BMW has launched an augmented-reality app to let buyers of its i3 and i8 electric cars explore the vehicles in a life-size interactive visualization that uses Google’s Tango technology.
Using a Tango-enabled device, of which there aren’t yet many, shoppers using the BMW I Visualiser app can explore the entirety of the i3 or i8, including opening the doors and trunk, and even “getting in” the car for a better look at the interior. And like many current car configurators, BMW’s app will let you see the car wearing different interior and exterior colours and wheels.
BMW says it’s the first automaker to use the Tango platform to provide such an experience for its consumers, a claim we’re inclined to believe. During a pilot program run through BMW dealers worldwide, shoppers were invited to try the technology, which is apparently realistic enough that some people forgot they were only using a simulation and reacted by ducking their heads when virtually getting in and out of the “car.”
Google explains its Tango tech “understands the context of the space it’s in, so the wheels are really on the floor, for example, giving the whole experience a much more realistic feel.”
The I Visualiser is the latest part of BMW’s Future Retail program, which it rolled out three years ago with the aim of transforming the way people buy cars.
BMW explains the app isn’t a full configurator; it only lets users see how the car looks in different colours and share that much over email or social media. In the future, says BMW, app users will be able to transfer data from the app to a configurator at a BMW dealer, where they can learn more about options and, if so inclined, buy the car.
BMW says the app will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Spain later this month by tech companies Accenture and Lenovo, who have co-developed a Tango-enabled device. Google believes in the next few years, the majority of “premium” Android devices will be Tango-enabled.