March 23 - 25, 2020
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, CA
Mercedes-Benz Replaces Owner's Manual with AR App, Introduces Dealership AR and VR Apps in Germany
brought to you by WBR Insights
There are few purchases more exciting than a brand new Mercedes-Benz. Powerful, fast, seductively beautiful, and very expensive to own, all you want to do is get behind the wheel, hit the gas, and master the road with grace, poise, and full control.
Naturally, the last thing on a new Benz owner's mind is to pull over and read the owner's manual. In fact, this could be said of any make or model of any new or even second-hand car - plush new Mercedes-Benz, or not.
Let's be honest here - does anyone actually bother to read those things? True, you might make a perfunctory flick through a few pages shortly after you make the purchase. But, the ultimate destiny of the owner's manual is to be shoved to the back of the glove compartment, never to be seen again. And that's a real shame - manuals are jam-packed with useful information to help new car owners with the upkeep and performance of their vehicles. Unfortunately, the plain fact of the matter is that traditional manuals are far from a riveting read.
But Mercedes-Benz wants its customers to feel excited about every aspect of owning one of its cars - even the boring parts. The result is Ask Mercedes - a new augmented reality (AR) application that allows customers to explore all the features of their new Mercedes-Benz in an intuitive and interactive way.
(Video source: youtube.com)
A New Kind of Owner's Manual
Owners of a 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class or S-Class can use the Ask Mercedes app to get to know their vehicle and its impressive functionalities without ever having to refer to the owner's manual.
Once the app is downloaded, users simply fire it up and choose "Explore My Features". This launches the phone's camera, which can then be used to scan specific controls and displays in the vehicle. The app will identify features within the car, over which numbered AR beacons appear on the phone's screen. These can be clicked to take the user through to corresponding text descriptions, photos, and how-to videos.
For example, if a user directs their smartphone at the dashboard, steering wheel, or center console, AR beacons are automatically superimposed onto the controls and displays shown in the on-screen image. If the user then taps on a beacon, more information about that specific feature is provided.
(Image source: itunes.apple.com)
The result is something that not only makes the process of getting to know a new Benz faster and easier, but also introduces a high-tech, innovative, and fun element to what would otherwise be an uninspiring experience.
"We are creating a personalized customer experience that goes well beyond the vehicle," said Britta Seeger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales. "With innovative services such as 'Ask Mercedes', we are further expanding our digital ecosystem."
Ask Mercedes isn't the only AR innovation Mercedes-Benz has launched this year. In Germany, a new 3D augmented reality app - known as Mercedes cAR - was introduced in April to coincide with the market launch of the new A-Class.
Using the app, customers and prospective buyers can individually configure their vehicle, and then view it in 3D in surroundings (such as a driveway or even on their living room coffee table) of their choice. They can also view the interior as if they were sitting behind the wheel or relaxing in the back seat.
(Image source: media.daimler.com)
In addition, customers can get a full 360-degree view of the car - in effect, enabling them to take a walk around the vehicle from the comfort of their own homes - open the doors, pull up details in text and video about interior features, and even take it for a video-game-like virtual test drive.
And there's even more fun to be had if customers actually pay a visit to a dealership - this time with virtual reality (VR). Here, Mercedes-Benz is further enhancing the car-buying experience with its "InCar Virtual Reality Experience". Once seated in an A-Class, customers get to don a pair of VR goggles, and from there can configure the interior to their own specifications, while still experiencing the smell and physical feel of the actual interior.
"The virtual and the real world are not only blending together more and more with respect to vehicles and services, but also in marketing and sales," said Seeger. "Digitalization gives us fascinating new opportunities when addressing customers."
Mercedes-Benz continues to create one-of-a-kind customer experiences, and it will be exciting to see if these new AR and VR functions will be rolled out further afield in the coming months.
This seems to be the plan. The company says that Ask Mercedes is expected to gradually expand to additional model lines in the US and, in Germany, the Mercedes cAR app is expected to expand from the A-Class to other new models soon.
"Thanks to digital technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, our customers can quickly and easily explore the variety of our vehicles," said Seeger. "In this way, our point of sale becomes a point of experience, and we can offer a premium brand experience in a totally new dimension."
AR and VR technology are set to be a hot topic at NGCX 2019, taking place in March at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, CA.
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