The Applied Technology and Research Lab (ATRL) within Toyota North America's Digital Architecture Group has been leading Augmented Reality (AR) efforts focused on the customer experience and education. During Toyota's AR journey, ATRL has submitted three patent applications and pushed the limits of Apple's ARKit.
The underlying AR strategy is to develop a single data preparation pipeline. This means teams can consolidate the data stack and rely on a single program that allows them to maximize 3D model reuse across the product lifecycle. The strategy reduces costs and speeds up the time to market as teams from design, manufacturing, cockpit of the future, marketing, sales, and product operation and maintenance can all repurpose the same 3D model for their scenarios without having to create their own models.
ATRL's goal is to provide customers with the most realistic image of Toyota and Lexus products to ensure a life-like experience. And when we say "life-like experience," we mean when you put the AR projection next to the physical product, the two are nearly identical.
Customers can take a tour of both the exterior and interior of the car and learn about the product's features through the use of "hotspots." Each hotspot contains a description of the feature and a video demonstrating it.
Accessory visualization is another part of the AR experience. For this use case, ATRL built two different modes of operation. The first, enables customers to add Toyota Approved accessories to the AR projection. A second AR application was developed for customers to interact with a physical product.
This AR app recognizes the product via Machine Learning (ML) and presents a list of applicable accessories, so customers can accessorize the product and see exactly what it looks like. The technology can be used at either home or at the dealership.
The final step is to incorporate the AR sales experience into established retail venues, such as dealerships. The addition of “buy now”, “schedule test-drive” and “talk to a dealer” buttons into an AR App completes the sales experience and can be self-guided or a shared experience with a dealer.