AR in the Automotive Industry: Mobile Showroom, Manual Experience, Enriched Driving

AR in the Automotive Industry: Mobile Showroom, Manual Experience, Enriched Driving

Learn more about how Augmented Reality disrupts the automotive industry and what's the hottest trends and use cases:

  • Mobile Showroom
  • Manual Experience
  • Enriched Driving

Augmented Reality it's just around the corner. They've been saying that for about ten years, but I think it actually is. But not on glasses necessarily or holding up one of these things to view the world. I think AR is gonna hit best and soonest in cars to solve three big pain points. Let me show you what they are. 

Augmented Reality stands to revolutionize three pain points in the automotive world in order of the process. First of all, make the showroom come to you and be better. Secondly, bring the owner's manual to life because you aren't reading that thing. We got to do something better and, thirdly, Completely enrich your view of the world while you drive. Let's take a look. 

Mobile Showroom

When it comes to buying a car, the showroom is indispensable. You want to go see the car you want to sit in it, and of course, you want to take a test drive. However, we've had a big shift toward online purchasing of vehicles, and I think it's now time to virtualize the showroom the same way. Flat pictures, rotating images and web videos. They're good, but they're flat. AR can bring the car to you where you are. Let's you put any paint job on it. Put on different Print options, change those wheels, see what it looks like in your driveway. That's something unique that I think maps beautifully to the increased appetite for buying cars largely online. 

Notice that if you're on an Android device these days and search for a particular model of car, one of several 100 will show up with that button show in 3D. That's essentially an AR activation. It allows you to see the car in an AR presentation. And that's powered by Google out of their own database. 

Several manufacturers have got this going as well. Jaguar was one of the first to let you do that. They all realize that the car needs to sit where you want to see it. Not someplace you have to go to get to it. And phones are only going to get more powerful as a showroom in your pocket in the years ahead. They're rapidly getting internal AR software to give the hooks and tools to make these experiences work better. Look what Apple's doing; their latest flagship iPhones have LiDAR in them, which allows the phone to scan the environment better and make a more faithful responsive AR car appear there.

Manual Experience

I recall back in 2015, Hyundai had an augmented reality owner's manual for the new Sonata back then. It was amazing. You use the phone to point the parts of the engine or the dashboard. And the key areas you need to know about came alive with labels and the ability to interact a little bit to find out more about them. That's the kind of thing we need, not a printed owner's manual that literally never gets opened, one of the biggest wastes of paper in the auto industry. Or an online PDF that's frankly even worse, except that it is searchable. 

Look at most of us. Do we have a question about our car? We google it, or we go to YouTube, and someone's done a video on how to work the heater, change the oil, check the coolant, whatever it might be. That shows the appetites there. But we need to go one step further into an interactive viewer that looks at our car, not just a car and has a really great view of the question at hand. Not questionable video production values that we too often see online.

Aside from Hyundai, Audi, Kia and Mercedes, I think and maybe one or two others have offered on a limited basis one of these owner's manuals, and yet they're still not common. Are they ever seen one? That's partly because they require a lot more effort. It's a lot more of a broader skillset and partners and more money to produce than a paper or PDF owner's manual. But I believe the time is nigh and it's a matter of when not if, that we look back and say wow, they used to stick a book in the glove box. How weird was that?

Enriched Driving Experience

And finally, the big game augmenting your view of the world from inside the car. Go back to 2012 and Mercedes showed me something called dice Dynamic, intuitive control experience and you'd look at it and say, well it's just that's just futurism 2021. And the S-Class is starting to import that kind of technology. 

For Sale, you look out through a large HUD it's not the whole windshield but a big part of it and see things like information about adaptive cruise distance or highlighting of a road edge or curve you wanna avoid or showing you in mid-air out in front of you the arrows to turn to follow your route. 

And remember this is Augmented Reality. These are not static cues that are sitting somewhere on a screen. These are indexed dynamically to where you are in the world as the car proceeds down the road, changes lanes or turns, they're pinned in the environment. That's what makes this different than other types of visual enhancement. 

Now, notice what Cadillac's doing in the new Escalade, something similar but executed very differently. They do their AR on a video projection shown on the 14 inch OLED instrument panel, a beautiful curved display. Now, it does require you to look down to see it. I have a problem with that.

On the other hand, look at that visual quality. That's incredible, even to the point of making an arrow, a curved arrow, when n indicates a U turn, and Cadillac also understands that AR is not just video. They also do it through audio as you get closer to a point where you're supposed to turn or do something else. The audio prompts get louder. It increases your awareness of proximity, not just through visuals that are down on the dash, but through orals, which are anywhere you happen to look. I think that's a very smart idea.

I hope you agree that the car is a goldmine for augmented Reality. It won't be the only place we have it, and it doesn't obviate the goals of putting it into phones and glasses broadly. But I can't think of a place in the consumer electronics world where it's more valuable and worth pursuing. And has actual weighty deliverables and not just gee-whiz.

Credits by c|net: roadshow