of augmented reality. Our cars are already infused with augmented reality. Backup cameras, smart rearview mirrors and even GPS systems can project graphic overlays on top of the real world environment. These features might boost the driving experience and might even help reduce fender benders (in the case of backup cameras). Businesses use augmented reality to improve the user experience. Augmented reality can create virtual try-on experiences that let shoppers preview cosmetics, paint hues on walls or even drop furniture into a room. Some augmented reality experiences may even let users try a new hairstyle. Museums also could use augmented reality to create interactive exhibits for visitors. The Smithsonian’s Skin and Bone app can be downloaded onto a device and used to interact with exhibits in the Bone Hall. Users who can’t visit the museum can print out pictures of the exhibits and use the app at home. In the automotive industry, augmented reality is used to provide help to technicians during repairs and to help consumers preview new cars. Glasses show details during the repair and can even communicate with a team of experts in another location. RelayCars offers an augmented reality showroom that lets users drop different cars into their home or other space; they can walk around the vehicle, swap out paint hues and look inside. WHEN WILL APPLE RUMORS BECOME REALITY? The buzz about any possible new Apple products can be deafening. The talk of augmented reality glasses has been swirling for quite some time. Who knows if or even when any type of augmented reality glasses could launch. Tech companies, however, are always developing and innovating. Consumers crave new products, and the excitement over a new phone—whether Apple or Android—or other device shows just how popular new products are to the consumer. When a new phone launches, the old technology becomes old news…perhaps even obsolete. Cameras now deliver crisp and precise images. And many phones are now capable of showcasing augmented reality. In the early aughts, a flip phone was popular and considered high-tech; the cameras weren’t great, texting was a chore…and apps weren’t a thing. Now our handheld devices can launch augmented reality games, apps and experiences. The phones can show videos. Texting can be dictated. So what’s next in the world of augmented reality? From Apple…only the insiders of the company likely know. However, Facebook x Ray Ban is on the horizon. Those Wayfarers might be smart in ways we never knew possible. Will they feature augmented reality? According to a story by The Verge, not so much, as Facebook confirmed to the site that the glasses will not be an AR product. The wait is still on for the next cool pair of augmented reality glasses.
How Companies Use Extended Reality in the Workplace
April 29, 2021
Extended reality can help move businesses future forward, drive the employee experience and simplify the hiring process, too. As extended reality becomes mainstream, companies of all sizes may be incorporating augmented and/or virtual technology into their processes. Individual sectors may have different uses for these tech platforms, but businesses across different sectors might have discovered that extended reality can transform business for the better. How companies use extended reality in the workplace may depend on many factors, including their unique needs and maybe even their budgets, too. Businesses that have pivoted to work from home also may rely on virtual or augmented reality to create a sense of community and help employees stay connected and breach the geographic distance. Let’s look at some of the ways that extended reality is being used internally. WHAT IS EXTENDED REALITY? Extended reality isn’t a unique or separate type of technology. Instead, extended reality (or XR for short) is a bit of an umbrella term that encapsulates augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. All three of these platforms make up the larger ‘extended reality.’ Companies may use one or more of these platforms. Extended Reality in the Workplace [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-in-Training.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN TRAINING Employee training in the past meant different things in each industry. For restaurants, for example, maybe employees were given a handbook that highlighted all the safety protocols, dress codes, meal prep guidelines and other information related to an employee’s particular role. After being trained in all these areas, maybe the employee then had to take a test to ensure that they learned all the information. Training in other industries might have looked similar, with employees receiving a handbook and going through one-on-one training sessions detailing their new job. The training processes could have taken days and might have required multiple employees to acclimate the new hire to the company. Most companies understand that training a new employee is costly. However, the numbers and the price for this training can vary wildly by industry. According to an article on Chron, hiring or replacing a new nurse might cost about $40,000, the cost associated with hiring a new employee in the tech sector can soar to the six figures. While replacing a seasoned employee might always be costly, training doesn’t have to be so time-consuming. So how can companies simplify the hiring process? Augmented reality could help streamline training processes. PTC highlighted several ways that augmented reality is helping to propel employee training to another level. The site explained that since some companies need to train employees off site, this can be expensive and remove the employee from the work environment. However, augmented reality can often be used anywhere, providing flexibility to new employees and maybe serving as a more cost-effective training tool. Augmented reality also is able to provide more immersive training experiences, without having a co-worker sitting nearby. Some factories or manufacturing plants may use augmented reality to aid new technicians in their jobs. Perhaps augmented reality glasses show graphics on top of the machine or other work component that relays visual instruction to the tech. Augmented reality training also could include access to reference books and other critical documents. GE Healthcare uses an Xbox and a Kinect to create their augmented reality training experiences. The employee doesn’t need to wear glasses; instead, a projector displays the data onto the work environment. If the employee makes a mistake, the technology also alerts them so it could be fixed. Extended Reality in the Workplace [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Reality-In-Training.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY IN TRAINING Augmented reality can be used as a way to display data on top of real environments, but virtual reality allows for employee training to take place in another realm. Virtual reality can be used to prepare employees for potentially dangerous situations (like a robbery), and it also can help employees better understand how to handle specific interactions with customers. Other industries use virtual reality to simulate physical experiences—like flying an aircraft or even navigating space missions. Last summer (June 2020) Boeing and Varjo partnered to create a virtual reality experience to enable astronauts to train on launching the Starliner space taxi. With the aid of virtual reality, astronauts enter a simulation where they can navigate the space taxi in preparation for their mission. Supply Chain Dive reported that FedEx turned to virtual reality for its employee training to better prepare new hires. The site reported that the company had issues with employees quitting soon after starting their job, as they weren’t prepared for the physical demands. FedEx’s virtual reality experience was powered by Striver, which also created virtual reality training for Fidelity and Verizon. PwC reported that businesses also are using virtual reality for training employees on ‘soft skills’ and conducted a study that compared the effectiveness of three different types of training for these skills; participants (new managers) used either e-learning, classroom or v-learning. Those who used v-learn modes were “275 percent more confident to apply skills learned after training.” They were also much more focused (four-times!) than those using e-learning and were much faster to train (again, four times more!) than those who used classroom instruction. Virtual learning also was “more emotionally connected to content than classroom learners.” Extended Reality in the Workplace [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Extended-Reality-for-Collaboration.jpg] EXTENDED REALITY FOR COLLABORATION Augmented and virtual reality also help keep employees connected and collaborating, especially when Covid pushed many to work from home. Employees likely engaged in virtual meetings via platforms like Zoom. Some businesses even integrated virtual environments, as executives donned headsets to see each other even when they were miles apart…or perhaps even separated by oceans. Augmented reality appeared in the virtual environments that employees (and students!) used to connect, learn and work together. What is augmented about Zoom and other conference platforms? Many employees used unique backgrounds that appeared behind them during conferences. These augmented backgrounds were, in fact, a form of augmented reality. Some might have used filters to create a new (and funny) identity. Sometimes, however, these virtual experiences didn’t go quite as planned. During Covid, courts went virtual, too. And one a lawyer hilariously went viral for not knowing how to take off his cat filter. The video showing the attorney as a cat was highlighted across the internet, and, of course, made it to late-night television, too. For schools, virtual experiences were part of keeping classes open…without having students in-person and at desks. The business of education used virtual platforms for distance learning plans. Some districts are even planning to offer virtual learning after Covid, because some students might have learned better in such an environment. The automotive industry used virtual reality to continue car design during the pandemic. GM and Ford both used virtual reality for car design during Covid. GM’s Hummer EV was designed much faster because of virtual reality’s remotely collaborative options. As CNBC reported, GM’s team could work from home and still collaborate via the virtual. VIRTUAL REALITY FOR HIRING, TOO! GMetri reports that extended reality can be integrated into the hiring process, and, with virtual reality, potential candidates enter into virtual tests to assess their suitability for the position. However, virtual interviews also can be part of the process. GMetri explains that a virtual interview could make the process more equitable. As an avatar, the employee is masked in a way. This could possibly eliminate the potential for any type of bias. The possibilities for using virtual reality for the interview process could be groundbreaking as it relates to eliminating these potential biases. For example, the ‘pretty privilege’ has shown to give an edge to more attractive individuals. CNBC cited a survey from Fairygodboss given to 500 individuals in charge of hiring that noted that the weight of a potential job candidate was an issue. More than one out of five of those surveyed described a picture of an overweight woman as “lazy.” The survey had asked them to answer questions related to the individuals pictured. An avatar-based virtual reality hiring platform could ensure that weight or other factors weren’t contributing to a candidate being filtered out for the position. VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY TO ENHANCE USER EXPERIENCE Separate from the employee experience, businesses also use extended reality to help market their products and enhance the user experience. Virtual try-on experiences and virtual and augmented reality showrooms help provide the consumer with a way to visualize and engage with the products before actually purchasing them. With virtual car showrooms, users can visualize the car and even check out the different features. Augmented reality showrooms bring the car into the user’s environment. If the virtual reality experience is accessed via a headset, the user also can interact with the vehicle in some ways and/or switch out paint colors to find their perfect car shade. Try-on experiences via virtual or augmented reality may help to minimize returns as well as provide a unique user experience. The customer can preview shades of paint on their walls, makeup products on their face or maybe even try on a new hairstyle. And if the customer doesn’t like the look, they can opt for something else. Businesses are embracing extended reality for training, collaborating and marketing, too. Augmented and virtual reality may become an integral part of how we interview, train and even shop in the future.
The Art of Augmented Reality
April 28, 2021
Tech platforms and the evolution of technology reverberate across industries. When the smartphone first hit the market, not everyone could invest in its sleek offerings. Yet, today the smartphone has become the norm, and many industries have created apps or other experiences to satiate the smartphone gusto within society. Now mobile devices like the smartphone have evolved to become a gateway to an augmented reality of the world. Marketing success requires evolution—digital evolution. And technology has evolved to create alternate realities—both augmented and virtual. Businesses have learned that the art of augmented reality creates heightened user experiences for the consumer. Museums and artists have also realized that the augmented and virtual worlds may be the gateway to unique forms of expression and a conduit to provide greater outreach to the masses. Covid might have been a game-changer for museums and other cultural institutions. As shelter-in-place mandates affected numerous countries, nonessential businesses likely shut their doors to foot traffic. Museums were not deemed essential. Art galleries and concert venues postponed or cancelled performances or special exhibits. The tourist industry halted. And those iconic museums and cultural institutions that were once prime destinations sat empty. As businesses struggled to survive in a world without foot traffic, these venues also were left trying to find ways to exist when many across the globe were stuck inside their homes. Online experiences might have been the ticket to survival. Businesses that could sell online likely pivoted to this platform. While tourists couldn’t travel, they likely still craved unique experiences. Travel, without the travel. Yet, how could museums hold tours or showcase exhibits without in-person traffic? Museums went virtual! Many included virtual tours online, and some allowed for individuals, groups and families to sign up for personal virtual tours. Cultural venues also might have offered classes online to give bored consumers a unique experience at home. Art of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmenting-Art.jpg] AUGMENTING ART While virtual reality experiences integrated into online sites, there were still issues that museums faced regarding some exhibits. Not every exhibit could translate easily to a virtual tour, especially exhibits that were highly visual or that relied on technology for the full experience. Smithsonian Magazine highlighted how a few museums and artists were using augmented reality to allow art to be showcased at home. Jenny Holzer, whose exhibits include LED signs and light-up quotes featured on the sides of vans, made her You Be My Ally project accessible to anyone at home. An app allowed users to place quotes from the project on a wall…or anywhere they wanted to view it. Serpentine Galleries also embraced augmented reality for an exhibit that was originally meant to be experienced in virtual reality. Artist Cao Fei’s The Eternal Wave could be experienced in the gallery via augmented reality through an app called Acute Art. A small preview of the exhibit could be experienced anywhere. Cuseum allows individuals to bring famous works of art into their home via augmented reality. Museums that partner with Cuseum include The White House Historical Association, Timken Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Center for Creative Photography, Royal Tyrrell Museum, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. CNET reported that Smithsonian museums partnered with Verizon to create augmented reality experiences during Covid. To view the augmented reality exhibits and experiences, CNET explains that users just have to click the camera on their phone and scan the code via Verizon’s virtual museum webpage. Users can choose from multiple exhibits; check out a blue crab, extinct animals, view sculptures and more. After scanning the code of the exhibit of choice, on an iPhone the user will be prompted to open up Yahoo!, and then the augmented reality experience begins! The coolest part? Users can drop the exhibit anywhere in their real-world environment. Explore art and other exhibits from anywhere at home. AUGMENTED ART BEFORE COVID Augmented and virtual reality might have flourished during Covid, but museums and cultural venues were already integrating this technology long before the pandemic. Back in 2017, Smithsonian Magazine profiled five augmented reality experiences at museums: * At the National Museum of Singapore, an exhibit called Story of the Forest included an augmented reality component. Visitors to the museum could use the cameras on their phones to find different plants and animals throughout a massive mural (it’s composed of 69 different works of art) inThe William Farquhar Collection of Natural History. It was a bit like an artistic scavenger hunt. * The Bone Hall at the Smithsonian takes the bones that are exhibited and lets users superimpose skin using augmented reality. Dubbed the “Skin and Bones” exhibit, visitors download an app that lets them place skin on the bones…and see the skeletons (with skin!) move, too. The Skin & Bones app is still available, and, yes, it can be used at home. For individuals at home and unable to visit the real exhibit, the app allows users to print pictures of the bones and use the printed photo for the augmented reality experience. The app also includes information about the animal, videos about the scientists, and more. * The Heroes and Legends exhibit at Kennedy Space Center in Florida lets visitors see a hologram of Gene Cernan over the Gemini 9 capsule. The exhibit also includes narrations by Cernan. * The Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, China uses augmented reality to allow visitors to learn more about relics and see the relics in 3D. CGTN highlighted the exhibit and augmented reality experience and how augmented reality allows relics to be translated and explained for visitors to learn more about their significance. “This helps us better understand the reconstruction of the past, the way of life, how people in the past built structures, or the artifacts, how they appeared in this area,” Ramsi Shoocongdej, Associate Professor at Silpakorn University of Thailand, told CGTN. * The last exhibit highlighted by Smithsonian Magazine was England’s Historic Cities. How did augmented reality create memorable experiences in ancient sites across England? Visitors had access to virtual guides who happened to be historical figures. The experience also let visitors view data about different artifacts; each city offers its own unique experiences. In Carlisle, for example, the artifacts open up a story about a Roman Cavalry Officer’s wife. AUGMENTED REALITY TO CREATE ART Technology often bleeds into art, and as the camera allows visual artists to explore and express their creativity in photographs, tech platforms also are an artistic medium. Augmented and virtual reality can serve as surrealistic galleries accessible only through the lens of technology. Art is digital, virtual and augmented. Museums are exploring these media for allowing artists to draw inspiration and create unique works of art in realms beyond the physical. Design Boom reported that Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Snap, Inc. partnered with a group of artists to “create virtual monuments that reflect on history and representation across the city of L.A.” Currently, the exhibit that is part of LACMA x snapchat: monumental perspectives total five monuments that can be viewed via augmented reality using the Snapchat camera. Those interested in viewing the augmented reality exhibits can check them out at LACMA, Macarthur Park, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Park, and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. LACMA’s augmented reality monuments could lead to other museums and galleries to explore augmented reality or virtual reality as a medium for the creation of art. Could paintings or sculptures soon be displayed in a separate realm? Perhaps virtual galleries infuse into the physical galleries of museums. Blank walls could become superimposed with unique artwork visible via a camera function or an app. Virtual reality experiences are nothing new, and artists may be exploring them as an art form more and more. Technology provides another mode to create and further express artistic ideas. While exhibits could infuse elements of augmented or virtual reality, they also could exist exclusively within these platforms. Art of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Museums-Go-Virtual.jpg] MUSEUMS GO VIRTUAL While augmented reality experiences have been utilized by many artists, galleries and museums, virtual reality has provided another doorway through which to access the arts and culture. Not everyone can afford a trip to France or Italy or elsewhere across the globe to visit historic art institutions and landmarks. Virtual reality has allowed museums and other cultural venues to create tours of exhibits that can be enjoyed from anywhere…even from the couch at home. These virtual tours were likely enjoyed often during shelter-from-home mandates during Covid. Yet, even now, as many parts of the world are reopening, virtual tours continue. For those on a limited budget, for those individuals who once felt that the world of arts and culture was closed to them, these virtual tours can serve as an all-access pass to works of art that everyone can experience. Perhaps these virtual and augmented reality experiences serve to equalize the accessibility of experiences that were once enjoyed by the privileged. And through this accessibility, perhaps the power of augmented and virtual reality allows the passion of art to reach a new audience and inspire a new generation of creators.
The Many Uses of Virtual Reality in Cars
April 28, 2021
Embracing new technologies is one of the keys to success in highly competitive industries such as the automotive industry. Automotive companies must continue to find new ways to implement exciting technologies in order to set themselves apart from their competitors and meet their consumers’ demands. One technology that has been widely used in the automotive industry is virtual reality. This technology transports users to a simulated environment where they are free to interact with and explore their virtual surroundings. Virtual reality is often associated solely with the gaming world, but it has countless other applications outside of this industry. In fact, there are many different ways in which automotive manufacturers can use virtual reality in cars, including: IN-CAR ENTERTAINMENT Most modern vehicles are designed with in-car infotainment systems, which provide different types of information and entertainment to passengers. But in the future, virtual reality technology may take in-car entertainment to a whole new level. In 2019, the first public demo of in-car virtual reality entertainment was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show. The “Rocket’s Rescue Run” experience was produced by Audi, Marvel, Disney, and Holoride. Using an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, consumers could travel to a virtual world with their favorite Avengers characters while riding in an Audi E-Tron. In this game, what happens in the virtual world will depend on how the driver of the Audi E-Tron drives in the real world. The passenger’s movement through the virtual world will mimic the Audi E-Tron’s movement in the real world. For example, the Audi E-Tron turns left, the virtual spaceship in the game will turn left as well. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/virtual-reality-experiences.jpg] This game, which was only available to passengers who ride in the backseat, is just the beginning when it comes to in-car virtual reality entertainment. Holoride plans on creating a wide range of in-car virtual reality experiences for passengers in the future. This could completely transform the experience of traveling by car for people who aren’t in the driver’s seat. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Autonomous-Car-Control.jpg] AUTONOMOUS CAR CONTROL Autonomous cars are meant to drive on their own without any human intervention, but virtual reality technology could be used to help drivers maintain some degree of control over self-driving vehicles. Several years ago, Toyota filed a patent for a virtual reality navigation system that would be used solely in self-driving vehicles. The system would show drivers where their self-driving vehicle intended on driving at any given point during their journey. Drivers would be able to see the exact path that the vehicle planned on taking in order to reach their final destination. If the driver isn’t satisfied with the chosen route, this system would give them the opportunity to change the self-driving vehicle’s plans. In other words, the self-driving vehicle would handle the actual driving, but the human driver would still be able to call the shots. For example, say the driver sees that the self-driving vehicle is planning on taking a toll road. This route may be the fastest, but the driver may not want to pay the toll. In this case, the driver would have the option of adjusting the self-driving vehicle’s route to avoid having to pay this toll. Toyota has not introduced this technology to consumers yet, but based on the patent filing alone, it’s clear that virtual reality will be incorporated into future Toyota vehicles in some way. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS In the past, automotive consumers had to visit dealerships in-person to explore their options before deciding which vehicle to purchase. However, virtual reality has changed that. Now, automotive consumers can explore vehicles from the comfort of their own homes by visiting a virtual showroom. A virtual showroom is similar to a real showroom, but it exists in a simulated world rather than the real world. Automotive consumers can visit a virtual showroom online using their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Once inside the showroom, they can explore the interior and exterior of every vehicle just like they would if they were inside a real showroom. They can even walk around the vehicle and rotate it to see it from different angles. Audi is one of the many automotive manufacturers that has already built a virtual showroom for its consumers. Consumers can visit a virtual showroom to explore the full range of Audi vehicles. The company believes that this will help smaller Audi dealerships, which can’t carry a wide range of models due to space limitations. Now, these dealerships won’t have to turn customers away simply because they don’t have a vehicle in stock. Instead, they can direct customers to virtually explore the vehicle before making a purchase decision. The introduction of virtual showrooms has made it easier for automotive consumers to research different vehicles online. Because of virtual reality, automotive consumers can get the dealership showroom experience without stepping foot in a dealership. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Taking a test drive is an important part of the average automotive consumer’s car-buying journey. In fact, nearly two-thirds of consumers said they would not purchase a vehicle without taking it for a test drive first. But thanks to virtual reality, automotive consumers may not need to visit a dealership in-person to take a vehicle out for a spin. Many automotive dealerships now offer virtual test drives, which are test drives powered by virtual reality technology. Consumers can select which make and model they want to test drive. Then, they can take the selected vehicle on a simulated test drive to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel. A virtual test drive gives consumers the chance to experience how the vehicle drives and explore the interior of the vehicle. Consumers can test drive as many vehicles as they would like, which will help them compare different models, narrow down their options, and determine which vehicle is right for them. Taking a virtual test drive is also far more convenient since consumers can do it without scheduling an appointment in advance or leaving their homes. Automotive consumers won’t need to purchase a special virtual reality headset or device to take a virtual test drive. All they need to start their virtual test drive is their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Then, they can buckle up and hit the virtual road. SAFETY TESTING Every vehicle goes through rigorous testing before it is sold to consumers. For example, every vehicle must go through crash tests, which determine how the vehicle will hold up when hit by another car from various angles. In the past, automotive manufacturers could not perform these tests until the vehicle was actually produced. But now, automotive manufacturers have the option of using virtual reality to conduct these safety tests early on in the design and development phase. For example, in 2017, many vehicles did not pass the headlight safety test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The next year, automotive manufacturers were committed to improving their headlights to ensure they could pass this crucial safety test. Instead of waiting for a vehicle to be produced, automotive manufacturers began using virtual reality to test their headlights during the vehicle design and development process. This allowed them to determine whether or not the headlights met the IIHS’s standards while the vehicle was still being designed. If the headlights did not meet these standards, the automotive manufacturer could simply tweak the design and retest the headlights. This way, the automotive manufacturer could perfect the design of the headlights before the vehicle went into production. This is just one example of how automotive manufacturers have used virtual reality technology to reduce the time and costs associated with safety testing. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Design-and-Prototyping.jpg] DESIGN AND PROTOTYPING It takes a long time to design a new vehicle. Countless changes are made to the design of a vehicle before it is approved for production. Every time a change is made to the design, a new clay prototype must be built to reflect the changes. Building these clay prototypes is not only time-consuming, but also expensive. Fortunately, virtual reality technology can eliminate the need for these prototypes. Several automotive manufacturers, including Ford, are now using virtual reality technology to design new vehicles. Ford designers now create virtual models of new designs instead of clay prototypes. Once the virtual model is complete, the designers can rotate the vehicle to view it from every angle. They can even put a virtual driver in the front seat to inspect the interior design. If a change is requested, the team simply updates the virtual model instead of creating a new clay prototype. This drastically reduces the amount of time that it takes to complete the design of a new vehicle. Ford estimates that virtual reality has shortened the design process from weeks to hours. Using virtual reality in this manner also reduces the cost of designing a new vehicle. It’s also easier for designers to collaborate on a virtual design. Everyone on the team–regardless of where they are located–can visit the virtual room to view the model and provide their input. Because it is easier to collaborate, this process could lead to more innovative and exciting design ideas. EMPLOYEE TRAINING Virtual reality technology has also changed the way in which employees in the automotive industry are trained. Employees used to learn how to assemble different car models by observing others. After watching someone else correctly assemble a vehicle, these employees were given an opportunity to test their knowledge by assembling a car model under the supervision of trained experts. Even though they were supervised, employees often make mistakes during this stage of the training process. Each mistake can cause significant damage to the vehicle, which can cost the manufacturer hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some mistakes can also jeopardize the safety of employees. Now, automotive manufacturers are using virtual reality technology to train new employees in a virtual environment. Employees can now get hands-on experience assembling a vehicle in a virtual world rather than a real world. This way, employees are free to make mistakes without worrying about the safety or financial repercussions. Instead, they can learn from their mistakes in the virtual world so they don’t make the same errors when assembling vehicles in the real world. Virtual reality also makes it easier for automotive manufacturers to train large groups of employees at once. Employees from around the globe can join virtual training sessions, so automotive manufacturers can train everyone at the same time instead of hosting training sessions at each location. DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR TEENS Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are injured in traffic accidents every year. Many of these traffic accidents are caused by inexperience. Teenagers are fairly new to driving, so they don’t always have the experience necessary to avoid accidents. To address this problem, Toyota developed a driving simulator powered by virtual reality technology called TeenDrive365. TeenDrive365 allows teenagers to practice driving in a virtual world before they get behind the wheel in the real world. This simulator, which is compatible with Oculus Rift devices, provides teenagers with the skills they need to safely operate in a vehicle in the real world. It focuses on teaching teenagers how to avoid distractions while operating a vehicle. Teenagers will encounter a number of different distractions while virtually driving in the TeenDrive365 simulated world. For example, they may hear their phone ringing or a passenger in the backseat asking them a question. Teenagers must train themselves to avoid these distractions so they can continue to safely drive their virtual vehicle. This prepares them for the real world, where they will have to learn how to ignore these distractions every time they get behind the wheel. Teenagers who are unable to ignore these virtual distractions may get into an accident. Even though it occurs in a simulated world, it still feels real, which helps teenagers understand the dangerous consequences of distracted driving. The automotive industry was one of the first industries to embrace virtual reality technology. Now, automotive companies have found countless ways to use this technology to their advantage. Some of these virtual reality applications are already in use, whereas others are planned for the future. This means virtual reality will continue to drive change and innovation in the automotive industry in the years to come.
All About the Audi Virtual Reality Showroom
April 23, 2021
The Coronavirus changed the world in a variety of ways, but one of the biggest impacts has been made in the virtual and immersive reality spheres. Retailers throughout the consumer services, commercial goods, and automotive sectors are relying on this technology to connect customers with brands from wherever everyone is located. To limit personal contact and keep business thriving, virtual reality is more important than ever before on the mainstream market. The Audi virtual reality showroom is one example that shows the practical use of VR and immersive media in the automotive industry. From the time someone starts researching their chosen vehicle to the moment their purchase leaves the lot, virtual reality can give potential buyers more control than ever without requiring a visit to a brick-and-mortar car lot. Using mobile technology, innovative projection elements, and smart connectivity – Audi is one of the leaders in this rapidly growing part of the automotive retail industry. Read more about the Audi virtual reality showroom and how this luxury retailer could change the car sales sphere as we’ve known it – even after the pandemic no longer has an impact on the global marketplace. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/virtual-reality-in-Audis-showrooms.jpg] WHAT LED TO THE USE OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN AUDI’S SHOWROOMS? Audi has been using virtual reality technology in the shopping experience since 2016, but this capability has only grown in the current digital landscape. The leading retailer is using VR connectivity to design, manufacture, market, and sell cars in a new and innovative way. When onsite showrooms closed around the world in 2020, this technology became more than just a way to attract tech-savvy consumers to the high-end brand. VR showroom technology allowed buyers and sellers to continue maintaining operations. This capability is also responsible for boosting in-house development by connecting designers, engineers, dealers, and decision-makers across the global corporation. While Audi’s virtual reality showrooms have always incorporated a hybrid experience between onsite and remote features, shoppers have relied on this corner of the virtual world to explore and learn about emerging models with the same level of granularity of showing up to the dealership. The deployment of real-time VR has made the shopping experience more accessible, without taking away the exclusivity and level of luxury the brand is known for. VR showroom technology has been used by Audi to facilitate: * Virtual test driving * Remote supply management * Real-time customization * Car delivery * Instant product selection and quote comparison * Access to an unlimited inventory While physical dealerships are limited by the amount of physical space they can provide, virtual reality showrooms can house an infinite amount of individual SKUs – as well as limitless customization options from color to function to accessories and more. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Audi-manufacturing-and-sales-processes.jpg] WHY IS VR CHANGING THE AUDI MANUFACTURING AND SALES PROCESSES? Audi is credited with producing the first completely functional VR experience in the dealership environment. Starting in Europe, this technology took the automotive world by storm and created a new culture surrounding digitization in large-scale retail. Using VR in the sales and supply chain processes has provided customers and partners with a first-hand look at the inner workings of this global brand’s approach to innovation and accessibility. With just a VR headset, dealerships have expanded their product offerings and level of service to give customers a realistic but digitized look at the inventory, sourcing, materials, and functions provided by each individual car lot. As we experienced during the pandemic, customization and technological innovation continue to reign as king throughout the entire automotive industry. But, limited access to physical car lots is just one problem that needed to be solved in order to keep auto sales high. Since 2017, Audi has been perfecting this technology to give customers the ability to: * Customize individual products * Search through limitless inventories * Expand their shopping experience from any connected location * Dive into the minute functions of each product available * Create the exact vehicle of their dreams, with their own hands On the level of manufacturing and production, VR has changed the way automakers collaborate to create new models, perfect existing SKUs, and build new ideas in a fully digital workspace. This type of technology has allowed dealers and retailers to significantly cut costs by reducing overhead tied to inventory management, onsite workspaces, and even physical equipment needed for modeling, testing, and merchandising. By moving the entire dealership to the digital sphere, the possibilities are endless when it comes to: * Variety and customization of existing inventory * Simplicity of placing new orders * Expanding office space without increasing overhead * Building a sustainable showroom environment Digitization is cheaper, more efficient, and often more effective than in-person tactics which provide the same results. Additionally, Audi’s use of VR in the dealership has reduced error margins by utilizing automation and machine learning to perfect the sales process. By applying customer data to personalized the shopping experience, virtual reality can cut hours from each individual consumer’s vehicle search process. In just a matter of minutes, someone can customize a potential purchase to their chosen specifications while navigating through the sales process using smart, AI-generated prompts and solutions. Instead of spending hours walking up and down a vast car lot to find the right model, with the right specifications, it’s possible to quickly browse through hundreds (or thousands) of options at your fingertips. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/How-is-VR-used-to-visualize-new-products.jpg] HOW IS VR USED TO VISUALIZE NEW PRODUCTS? Typically, innovation in automotive has been tied to extensive testing and analysis of physical prototypes and new releases. This method is expensive, wasteful, and dependent on a wide range of unpredictable factors that can occur during any cycle. Virtual reality has allowed auto brands such as Audi to test, analyze, assess, and fix new vehicles before they ever hit the market. Using detailed manipulation of digital renders and simulating those parts in realistic virtual environments, the manufacturing and testing processes can be completed in an entirely digital world. With VR design capabilities, specialists and engineers can create new vehicles from anywhere, at any time. Not only has this opened up an entirely new culture of workplace flexibility and corporate stability, but it’s made it possible to drive brand growth in a previously limited industry. Whether designers are working from home, shared office spaces, or the showroom – they can collaborate in real-time using virtual tools and file-sharing options. Additionally, the growth of secure cloud storage allows individuals to communicate and transfer files, images, renders, and more in an entirely digital work environment. Removing human testing and physical prototypes has also saved automotive giants millions in production costs, as each individual trial would typically require a new set of equipment. Cutting down on these materials, while eliminating the need for human testing in self-contained environments, has made the production process cheaper and safer from start to finish. When it comes to creating new models, virtual reality has simplified the ideation and creativity parts of the production line like never before. Instead of meticulously changing physical prototypes to meet designer specifications, engineers and testing specialists can simultaneously work on digital prototypes and revise the information as often, or as frequently, as needed. From design elements like shapes and colors to functionalities in the cab and motor, VR facilitates an open environment where each collaborator can work on any element of a vehicle for as long or as detailed as necessary until the capability is up to par. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Is-virtual-reality-impacting-Audi.jpg] IS VIRTUAL REALITY IMPACTING AUDI’S HOME-BASED SALES? In short, virtual reality has allowed Audi’s customers to see the future of the automotive industry in real-time. No matter where they’re starting to conduct their vehicle search, they can visit a virtual dealership just as easily as before. But, with this new development, they can ensure that more control rests in their own hands instead of the salespeople who are running the car lot. By allowing consumers to lead the way, VR has positively impacted Audi’s home-based sales and onsite sales that involve immersive VR technology. Virtual and augmented reality technology is more accessible for consumers than ever, and it’s now possible to access these capabilities with just a mobile phone or user-owned device. While Audi is still utilizing VR technology to enhance the in-store experience, the same innovation is revamping the at-home shopping experience for the brand’s consumers. Interest in at-home auto shopping reached all-time highs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While many consumers would still prefer to handle at least part of the buying process onsite, more and more shoppers are opting for virtual reality solutions to speed up the process, cut back on time spent comparing models and quotes, and eliminate the need for assistance by an in-person sales representative. Virtual test driving, real-time customization, and access to an endless inventory are just a few reasons why VR dealerships are appealing to the average consumer. Furthermore, VR connectivity has changed the way auto brands advertise to their target audiences – improving conversion rates and reducing returns at the same time. VR technology is still in the beginning stages, and there are a few hitches in the process that are turning off mainstream consumers. Some issues include: * 26% of consumers claimed poor user experience (through bulky equipment, glitches, bugs, and more) is hindering the process * 24% of consumer cited low content availability as a hindrance to mainstream adoption * 10% of consumers are worried about rising costs associated with VR technology * 13% of consumers feel limited by VR regulations and related legal issues However, with more than half of the younger consumer base showing some interest in virtual reality technology, auto brands like Audi are seeing positive trends surrounding consumer adoption and acceptance of VR. Immersing customers into targeted ads, providing personalized information using machine learning, and allowing buyers to lead their own shopping processes is bringing VR to the forefront of the automotive industry. As adoption rates and consumer opinions surrounding VR continue to grow, we’re sure to see even more virtual reality capabilities and functions throughout the entire at-home buying process. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Audi-virtual-reality-showrooms.jpg] WHICH TECH INNOVATORS ARE INVOLVED WITH THE AUDI VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? The gaming industry continues to be the top provider for VR demand in the mainstream marketplace, but automotive is following closely. As a result, there is a considerable amount of overlap among top tech innovators across multiple spheres and specializations. Around the world, these continue to be the top brands in VR technology across the board: * Google * Oculus * Autodesk * Robert Bosch GmbH * Onboard * Microsoft * HTC * Audax * OmniVirt * 4Experience Virtual reality companies are popping up in droves to respond to the influx in consumer and corporate demand for simplified, accessible VR access. Audi, in particular, also utilizes proprietary technology to provide streamlined innovation to their consumers. Germany-based startup holoride has been a leader in the advent of dealership and in-car VR experiences. The virtual reality experience facilitated by holoride can transform driving for everyone inside of Audi’s suite of luxury vehicles. From entertainment to safety features and beyond, VR is effectively transforming the way drivers, pedestrians, and even businesses interact with each other on the road. When it comes to technological advancements in the automotive sphere, virtual reality is a hot-button topic that continues to generate buzz year after year. From the time a shopper searches for a potential vehicle purchase to the moment they put their key into the ignition, virtual reality has the potential to remove time, money, and stress from the entire equation. By simplifying the shopping experience, streamlining automotive manufacturing, and even enhancing the in-car atmosphere – Audi is making a name for itself as a tech giant within the luxury car sphere. The Audi virtual reality showroom continues to be the pioneering service that is effectively changing the automotive industry as we’ve always known it. As we become more accustomed to VR technology in the consumer retail sector, we’re sure to see more of this brand’s strategic developments for years to come.
The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity
April 21, 2021
The first automobile was invented in 1886 by Karl Benz, but cars were not widely accessible to consumers until over two decades later, when Henry Ford produced the Model T. Throughout its history, the automotive industry has constantly evolved as a result of new technological advancements. New technologies allowed manufacturers to incorporate various features into the design of automobiles, including car radios, electric windows, seat belts, air bags, on-board diagnostics, navigational systems, and more. Now, technology has sparked another radical transformation in the automotive industry. As a result, many experts believe that the future of the automotive industry is connectivity in the cockpit. What will a “connected” car look like? What connectivity trends should consumers expect? Here’s what you need to know: THE THREE COMPONENTS OF CONNECTED CARS The fully connected car of the future will consist of three main components, which are: * Infotainment: The term “infotainment” is used to describe programming that informs and/or educates the vehicle’s passengers. In the future, connected cars will provide infotainment through heads-up displays (HUDs), audio, and in-car infotainment systems built into the dashboard. * Telematics: This term refers to the integration of telecommunications and information processing. This technology enables the long-distance sending and receiving of computerized data between your vehicle and the cloud. * Infrastructure: This term refers to the actual physical structure of the vehicle. A connected vehicle’s infrastructure may include various components such as sensors, cameras, and sonar. Each of these three components plays an important role in keeping the vehicle connected. The infotainment component, which provides information and entertainment, is used to connect the vehicle to its driver and passengers. The telematics component is used to connect your vehicle to the cloud, where data is stored and shared. Finally, the infrastructure component is used to connect your vehicle to its surrounding environment so it can detect threats and hazards. AUTOMOTIVE CONNECTIVITY TRENDS OF THE FUTURE It’s estimated that more than three-quarters of new vehicles will be connected to some degree by the year 2025. But what will a connected car be capable of doing? What changes should drivers expect in the cockpit? Experts predict that a number of trends will shape the future of connected cars. Some of the top connectivity trends include: * Autonomous Vehicles * Telematics to Monitor Driver Behavior & Vehicle Performance * Artificial Intelligence (AI) Interfaces * Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication * Connected Sensors * 5G * Brain-to-Vehicle Communication The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Autonomous-Vehicles.jpg] AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES The autonomous vehicle market is expected to grow by 60% by the year 2023. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that driverless vehicles will flood the roads in the next several years. There are five different levels of driving automation, all of which rely on connectivity to operate. The levels are: * Level 5: This represents fully automated vehicles, which are vehicles that can operate without assistance from human drivers. * Level 4: Vehicles at this level can perform all tasks required for driving, but human drivers must establish a geofence first. * Level 3: This is the conditional automation level, where vehicles can detect hazards in their environment and perform most driving tasks. However, human drivers still need to override certain requests and actions in vehicles at this level. * Level 2: Many vehicles are designed with partial automation, or level 2 automation. These vehicles can perform specific tasks such as steering and acceleration, but human drivers can disable the automation and take complete control of the vehicle at any time. * Level 1: This is known as the driver assistance level and is characterized by a single automated system such as cruise control. In the years ahead, experts believe that manufacturers will shift their focus from the lower levels to the upper levels of automation. TELEMATICS TO MONITOR DRIVER BEHAVIOR & VEHICLE PERFORMANCE Telematics technology allows the vehicle to send and receive data to the cloud. In the future, experts believe that this technology will be used to gather data on driver behavior and vehicle performance. For example, automotive dealerships may use this technology to collect data on a vehicle’s tire pressure or oil level in real time. The dealership could monitor this data and contact the driver when it’s time to schedule a maintenance appointment. Or the dealership could even automatically schedule an appointment for the driver when the data suggests that maintenance is needed. Insurance companies could also use this technology to monitor a policyholder’s behavior behind the wheel. This technology may allow an insurance company to find out if the driver drives at excessive speeds, slams on their brakes frequently, or fails to use their turning signals. Insurance companies could analyze this data to calculate new premiums for policyholders, which would reward safe drivers and penalize reckless drivers. These are some of the many ways in which telematics technology could be used in connected cars in the future. The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Artificial-Intelligence.jpg] ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) INTERFACES Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the simulation of human intelligence in computers. This technology allows a machine to learn from its mistakes, adjust to changes in its environment, and complete many tasks. Fully autonomous vehicles will rely on AI technology to operate. However, experts predict that AI will be used in vehicles of all automation levels in the future. Automotive manufacturers may use AI technology to incorporate virtual personal assistants into their vehicles’ infotainment systems. These virtual assistants would function like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa by responding to voice commands, retrieving information, and answering questions. This would make it easier for a driver to pull up directions to their destination or find a local gas station without taking their eyes off of the road. This technology could be used to help people stay connected to their work while on the road. In 2020, Salesforce introduced its vision for a “mobile office,” which was a car equipped with an AI-supported infotainment system. This system allowed the driver to access various business applications, including a CRM platform, so they could perform marketing and sales activities using only their voice. VEHICLE-TO-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION As its name suggests, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology allows vehicles to communicate with one another on the road. This doesn’t mean that a driver in one vehicle will be able to communicate with the driver next to them. Instead, the vehicles will communicate with one another by sending and receiving data related to traffic, road conditions, weather, and other factors. But that’s not all. Industry insiders believe that this technology will be combined with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology in vehicles over the next several years. Together, these technologies would allow a vehicle to communicate with other vehicles in addition to traffic lights and other types of infrastructure. Experts believe that the combination of V2V and V2X technology will improve the driving experience for everyone by reducing congestion on the roads. V2V and V2X communication could also make the roads safer. In fact, it’s estimated that these technologies could prevent around 81% of all traffic accidents. Experts predict that every new vehicle will be built with V2V technology by the end of the year 2023. Then, automotive manufacturers will most likely start adding V2X technology to vehicles soon after. The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Connected-Sensors.jpg] CONNECTED SENSORS Many vehicles on the road today are equipped with sensors that are used to provide drivers with information on their immediate surroundings. For example, if your vehicle beeps when you are about to back into something, this means it is built with sensors. But in the future, sensors on connected vehicles will be used in new and exciting ways. Some vehicles today are already designed with sensors that warn drivers of safety hazards such as icy roads, potholes, or pedestrians. In the future, these sensors will do more than just warn drivers of hazards in their path. They will also be capable of analyzing the data to determine what changes need to be made to keep everyone in the vehicle safe. For example, a sensor might detect a patch of ice in the road ahead. In the future, this sensor may be able to quickly calculate how far away the icy patch is from the vehicle and when the vehicle should start braking in order to avoid sliding on it. Then, the sensor may either notify the driver when it’s time to brake or automatically apply the brakes at the appropriate time. This is one of many ways in which sensors could make the roads less dangerous in the future. 5G 5G is the newest generation of wireless network technology. This advanced technology is capable of transmitting mass amounts of data more efficiently than previous generations, including 4G LTE technology. Whereas 4G technology can reach speeds of 50mbps, 5G technology is capable of reaching speeds of 20gbps. It will also reduce latency, which is the delay between the user’s action and the computer’s response, from 50 milliseconds to less than one millisecond. This technology has the power to completely transform the automotive industry. Gartner, a research and advisory company, predicts that nearly three-quarters of vehicles will be connected to 5G by 2023. This number is expected to grow even further to 94% by the year 2028. 5G technology will increase the coverage of wireless networks around the world, which means it will be easier for vehicles to stay connected even when traveling in remote areas. This technology will also make vehicles capable of quickly and efficiently performing many “connected” tasks, including automation, data collection, and AI-supported problem solving. BRAIN-TO-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION Another trend that experts expect to appear in connected cars in the future is brain-to-vehicle communication technology. This technology would use sensors to record the driver’s brain wave activity. Then, the vehicle will analyze this data to identify issues or predict what the driver is going to do next. For example, this technology may be used to detect when a driver is getting drowsy. If the driver’s brain wave pattern indicates drowsiness, the vehicle could alert the driver to pull off the road. Fatigue is a leading cause of traffic accidents, so this could potentially prevent thousands of collisions. Nissan introduced a prototype of its brain-to-vehicle system in 2018. This system measured the driver’s brain waves to determine what maneuvers they would make next. For instance, the system is capable of detecting brain waves that trigger movement of the hands or feet. If these brain waves were detected, the system would quickly analyze this data to determine if the driver was about to hit the gas, apply the brakes, or turn the steering wheel. The vehicle could then initiate the action before the driver does to reduce the reaction time. Even though Nissan has already started testing this technology, experts believe that there’s still a long way to go before it is widely accessible to automotive consumers. The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/The-Benefits-of-Connectivity-in-the-Cockpit.jpg] THE BENEFITS OF CONNECTIVITY IN THE COCKPIT There are many benefits to increasing connectivity in vehicles. Perhaps the biggest benefit of connectivity is it allows consumers to stay connected to their devices at all times–even when they’re on the road. Staying connected is often viewed as an essential need in today’s world, and connected cars would allow consumers to truly stay plugged in wherever they go. Experts believe that technologies such as V2V communication and AI could help drivers avoid accidents. If this is the case, connected vehicles could potentially save thousands of lives every year. Connectivity may make the driving experience more enjoyable, too. Thanks to connectivity, drivers and passengers will have access to more information and entertainment than ever before. Drivers can use this information to steer clear of traffic congestion, get directions, and avoid safety hazards, whereas passengers could use this technology to watch videos, use apps, or enjoy other forms of entertainment until they reach their final destination. Maintaining a connected car would also be much easier for car owners. Experts believe these vehicles will be equipped with technologies that monitor a vehicle’s performance to identify potential issues and determine when maintenance is needed. Car owners would not need to remember the date of their last oil change. Instead, they would simply need to wait for their vehicle to tell them when it’s time for the next one. There’s no telling when automotive manufacturers will debut the first fully connected vehicle to consumers. But one thing is for certain: the arrival of the first fully connected vehicle will completely transform the consumer driving experience.
What is an Augmented Reality Car Dealership?
April 19, 2021
Augmented and virtual reality are gaining popularity, both in the gaming world and for use by businesses to heighten the user experience. According to data from Research and Markets, virtual and augmented reality is projected to reach revenues that will represent a 42.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the period of 2020-2030. These figures represent worldwide revenue. Covid may have exacerbated the popularity and use of this technology as many businesses jumped online for survival. Even car dealerships began to embrace the augmented and virtual realms. Augmented reality car dealerships are accessible to shoppers online or via apps. However, these augmented experiences and their features may vary in design and in what they offer shoppers. WHAT ARE AUGMENTED REALITY CAR DEALERSHIPS? When consumers picture an augmented car dealership, they might have a space-age notion in mind. Augmented car dealerships, in reality (pun intended), may look different depending on the company and brand. There isn’t really an augmented reality car dealership, although in the future there could be this type of unique dealership. In our present world, however, there are augmented reality showrooms. And these showrooms may vary in design and function. Some showrooms feature augmented reality, others may use virtual reality. Auto manufacturers might offer their own augmented or virtual reality showrooms and local dealerships may refer shoppers to these showrooms. For example, Renault (in the United Kingdom) offers a virtual showroom. Individual dealerships offer their own virtual or augmented reality experiences. Tempe Honda (in Tempe, Ariz.) offers a virtual showroom on its website. The dealership also invites shoppers to schedule a virtual test drive, lets buyers apply for financing online…and more. The car buying experience can be ‘virtually’ simple. While many experiences online may seem ‘virtual,’ augmented reality showrooms are a reality, too. Unlike virtual reality, which takes users into a virtual realm for the experience, augmented reality includes graphic overlays atop a real-life environment. With augmented reality, a car can be set on top of a table, in the garage or in a garden. In January 2021, Engadget reported that Jeep would offer an augmented reality experience that was powered by Google. With the augmented reality experience, Engadget explained that users can peek inside the Jeep Wrangler 4XE and drop the vehicle into their personal space. The experience was set to debut at CES, but it will be available via Google Search, too. And, as often noted, Lamborghini launched an augmented reality experience to showcase its Huracán Spyder AWD. Users could visit Lamborghini’s website with an Apple device and see the new vehicle displayed in their own environment. The Huracán could be dropped anywhere. Users could then walk around the car and check out the interior. The website also included an interactive space to view more data about the vehicle and a video, too. Again, while dealerships sometimes had their own online augmented reality showroom, sometimes manufacturers provided the experiences for interested buyers. These weren’t necessarily augmented reality dealerships but, rather, augmented reality experiences that could enhance the shopping journey before consumers visited a brick and mortar dealership. AUGMENTED REALITY CAR APP Virtual and augmented reality car showrooms are often featured via a dealership or manufacturer’s website. However, this isn’t always the case. Some manufacturers go high-tech and launch their own app. Private companies also created apps that feature virtual and augmented reality showrooms. Some manufacturers use augmented reality for marketing purposes…and entertainment, too. For example, in 2017, Little Black Book reported that Nissan dealerships would feature an app that integrated Star Wars characters. The site explained that at the dealership, shoppers could choose from three vehicles—the Rogue, Maxima, and TITAN. A character from Star Wars would go over the new tech features of these automobiles with the user. This app experience was dubbed “See the Unseen,” as the highlighted vehicle features (like Blind Spot Warning) aren’t necessarily seen by the user…so the character helps to introduce them. Back in 2018, Daimler introduced the Mercedes cAR app, which allowed customers to use augmented reality to explore vehicles and create their own. The coolest aspect of the app was that users could actually drive the car in their environment. The cAR app amped up the user experience to create not just an augmented reality type of showroom but also added a bit of augmented reality remote control fun. The remote, however, was the user’s phone or other device! The app is, unfortunately, no longer available for download. Before Covid hit, Porsche launched its own augmented reality app. Back in May 2019, Car and Driver reported that the app Porsche AR Visualiser would allow users to check out a new Porsche at home. The app is still available via the App Store and Google Play. Create a Porsche and drop it in the real world environment. Users can now see how that new Porsche looks in the garage! RelayCars offers both an augmented reality app and a virtual reality app. Users can choose the technology they prefer to preview their potential new car. With RelayCar’s augmented reality app, users can drop a variety of different cars into their home, garage, driveway…or anywhere. With the virtual reality app, users preview the vehicles in a virtual showroom. In the virtual showroom, users can swap out paint hues and check out the interior of the vehicles. The augmented reality showroom offers similar features. Augmented Reality Car Dealership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-Car.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY CAR In these augmented reality experiences, how does the augmented reality car look? Many augmented reality showrooms and experiences are somewhat similar in design. That is, many of them allow users to drop vehicles anywhere…so the user’s world becomes the showroom. The appearance of the vehicle is a scaled representation of the actual vehicle. Augmented reality showcases the car as it would appear in real life. However, the car will be smaller in the augmented form. Even the interior is an exact replica of the real vehicle. This allows users to understand the appearances and features of each vehicle. Both augmented reality and virtual reality showrooms are designed to provide users (i.e. shoppers) with a remote and virtual replication of the in-store or in-dealership shopping experience. While the car can’t be physically touched, users can peek inside cars and get a visual idea of each vehicle. They can check out the interior design, view the information panel and peer in the backseat. Some augmented reality apps or experiences let the user create their own car. So, in this case, users can see what their final design will look like in reality. These more detailed and personalized experiences can be helpful to buyers who are looking to envision a more customized vehicle. Even consumers who can’t afford Porsche can download the app and build a model of their dream car. Who knows? That dream could be a reality. The cool part about these augmented reality experiences is that they sometimes allow users to play around with possibilities. This could be more difficult to do in the actual dealership. COULD AUGMENTED REALITY DEALERSHIPS APPEAR IN THE FUTURE? While an actual augmented reality dealership isn’t a current reality, maybe it could be one day. Or maybe the future is a virtual reality dealership! As technology becomes more affordable, consumers could begin to wear augmented reality goggles or glasses or virtual reality headsets. Shopping experiences could go completely online…and virtual. Imagine shopping for a new vehicle while wearing a pair of augmented reality glasses or a virtual reality headset. Perhaps an avatar of a salesperson appears and shoppers build their cars in a virtual showroom realm or in their own living room. Could that new car be created while standing in the garage? Social media sites like Snapchat could be the future of augmented reality car shopping, too. In fact, Auto News talked to Shane Dwyer, head of automotive for Snap, Inc., and gained some interesting insight. The site noted that there could be a day in the future where consumers could create their cars via Snapchat in augmented reality. Auto News also cited a Snap study that revealed that a quarter of Snapchat users who participated in the study were “very or somewhat interested” in augmented reality on their phones to do a test drive or research a car. The possibilities of augmented reality or virtual reality are likely endless. Twenty years ago, the idea of a smartphone would have blown people’s minds. Today, almost everyone owns one or has access to a smart device. Even teens! The concept of an augmented reality car dealership or one that exists in a virtual space might not be so out of reach. The question, though, is buyers and shoppers. Many buyers like the in-person experience. This could remain an option. Maybe in-person shopping will never really go out of style. But the rise of augmented and virtual reality could point to a greater use of this technology. For now, however, virtual and augmented reality showrooms provide a unique way for consumers to shop for a new car. The journey for a new vehicle can begin leisurely online. Shoppers can research different makes and models and preview them from the comfort of home using virtual or augmented reality experiences. Some dealerships may allow the shopping experience to be done online, too. During Covid, these experiences could be preferred to limit possible exposure. Even as Covid and the restrictions associated with the pandemic ease, sites like RelayCars and other virtual and augmented reality showrooms may continue to be popular. Shopping online has become—for some—kind of like wearing comfy sweatpants…a hard habit to break!
2021 Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry
April 16, 2021
The automotive sector has experienced a wide range of changes in the past year, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the industry as a whole is undergoing a major transformation away from traditional manufacturing and sales strategies. Instead, 2021 technology trends in the automotive industry are taking a turn toward a more mobile, virtually connected environment. From corporate decision-making to how automotive employees will continue to work, technology is continuing to drive the automotive sphere into the future. Read on to learn more about the technology trends in the automotive industry that will continue to catalyze this market around the world. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Mergers-and-Acquisitions.jpg] 1. MORE MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS The start of the pandemic created a stressful environment for automakers and retailers in 2020. While the economic decline has led to a drop in revenue among many top brands, companies have expressed an interest in collaboration to soften the blow. For brands that have experienced these difficulties, synergizing brands could pose a creative solution that will allow continued growth, innovation, and profitability. In 2020, automotive deal value and respective volume declined by 32%. This is a sharp change from the 18% rate the industry experienced in 2019. However, that doesn’t mean that synergistic decisions have come to a halt. Experts expect this volatility to continue into this year, but there are a few core changes in the market itself that could lead to a positive shift in alliances and joint ventures among leading and emerging names in the auto sphere. Automotive companies across virtually every corner of the market are shifting their resources to promote progressive ingenuity and corporate expansion. This includes everything from webbed acquisitions, to EV adoption, to integration into the world of driverless vehicles. In fact, 70% of the top deals conducted last year held EV and autonomous technology at the precipice. This growth wasn’t only experienced in North America and Europe, but also Asia and the Middle East as well. As individual governments prioritize the growth of sustainable and tech-forward driving, we’re sure to see a continued influx of activity within the autonomous and electric vehicle sectors. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Electric-Vehicle-Growth.jpg] 2. ELECTRIC VEHICLE GROWTH ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, ASIA, AND EUROPE Like previously mentioned, renewable energy is a hot-button topic among established and growing automotive companies. As more and more counties boost their requirements for emission reduction, interest in electric vehicles has grown substantially – and is sure to stick around. Europe has long been seen as the leader in renewable automotive technology, and many countries already have regulations in place to limit the use of gas-powered vehicles on the road. European governments have expressed a strong commitment to lowering CO2 emissions across the continent, which has largely driven success in the EV market. However, Asia and North America are catching up for a variety of reasons. Across the Asian continent, China continues to make up at least 90% of the market share in this growing sphere. But, that growth is expected to surge throughout the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, at a CAGR of at least 31%, over the next few years. India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN countries are already building a steady interest in the growth of EV, even though manufacturing capacity is still significantly behind China. When it comes to supply chain management and polymer development, China is helping to drive and respond to the already heavy demand for EV advancement in the region. North America’s EV market is a bit more muddled, but there is already a saturated market demand for affordable, accessible electric vehicles – even though the region is known for its dependence on fossil fuels. Popular brands that are already offering EV models in the 2021 marketplace include: * American Honda Motor Company * BMW North America * Ford Motor Company * Tesla Motors * Volkswagen Group of America * Volvo Group North America * Jaguar Land Rover Limited Due to the increasing demand for efficient and easily attainable electric cars and trucks, plus the current American administration’s push for plentiful charging stations, more drivers across the continent are considering adding an electric vehicle to their fleet. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/EV-Platforms-and-Start-Ups.jpg] 3. EV PLATFORMS AND START-UPS Big Box brands like Tesla, BMW, and Ford might be making news in the EV and tech development realms, but startups are also creating noise in both segments of the automotive sector. In response to growing consumer demand for smart and efficient consumer vehicles, these startups show a high level of potential in the 2021 market and beyond: * Tangram * Hey Charge * Fibre Coat * Harpocrates * blackshark.ai * Surge Analytics * Eve Autonomy While COVID-19 has heavily impacted the success of auto sales around the globe, this change has led to the widespread integration of technology throughout the entire production process. From initial ideation to the showroom, artificial intelligence and immersive media is helping auto brands, developers, and customers to connect like never before. This shift toward tech in the automotive industry has helped retailers and buyers stay active during 2020’s economic downturn, while also shifting the public’s perception of smart capabilities in private transportation. AI is being used by leading car companies to help consumers find their ideal vehicle, make the driving experience safer, protect their new investment, and more. With just a smartphone and a data connection, consumers can: * Purchase and finance a vehicle online * Manipulate customizations via digital renders * Lock, unlock and track their car * Check vehicle metrics and specs in real-time * Safely manage navigation, entertainment, and maintenance information * Drive more efficiently by utilizing machine learning and AR sensors simultaneously Additionally, the integration of tech in electric vehicles makes it easier to locate charging points, monitor charge levels, and even control features in the car in a truly hands-free way. Startups in the automotive industry have taken notice of these trends, and are incorporating consumer trends to create products that meet industry specifications, local regulations, and buyer demand. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Self-Driving-Cars.jpg] 4. SELF-DRIVING CARS Tesla has been the primary autonomous vehicle provider in recent years, but a wide range of retailers and brands are jumping onto this bandwagon. As a result, 2021 is shaping up to be the biggest year for self-driving cars. Multiple industries, from solar to 5G connectivity, are helping to drive this growth. Autonomous vehicles are no longer a pipe dream for wealthy tech moguls and sci-fi fanatics. In fact, the growth of self-driving cars is creating a zero-based ownership model that could open the roads to more consumers than ever before. Eliminating the human element from the driving process has the potential to make roads safer and more efficient, largely by eliminating distractions in the same stroke. Driverless vehicles, or robotaxis, could become the new normal in addition to self-driving consumer cars. Waymo, one of the primary providers in this sphere, took more than 100,000 trips in 2019 alone. Last year, this number climbed to more than 5% of the public market share among robotaxis – or 6.1 million miles on the road. Since the technology is so new, there is limited data available regarding accident prevention and other safety information. But, self-driving public rideshare services show strong potential for reducing accidents, traffic stoppages, and other hindrances on the road. Although Waymo was the first company to launch this type of semi-public transit, more and more brands are seeing the demand for simplified, safer autonomous travel. Those who want to own a piece of this technology have more options, as well. In addition to Tesla, these brands plan to offer some form of self-driving capabilities for mainstream consumers in 2021: * Ford * BMW * Alphabet * Voyage * Pony.ai * Volvo This technology is far from perfect, but it could create a piece of the automotive market that’s ideal for busy commuters, groups, and long-haul travelers all at the same time. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Micromobilty-Trumps-Mass-Public-Transit.jpg] 5. MICROMOBILTY TRUMPS MASS PUBLIC TRANSIT Have you noticed that a variety of bicycles, scooters, and other small-scale transportation methods are popping up in cities around the world? While on your daily commute, lunch break, or shopping run you’ve likely come across a group of branded, cell phone-enabled micro vehicles on most busy street corners. Micromobility is the next wave of public transportation, and this movement has the potential to supersede standard mass transit in the near future. Rather than opting for the train or bus, individual travelers can activate a single-occupant vehicle to get from point A to point B. Common types of micromobility include: * E-bikes * Standard bikes * Motorized scooters * E-scooters * Skateboard lock stations * Ultra-compact EV units * Segways * Hoverboards Whether you’re looking for a daily method of transportation or you want to explore the area on your weekend vacation, micromobility removes a lot of the stress that comes with getting around. This form of travel eliminates the need for costly parking, expensive vehicle rates and insurances, and even a driver’s license in some cases. Additionally, it’s proven to be the ideal solution for social distancing while maintaining standard travel rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than owning the vehicle outright, users instead are able to connect to a publicly housed unit using an app on their smartphone and a connected method of payment. Leading companies are able to take payment information online including credit cards, mobile wallets, and even cryptocurrencies. As a result, users are able to pick up any charged units that are available in public spaces, and they can typically drop off the vehicles wherever they see fit. Certain options, like microcars and some bicycles, need to be left in designated areas. However, comprehensive mobile apps and account-based connectivity make it easy to find the closest drop off area or the nearest available rental unit with information like: * Charge level * Driving proximity * Drop-off options * Session duration Micromobility has also proven to be more efficient than comparable transportation methods, in a few different ways. Compared to the personal use of vehicles, electric scooters and bicycles produce virtually no emissions – and these services don’t rely on the use of fossil fuels. Both individual and shared micromobility options are also more efficient than shared mass transit vehicles, including subways, trains, and busses. Personal consumers aren’t the only people being marketed to by these growing tech giants. Delivery staff and couriers can use this same technology to continue to work when renting or buying a personal car or truck is not feasible. For private individuals who only want to use a vehicle on an as-needed basis, micromobility solutions are a commitment-free option. In 2019, one of the top e-scooter companies achieved more than 50 million trips in just two years following their launch in 2017. Now, there are dozens of brands on the market. Between scooter, bike, and similar services, usage among micromobility consumers has risen by more than 9% compared to pre-pandemic levels. With much of the world committing to a low-emission lifestyle, to be in effect as early as 2030, micromobility could be the best way for mainstream consumers to bridge the gap. Where walking and rollerskating isn’t feasible, electric options like scooters and e-bikes can allow individuals to travel longer distances without the cost, waste, or hassle of traditional methods. Does this mean that consumers are not interested in purchasing standard vehicles? Absolutely not. But, micromobility is a sound solution for those who are outside of the margins set by auto brands and retailers across the board. Technology is changing the way we live, and the way we get around. While much of the world is still operating online, it’s just a matter of time before roads and travel pathways are just as bustling as before. To respond to the increased need for interconnected smart devices, accessible travel, and eco-friendly transportation – technology is proving to be the tipping point for consumers across virtually every target demographic. These technology trends in the automotive industry are setting the tone for consumers across the new, pre-owned, and shared public segments of the market.
The Future of Car Safety
April 15, 2021
Cars didn’t always include seat belts. Some even remember when back seat passengers only had to use a lap belt; eventually, shoulder straps became the norm throughout the car. Moms once held babies in the front seat, but soon car seats became standard (and part of the law). Technology’s evolution also has influenced car safety features. The future of car safety may include some incredibly high-tech offerings. But even today’s vehicles feature technology that would have seriously impressed older generations. Buckle up and let’s check out today’s safety features and what the future might have in store for a safer ride. The Future of Car Safety [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Dangers-on-the-Road.jpg] WHEN CARS COLLIDE: A LOOK AT DANGERS ON THE ROAD Car accidents can happen for so many reasons: driver error, distractions, a medical emergency, or even the weather. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 33,654 fatal car accidents in 2018, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2,800 individuals were killed because of distracted driving that same year. In 2019, the deaths for distracted driving increased slightly, with distractions behind the deaths of 3,142 individuals. As smartphones have pervaded our culture and hitched a ride in most vehicles, the issue of distracted driving has become more prominent. It isn’t uncommon to see someone on their cell phone while driving, and texting while driving also contributes to distractions. Public service campaigns have tried to raise awareness of the issue, and phone manufacturers have even equipped phones with functions that disable the phone during the drive. However, cars and automotive safety features might also be adapting to help make the drive safer. The Future of Car Safety [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Safety-Needs-of-a-Wired-World.jpg] HOW VEHICLES ADAPTED TO THE SAFETY NEEDS OF A WIRED WORLD Automotive manufacturers understand that we live in a wired world. When almost all teens have access to a smartphone, the device has seemingly become the norm. Teens and older adults alike have become so dependent on their phones that some even develop a Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) when their phones aren’t accessible. The smartphone is the gateway to communication. The phone allows users to text, send email, surf the internet, play games, stream music and videos and update our social media accounts. Most modern smartphones even have built-in rulers, they can monitor health data (like steps per day) and include a calendar to track all those daily appointments. The smartphone is everything rolled into one, and this is why most adults can’t often easily part with it…not even in the car. While the statistics related to distracted driving remain concerning, car manufacturers are stepping up the safety game as they embed vehicles with unique technologies that keep drivers and passengers safer during the drive. While talking or having a conversation in general can be a distraction, the act of reaching for a phone or holding it up to the ear might be more concerning while trying to navigate. Many modern vehicles, though, now allow the smartphone to connect to the car’s infotainment screen. Drivers can make calls hands-free using voice commands. They can also send texts and stream music without touching their phone. Fender benders in parking lots are all too common. So are little scrapes and bumps when cars are trying to back out of a tight parking spot. Manufacturers, likely noting how common even little accidents occur, began to equip vehicles with cameras that provide visual aid and guidance to drivers who might be lacking in depth perception. Backup and front end cameras show the surrounding areas of the car via a screen in the car’s infotainment system. Augmented reality grid lines detail the car’s turning radius, so drivers can predict their maneuvers. In addition, warning signals might sound if the car gets too close to an obstacle while parking or maneuvering. Camera intelligence allows drivers to see what might have been hidden and adjust their movements accordingly. Many vehicles also include automatic stop functions when a car comes to close to an obstacle like another car. The car doesn’t wait for the driver to react, instead the sensors signal to the car to immediately stop. In this way, the car’s safety system allows accidents to be avoided. CALLING FOR HELP Even with the best safety features, accidents may still happen. Some crashes may result in the driver losing consciousness, unable to call for help. Many vehicles now include safety systems like OnStar that not only alert drivers of potential mechanical problems with their car but call for emergency help when necessary. When a crash occurs, OnStar’s sensors detect the accident and the system calls for help. The Future of Car Safety [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/shutterstock_1232842306.jpg] BABY IN THE BACKSEAT In 2020, 24 children died from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Leaving a baby or a young child in the backseat has become a common fear among parents. Today’s cars now include a warning message that appears on the car’s infotainment system after the driver shuts off the ignition. There also might be a warning signal that sounds along with the message. Typically the screen will include a reminder to check the backseat. These messages and reminders are just another way that car manufacturers are adjusting to the needs of consumers. Hopefully, the warnings will decrease the likelihood that a parent forgets a child in the backseat. AUTOMATIC PARKING Not every driver is proficient in perfect parking. For some, parallel parking may be a near impossibility. One of the newer safety features in cars is automatic parking. This autonomous feature is a bit like a self-driving car, only the car just maneuvers into a parking spot. Unfortunately, the system isn’t completely autonomous. According to MotorTrend, the driver still has to manage the brake and gas functions. However, the car will maneuver into that tight space. Even better? Once the parking function is activated, the car can find the parking spot, too! SAFETY FEATURES OF THE FUTURE Technology evolves, and every consumer understands how quickly technology becomes outdated. The safety functions in today’s cars will likely seem prehistoric in a few years. So what will future safety features look like in tomorrow’s vehicles? We mention Nissan’s Invisible-to Visible (I2V) technology often. However, when it comes to predicting future safety components of automobiles, Nissan’s developing technology could be a good road map. Through I2V, drivers would be alerted of obstacles up ahead (or seemingly hidden). This obviously could reduce the possibility of an accident. I2V also would let drivers connect with others in the ‘metaverse.’ Friends or family could join the journey as an avatar. In an abstract sense, this could improve safety as it would allow friends to keep drivers from nodding off or help them remain upbeat on the drive. Professional driving instructors also could appear in the car to help during the journey, too. Modern car designs also include heads-up displays that integrate augmented reality data. This technology could become the norm, with drivers being shown directions before their eyes via augmented reality overlays. There also are stories detailing Apple’s patent for an augmented reality windshield. The patent talks about drivers FaceTiming in the car (an autonomous vehicle). THE SELF-DRIVING CAR The ultimate car safety feature of the future is likely going to be the self-driving (autonomous) car. However, it may be some time for manufacturers to develop a safe autonomous vehicle that is appropriate for the consumer market. Robotaxis are, however, being tested in multiple cities. A self-driving car might be considered the ultimate in safety because it eliminates human error. A safe self-driving car, though, would need to be able to predict every type of driving scenario and adjust without hesitation. Think about a blinking stop light and how many drivers have no idea whose turn it is to pass through the light. When technology (even a simple stop light) glitches, a tiny issue can result in chaos. Ideally, a self-driving car would include many built-in safety components and driver comforts, too. Seat belts would likely still be necessary (accidents could be rare, but they would likely still happen). Cars may be equipped with a full body of sensors and cameras. Perhaps cars connect to satellites for additional navigation data. When will a self-driving car become a reality? It could be years for such a car to hit the consumer market. We will likely experience the robotaxi or other autonomous e-hail services first, and this could be a predictor for how these types of vehicles will fare. The self-driving car might simply be a ‘when’ not an ‘if.’ Too many tech giants are scrambling to perfect this type of vehicle, and it might be the future of the highways. Perhaps it might be better to ask who or which company will be the first to perfect a safe and reliable autonomous vehicle. Will it be Tesla? For now, the industry will continue to evolve with technology. Safety features may continue to adapt to drivers’ needs and more advanced safety systems may be integrated in the future. Just don’t expect cars to drive themselves just yet…although, they may be able to park without a human!