Microsoft HoloLens enters Volvo showrooms

During last times, automotive companies seems really unchained when it’s about augmented reality: during last month only, we talked about Honda’s vehicles/prototypes and Hyundai’s owner’s manual, and today we report the news of the collaboration between Volvo and Microsoft.

The two companies are working on a project that engages them both, since the objective is to insert Microsoft’s famous headset, HoloLens, inside Volvo’s showrooms.

The first demonstration with a prototype took place in Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where Volvo presented their new S90 mid-size luxury sedan: with the help of augmented reality the automotive company was able to show a full-size three- dimensional holograms of the car itself and cross-sections of its parts, as well as a holographic test-drive demonstration of the semi-autonomous driving system and its safety features.

To do so, Microsoft converted a large room in its headquarters into a mock Volvo showroom; inside the place, the viewers were walked around by an hologram explaining the designers’ choices, while another hologram was making possible to choose among the car features and colors. The visitors were able to choose the favorite features and to view the custom car in front of their eyes. This makes possible to see the vehicle even before it is produced.

The presentation of the product and the choice of colors are just only two little pieces of what augmented reality can do: in fact, other than being a spectacular and innovative way to show the products, it is pretty useful to point out some features that would be difficult to show either way: it is an example the automatic stopping for collision avoidance, new function of the vehicle, hard to demonstrate in a real-life test drive.

Le aziende automobilistiche negli ultimi tempi sembrano davvero scatenate quando si parla di realtà aumentata: solo nell’ultimo mese abbiamo parlato dei veicoli/prototipo di Honda e del manuale del guidatore di Hyundai, oggi riportiamo invece la notizia della collaborazione di Volvo e Microsoft.

Le due compagnie, infatti, stanno lavorando a un progetto che le vede coinvolte entrambe, dato che l’obiettivo è quello di portare il famoso visore a realtà aumentata HoloLens di Microsoft all’interno degli showroom Volvo.

La prima dimostrazione con prototipo si è già tenuta nelle sedi Microsoft a Redmond, Washington, dove Volvo ha presentato la sua nuova berlina S90: con l’aiuto della realtà aumentata la casa automobilistica ha potuto mostrare un ologramma a dimensione naturale dell’auto e delle sue sezioni e anche una dimostrazione olografica di una sessione con il sistema di guida semi-autonoma e delle funzionalità di sicurezza del mezzo.

Per fare ciò Microsoft ha trasformato una delle grandi sale del suo quartier generale in uno showroom Volvo; all’interno della sala gli spettatori sono stati accompagnati da un ologramma nella spiegazione delle scelte dei designer della Volvo S90, mentre un altro ologramma permetteva di consultare tutte le variabili del modello esistenti. Il visitatore poteva quindi scegliere il colore e le feature preferiti e visualizzare l’automobile personalizzata proprio di fronte ai propri occhi. Questo permette dunque di avere di fronte l’auto ancora prima che venga prodotta.

La presentazione del prodotto e la scelta dei colori sono solo una piccola parte: infatti la realtà aumentata, oltre a rappresentare un metodo spettacolare e innovativo di mostrare il proprio prodotto, che in tal modo sicuramente non passerà inosservato, è anche utile per mostrare alcune feature che sarebbero altrimenti difficili da far comprendere, come per esempio in questo caso lo stop automatico per evitare incidenti, una delle nuove funzioni di sicurezza della berlina.

We are sure that Ferrari doesn’t have problems selling their super-luxury cars, but, looking also at the news from the automotive market (e.g. MINI goggles), to enhance their customers experience and make it just magical is the big strike point of the moment. This is probably what they thought when they joined forces with developer Zspace to create together an Augmented Reality app to use in their showroom. The company commissioned an app that uses Metaio’s Hybrid 3D tracking technology to augment the cars models and deliver the ultimate showroom experience through technology.

Simply using a tablet in front of the car inside the showroom, it’s possible to choose some features of the vehicle we want to buy: as first thing, the Metaio tracking technology recognizes the car as the client stands in front of it; then it’s possible to try different colors and accessories. Of course, this allows frontline sales people from Ferrari to provide for more in depth information about the care they are selling, and there’s no more vivid factor than to see it in front of our eyes.

There’s more: “Most high end supercar showrooms such as Lamborghini, McLaren, Ferrari et al, can come across a bit intimidating experience for a potential customer, this technology not only connects the Ferrari brand in an innovative way, but it is a friendly, engaging way to lead the customer from the showroom floor to the showroom’s configurator where they can ‘spec’ up and customize further their dream Ferrari,” said Tim Jardine, executive produce at Zspace.

The app currently features five vehicles, the 458 Speciale and Spider, the FF, the F12 Berlinetta and the California T., but it’s designed in a manner that makes easy to add other vehicles in the future and to adapt to all the news of the company. At the moment it is available only in Australasia, but will be introduced to the American market soon.

See more in the official video above: