Volvo Teams with Microsoft HoloLens for ‘Mixed-Reality’ Car-Buying

In the short term, Microsoft and Volvo Cars are working together to transform car shopping with the help of augmented reality holographic computing. Over the long term, however, the companies also envision expanding their partnership to do even more, including developing self-driving cars.

Announced late Thursday evening, the partnership proposes to use Microsoft's HoloLens wearable holographic computing device to enhance the experience of potential car buyers at Volvo dealerships. In conjunction with the news, the two companies offered a demonstration at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington of how "mixed-reality" car shopping might work.

In addition to helping would-be buyers better understand what new cars might look like before they're even built, the HoloLens technology could also enable new ways of selling cars. For example, Volvo said the technology could permit car sales via small pop-up stores in areas where dealerships are currently unable to operate.

'Non-Intrusive, Extended Reality'

"Experiences like the one we created with Volvo allow you to experience holograms within the context of your real world environment," Scott Erickson, Microsoft's senior director for HoloLens, wrote in a blog post. "With HoloLens your peripheral vision is largely preserved, in order to allow you to move around spaces -- like a vehicle showroom -- very freely. This is a significant benefit to companies, like Volvo, where how people experience both the car and the dealership environment are very important."

In a video demonstration of how HoloLens-assisted car buying might work, Magnus Brodd, Volvo's head of creative strategy, noted, "it doesn't intrude in any of the things you do but it also extends the realities around you."

First previewed during the Microsoft Build conference in April, the HoloLens is not yet on the market, although a $3,000 developer edition is expected to begin shipping sometime in the first quarter of 2016. Microsoft...

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