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Back from the future: Augmented Reality in the Automotive Industry

May 24, 2023

Examples of AR applications for the automotive industry

Hello marketing virtuoso, and welcome back to Aryel Blog.

Today we take a break from the usual marketing discussion to dive into a topic that gets our Aryel gears grinding: innovation.
With everyone constantly striving to be relevant and heard in today’s digitally driven world, innovation can be difficult – particularly when you’re in an industry where the dust of tradition often clouds the road to innovation, like automotive.

With digital trends shifting faster than a time-travelling teen in a parking lot, it can be extremely challenging to keep up with the ever changing customer’s demand, brand-new marketing approaches and everyday increasingly fierce competition…

But don’t panic, Marty McMarketer. You’re not alone.
Nowadays innovation is a universal struggle, and even if the scenario isn’t the most reassuring one, we deeply believe there’s always room for a little innovation.

“So, what’s our game plan, Doc?” you ask.
You should have realized it by now: today we’re firing up the flux capacitor and preparing to take you on a journey to discover benefits and applications of Augmented Reality in the automotive industry.

Or, in other words, how to become a DeLorean in a sea of Fords.
Strap yourself in, because we’re about to hit warp speed in our exploration of the Automotive sector. We’re journeying into a realm that’s as exciting as it is unfamiliar – It’s going to be a wild ride, and we promise, no manure will be involved.

88MPH into the Future: AR applications for the automotive industry

With Augmented Reality In the driver’s seat, the automotive industry is diving headfirst into a new era of innovation. Whether you’re peeking into a virtual showroom, navigating the highways with an AR assistant, or maintaining your car with an interactive AR toolkit, the future is here. So, let’s shift gears and blaze our trail at 88MPH into the future, exploring the incredible AR applications transforming the automotive industry.

Want to step into the DeLorean? Enter AR-Powered virtual showrooms

In the fiercely competitive world of automotive sales, the need to provide an engaging, immersive and memorable buying experience is more critical than ever.

Now imagine yourself stepping into a showroom where you can customize the car of your dreams: altering its color, swapping its tires, tweaking its features, all with a simple swipe of your finger. Now imagine doing all that from the comfort of your couch. Welcome to AR-powered virtual showrooms, where the future of car buying has arrived.

AR virtual showrooms bring the dealership to you, allowing you to explore, customize, and interact with vehicles in unprecedented ways. Want to see how that sleek sports car looks in metallic gray? Or how the interior of the latest SUV looks with leather seats? AR makes it possible (and enthralling).

But it doesn’t stop there. AR allows you to ‘step into’ the car, providing a 360° interior view that lets you scrutinize every detail. Even better, these AR experiences can be accessed via smartphone or tablet, making it possible for anyone to step into the DeLorean, or any other car, whenever and wherever they want.

That enables a buying experience that’s as personalized as it is immersive. It’s less about hard selling and more about exploration and discovery, which, let’s face it, is a lot more fun than haggling with a salesperson over optional extras.
Not only does AR offer a fun, interactive way to explore different models and configurations, it also significantly boosts sales conversion rates. Customers who have had the opportunity to use AR tools are more likely to purchase, as they feel more confident in their choice and more engaged with the brand.

And it doesn’t stop at car configurators. Dealerships are using AR to provide immersive demonstrations and virtual test drives, bringing the thrill of the open road directly to the customer.
So, whether you’re browsing for your next car or just daydreaming about that luxury ride, AR-powered virtual showrooms are shaping the future of car buying, one virtual test drive at a time. And we think even Marty McFly (i mean, the one from the future) would be impressed.

A co-pilot from the future: AR navigation assistants takes the wheel

Remember when Doc Brown said, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”? Well, he might have been onto something, but for the moment roads are still a thing to deal with. While we’re not quite at flying cars yet (come on, science!), AR navigation assistants are certainly getting us one step closer.

Instead of squinting at a small screen on your dashboard or frantically glancing between your phone and the road, imagine all navigation information is displayed directly onto your windscreen. No more missed turns or last-minute lane changes because Google Maps decided to give you a heart attack.

AR navigation assistants, with the help of Head-Up Displays (HUDs), project real-time, contextual information onto your windshield, overlaying your actual view of the road with helpful details like your current speed and limit, directions, and potential hazards. Think of it as having your own personal co-pilot, minus the questionable 80s fashion choices.

These AR systems are designed to keep your focus on the road and enhance your situational awareness. They can highlight the edges of your lane, alert you if a pedestrian steps into the road, or warn you if the car ahead is braking suddenly. In a world where distractions are just a ping away, AR navigation assistants are the Biff Tannen repellents we need to keep our roads safer.

That’s precisely what the sophisticated Augmented Reality head-up display (HUD) in the new Mercedes MBUX on the S and C Classes offer. Dynamic holograms, such as turn indicators, move within the driver’s field of vision, making navigation considerably easier, especially in cities. The front-facing camera detects the area in front of the car, and the relevant images are displayed on the central display. The system integrates virtual objects, information, and directions, such as road signs, turn indicators, lane change suggestions, and even house numbers into the video image.

However, AR is not stopping there. While the current generation of HUDs provide smaller images and sometimes struggle with clarity in bright sunlight, the future looks even brighter. Automotive companies are now working on the development of full windshield HUDs, which can show a broader range of data directly on the windshield in the driver’s field of view. This means less distraction and enhanced safety as relevant information, like navigation arrows, distance to the next turn, or speed, can be displayed directly on the windshield.

Additionally, these new-age HUDs will be able to integrate real-time information about vehicle conditions and environmental factors using advanced sensors. So, whether it’s an icy road ahead or a sudden drop in tire pressure, you’ll have the information you need right in front of your eyes.

Doc Brown’s AR Toolbox make maintenance easier

If you’ve ever been stuck on the side of the road, desperately Googling “how to change a flat tire,” you’ll know that car maintenance can sometimes feel like an unsolvable riddle. But what if you had Doc Brown’s knowledge at your fingertips, guiding you through each step with precision? That’s exactly what AR promises to deliver in the realm of vehicle maintenance.

AR technology is revolutionizing the way both technicians and end users approach car repair. For technicians on the assembly line, AR is showing its potential to streamline operations and minimize errors. By overlaying virtual instructions onto physical components, AR can guide operators through the repair process, reducing the risk and costs connected to errors. This digital assistance can significantly enhance accuracy and speed, making the assembly line more efficient than ever.

In the past, technicians had to rely on their memory or bulky, static manuals to troubleshoot issues. Now, with AR, they can access real-time, interactive guides that can overlay crucial information directly onto the vehicle they’re repairing. This helps to identify and resolve problems more quickly, reducing downtime and improving service quality.

A good example of this is MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance). This app works like a virtual Doc Brown for Volkswagen mechanics: it uses the iPad’s camera to dive under the hood of the car, labeling each part with precision and highlighting possible car’s problems.

But it doesn’t stop there. MARTA goes on to deliver step-by-step guides on how to repair and replace various components, complete with specific instructions. You can even use the app to test-drive different design elements – a new hood or a daring new color, perhaps. It’s like a time-travel trip to your car’s potential future.
And for those who prefer their tech with a side of nostalgia, MARTA even includes a good ol’ fashioned text service manual. Just remember, this is an AR app tailored for a limited-edition vehicle, so it might not be the go-to choice for your everyday mechanic shop.

For end users, AR can demystify the often complex task of vehicle maintenance. Apps can use AR to provide interactive guides on how to perform basic tasks like checking oil levels, replacing air filters, or even changing a tire. You just point your smartphone camera at your car engine, and the app overlays digital instructions onto the real-world image. Suddenly, you’re not just a car owner, but a competent DIY mechanic.

Take, for example, Porsche’s AR program, Tech Live Look, launched in 2018. It’s like having a hotline to a team of mechanics, ready to help you out with your car maintenance queries.
Or the virtual assistant AR app “Ask Mercedes” that provides instructional videos and manuals at your command. It’s not just a handy tool, but also a comprehensive guide that helps you understand your car’s potential and capabilities better.

In both cases, AR has the potential to dramatically reduce the time, costs and stress associated with car maintenance. It’s like having your very own futuristic toolbox, filled not just with wrenches and screwdrivers, but with knowledge and guidance.

Speeding up prototyping and delivery of new models with AR

The journey from blueprint to showroom can be a long, winding road for car manufacturers. The painstaking process of building physical models and prototypes is time-consuming and expensive. But what if we told you that AR could help to put a turbo boost into this process?

In a world where existing physical models could be overlaid with new elements, designers could collaborate in real-time, making changes that are immediately visible to all participants. This futuristic scenario it’s already reality for the most advanced car manufacturers, and it’s usually referred to as AR-aided prototyping.

Spatial Augmented Reality is one of the tools making this possible. By projecting images onto physical models of cars, manufacturers can visualize design and elements alterations without the need to create a new prototype every time a change is made.

Meanwhile, AR glasses offer an even more immersive experience. Although a pricier option, these high-tech specs provide greater accuracy and a wider range of application possibilities. It’s as if Doc Brown gave you his future-seeing binoculars, allowing you to see your design changes come to life in real-time.

Thanks to AR, leading car manufacturers like Volkswagen, BMW, and Ford are reducing the cost and duration of the design and prototyping process. This technology not only streamlines the development process but also allows potential buyers to see how their vehicle will look with multiple designs and customization options before making a final decision.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads: the future of AR in automotive industry

And just like that, we’ve arrived at our destination, cruising through the remarkable landscape of Augmented Reality in the automotive industry. Let’s take a moment to glimpse in the rearview mirror, to appreciate the journey we’ve taken.

We’ve stepped into AR-powered virtual showrooms, marveling at the new-age sales process where customers can customize and explore vehicles from the comfort of their living room. We’ve buckled up for a safer driving experience, appreciating how AR navigation assistants provide real-time, contextual information directly in our field of vision.

We’ve been seeing how this technology can be a game-changer for vehicle maintenance and assembly. Not only has it equipped technicians with precise, step-by-step instructions, but it’s also empowered the everyday car owner to become a more confident DIY mechanic.

We’ve seen how AR is speeding up prototyping, allowing designers to iterate and innovate at an unprecedented pace. The traditional, time-consuming process of developing physical models is giving way to AR’s dynamic and collaborative design environment.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the automotive industry is just hitting the gas on its AR journey. As technology advances, AR’s applications will continue to evolve and expand, delivering even more benefits to manufacturers, technicians, and drivers alike.

It’s truly an exciting time. And while we may not have flying cars or time-traveling DeLoreans just yet, one thing is certain: thanks to AR, the future of the automotive industry is looking bright. The future of automotive is now, and is looking augmented.

Want to witness how Augmented Reality can shift gears in the automotive industry? Book a demo with our sales today.
Otherwise you can step into the driver’s seat with Fantic Motor’s Customer Success story. Learn how they’re using AR to accelerate innovation, enhance customer experience, and rev up their marketing.