The competition in the automotive industry has always been fierce. Throughout history, automotive manufacturers have used innovative technologies to stand out from their competitors. For example, the first car with a built-in air conditioner system was introduced by Chrysler in 1953. Years later, Nissan released the first car in the U.S. with a built-in backup camera.
To this day, automotive manufacturers are still finding new and exciting ways to use advanced technologies. The automotive industry has recently embraced augmented reality, which is a technology that superimposes digital elements onto the user’s real world environment. This technology can enhance the user’s real world with images, sounds, or other digital elements. By superimposing these images on the real world, augmented reality technology blends the real world and digital world together.
A number of automotive manufacturers are already using augmented reality technology, including BMW. In fact, BMW recently revealed that its newest venture into the world of augmented reality involves the company’s Art Car program. Here’s what you should know about this unique automotive augmented reality experience from BMW:
What is the BMW Art Car Program?
The BMW Art Car project was established in 1975 by Herve Poulain, a French race car driver who had the idea of turning a new BMW car into a canvas for an artist. Poulain, along with the founder of BMW Motorsports, Jochen Neerpasch, selected up-and-coming artist Alexander Calder as the first participant in the Art Car program. Calder accepted the invitation and created a unique design for one of Poulain’s BMW 3.0 CSL race cars.
Calder was the first artist to participate in the BMW Art Car project, but he certainly wasn’t the last. Because the project was such a hit, BMW decided to continue it after Calder’s design was complete.
Since the 1970s, a panel of international judges have been responsible for selecting other artists for the program. So far, 19 other artists have used BMWs as canvases as part of the Art Car project. Some of the most well-known artists in the world have participated in the program, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jeff Koons, and Jenny Holzer.
Initially, the cars that were created in this program were used as race cars, but the head of the Art Car program has said that the focus has shifted. Now, the goal is to use these cars to advertise BMW’s commitment and connection to the art world.
The cars are not available for sale. However, miniature versions of the first 15 designs were sold in BMW dealerships and select museums in the early 2000s. Several of the cars have also been featured in special exhibits throughout North America. But now, BMW has introduced a new way for consumers to experience the cars created in the Art Car program.
How to Use Augmented Reality to Experience the Art Car Program
For the first time in history, consumers have an opportunity to see and explore all of the Art Cars in one place. All they have to do is download Acute Art, which is an augmented reality app available for smartphones and tablets.
To access this experience, consumers need to open the Acute Art app and point their smartphone camera in any direction. Then, they can choose which one of the Art Cars they want to superimpose onto their real world environment. The app will use augmented reality technology to project a life-size, three-dimensional model of the selected vehicle into the user’s world.
This gives automotive consumers the chance to get up close and personal with the Art Cars for the first time. Consumers can see what the vehicles would look like in their driveway, parked in their garage, or even in their living room. Because it projects a three-dimensional digital model of the vehicle, the app allows consumers to feel like they are standing in front of an actual car from the Art Car program. The digital model is far more realistic and lifelike than a still image.
The best part is consumers can access this experience at any time, from anywhere. Thanks to augmented reality technology, all they need is a smartphone or tablet to play with BMW’s Art Cars.
Only 10 of the 19 Art Cars were available when the app first launched. However, the full collection will be available soon since two new cars from the collection are added every two weeks.
How is BMW Using Augmented Reality Technology in Other Ways?
Even though the app is fairly new, it’s already been deemed a success by BMW. One BMW executive even said that they may roll out additional features in the near future.
This isn’t the only way that BMW is using augmented reality technology to gain a competitive edge over other automotive manufacturers. BMW’s other uses of augmented reality technology include:
- Maintenance and Repair Assistance
- Virtual Showrooms
- Head-Up Display
Maintenance and Repair Assistance
Augmented reality is used to assist auto technicians at select BMW dealerships. These technicians can put on a pair of augmented reality glasses to access the information they need to diagnose issues with a vehicle or make repairs.
For example, if a technician is having trouble with a complex repair, they can use their augmented reality glasses to connect with remote automotive experts. These experts will be able to see exactly what the technician sees. They will also be able to project digital elements onto the technician’s real world environment to guide them through the process of diagnosing the issue and making the appropriate repairs.
The technician can even use their voice to open and scroll through text documents such as user manuals while wearing the augmented reality glasses.
BMW estimates that using augmented reality in this manner will speed up maintenance and repair visits by 70-75%.
BMW is one of many automotive manufacturers that uses augmented reality technology to train new employees. Employees who participate in these training sessions are asked to wear augmented reality glasses.
The glasses are used to project visualizations onto the wearer’s real world environment. These visualizations guide employees through the process of assembling different parts of the BMW engine. Employees are shown a detailed visualization for each step in the process so they can easily follow along and understand what they need to do.
There are several benefits to using augmented reality to train new employees. Using augmented reality in this manner allows BMW employees to complete training at their own pace. If they are struggling with a specific step in the process, they can spend more time learning about it before moving on. This ensures that every employee fully grasps the concepts that are presented in training sessions.
Augmented reality also allows BMW to train more employees at once. Prior to augmented reality training, BMW had managers training one person at a time. But now, BMW uses augmented reality technology to train three employees at once. Managers are now responsible for supervising these groups of three and helping them use the augmented reality glasses to complete their training sessions.
Like many other manufacturers, BMW is also using augmented reality technology to power virtual automotive showrooms for consumers.
In the past, automotive consumers had to visit showrooms in person in order to explore vehicles, learn about different models, and narrow down their options. However, augmented reality technology allows consumers to get the showroom experience without ever stepping foot inside an actual showroom.
BMW consumers can use their smartphone or tablet to visit a virtual showroom powered by augmented reality technology. Inside this showroom, they can tour different BMW models just like they would if they were inside a real showroom. They can even look inside the vehicle to see what it feels like to sit behind the wheel of the car.
This makes it easier for consumers to conduct online research and decide which vehicle they want to purchase. Automotive consumers no longer need to waste time visiting multiple dealerships to get the information they need. Now, they can simply visit a virtual showroom online and head to the dealership once they are ready to make a purchase.
BMW has used augmented reality technology to design innovative head-up displays for vehicles. This display will use augmented reality technology to project important information onto the windshield. This way, the driver can quickly look at the information without taking their eyes off of the road.
A head-up display may show the driver how many miles they can drive before they run out of glass or how fast they are going. It can also project directions such as digital arrows or road signs to help drivers figure out how to get to their final destination.
BMW also uses this technology to provide the driver with detailed descriptions about their surroundings. For example, the head-up display may use digital pins to tell the driver more about the buildings, streets, and businesses they are passing. This would come in handy if a driver is searching for something specific such as a gas station or coffee shop.
These are some of the many ways in which BMW is already using augmented reality technology. Because these efforts have been so successful, it’s safe to say BMW will continue to find new and exciting ways to incorporate this technology into their business.