Many concept vehicles over the years have teased the idea of utilizing augmented reality in the windshields, glass dashboard panels, and even side windows. When it comes to VR, Faraday Future is one of the most recent that have flirted with the technology by using the platform to design their connected car.
Audi wants to use VR to give us a chance to make our childhood dreams a reality by allowing customers to test drive the new Audi Q5 on a virtual track they design in a sandbox.
Partnering with production group MediaMonks, Audi Norway is tapping into the spirit of our inner child by allowing us to bring our creations within a real life sandbox into a virtual space. The sandy track is then your playground as you drive their new car over the hills and pits you shaped with a collection of children’s tools.
“For many of us, playing with cars in the sandpit is a distant memory,” says Audi Norway’s manager of marketing Tommy Jensen, in a prepared statement “Let’s face it, the opportunity rarely presents itself once you pass a certain age. The Sandbox 2.0 is a state-of-the-art toy for kids and adults…for the Audi brand, this is a new way to demonstrate our products.”
Once you shape your sandbox however you want, cameras hit it with bursts of infrared light to measure 200,000 points so that it can accurately map every bump and dip in the box. The area is then recreated virtually and customers hop into a chair with steering wheel and pedals before they’re fitted with a VR headset and allowed to whip around the map.
“When you put on the headset you don’t just see the inside of an Audi Q5. This virtual world has real depth,” says MediaMonks’s creative director Tom Eriksen. “You can look around and explore behind stuff. It’s really exciting to watch as people experience this for the first time. To create a VR experience that is totally believable, it’s important that the driving environment also feels real. Not only the visual part but also the feel of the steering wheel and its feedback when you hit the sand.”
This is a pretty unique way to harness the power of VR to sell a product. The marriage of hands-on creativity and virtual space is a smart one that should get customers engaged, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be beneficial to Audi over time. It’s surely beneficial for the VR industry, however, showing another one of the many ways it can be used outside of the gaming ecosystem.