Augmented Reality (AR) has emerged as a revolutionary force in Automotive, transcending the boundaries of traditional vehicle functionality. From enhancing safety and navigation to transforming entertainment and maintenance, the landscape of AR applications in the automotive industry is as vast as it is exciting.
And today, we’ll be delving right into the nitty-gritty of it. Let’s see what augmented technology has to offer, and how top industry players are using it to their advantage.
Augmented Reality Automotive market
Automotive Augmented Reality market value
The global AR market was valued at 42.20 billion USD in 2022, with Automotive being one of its top segments. According to Fortune Business Insights, the size of the Automotive Augmented Reality market in North America alone is projected to reach 14.44 billion USD in 2028 at a CAGR of 18.1%.
What raises the popularity of AR technology in the Automotive sector?
There are numerous contributing factors to AR’s growing Automotive presence. Broadly speaking, it can be attributed to:
- increased adoption of connected cars technologies;
- technological advancements in the industry.
In other words, people are interested in enhancing their driving experience with AR-based functionality, and modern technology can actually meet those demands. Growing investments from major automakers also help, with the likes of Volkswagen, Ford, BMW, and Mercedes employing AR features to bring more value to their products.
That said, there is the restraining factor of cybersecurity – increased concerns regarding cyber attacks can slow market growth. The technology is also mostly reserved for luxury cars at this point, which ups the barrier of entry for regular consumers.
Advanced AR equipment from automotive manufacturers
Major automakers have not been slacking when it comes to implementing AR tech both in their products and their processes. For one, BMW is enhancing their HMI design with AR windshields, revealed just recently at CES 2023 – though, we’ll talk more about that later.
AR and VR have been actively used to design vehicle interiors by Volkswagen. Furthermore, Audi used AR to develop and build their newest concept car, the interface of which is almost completely powered by augmented technology.
And this is just a couple of surface-level examples. Just take a look at all the applications AR sees across the Automotive market.
Augmented Reality in cars: use cases
Augmented reality head-up displays (HUD)
Head-up displays are probably the most common avenue for AR application in Automotive. Navigation, traffic updates, and driver assistance cues are projected onto windshields, granting a safer, more informed driving experience. In a way, AR HUDs are the first major step to redefining automotive interactions on a widely accessible scale.
Smartphones and tablets
Augmented reality car apps allow mobile devices to blur the line between software and reality. Phones and tablets can be used to help with, say, onboarding by acquainting users with the functionality of their new car in an AR space.
They can also guide the user through various maintenance and repair operations using smart pop-up instructions. In addition, showrooms actively use AR technology to help visitors explore virtual car interiors and vehicle customisation options.
Wearable AR devices
Wearables are another great platform for AR integration. For example, smart glasses or headsets can project navigation prompts, vital vehicle data, and hazard alerts directly into the user’s field of view. Smart bracelets or rings, on the other hand (ha), are perfect for AR gesture controls, letting users intuitively interact with vehicle systems without physical contact.
AR automotive technology can be incorporated into other kinds of devices, such as infotainment systems, various collaborative platforms, and showrooms (though we’ve already mentioned the latter).
These can be utilised to superimpose entertaining content onto virtual surfaces, visualise important data, and help customers envision futuristic experiences in a manner far more immersive than a powerpoint presentation.
AR mapping fuses real-time camera input, geolocation data, and digital overlays to provide dynamic route guidance. Landmarks, traffic data, and points of interest can become interactive elements, enhancing the driver’s safety and understanding of their environment. It also makes navigation generally more intuitive and contextually relevant.
This one may be a contentious technology for drivers, but one very beneficial to businesses and automakers. AR advertising means overlaying interactive digital content onto real-world scenes through vehicle windshields or mobile apps. This can include product details, promotions, and location-based offers.
It’s an immersive approach that engages passengers and drivers, making for more captivating and personalised marketing strategies. Though, if done wrong, it has a lot of potential to be obnoxious and even distracting.
AR is perfect for automotive sales, as it enables stuff like virtual car exploration, customisation, and even test drives. Customers can easily visualise vehicle models, features, and colours in real-time through AR apps, glasses, or headsets. This enhances buyer engagement, simplifies decision-making, and offers a futuristic showroom experience that may reshape automotive retail as we know it.
Augmented technology is also very useful for in-vehicle onboarding, as is exemplified by IVO. The driver can use their mobile phone to have a guided AR tour around the vehicle’s cabin, getting acquainted with its basic and advanced features. On top of making customers more informed about their freshly purchased auto, this can come in real handy for carsharing and rental businesses.
AR parking assistance employs sensors and cameras to overlay virtual guidelines for the vehicle as it parks. It enhances accuracy, reduces collision risk, and alleviates a lot of stress from the driver. It’s particularly helpful for manoeuvring in tight or dimly lit spaces.
Augmented road safety is an interesting category of features that is closely tied to the road’s IoT infrastructure. This allows information like speed limits, navigation cues, as well as environmental and traffic warnings to be projected onto the windshield. It minimises distractions, improves visibility, and increases driver awareness in, say, rainy or foggy weather.
AR is already used by some of the world’s biggest OEMs to envision and produce new vehicle models. Mercedez-Bentz and Audi are just the two major examples of big automotive brands actively using augmented reality as a platform for vehicle design. The technology also has the potential to improve quality control by highlighting defects, as well as guiding workers with precise pop-up instructions.
How is AR changing the automobile manufacturing process?
Let’s examine that last point a little bit closer. AR is already revolutionising multiple steps of the car manufacturing process, from prototyping to assembly and repairs – and big industry players are paying close attention. Here’s how they capitalise on it.
Design & prototyping
This is the first use of augmented reality in Automotive manufacturing most people think of. And for good reason: the benefits are just that obvious.
We’ve already mentioned Audi and Volkswagen, but Mercedes-Benz also uses a combination of AR and VR tech to create and test 3D vehicle models in virtual environments with the help of Nvidia’s Omniverse. Honda is no stranger to using virtual reality to enhance their prototyping and maintenance, either.
Car assembly optimisation
The assembly line can also be improved with some AR assistance. For one, Mercedes-Benz utilises it to plan and visualise the assembly process of different components. The tech also provides remote support to their technicians while saving time and money on communications and fully manual quality checks.
Vehicle repair service assistance
The ability to quickly assess a vehicle’s condition is crucial for automakers and drivers alike. Luckily, it’s easily achievable with AR tools specially designed for diagnostics, maintenance, and repair works.
Technicians can apply AR glasses or a tablet to have all the information laid out before them as they inspect the vehicle. What’s more, problematic areas can be highlighted and supplied with instructions on how the issue should be fixed, which will be especially helpful to consumers that prefer to handle their car repairs by themselves.
Car manufacturers practices
BMW is very much interested in integrating more augmented reality cars solutions into their vehicles, and their most recent showcase is proof of that.
The company revealed its brand new i-Vision Dee at CES 2023. It’s a mid-size sedan that comes equipped with E Ink technology that lets you change the colour of the vehicle’s body without the need for a paint job, as well as an AR windshield.
Drivers can control the extent of virtual data projected onto the windshield, going from the basic driving-related information to entry into virtual worlds. All of this serves to create a more informed, engaging, and customisable experience for BMW drivers.
As far as industry giants go, Mercedes-Benz is probably one of the most active AR and VR adopters out there. It was one of the first automotive corporations to launch a virtual showroom and to develop apps that allowed customers to check out vehicle interiors from the comfort of their home.
We already talked about the company employing augmented technology for prototyping, testing, design, and even assembly. But that’s far from all. Mercedes actively uses XR (a combination of virtual and augmented realities) for staff training and sales.
And augmented experiences don’t end after a car leaves the salon. AR widescreens with eye tracking technology, Ask Mercedes, and after-sales support are just the tip of the iceberg for the AR features the brand offers to its consumers.
Volkswagen has been dabbling in AR for a while. Back in 2015, the company worked on Race Trainer, a research project that aimed to use self-driving vehicles and AR to teach race circuit driving. In 2020, the brand introduced an augmented HUD to its electric ID family, which projected arrows, lane markings, and other info into the driver’s line of sight.
And in 2022, Volkswagen revealed its collaboration with Microsoft on HoloLens 2, a project that will “put AR glasses in motion”. The device is designed to not just provide relevant traffic data, but to help drivers handle hazardous conditions and difficult situations on the road.
Volvo launched an AR app for electric trucks, the Emergency Response Guide, just this May. It covers all of the company’s electric truck brands and, as the name implies, uses augmented reality to guide drivers through emergency situations.
In general, Volvo has been steadily investing into AR in the past couple of years. For instance, the company teamed up with Spectralics to help develop a new type of thin optics ‘film’ which can be applied to vehicle windshields and windows and have images projected onto it.
Porsche is no stranger to AR solutions, either. Back in 2019, the company released an augmented reality app that acted as a sort of virtual car constructor. It allowed users to build their dream Porsche, see how it would look in their driveway, and even see its guts with the help of the X-ray feature.
Porsche also developed an AR workshop solution for their Taycan model line in 2020. It lets technicians have a transparent look inside the vehicle’s body to quickly check for issues with the charging system, batteries, and cable connections. The app also aims to make the workshop experience more fun and playful for the employees involved.
Tesla has been at the technological forefront of Automotive for a number of years by now, and the field of AR is no exception. The leaks about Tesla autopilot having AR functionality hidden in its code is old news.
So is the fact that in 2018, the company patented an AR-based production system. The approach utilises augmented reality glasses to streamline setup, configuration, calibration, and quality inspections.
There have been no major reveals from the company regarding AR as of recent, but this year, WayRay announced their Deep Reality Display for Tesla cars. The AR windshield will act not just as a rudimentary HUD, but as an infotainment system capable of turning a Tesla into a full-on entertainment platform and even a gaming console.
Bentley Motors launched their new AR application in February 2023, allowing users to get into the driver’s seat of the luxury Bentayga EWB. The app provides customisation options, enabling customers to change the exterior and interior colours, as well as the style of the cabin. In the end, users can commission a custom SUV based on the chosen specs.
Though, Bentley’s involvement with AR doesn’t just stop at virtual cabins. In 2022, Bentley’s iTwin platform was employed by Nearabl Inc. to improve their augmented indoor navigation systems with digital twin technology.
Our AR experience
We understand what makes AR in Automotive work. We also know how to integrate it efficiently, and actively seek out new avenues for its implementation. The best example of that is our IVO project, also known as In-Vehicle Onboarding.
Using a combination of smart voice assistance, machine learning, and augmented reality, IVO guides drivers through the core functionality of their newly acquired vehicles. It’s the perfect solution for OEMs and carsharing businesses looking to improve their customer experience.
In the ever-evolving landscape of automotive technology, augmented reality stands as a transformative force, reshaping how we drive, interact, and experience vehicles. From safer navigation and immersive entertainment to streamlined maintenance and revolutionary sales experiences, it will continue to merge the virtual and physical realms for years to come.
Bamboo Apps is a trusted development partner of Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi Electric, Škoda, Rinspeed, and other automotive brands. Want to join the virtual revolution with your own AR-powered solution? We’d be happy to help. Drop us a line to sign up for a free consultation with our specialists.