BMW i is piloting augmented reality product visualiser for Tango-enabled devices

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BMW i is rolling out a new pilot programme that will see the company become the first automotive brand in the world to offer customers an interactive, 3D augmented reality experience of their products.

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Andrea Castronovo, BMW Group Vice President, Sales Strategy and Future Retail, said customers can explore their ideal BMW i3 or i8, as a real-size, interactive visualisation using Tango, Google’s smartphone augmented reality technology.

“Our vehicles are emotional products and to get that emotional feeling, you really need to experience them,” Mr Castronovo said.

“In situations where the desired product isn’t available on the spot, this visualisation is the next best thing.”

According to the company’, the program will initially be piloted across a double-digit number of sales outlets, with selected Product Geniuses to be provided with a consumer mobile device which is Tango-enabled.

“Using this, they can then support customers to visualize and experience the BMW i products, using augmented reality to create a 3D image which can be explored interactively: the customer can open the boot or the doors, even getting “inside” the car to take a closer look at the interior,” reads the company’s press release.

Eric Johnsen, Head of Business Development for Augmented Reality at Google, said the thing that sets Tango apart is the fact that it understands the context of the space that it’s in.

“So the wheels are really on the floor, for example, giving the whole experience a much more realistic feel,” he added.

Mr Castronovo said the quality of the images created was certainly “extremely realistic”.

“In our initial tests, we saw people ducking down when they were getting into the car, as if there really were a roof there for them to bang their heads on,” he recalled.

“It’s that level of detail which means this technology offers the customers real added value.”

According to Mr Johnsen, once the pilot is successfully completed, it is planned to offer the app on Google Play so that customers with Tango-enabled devices can download it for use any time, any place.

“We believe that over the next couple of years, the majority of premium Android devices will be Tango-enabled,” he continued.

“Augmented reality has such huge potential for retail, we’re just getting started.”