BMW is piloting a 3D augmented reality (AR) experience app powered by Google's AR technology Tango, allowing consumers to customise and interact with virtual life-sized versions of its i3 and i8 car models.
The i Visualiser is available in select BMW sales outlets that are equipped with Tango-enabled mobile devices, the first of which was launched by Chinese tech company Lenovo in November 2016. As more of these Tango-enabled smartphones come to market, BMW plans to make the app available on Google Play.
Built by global full-service agency Accenture for BMW's Future Retail programme, the i Visualiser lets users customise features such as interior and exterior colours when viewing the AR experience on screen. Users can virtually open the car's doors, turn on lights or experience the view from inside the car, and are then able to save and share the final visualisation. While this is the first customer-facing personal screen-based AR experience by an automaker, Fiat Chrysler showed a similar Tango-based prototype, also by Accenture, at the 2016 Mobile World Congress.
With car buyers increasingly choosing to research their options digitally instead of visiting physical dealerships, automakers are exploring new tools to influence couch-bound customers – as outlined in New Directions in Auto Marketing. Other new technologies carmakers are using to educate and engage via digital – and especially mobile – include 360-degree video and chat bots. Kia Motors North America recently created the NiroBot for Facebook Messenger as a way to introduce the Niro hybrid utility vehicle.
For more uses of AR in the customer journey, see Retail: Digitising Luxury, 2017.