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Whether it’s Occulus Rift, Samsung VR or even the Google Cardboard, virtual reality headsets are starting to be used in stores to offer a differentiating customer experience.

The facts

Audi has deployed a virtual reality headset in its digital store in London to offer its customers a unique experience around the Audi TT (a coupé). Customers will be able to test the Audi TT without leaving the showroom by watching a 360° video of a racing-circuit test of the vehicle on the headset.
Many stands (Peugeot, Nissan, Volvo, etc.) at 2014 Paris Motor Show were already using the Occulus Rift headset to reveal new concept cars or even to discover the sensations experienced in an accident, as on the Segula Technologies stand.

Travel agencies are also very interested in these headsets, to offer a differentiating experience to counter competition from the Internet. That is what Look Voyage offers, with Google’s Cardboard viewer. Despite its ridiculous price of $25, the Cardboard offers a truly immersive experience enabling customers to see hotel and destinations.


No matter what virtual reality technology is used, once again it’s the content that makes the difference. And that is exactly where Audi seems to have gone wrong, because buying an Audi TT is much too emotional an experience to be confined to virtual reality. Customers need to feel the power of the car under their feet.

Albeit ideal for immersing customers in a car rally or in discovering the car of the future, the impact of this technology when selling a car seems limited for lovers of big-engined cars.
Conversely, in the travel industry it seems much more appropriate, as it lets customers check the infrastructures of an hotel and the appeal of the tourist attractions before choosing a destination for their upcoming holidays. Virtual reality will be able to play its role as a discovery aid, because it is very visual, unlike a car where the physical sensations are just as important as visual effects.
A sector like the property industry can clearly benefit from this technology, for virtual viewings of flats and houses before actually viewing them in situ, thereby saving time before buying.

As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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