The future of commerce is here and it’s going to be virtual.
Imagine being able to look in detail at a car that you want to buy from the comfort of your own home. Walk around it, inside it, test out what it would look like with different styles of fabric, different colours and everything else.
Well that’s the future that BMW and Accenture have painted in their work together in building an augmented reality “car visualise” that uses Google’s Tango technology.
The demo allows the user to place a full-scale, photorealistic, virtual version of BMW’s i3 and i8 models into a space. The user can then walk around the car, inside it, and adjust various options such as the colour, type of rims, interior design and so on.
While this may seem like a gimmick, that’s not how Matteo Aliberti, Augmented Commerce Lead, for Accenture Interactive sees it.
Speaking to CBR he said: “This is going to be a big revolution… this revolution is taking place, it cannot be stopped.”
According to Aliberti, every brand online will need to have a repository of 3D objects in the very near future.
“We are now entering a new era where all these brands need to have not just the flat pictures but 3D content,” he said.
A quick look at some of the announcements coming out of the CES 2017 show taking place in Las Vegas, and moves being made by a number of technology companies, would suggest that he is right.
The technology for the BMW application uses Google’s Tango, which adds spatial perception to Android phones and tablets by adding vision sensors, advanced computer vision and image processing so that an enabled device can map in 360 degrees. This means that as the person with the devices moves around, it navigates and views the room as a person would.
Aliberti said that Accenture worked closely with Google in the development of this app, Google helped to review and test the product, while BMW saw the augmented reality technology as something that can really change the way that a person buys a car.
But this technology will go beyond being used for visualising cars.
Aliberti believes that this will be the way that any object on the internet will be bought in the very near future.
He said: “Think about a car, a piece of furniture, your home, a fridge, any physical object you want to visualise before you buy it and you want to visualise it in the correct scale and look at all the details and so on, this is the perfect tech and there is no other technology that can match this today.”
Aliberti said that Accenture has decided to focus on Augmented Reality rather than Virtual Reality, not because that is not also of interest to them, but because it believes that AR with Tango is a breakthough.
“As of today you can offer an unparalleled experience in commerce and you can offer it in a way that is immediate. Where you don’t need to wear a VR headset, you don’t need to have a powerful computer,” he said.
The app developed for BMW goes into great detail, in a trial of the technology using Lenovo’s Tango enabled Thought Pro Phab 2 it really does feel like the car is right in front of you, but that level of detail won’t necessarily be needed for other applications.
The augmented commerce lead said that the Thought Pro is very good at displaying high levels of detail, even though it doesn’t have the latest SnapDragon processor, but it isn’t about pushing a device to the limit, it’s about making sure the user experience is as good as it could be.
When will the revolution happen? Find out on the next page.
Putting a timeframe on when this “revolution” will happen is always going to be difficult, but Aliberti believes that in the commerce space it will happen in the next two years.
The industry needs to wait for the next cycle of devices to be bought, but he believes that there will be an acceleration in the market once the usual suspects like Apple enters the scene.
While this is clearly a consumer led advance, enterprise applications are just around the corner – specifically in the manufacturing space.
The man from Accenture said there has been a lot of interest from clients, especially in the manufacturing space, “I can tell you we are already looking at a number of use case scenarios outside of the consumer space.”
So will this revolution really happen? Certain challenges need to be overcome. Technology wise the sensors currently have some limitations and infrared has some limitations in terms of understanding the data, but these things are being looked at.
The market also needs to be careful not to be overly complicated or to make the technology only work in certain conditions, that puts too many constraints on the consumer.
The Accenture, BMW and Google collaboration on this project has created something that could well be commonplace for shoppers in the very near future.