Head­sets change driv­ing

Hel­met warns driv­ers of cy­clists while vir­tual re­al­ity helps you con­fig­ure your dream car

The Witness - Wheels - - SUPPLEMENTS - AL­WYN VILJOEN

TWO car-mak­ers have an­nounced head­gear that may yet change how we pedal and buy cars.

The first head­gear was an­nounced by Volvo last month. It is a hel­met for cy­clists that talks to cars around the bi­cy­cle so that driver’s will be aware there is a cy­clist in the blind spot.

De­signed and de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with pro­tec­tive grav­ity sports gear man­u­fac­turer POC and Eric­s­son, Volvo’s con­cept hel­met uses the cy­clist app Strava to share the rider’s lo­ca­tion to the cloud so that it can be ac­cessed by Volvo ve­hi­cles. The app also flashes an alert light on the hel­met should a car be on a col­li­sion path with the cy­clist.

The other in­ter­est­ing bit of head­gear was made by Audi and it aims to make buy­ing a car like play­ing a game with vir­tual re­al­ity (VR).

The Audi VR ex­pe­ri­ence gives cus­tomers the op­por­tu­nity to con­fig­ure their pre­ferred car at the deal­er­ship through VR head­sets and ex­pe­ri­ence it in a un­prece­dent­edly re­al­is­tic way.

Luca de Meo, mem­ber of the board of man­age­ment for sales and mar­ket­ing at AUDI AG, pre­sented the Audi VR ex­pe­ri­ence on the side­lines of the Detroit Auto Show. A pi­lot of the VR car con­fig­u­ra­tion tech­nol­ogy has been run at three in deal­er­ships in Brazil.

He said in a state­ment prospec­tive buy­ers can “vir­tu­ally take a seat be­hind the wheel of their in­di­vid­u­ally con­fig­ured dream car or take a look in the trunk”.

A cam­era tracks the move­ments of the user’s head and the sys­tem adapts the im­age dis­played ac­cord­ingly. The full spec­trum of the Audi model range, with re­spec­tive cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions, can be called up: colours, leathers and in­lays, as well as in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems.

“The dealer is thus able to demon­strate the di­ver­sity of the Audi port­fo­lio in a very con­ve­nient way and to pro­vide in­di­vid­ual ad­vice to the vis­i­tor,” de Meo said.

Audi will roll out the VR sales tool in mar­kets with high sales in­crease (read China).

As the VR tool be­comes more common, ex­pect deal­er­ships to also demo cars while vis­it­ing the cus­tomer at home.

PHOTO: VOLVO

Volvo cars now keep an eye on any cy­clists who my be pant­ing away in the blind spot.

PHOTO: AUDI

Audi Vir­tual Re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence of­fers cus­tomers to ‘sit inside’ a car, and change its colour, cladding and op­tional ex­tras. There is not talk yet of a vir­tual test drive.

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