Apple’s ARKit could be huge for virtual car showrooms and online sales

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Apple’s iOS 11 includes ARKit, developer tools that make it surprisingly easy to build great quality augmented reality experiences. This could have an impact in the automotive world, since it makes it a lot easier to bring virtual showroom experiences to potential car buyers and automakers via ordinary consumer devices.

Here’s an example of what that could look like: Developer Augmently created this AR experience using the developer preview ARKit tools in iOS 11. It features a detailed, rendered 3D model of a Mercedes sedan, complete with an interactive interior and the ability to swap out different paint color options. The model stays firmly rooted in place, allowing a user to virtually walk around it and check out all angles.

Virtual showrooms and AR demonstrations are now standard fare for automakers at big auto shows, and even in dealership settings sometimes with specialized hardware. But this use of ARKit brings it down to Earth – it’s instantly available to anyone with an iPhone.

Car sales models are already being shaken up by startups – Tesla sells its vehicles exclusively online, using showrooms only for in-person looks at its cars. Online car-buying startups are increasingly attempting to complement and supplant the existing brick-and-mortar sales model, too, and even Amazon has experimented with online sales, particularly in Europe.

ARKit replaces a lot of kludgy, hard-to-use and less-than-perfect solutions for doing similar things, but it’s the system-level tools and quality of experience that could help it up the game for automobile sales, demonstrations and showrooming. AR isn’t the only thing ARKit could make mainstream – online vehicle sales could benefit big time, too.

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