Car buying in 3D through Oculus Rift

Car buying in 3D through Oculus Rift

Oculus-Rift-headsetA California based company is revolutionising the way we do our everyday chores – including buying a car – and shaping how we see the world, literally.

It’s the technology that the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies has been working on for a few years now. “Virtual reality is about to take off in a way that I don’t think anybody can fully comprehend,” says USC professor Mark Bolas.

“The way people collaborate and communicate is going to shift, to where physical presence isn’t as important as virtual presence,” Bolas says.

“The way it works is as easy as putting on goggles,” says Bolas who posted USC’s findings and designs online for free. That helped a little-known start-up company named Oculus VR develop its own virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift.

Facebook’s US$2 billion purchase of Oculus Rift in March turned up the spotlight on the company that got its start on Kickstarter in 2012.

Oculus Rift, along with another US based start-up called Chaotic Moon, want to change the way you buy a car, among other tasks. It works by combining the Oculus Rift, and the Leap Motion controller.

The Oculus is a versatile platform for virtual reality that has a lot of developers excited, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of input. However, by attaching a Leap Motion controller to the front of the Oculus Rift, you can use your hands to manipulate the images you see in front of you.

The system essentially puts you into a virtual world with the vehicle of your choice. You can use your hands to rotate it around, pull up menus, and tweak options which are instantly visually integrated into the car you’re looking at. It’s the kind of experience that you would never be able to get at a physical car dealership.

Not only that, but Chaotic Moon’s John Fremont told Gizmodo that they are working on virtual test drive scenarios. This would get you and the car outside of the showroom environment, and you could see your customised car performing in different environments. Maybe that upholstery doesn’t look so good in bright daylight.

“This technology gives automakers an enormous advantage,” Chaotic Moon’s chief executive officer Ben Lamm told Gizmodo.

“Dealers can take their entire showroom right to buyers and deliver a first-hand experience in any environment. Dealers can demonstrate and sell cars that aren’t even on their lots. And eventually, buyers will also be able to take virtual test drives. That’s a huge boon for companies like Tesla, who don’t operate with a large number of showrooms.”

Chaotic Moon hasn’t announced any partners on this, but they say they’re working with a number of manufacturers on making this a reality.

Another recent project involved creating an Oculus Rift app for the Suzuki Swift car, in cooperation with Sahaj Interactive Solutions. The app lets users “drive” through the Himalayan mountains in the Swift, which was featured at an auto expo in Mumbai, India, in January.

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