Chicago Auto Show Blog

How Virtual Reality Has Changed the Car Shopping Experience

Posted by: Savannah Riese

In the past 35 years, technology’s influence on the world as we knew it has been continuously increasing at an incredible rate. This can be spectacularly seen in the car industry. 360 degree cameras, automatic braking, Wi-Fi, parking assist, blind spot warning sensors, and the list goes on. 

While technology has impacted the cars themselves, it has also changed the way car brands are promoted and the way cars themselves are sold. As you walk by the seemingly endless expanse of show hall, each brand has screens that serve as backdrops for the exhibits with jaw-dropping displays and videos. But aside from these incredible displays, companies are bringing in audience-engaging technology that makes the car buying experience even more personal. This year’s Chicago Auto Show had 11 different virtual reality (VR), interactive and simulation experiences available to the general public. 


Virtual reality (VR) is a near-reality encounter with a 3-D, computer-simulated environment. You put on a pair of goggles and, as you move around, the programmed imagery provides you with a 360 degree view of your environment through the goggle lenses. The point of VR is to enable the technology to simulate your senses and make you feel as if you are in another world—the world within the goggles. Various car companies are using this kind of technology to allow consumers to experience what it’s like to be behind the wheel of their fastest cars, to envision the cars being built and explained around them, to customize their own cars, and so much more. 


Not only are companies utilizing VR in the form of goggles, they are also providing consumers with the opportunity to enter simulations with real hydraulics, steerings wheels, car seating, gas and brake pedals, and more. It is similar to playing a video game except you play with a big, car-sized controller instead of a handheld one. 


Other car brands are bringing in interactive displays. These displays allow you to have some technology fun. Cars are not the only thing you get to enjoy virtually at the Chicago Auto Show -- turn yourself into a Star Wars Stormtrooper, play soccer, sketch your own car, and test your reaction time with obstacles in the road. 

In the upcoming years, it will be fascinating to see how this virtual reality technology becomes more of a contender in promoting and selling cars, as well as interacting with the potential consumer.

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