Audi to employ Virtual Reality Headsets in future showrooms

 

myAudi Sphere: Following a complete remodeling, the former Audi Forum at Munich Airport is reopening as a discovery platform for progressive tools in the dialogue between customers, the manufacturer and dealers. The focus is on digital innovations that connect the real and virtual worlds of Audi. myAudi Sphere is the first showroom worldwide to stage an advanced setup of the brand’s virtual reality application: the “Audi Walking VR experience”. Visitors using the virtual reality headset to get an especially realistic view of their dream Audi can now walk around it freely and even take a seat inside.

 

Virtual Reality is here and now. You can buy an Oculus, there’s a headset that comes with a Samsung phone, and if you wander the halls at the next Consumer Electronics Show, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of developers creating worlds for virtual reality exploration. Soon Audi customers will get a taste of virtual reality as the company’s dealerships begin rolling out VR headsets to its showrooms.

The German automaker is diving into the VR landscape in a variety of ways. On a training and technical level, Audi has developed a system that lets sales people show customers what it’s like driving in one of its cars fitted with the Pre Sense City Safety feature. This safety system helps mitigate accidents by sensing the world around it and applying braking forces when deemed necessary. It’s difficult to show the full capabilities of this system with actual cars, but it’s quite easy in the virtual world.

Beyond safety tech, Audi is using VR to show potential customers exactly what they can see in the latest model lineup. This normally would prove difficult from a logistics standpoint for dealerships located in major metropolitan areas. Space is at a premium, and cars take up a fair share of it. With a VR headset, a customer is able to experience an Audi model in 360 degrees and can even move around the car, examining it both from the outside and virtually sit in the cabin. Turning his or head left and right would allow the shopper to see all that the car has to offer. The sales person could have the shopper stand and virtually walk around the outside of the car. While doing so, the exterior color could be changed so that the buyer could see how their car will look.

Acting as a complex configurator, the virtual reality software allows users to cycle between different paint colors, wheels and even interior and exterior options. What’s more, a car can be viewed in a number of different light conditions and locations, such as in Paris and for those so-inclined. Apparently, some folks want to experience the Audi R8 on the moon… as judging by the supplied photo from Audi seen above. If we can incorporate that surface and that car into the next iteration of Forza Motorsport, we’re all for it.

According to Marcus Kühne from Audi’s digital retail solutions division, “Our challenge is that our customers often only come to a dealership to talk about the price. They already know everything there is to know about their chosen car from internet research. But we would like to engage them and give them a better time at the dealership. “We’d like them to have a consultation about the car rather than look on the internet. The VR technology could do this: it is invasive, emotional and unexpected,” he said.

Autocar says Audi is trying the system in six of its German dealerships and is still yet to decide between the two virtual reality headsets it is testing, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.