Audi turns to Virtual Reality headsets in car showrooms

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Seems like the days of car dealerships with dozens of motors on the forecourt could become a thing of the past!

Audi has become the latest brand to turn to Virtual Reality to improve, or at least to modify, the retail experience with dealers in Germany, the UK and Spain installing virtual reality headsets courtesy of Oculus Rift.

With the VR solution, Audi promises that customers can get an extremely realistic experience of an individually configured car, right down to the last detail.

With the VR headset, for example, buyers can configure their individual dream car and explore even the smallest details from an extremely realistic perspective, selecting from several hundred million possible models and equipment variants. 

The VR application allows users to become completely immersed in the virtual world, conveying an all-encompassing, detailed image prior to the purchase decision. The configured Audi is experienced in three dimensions and 360 degrees, with all light and sound effects.

Various environments, times of day, and light conditions also contribute to the true-to-life virtual experience of sitting in the car, claims Audi. The interior can also be observed from every perspective, down to the surface of the decorative inlays, depending on the position relative to the virtual light source.

Future VR software upgrades will also offer demo features of Audi innovations that can be tested only to a limited extent during a real test drive – such as different light technologies at night and in poor visibility.

In addition, the VR headset offers customers the chance to experience special Audi moments. Racing fans could, for instance, immerse themselves virtually in the atmosphere of the Le Mans 24 Hours race and get an an up-close experience during a pit stop alongside the crew of mechanics.

In most markets, dealerships will run the VR application on the Oculus Rift headset from Audi’s primary project partner Oculus. To allow the complex data models to be processed for virtual reality, Audi worked with its strategic visualization partner Zerolight to develop a high-performance graphics engine.

Says Nils Wollny, Head of Digital Business Strategy/Customer Experience at Audi AG:

“With the VR experience we have developed a fully-fledged sales tool for Audi dealers. It offers our customers more information and certainty when making their purchasing decision, as well as a special excitement factor.

“With this, we are taking the next step in our strategy to combine digital innovation with the strengths of the bricks-and-mortar dealership.”

Virtual reality is also used by Audi in other areas of the company – from sales and technical development to automotive production. For example, the company uses VR headsets to train logistics employees for their assignments.

 

Chris Price