Microsoft and Volvo Offer Virtual Car Shopping

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Use a hologram, open a car virtually, design it, customize it. These are all features of a new venture between Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Volvo. It remains to be seen if the new world of the relationship between a car and a buyer will change shopping patterns, or just be a new toy.

The two companies announced the new HoloLens technology and its use for car shoppers:

Imagine enhancing your car buying experience at the dealership by viewing the complete inside of the vehicle you are interested in. With the power of holograms, we have the ability to open the car up completely, take a closer look at the engine, inspect the chassis or watch the drivetrain and transmission in action. Imagine viewing and customizing the car of your personal choosing, and viewing it at scale. You could have access to the full array of options, features and possibilities associated with every car make and model. Imagine then seeing the car you’ve configured, at full scale, as a high-definition hologram projected into your garage, long before the car has even been manufactured.

One challenge for Volvo is whether it can built so many custom cars in a manufacturing system designed to build a limited number of cars with a limited number of options.

“With HoloLens we have the freedom to create a bespoke experience which customers can steer themselves. Imagine using mixed reality to choose the type of car you want – to explore the colors, rims, or get a better understanding of the features, services and options available,” said Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Marketing Sales and Service at Volvo Cars.

Manufacturing may well be the point at which the joint venture falters. Even a company as large as General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) or Volkswagen cannot offer vehicles customized by customers who what to use holograms to build cars completely tailored as their imaginations might like them to be. The buying experience of the future will be impossible to support.

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