Driving to an Augmented Reality Future

Auto dealers and Facebook have something in common: augmented reality is part of their future.

At Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the world’s largest social network is making a major investment in AR. Facebook will soon roll out the Camera Effects platform, through which Facebook’s 2 billion users can use the Facebook in-app camera to create AR effects and experiences.

At F8, Zuckerberg said he envisions people using AR on their mobile phones to turn everyday objects and surfaces into opportunities to view and share immersive content, like turning a home appliance into an interactive family message board. In doing so, he challenged a common perception that AR is simply a glorified way for people to play Pokémon GO.

Whenever Facebook makes a major move, marketers – including dealers — should take notice. Facebook is more than the world’s largest social network. The company is also both a reflection and influencer of consumer behavior. Mark Zuckerberg has glanced at the future, and he sees AR in the tea leaves, as does Apple’s Tim Cook, who has repeatedly voiced his confidence in the uptake of AR. According to eMarketer, augmented reality has been exploding worldwide; Global Market Insights says that AR will be a $165 billion market by 2024.

Businesses are developing AR apps in a number of ways to improve everyday experiences ranging from exercise to driving cars. For instance, at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show automotive suppliers demonstrated AR applications intended to make driving safer. As reported in CNET, Harman, a provider of connected car technology, demonstrated how AR in a modified Chrysler Pacifica visually shows drivers whether they are going too fast, and an AR overlay on a driver’s windshield makes street signs more visible. (As CNET noted, poorly marked street signs are a common distraction and safety risk, which AR could remedy.) Meanwhile, other automotive suppliers showed how AR could make driving safer by overlaying color codes in a driver’s sightline to flag cars that are braking suddenly or pedestrians by the road.


Harmon’s system can place street signs over intersections, greatly helping drivers.
Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

 

As CNET reporter Wayne Cunningham wrote,

Head-up displays, which show vehicle information at the base of the windshield within the driver’s view, have gained traction in recent years, appearing on many car models. These displays typically show vehicle speed and navigation directions, so the driver doesn’t need to look away from the road. AR goes beyond head-up display technology by using GPS and sensors to pick out objects in the car’s environment, calling out those objects for the driver. AR can be very helpful in urban environments where the amount of traffic, pedestrians and signage becomes overwhelming.

According to ABI Research, more than 15 million AR heads-up displays will ship by 2025. ABI noted that that OEMS such as Ford and Hyundai are working on AR interfaces.

The uptake of AR is one example of how technology is influencing the future of the driving experience. This is an exciting and challenging time for dealers as they sense and respond to changes in automotive in order to act as informed resources for car shoppers. One way to stay on top of the future of automotive is to follow our blog. And keep watching and learning from the leaders inside and outside the automotive industry.

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