Inside Jaguar's futuristic virtual showroom
Jaguar Land Rover has followed in the footsteps of Audi by announcing a virtual showroom that gives visitors a near-scale, interactive view of the manufacturer's models.
Dubbed the Virtual Experience, visitors will be able to see an almost 1:1 scale representation of Jaguar Land Rover's cars and interact with them via touchpad technology and gesture controls.
Models are represented on large screens in ultra-high resolution as a real-time 3D image. Each image includes an unprecedented five million polygons. Swipe movements and other movements will allow visitors to do everything from opening doors to checking under the bonnet.
The technology used in the Virtual Experience is also portable. The system can be loaded onto a laptop by company representatives, meaning they can showcase Jaguar Land Rover products on other display screens or even on the sides of buildings should they have a projector.
Jaguar Land Rover claims this allows them to get representations of their models in places where vehicle access is limited, bringing its entire range to a whole new audience.
"Virtual Experience is an innovation and shows where we see the future of our technology development. We are putting the customer in control as well as seeking new ways to modernise and customise their experience when choosing their new Jaguar or Land Rover," says Nathan Summers, Jaguar Land Rover Business Relationship Director.
The differences with Audi City
Jaguar Land Rover's Virtual Experience seems to be more about the technology than the customer experience, and though there are parallels between it and Audi City in Central London, there are also number of noticeable customer-centric differences at play.
There are similarities with the two projects. Both the Virtual Experience and Audi City allow customers to view the manufacturers' models with touchpad technology to get an overall impression of what they might be driving if they invest.
But there are also differences. One of the more slight observations we've made is that Jaguar Land Rover's Virtual Experience gives 'an almost 1:1 scale representation' of its cars, while Audi City gives full 1:1 scale access on entire-wall-mounted screens.
The key difference between both systems is how the manufacturers are using it to, essentially, promote their respective brands.
Jaguar Land Rover is going to be using the Virtual Experience as a portable sales tool as well as an in-house show-stealer at its showrooms. Representatives are going to be able to take it with them on sales visits to private and commercial customers, to give them a greater overall impression of their cars.
Audi in comparison is trying to build a more social experience with Audi City - one which it hopes to replicate 20 times more at prominent worldwide locations by 2015.
While customers will be able to interact with virtual models at Audi City, the manufacturer also wants to provide groundbreaking levels of interactivity with its staff. Customer Relationship Managers will be important figures at each Audi City, while the dealerships are connected to Audi AG services, providing customers and staff with its entire spectrum.
Audi City has also promised that it will be a social gathering point for the brand, allowing fans to use it as a meeting place in and around normal working hours. Readings and round-table discussions will be available to customers after close of business, for instance.
Jaguar Land Rover's Virtual Experience is about making its technology accessible and portable in equal measure. Audi City is about giving Audi customers more access to the brand, and making the showroom a friendly, social place to indulge in the manufacturer's overall philosophy.
The one thing they both have in common? Less cars in the showroom, meaning fewer chances for customers to interact with models on a one-to-one basis before they invest.
Written by John Meadowcroft