Volvo has partnered with Microsoft to present a new showroom experience driven by gestural holographic technology that promises to add interactive immersion to the standard car-buying process.
The HoloLens is a wireless augmented reality headset that overlays high-definition holograms onto whatever is in the wearer's field of view. For Volvo customers using the headset, car models become visible from different angles, like ghostly projections. Users can move around the hologram and even rearrange key pieces – changing the scale of items or stripping the car's body to see the engine or undercarriage by using finger movements.
Using the same injection of excitement for car safety issues (according to Volvo, most consumers ignore printed manuals), users can also deploy the tech to watch safety simulations and safety feature demos.
Microsoft has mooted that future iterations could aid detailed customisation – colours, wheel designs etc. – and that the initiative will potentially be just as useful away from the showroom; with only the headset needed to participate, shoppers could experience a pre-test drive from the comfort of their home.
Unlike virtual reality (VR) technology such as the Oculus Rift, which transports users to other environments, the HoloLens keeps users in touch with the world around them. This eliminates the dizziness of VR and gives users a better grasp of how models would look in-context (see also Contextual Commerce).
While still in beta mode, Volvo expects the tool to be consumer facing by the end of 2016.
See also Virtual Immersive Commerce, part of our Post-Digital Macro Trend, Retail Beyond The Algorithm, Innovations in Automotive Retail, Immersive Brand Spaces and Custom Cars: Ferrari's AR Sales App.