CHANGING THE CAR
To help BMW revolutionize the car buying experience, Accenture created the BMW i Visualiser, an augmented reality solution helping BMW sell cars, enthuse new tech-savvy customer groups, and bring dealerships to customers digitally. This new immersive approach is transforming the way car buyers choose, configure, and make purchasing decisions, allowing them to view and interact with a full-scale virtual version of the car through an app.
ARKit from Apple enables visual content in a virtual space to be layered on top of a real-world scene users see through an iPhone or iPad camera. With this capability, the app creates an experience in which buyers can configure and tour a life-size, virtual car anytime, anywhere. Users can select the exterior color and wheel rims they like, as well as make changes to the realistic and detailed interior. They can even turn on the lights and radio, helping to create a completely immersive shopping experience.
In today’s digital marketplace, making
cutting-edge vehicles isn’t enough for automakers to maintain their competitive
edge—technology-savvy consumers also want an innovative customer experience. Browsing big ticket items like vehicles online was previously hindered by the limits of technology, but now augmented reality is changing what’s possible. As part of the automaker’s strategic retail program, BMW decided to collaborate with Accenture to design an entirely new car-buying experience.
AT THE FOREFRONT
The idea for the first-of-its-kind Augmented Reality Car Visualiser was sparked during BMW’s workshop at the Accenture Innovation Center. During this joint ideation workshop, BMW and Accenture discussed innovative approaches to digitizing the customer experience at BMW, starting with the BMW i Automobile brand of electric and hybrid vehicles. The team used AR to develop potential use cases that were aligned to the company’s strategic agenda of being a leader in individual mobility.
Accenture worked closely with BMW to innovate quickly, getting a pilot up and running for testing and enhancements in only three months. Using 3D product data and the ARKit framework from Apple to develop an AR prototype for the BMW i3 city vehicle and the BMW i8 sports car, the app was initially piloted in select showrooms in 11 markets. ARKit uses a technique called visual-inertial odometry, which combines information from an iPhone or iPad’s motion sensors with computer vision analysis of scenes viewed through the device’s camera, including the recognition of planes such as floors. This enables a high-precision experience to track a user’s movement around the content placed in the virtual space, allowing buyers to view, walk around, look inside, and configure a life-size, virtual car.
Sales specialists can use the app in the showroom or customers can download it from the App Store to visualize the different car configurations. Features such as interior styles, exterior colors, and wheel rims can be altered at a touch of a screen. Customers can see how the car might look in their own driveways—even opening the trunk and doors to get “inside” the car for a closer look at the interior. Once the visualization is complete, customers can share with others including BMW i sales outlets via email or social media.
BMW Group Vice President
Sales Strategy and Future Retail
FROM DEALERSHIP TO DRIVEWAY
As one of the first automotive brands in the world to launch an app offering customers an interactive, 3D augmented reality experience with the i Visualiser, BMW continues to set new benchmarks for the automotive industry. Sales specialists can now allow buyers to experience their own customized car—even if the exact model and features aren’t currently available in the showroom. This technology’s continued integration with sales outlets and existing configuration tools helps create the seamless, multichannel experience customers are seeking.