Laymac said Google approached the automaker about trying the technology. A cloud-based augmented-reality experience for the Wrangler plug-in hybrid initially was tested during the virtual CES in January.
“The technology has gotten to the point where it’s not cartoonish,” Laymac told Automotive News. “It does have the granularity so that you can see the different materials. You can look at even the leather stitching on the skin, so it gives a person a perspective of what perhaps they would want to buy.”
Google is rolling out this interactive component at a time when the pandemic has accelerated the migration of vehicle shopping online. Dealerships have been adopting digital retailing tools to interact remotely with consumers during the buying process, and now Google is arming shoppers with another option that will prepare them even further before making a purchase.
Google said in a January post announcing its Jeep collaboration that it had sped up its support of consumer experiences in light of the health crisis.
The AR Autos feature was launched in December and appears in searches for 2020 or 2021 vehicles for which Google has a matching 3D model. Numerous vehicles, including the Jeep Gladiator and Toyota RAV4, are available for exterior walkarounds but don’t have interior views just yet.
For select vehicles, such as the Wrangler 4xe, Google said it is working with manufacturers to deliver more high-quality, photo-realistic cloud-streamed models that include the interiors. Other auto partners in this effort include Volvo and Porsche.
“We’re jointly learning. This is where we think the environment is going [and] what consumers want,” Laymac said.
“We have the data and the right format, they have the platform, so it was just a natural partnership. Not costing a lot of money to do it. It’s just applying the data in this expanded platform, and then seeing how it should be presented to the consumer.”
To create the mixed-reality experience with the 3D models, Google said it turned to “computer-aided design-based data sources that represent a 3D vehicle with highly detailed geometry, depth, texture and lighting.” To ensure fast loading times of the higher-fidelity models that include interiors, the company said it renders them in Google Cloud, then streams the vehicles to devices.