​Microsoft on board as Volvo NZ takes HoloLens to automative technologies

“In future we may see consumers being able to try out new vehicle features in an augmented reality setting."

A new partnership between Volvo and Microsoft will allow car owners to use holographic technology to configure and preview their car choice in 3D before purchase.

The two companies have revealed how Microsoft HoloLens, a fully untethered holographic computer, might be used in future to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a car, as well as how cars might be bought and sold in future.

Areas of future collaboration between the two companies are likely to include autonomous driving technologies and the utilisation of data generated from connected cars to create new services.

A HoloLens demonstration was conducted at Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, USA, and showed how mixed reality might be used by customers to configure cars in three dimensions.

With HoloLens, a powerful, wearable computer, holograms are mixed into the physical world.

Volvo New Zealand general manager Steve Kenchington says the potential for this technology to enhance the car buying experience is significant.

“In future we may see consumers being able to try out new vehicle features in an augmented reality setting,” Kenchington says.

“While these options may include aesthetic changes such as colours and accessories, the technology also has the potential to allow us to show customers how the more advanced safety features inside the vehicle work to prevent accidents.

“For the car buyer, this means making a more informed purchase decision.”

Kenchington says HoloLens technology might also liberate dealers from more traditional sales environments and allow them to take a car configurator out on the road in small Pop-Up stores, shopping malls or on the high street, opening up new sales channels and introducing cars to a far larger potential audience.

During the demonstration, users were able to experience Volvo’s new sedan and its latest autonomous driving technology in 3D before the car has even been built and launched.

“We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Cars to reimagine what is possible in car design, discovery and purchasing,” says Scott Erickson, senior director, Microsoft HoloLens, Microsoft.

“We are excited to be at this intersection of technology and human-centric design with Volvo.”

Erickson says the demonstration marks the beginning of longer term cooperation between Volvo and Microsoft that will embrace a range of new technologies, all of which have implications for the automotive industry.

One area of focus will be autonomous driving, with Volvo Cars announcing a programme called Drive-Me in which 100 self-driving and connected cars will be given to real customers on real roads around the Swedish city of Gothenburg by 2017, the world’s largest autonomous driving experiment.

Other areas of cooperation are expected to include how information gathered by cars and their drivers can be used to enhance the driving experience and the possibility of using predictive analytics to improve safety.

“We are extremely happy to innovate with Microsoft in the field of future mobility,” adds Klas Bendrik, senior vice president and chief information officer, Volvo Cars.

“Today’s technology will allow us to achieve not only a more sustainable and crash-free future but also new benefits for our customers and society. Together with Microsoft we aim to pioneer in this field.”

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