Volvo Cars and Microsoft are collaborating to jointly develop next-generation automotive technologies. In fact, the two companies just conducted a demonstration of the first fully untethered holographic computer -- Microsoft HoloLens – to show that this technology could be used to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a vehicle, giving them an opportunity to configure their units in three dimensions.
Also, the demonstration -- conducted at Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, USA -- aimed to show that wearable HoloLens could be used to redefine how cars might be sold or purchased in the future. It also showed that holograms can be mixed into the physical world.
Interestingly, the demonstration turned out to be a mixed-reality preview of Volvo’s new S90 premium saloon. This new product from Volvo will have its real world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
Participating journalists were given a rare opportunity to experience the new Volvo S90 and its latest autonomous driving technology in 3D – even before the carmaker has even produced the saloon. Thus, the event at Redmond provided a glimpse of what mixed reality can do to transform the relationship between the customer and a vehicle.
Scott Erickson, Senior Director, Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Corp., remarked that the company is thrilled to collaborate with Volvo Cars to reimagine the potential in car design, discovery and purchasing. He added that they are now in the "intersection" of technology and human-centric design.
With the demonstration, Volvo and Microsoft marked the start of a longer-term collaboration between the two companies, which should cover new technologies related to the auto industry. Volvo and Microsoft could also collaborate, albeit in the future, in the areas of autonomous driving as well as the usage of data generated from connected cars to develop new services.
Cooperation in such areas between the two companies would not be a surprise, since Volvo is considered a pioneer in automotive safety and is one of the leaders in terms of connected cars and autonomous driving.
In fact, the carmaker has announced a program called Drive-Me that entails the distribution of around 100 self-driving and connected cars to real customers on real roads in Gothenburg, Sweden by 2017. When that happens, the program would become the largest autonomous driving experiment in the world.
Likewise, the cooperation between Volvo and Microsoft could also include how information gathered by vehicles and their drivers can be utilized to further improve the driving experience as well as the potential of employing predictive analytics to enhance vehicle safety. Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Marketing Sales and Service at Volvo Cars, remarked that HoloLens provides an opportunity to create a bespoke experience that involves customers themselves.
He said the HoloLens can be used by customer to carefully select the car they want as it allows them to explore the colors and wheels while giving them a better understanding of the vehicle features, services and available options.
Annwall added that the technology could also free dealers from more traditional sales environments while giving them the liberty to take a car configurator on the road, shopping malls or on the high street. He said that the technology would help open up new sales channels and help dealers introduce new cars to a larger audience.
On the other hand, Klas Bendrik, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Volvo Cars, remarked that the carmaker is delighted to work with Microsoft in the field of future mobility, adding that technology will allow them to create a more sustainable future without car accidents, while providing new benefits to its customers and the society.