Volvo wants customers to take a virtual rides in their cars before they actually get behind the wheel.
The Swedish car maker has partnered with Microsoft to explore how the HoloLens could improve its car buying experience. And from a video Volvo published Friday, the virtual reality technology looks pretty cool in the showroom.
The HoloLens is a new computing device from Microsoft that you wear on your head. It uses augmented reality to project virtual images over what you see in the real world. It’s slightly different than virtual reality, which fully immerses you in a digital environment.
This is not the first time Volvo has experimented with using virtual or augmented reality. Last year, the company launched an app that enabled people to experience the inside of its Volvo XC90 with the Google Cardboard headset.
But the company’s partnership with Microsoft signals that it’s getting more serious about finding new ways to use the technology.
“The Hololens can allow our customers to see features, colours, options. So rather than working on the computer seeing things, you can be part of the experience,” Nina Larsen, director of Volvo’s retail marketing, said in the video.
While that may not sound like that big of a deal, it could actually be huge for helping people better understand how new technology, like semi-autonomous systems, work in today’s vehicles.
“No one actually understands how car sensors work today. Through the Hololens, you can see how the car perceives you. And then you give me, a human being, the vantage point of a sensor. This helps to build a much better trust in this type of system,” Aric Dromi, Volvo’s chief futurologist, said in the video.
Without virtual reality the most realistic way to demo a feature like autobraking was by putting a customer in a real car and purposely trying to hit something. So it’s likely customers will appreciate a virtual option.
Volvo may also be planning to use the Hololens beyond the showroom.
“The Hololens will not only help us in the car buying process at the dealership, it can evolve into many areas. We think there are many alternative applications of this tool in the future and Volvo clearly has inspiration to break out of the pack,” said Bjorn Annvall, the company’s vice president of marketing for sales and services.
Still, this is probably a long way off, if Volvo uses it at all. The HoloLens won’t be available until early next year. And even then, it will mostly be for developers willing to pay $US3,000. It will be some time after that before a consumer version is available.
Check out the full video below.
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