The auto industry continues to adopt new technologies to make the customer experience better and to create more efficiencies from manufacturers to auto dealerships. We asked Nathan Sykes, an avid blogger about business and technology, for his view of how the automotive industry is utilizing mixed reality. Here is what he had to say:
Automotives and Mixed Reality
Augmented and virtual reality technologies are taking industries by storm, including retail, entertainment and even automotive. No doubt, you’ve heard of mobile games like Pokémon GO and virtual games played via platforms like PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift.
While these technologies may seem wholly disconnected, the experiences they offer — especially in the entertainment space — offer remarkable inspirations for all other industries. Imagine taking a test drive from the comfort of your home, through a streaming VR experience. Imagine driving an incredibly expensive model such as a McLaren, without ever turning over your license or credit card for incidentals.
The average virtual reality experience can be so immersive that such a thing is possible — and will be before long. It does make you wonder, what else will VR and AR systems be used for in the automotive industry?
VR at the Point of Sale
Virtual immersive showroom experiences are already on their way, as brands like Toyota, Audi, and Pagani have all used the technology as a sales tool. Audi’s unique experience, for instance, allows customers to view a model of their choosing in various environments, from the inner-city to the moon. You just don a VR headset, and away you go.
The technology can be used not just to show off models, but they can also let you climb behind the driver’s wheel as well. Imagine driving any vehicle — even one of your dreams — through a unique environment. Want to see what it’s like to barrel through the wreckage of a collapsing volcano? No problem! Want to drive an underwater course while taking in the wonders of the deep? Totally possible.
ZeroLight — a company specializing in virtual experiences for auto sales — revealed 82% of consumers from the five largest economies in Europe are willing to explore and configure vehicles through VR and AR devices.
AR for Navigation and Information
There’s a ton of buzz around driverless and automated vehicles, which are coming. But these vehicles will utilize smarter, more advanced technologies to present information and analyze the world at large. AR, or augmented reality, can be used to overlay data such as current speed, travel times and even navigation directions on the windshield.
This can be especially helpful in transportation or ride-sharing situations. Imagine a taxi that presents travel information, destination, and pricing all via a customer-centric screen. Or, a transport truck that tells the driver exactly where to go and how long it will take to get there, further improving their travel schedule.
Driverless and automated smart vehicles will also give birth to a new form of free time. What are you going to do on your morning commute or long road trips if you’re not focused on the road? Fully autonomous vehicles are expected to be available to the average consumer by 2025.
The beauty of VR and AR is that you can also use it for entertainment purposes. Gamification of transportation and travel is entirely possible, making car trips more fun and engaging for everyone. In-vehicle movies and shows — similar to what you get on a long flight — become that much more convenient, too.
This is already being done on a fundamental level by various researchers, soon to be available to consumers.
Auto-Focused Social Networks
Imagine if Facebook or Twitter were designed around the automotive community — that is, a crowdsourced informational network of shortcuts and routes, gas prices, traffic information, and more.
Waze is already working on something like this to bring drivers together from all across the world. Obviously, innovative and safe ways to present this information to drivers is going to be important, but it can be achieved through the use of augmented reality heads-up-displays.
Advertising and Promotions
New advertising and promotional channels are the marketing world’s dream, and they will soon get one in the form of automotive use. How? Imagine geolocated and location-based ads that appear on an AR HUD as you travel the roads. Brands and businesses could deliver time-sensitive ads and promotions to get you to take an upcoming exit and visit one of their locations.
Looking for food, gas, coffee or maybe even a place to rest your head? These technologies could deliver personalized content to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, while also providing a huge boon to brands and organizations.
Prototyping, Manufacturing and Design
Developers and designers can use the technology to build new vehicle concepts and styles, without going through the costly experimentation processes that require working with real hardware and machinery. You could, for instance, construct an aerodynamic sports vehicle with a streamlined design all via a virtual reality workspace. Then, you can send the model to a 3D printer to create a live smaller-sized representation.
Imagine the possibilities here.
Training and Driving Lessons
In transportation, training the necessary individuals how to work specific vehicles and systems can be expensive and dangerous. VR, or virtual reality experiences, can alleviate this problem by providing them with a realistic, yet digital training environment.
Imagine taking driving lessons or earning a certification simply through a virtual experience.
The Future Is Bright
There are so many promising opportunities for the use of AR and VR across all industries, especially automotive. In fact, we’re willing to bet we even missed a few potential applications, not including those that will be dreamed up in the coming years. The future truly is bright for this technology.
Nathan Sykes writes about trends in the business and technology industry for websites like Simple Programmer and ITBusinessNet. To read more by Nathan, you can check out his blog, Finding an Outlet.