BMW i has launched its augmented reality product visualizer powered by Tango on Google Play, meaning customers can explore and pre-configure their ideal BMW i3 or i8 any time, any where. BMW i is the first automotive brand in the world to offer customers an interactive, 3-D augmented reality experience of their products. Using Tango, Google’s smartphone augmented reality technology, customers can explore the innovative BMW i vehicles as a real-size, interactive visualization.

Following a successful pilot program in selected dealerships worldwide, the BMW I Visualiser app can now be downloaded from Google Play by anyone with a Tango-enabled device in most countries in the world – customers in China and the USA will be able to download the app by April. After downloading the app, customers can visualize and experience the BMW i3 or i8 products, using augmented reality to create a 3-D image which can be explored interactively: the customer can open the boot or the doors, even getting “inside” the car to take a closer look at the interior. It’s also possible to experiment with different interior and exterior colors and a variety of wheel rims.

“We know that our customers are busy people and that we need to fit into their lives,” commented Andrea Castronovo, BMW Group Vice President, Sales Strategy and Future Retail. “With the BMW i Visualizer now available on Google Play, we are delighted that customers can now explore our products in a truly interactive and fun way, whenever and wherever it suits them. Our vehicles are emotional products and to get that emotional feeling, you really need to experience them,” he continued. Andrea Castronovo believes that in situations where the desired product isn’t available on the spot, this visualization is the next best thing. The quality of the images created is certainly extremely realistic. “During our pilot, people had great fun exploring the car, even ducking down their heads as if there really were a roof there,” Castronovo said. “It’s that level of detail which means this technology offers the customers real added value,” he continued.

Eric Johnsen, Head of Business Development for Augmented Reality at Google, said, “The thing that sets Tango apart is the fact that it understands the context of the space that it’s in. So the wheels are really on the floor, for example, giving the whole experience a much more realistic feel.”

BMW i is the first automotive brand to use Tango to provide customers with this interactive experience. “BMW i is the spearhead of innovation at the BMW Group, so it’s the obvious choice for this app,” explained Stefan Biermann, BMW Group Head of Innovations Sales, BMW i. The BMW i Visualiser App is the latest innovation in the BMW Group’s Future Retail programme, which began rolling out around three years ago and which has transformed the customers’ experience of buying a car. Many significant elements of Future Retail, such as the Product Genius or the Virtual Product Presenter, have set new benchmarks for the industry.

The BMW i Visualizer was designed and developed by Accenture, and its customer experience agency Accenture Interactive, integrating BMW i picture data of the vehicles into an app which uses Tango technology. In order to keep the user-experience as intuitive and simple as possible, the app is a visualizer instead of a full configurator, where features such as interior and exterior colors or wheel rims can be altered at a touch of the screen. Once the visualization is complete, the customer can save the data and share it with others, via email or social media. In a future step, it will be possible to transfer the data from the visualizer directly into the full BMW i configurator at the customer’s local dealership.

“Our research shows that consumers are seeking improved use of technologies like augmented reality during the car-buying process to make the online-offline experience more compelling,” said Christina Raab, managing director in Accenture’s Automotive practice. “BMW i’s use of Tango technology and its integration with sales outlets and existing configuration tools is helping create the seamless multichannel experience customers are seeking.”

The BMW i Visualiser app will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month by both Accenture and Lenovo, who already manufacture a Tango-enabled device. Many in the industry believe that augmented reality-enabled devices will soon become widely available. “We believe that over the next couple of years, the majority of premium Android devices will be Tango-enabled,” said Eric Johnsen. “Augmented reality has such huge potential for retail, we’re just getting started,” he continued.