How is Augmented Reality Used in the Automotive Industry?

The automotive sector has always been among the first industries to adopt new technologies and embrace transformation. The current, ever-evolving tech landscape has presented the automobile industry with even more chances to change, progress, and march into the technological future. The integration of Augmented Reality (AR) technology plays a significant role in the given innovations.

Five years ago the investment into AR/VR technologies by the automotive industry made only $213 million worldwide. By 2025, this number is projected to grow to $673 billion. It indicates a 175.7% CAGR in just seven years. Let these numbers sink in for a moment. What other industry can demonstrate growth at such a speed?

AR has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of automobile design, sales, driving experiences, and maintenance. This emerging technology has opened up a realm of possibilities that could reshape how we interact with automobiles at every stage of their life cycle.

From designing and car purchasing journeys to the driving experience, AR makes significant inroads into the automotive industry. Moreover, these changes are most likely to evolve with more car manufacturers and dealers adopting this technology.

So let’s have a closer look at how AR is transforming the automobile industry, what areas it has already found its way into, and why you, too, should invest in AR-based solutions for cars. This is AR in the automotive industry 101.

How AR is used in automotive

The incorporation of AR technologies in the automotive industry promises a new stage in our relationships with cars. Soon, our interactions with vehicles will become more dynamic, immersive, exciting, and seamlessly integrating.

Ultimately, the new AR trends allow for better insights, enhanced development and training programs, and safer and more comfortable driving experiences, among numerous other benefits.

These are nine ways the automotive industry benefits from AR technologies at the moment.


1. Design and development process

It may seem that technology and creative work have little in common. However, that assumption would be wrong. AR can bring design and development in the automobile industry to the next level. This technology can help with prototyping, modeling, visualization, and many other aspects of creating new car designs.

With the newest technology, designers and engineers can test ideas in real-world situations, working on special features and how they fit different scenarios. Specialists can also enhance collaboration abilities by showing all necessary information at first glance, including parts’ prices, designers’ notes, potential issues, etc.

Now, automobile manufacturers can accelerate development while reducing costs and removing outdated steps.

Examples: Vector Suite – The software allows sketching in 3D models, using VR and AR. It facilitates the design and prototype process, reducing the cost and time of manufacturing.


2. Enhanced driving experience

The integration of AR in the automotive industry has paved the way for safer and more informed driving experiences. AR-powered systems help drivers take control of their driving experience without distracting them from the road.

AR-equipped vehicles can project all kinds of essential information right onto the windshields, from navigation and speed limits to warnings about road signs and any road situations like traffic or accidents.

The given technology ensures a brand new driving experience where drivers no longer need to get distracted on their phones for navigation or get blindsided by sudden road repairs or unusual traffic. Now they can solely focus on the road while getting important messages delivered in front of them when necessary.

The new messaging model guarantees a higher focus on the road and fewer hazards and risks while driving. Plus, with AR navigation, drivers will always get the most accurate, up-to-date information about their route.

Examples: Sygic GPS Navigation & Maps – The application offers real-view interactive navigation guidance with 3D maps and a head-up display, showing directions, points of interests, etc., helping drivers focus on the road with minimal distractions.


3. Automated parking assistance

AR technology has greatly enhanced the process of parking, particularly in challenging urban environments and limited parking spaces. AR automatic parking assistance systems rely on cameras and sensors to create a full view of the surroundings. This view helps the driver visualize the optimal path for parking.

As the driver attempts to park the vehicle, the AR system provides real-time guidance, displaying markers and trajectories on the screen that align with the parking spot.

The AR parking assistant can also detect obstacles or pedestrians, and alert the driver about upcoming safety risks. Overall, such assistance simplifies the parking process while reducing the risks of vehicle damage.

Examples: PinDrive: AR Parking Assistant – The software provides drivers with parking assistance by pointing out potential hazards and expanding their point of view via AR markers.


4. Aiding the repair and maintenance process

Digital transformation has also affected repair and maintenance processes. Now, mechanics can rely on AR interactive guidelines and instructions. These changes enhance the effectiveness and convenience of such work.

Mechanics don’t need to waste time going through cars’ manuals or guidebooks. It’s all out and in the clear on technicians’ smartphones, tablets, AR glasses, etc.

Now, technicians can follow the AR-enhanced step-by-step guidance as they work. Such technology speeds up the process by offering useful diagnostic data, highlighting components, and giving useful tips on where to focus immediate attention.

In addition, augmented reality technology helps explain to worried customers and car owners what is wrong with their vehicles and how technicians will fix them. These customers are more likely to have trust in their mechanics and have higher satisfaction rates with their services.

Examples: Supporteo AR Assist – An AI-powered augmented reality advisory tool that allows customers to record videos or take photos of the issues, while highlighting or pointing their concerns using AR tools.


5. Modernizing car sales processes

Customers can now inspect their preferred car models from the comfort of their own space. Indeed, Augmented Reality in the automobile industry is revolutionizing how buyers can shop for new cars.

Soon, most car sales will be done via AR digital car showrooms or similar interactive experiences where customers can explore their preferred models in great detail.

Such demonstrations will include car comparisons, customization options, examination of special features, and more. Not only do these changes in sales processes enhance the buying experience but they also reduce the need for extensive physical inventory at dealerships. As a result, AR-enhanced sales encourage buyers to make more informed decisions while simplifying the sales process for car dealers.

Lastly, the cornerstone of any automobile sale, test driving, is also facing some major changes due to AR popularization. Soon, most consumers will be able to test drive their preferred car models in various road and weather conditions, and on any route they like.

Indeed, the AR test driving will showcase the full potential of cars’ performance abilities under any circumstances, thus, helping buyers to make an informed decision.

Examples: RelayCars – The software offers AR automotive showrooms where customers can view and research car models up-close using only their mobile devices.


6. AR in-car advertising

AR has found a great niche in marketing. Considering that the automotive AR will only grow with time, marketing strategies have already started to speculate how to use this tendency to their advantage. Overall, AR advertisements can be a part of the in-car infotainment systems. In this case, passengers and drivers can engage with interactive ads throughout the drive.

For instance, AR can transform billboards or advertisements seen through the car’s windows into interactive experiences. Not only do these ads bring products closer to potential customers, but they can also bring valuable offers like discounts, navigation to the nearest store, or other useful information.

This form of marketing allows brands to connect with consumers in a new and engaging way, capturing their attention while on the road.

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7. Self-service and car manuals

Augmented Reality has redefined the way individuals approach self-service and interact with car manuals. Such technology may be of assistance to car owners who want to fix minor issues by themselves, relying on AR guidance only. Through AR-enabled mobile apps or devices, car owners can point their devices at various vehicle parts to receive real-time information.

These virtual overlays provide insights into what may go wrong in the car, set maintenance schedules, and recommend repair guides and video tutorials for given tasks.

They will be able to follow detailed instructions and perform routine tasks accurately, ensuring the vehicle’s optimal performance. This empowers car owners to rely on self-service, performing minor repairs themselves.

As a result, owners can save time and money on unplanned visits to service centers while increasing their knowledge of their cars and maintenance processes. Such a new approach to service enhances drivers’ confidence in their cars and encourages independence.

Examples: GlarAssist – The software provides consultancies for maintenance and training via calls or file sharing with AR annotations options.


8. Car customization

Carmakers want their potential customers to form a strong connection with their models. What can be of greater help than numerous customization opportunities during the pre-purchase stage? Indeed, AR technology helps buyers interact with car models in the virtual world by changing their features, colors, wheel designs, accessories, etc.

Now customers use AR apps to adapt a neutral car model to their dream car all in several clicks. Not only that but customers can also complete an order, add all customizations of their future car, and send such a request to the car seller. Thus, these options upgrade the buying experience and reduce the risk of dissatisfaction among customers.

Examples: Porsche AR Visualizer – An application for using AR tools to explore different car visualization and customization, virtually applying those changes on real-life cars via mobile devices.


9. AR training for workers in the automotive industry

AR in automotive has become an invaluable tool in the development and training sector. Indeed, there is no better way to teach repairs without fearing costly mistakes but to rely on Augmented Reality in automotive training. Technicians, engineers, and assembly line workers can receive hands-on guidance through AR simulations.

These simulations can teach how to conduct successful diagnostics, assemble components, detect potential issues, and more. The technology will guide trainees with accessible step-by-step instructions. The immersive training accelerates the learning process, reduces the risk of errors, and ensures that workers are well-equipped to handle required procedures.

Examples: VSight Remote – The software that provides visual guidance for maintenance, training, and assistance, relying on AR annotations. Users can collaborate, share screens, send files, and record working sessions.


Steps for building an augmented reality app

Building AR applications is an exciting journey that requires careful planning, a talented team, and a clear vision.

These eight steps will help structure your process and build the winning AR automotive solutions.


1. Conceptualize your AR app’s idea and purpose

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your AR app. Determine whether it’s for entertainment, education, marketing, or any other specific use case. Identify the problem your app aims to solve and the unique value it offers. Think of your customer persona. How will your application help them in their daily lives? What do they expect from your automotive solution?

Also, research the market to analyze the demand for your app and identify potential competitors. This phase helps you establish a strong foundation by developing a clear concept for your app’s development.

2. Choose the type of your automotive AR app

Determine the specific category of your automotive AR app, considering various types such as:

  • Project-based AR: An app that enables users to virtually explore different 3D models, e.g., interactive 3D vehicle prototypes.
  • Image recognition AR: An app that identifies specific elements and overlays information into the real world, e.g., identification of car parts during maintenance or customization.
  • Location-based AR: An app that offers real-time directions and points of interest along with essential guidance and direction tools.
  • Superimposition-based AR: An app that allows users to superimpose AR elements on real-life environments, e.g., overlaying new paint colors, features, or accessories onto their real cars.
  • Outlining AR: An app that can read the environment and outline the surroundings using AR, e.g., outlining potential hazards or road signs during parking that are streamed directly onto a driver’s view.

Selecting the appropriate type should enhance the app’s effectiveness and connect your app’s functionality with user needs.

3. Hire AR specialists

Building an AR app often requires a team of experts in a variety of disciplines. Depending on your app’s complexity, you might need developers, solution architects, 3D artists, UX/UI designers, and more.

All your team members should have experience with AR technologies, including a strong portfolio of relevant work. These specialists should help you finalize your app’s vision and achieve the goals you have set for the development process.

4. Develop a feature set

Your ideal feature set should be based on the app’s goal and the niche you’ve chosen. However, you better start with the most expected and crucial options for an AR app and go from there.

The list may include features like:

  • Real-time tracking: Real-world objects tracking.
  • Location-based AR: Utilizing GPS data to provide relevant AR content based on the user’s geographical location.
  • Marker recognition: The ability to recognize predefined markers.
  • Interactive 3D objects: Integration of 3D models or animations into users’ surroundings.
  • Multi-platform support: Flexibility to support an app across different platforms and devices.
  • Social sharing: Easy sharing of AR experiences and creations with friends and social networks.
  • Offline mode: Capability to use basic AR functionalities even without an Internet connection.
  • Customization options: Allowing users to personalize AR elements to suit their preferences and needs.
  • Gesture recognition: Recognizing user gestures, like tapping or swiping, to control AR interactions.

5. Choose an augmented reality software development kit

You can choose from top development kits for AR apps. For instance, ARKit is an ideal choice for Apple, as it can seamlessly integrate with the iOS ecosystem, ensuring smooth and accurate tracking, precise object placement, and strong user engagement across all Apple devices.

ARCore, on the other hand, caters to Android devices. It has powerful tracking abilities and prioritizes multi-platform support. Finally, there is Vuforia which excels in creating AR experiences for Windows that interact with physical objects and images, making it ideal for applications like product visualization, industrial training, and marketing campaigns.

These are just a few examples to consider. Different solutions will provide essential tools and frameworks for the desired outcomes, focusing on planned AR features, targeted platforms, potential scalability, prices, etc.

6. Create a design mockup

Develop the visual elements that will be part of your AR app. If your app involves 3D models or animations, collaborate with 3D artists to create the necessary assets. Design a mockup or wireframe of the app’s user interface to ensure a clear user experience.

7. Develop and test

This step involves the implementation of the AR functionality into the app using your chosen development approach. Depending on your chosen development approach, you’ll implement features like image recognition, object tracking, geolocation-based AR, or even markerless tracking. Collaborate closely with your team to ensure seamless integration and testing of these features.

8. Publish and maintain the AR app

Once your AR app is developed and thoroughly tested, it’s time to publish it. Once the app is live, monitor its performance, user feedback, and any potential issues that arise. Regularly update the app to fix bugs, enhance features, and adapt to evolving technologies.

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Invest in automotive augmented reality with Eastern Peak experts

As you can tell, this sector is on the rise, luring start-ups and businesses with limitless possibilities. It appears that more and more manufacturers are keen on using augmented reality in the automotive industry.

As technology continues to advance and users seek more immersive, unique, and enhanced experiences, your AR app could be the next groundbreaking solution in the ever-evolving landscape of digital innovation.

If you have an innovative idea for applications of AR in the automotive industry, seize this opportunity to bring it to life with our Eastern Peak team of experts. Book a free consultation to learn more about our potential cooperation and what we can bring to the table.

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