Companies like Aston Martin know they need to be constantly innovating to stay ahead in a fast-paced industry like the automotive landscape. With new cars and driving experiences emerging all the time, only the most creative companies will stay ahead of the curve.
Fortunately, Aston Martin had an ace up its sleeve in recent years. The company has been experimenting with both Lenovo and Varjo to bring the power of immersive technology into the product development lifecycle.
Although Aston Martin is only one of many vehicle manufacturers investing in the immersive landscape today, it’s one of the companies with the biggest focus on XR for product development. Here’s your insight into the Varjo, Aston Martin, and Lenovo partnership.
An Early Entry into the VR Market
According to a conversation between the Lenovo team and Aston Martin’s VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Pete Freedman, the love affair between Aston Martin and XR began several years ago. The company first started to implement virtual reality technology for the “Valkyrie Program”, a project designed to develop a leading hyper car launched in 2016.
According to Pete, using virtual reality, Aston Martin has also been able to use virtual reality to build more immersive customer experience innovations.
With a VR application, customers can specify the kind of car they want to buy from the Aston Martin team, explore different colors and trim levels, and experiment with customisations. The result is an in-depth sales experience which helps customers to visualise what they’re really going to get from each purchase.
While Aston Martin has been one of the automotive companies on the cutting edge of the XR space for some time now, the brand increased its focus on this area in recent years. According to Freedman, the challenges of the pandemic have pushed the company to look a little deeper into how they can adopt virtual and mixed reality solutions for the benefit of their team and customers.
Rapidly Increasing Adoption of XR Technology
Bringing more of the XR environment into the Aston Martin roadmap had always been part of the plan, but the pandemic meant the brand needed to act much faster than expected. During the pandemic, the Aston Martin team began implementing XR as a way of replacing the face-to-face interactions customers were used to having in dealerships with members of the team.
Pete noted the use of XR innovations has helped the sales and service team to deliver a more meaningful experience to customers when they need it most (when making high-cost purchase decisions).
While preserving an excellent customer experience was high on Aston Martin’s list when choosing reasons to invest in XR, there were other considerations too. The company also wanted to create a more powerful experiences for designers, who could no longer work as closely with colleagues as they would before the pandemic.
In a pre-pandemic landscape, Aston Martin would regularly have design studios full of designers working with clay models and experimenting with different materials.
Without the opportunity to dive into the creation process like this during the pandemic, Aston Martin turned to XR and VR to recreate the power of collaboration in a remote environment.
Now, many members of the Aston Martin team use virtual reality and mixed reality tools, offered through Varjo and Lenovo devices, to build digital twins of models.
According to Pete and his team, working in virtual reality allows the production and design of new cars to be just as efficient (if not more so) as before the pandemic.
Looking forward to Future Opportunities
Over the last couple of years, Aston Martin have uncovered the benefits of XR in two crucial areas. First, the technology is helping to make their teams more creative and efficient, while ensuring staff members can remain aligned in a distributed environment.
Secondly, the use of extended reality offerings means Aston Martin can continue to differentiate itself from other leading car manufacturers with a truly luxurious approach to customer service.
Moving forward, Aston Martin is planning to expand its use of the new XR and VR experiences that Varjo and Lenovo can offer to enhance various parts of the business. The company is looking for new ways to enhance the engineering and design experience through mixed reality interactions using the latest Varjo headsets.
According to Pete, one of the key areas where Aston Martin would really like to leverage the technology in the years ahead is in dealer training initiatives. The use of VR and MR would allow for the creation of better “familiarization” sessions for professionals.
It would allow members of the Aston Martin team to demonstrate examples of color and trim to dealers earlier in the sales process and give them a behind-the-scenes look at how the car actually works.
Aston Martin also believes the constantly improving graphics and visual capabilities of the XR environment will empower its team to iterate more quickly. Already, the team is leveraging the benefits of a more cost-effective approach to product design, without the need for costly models.
Finally, Aston Martin also wants to further expand the use of XR and VR, as well as other immersive technologies, within the marketing landscape. This is a concept we’re likely to see a lot more companies moving towards today, particularly as concepts like the metaverse become more popular.
Aston Martin believes they’ll be able to develop custom graphics for dealerships and take cars to customers in a virtual environment. As the technology becomes even more portable, Aston Martin agents could even take XR solutions into the homes of VIP customers to give them an immersive experience from the comfort of their own sofa.
Why Choose Varjo and Lenovo?
Aston Martin wanted the very best in immersive technology to power it’s journey into the world of immersive product creation and customer experiences.
The Varjo headsets allowed the team to access an exceptional level of high-quality functionality, while the ProXR solution from Lenovo changed the game for the team in terms of image fidelity and graphics.
Paired with the NIVIDA RTX A6000 GPU, the Lenovo solution gave Aston Martin the confidence to start using more immersive experiences with their customers.