Kia Motors America this week is rolling out its 2018 Kia Stinger with a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) experience at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The Kia 4D Stinger Experience lets attendees get behind the wheel and virtually travel through provincial towns of Southern France, on the Pacific Coast Highway along California's Big Sur and the Cadwell Park motor racing circuit in England.
The Stinger experience uses five video projectors to display the virtual test drive on three projection screens and a specially-programmed floor. It has haptic feedback that matches every twist and turn of the road. People who can't attend the Detroit auto show can try out virtual test drives at Kia.com and jauntvr.com. The Jaunt mobile app is also available for Android and iOS devices.
Peter Schreyer, Kia's president and chief design officer, and Albert Biermann, president of vehicle test and high-performance development, provide narration for the 4-D test drive to highlight the Stinger's design, performance and high-end features.
VR technology continues to find its way into product demonstrations, as Kia shows with its Stinger Virtual Test Drive. The carmaker is among the automotive companies that are using VR and its sister technology, augmented reality (AR), to help mobile-minded consumers learn more about the features of a vehicle before they ever step foot on a dealer lot.
BMW last month released an iOS version of its "i Visualizer" mobile app that lets iPhone and iPad users inspect cars using AR technology. Prospective car-buyers could customize features including paint color and get a 3-D view of BMW's "i Line" of vehicles. Last year, an ad campaign for Jaguar Land Rover featured AR-enabled ads to provide an in-vehicle tour of its latest SUV. The AR feature showed the view from within a Range Rover Velar SUV while using a smartphone camera.
It will be interesting to see what kinds of technologies carmakers debut at the Detroit auto show, especially following their demonstrations of self-driving technologies and upgrades to on-board infotainment systems last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mercedes-Benz introduced its Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, that includes a digital assistant similar to those offered by tech giants Amazon and Google. Jeep Wrangler showed off fully-loaded models with a wide range of onboard mobile features and its Jeep Adventure Reality app. Most ambitious of all, Toyota announced partnerships with Uber, Amazon, Pizza Hut, Didi and Mazda on the e-Palette self-driving, electric concept car.