Microsoft uses the term "mixed reality" for what people see through HoloLens because it's a combination of the digital and real world. The glasses are self-contained, so a person wearing them could freely walk around a virtual vehicle. In the future, HoloLens could allow someone to configure a model's color and trim in this augmented landscape. Volvo even thinks the tech could revolutionize the sales process because dealers could take these goggles to customers to present the whole range of products.
Microsoft and Volvo also want to collaborate on autonomous driving and use predictive analytics to improve safety. The Swedish automaker is already serious about the future of driverless tech and has concepts to show how it could change the way we drive. The brand promises to accept liability for accidents in these piloted vehicles, so there's financial motivation to make them as secure as possible, too.
Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, will work together with Microsoft, the leading platform and productivity company, to jointly develop next generation automotive technologies.
The two companies today revealed how Microsoft HoloLens, the world's first fully untethered holographic computer, might be used in future to redefine how customers first encounter and explore a car, as well as how cars might be bought and sold in future.
Areas of future collaboration between the two companies could include autonomous driving technologies and the utilisation of data generated from connected cars to create new services.
Today's HoloLens demonstration was conducted at Microsoft's global headquarters in Redmond, USA, and showed how mixed reality might be used by customers to configure cars in three dimensions. With HoloLens, a powerful, wearable computer, holograms are mixed into the physical world.
"HoloLens offers the freedom to create a bespoke experience which customers can steer themselves. Imagine using mixed reality to choose the type of car you want – to explore the colours, rims, or get a better understanding of the features, services and options available," said Björn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Service at Volvo Cars.
He added HoloLens technology might also liberate dealers from more traditional sales environments and allow them to take a car configurator out on the road in small Pop-Up stores, shopping malls or on the high street, opening up new sales channels and introducing cars to a far larger potential audience.
At the HoloLens demonstration today, participating journalists were also given a mixed reality preview of Volvo's new S90 premium sedan, which will be unveiled in reality at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
Today's event offered an indication of the potential of mixed reality to transform the relationship between the customer and the car. Journalists were able to experience Volvo's new sedan and its latest autonomous driving technology in 3D before the car has even been built and launched.
"We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Cars to reimagine what is possible in car design, discovery and purchasing. We are excited to be at this intersection of technology and human-centric design with Volvo," Scott Erickson, Senior Director, Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Corp.
Today's demonstration marks the beginning of longer term cooperation between Volvo and Microsoft that will embrace a range of new technologies, all of which have implications for the automotive industry.
One area of focus will be autonomous driving. Volvo Cars is a pioneer in car safety and is leading the way when it comes to connected cars and autonomous driving. It has announced a programme called Drive-Me in which 100 self-driving and connected cars will be given to real customers on real roads around the Swedish city of Gothenburg by 2017, the world's largest autonomous driving experiment.
Other areas of cooperation are expected to include how information gathered by cars and their drivers can be used to enhance the driving experience and the possibility of using predictive analytics to improve safety.
"We are extremely happy to innovate with Microsoft in the field of future mobility," said Klas Bendrik, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Volvo Cars. "Today's technology will allow us to achieve not only a more sustainable and crash-free future but also new benefits for our customers and society. Together with Microsoft we aim to pioneer in this field."
Volvo Car Group in 2014
For the 2014 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 2,252 MSEK (1,919 MSEK in 2013). Revenue over the period amounted to 129,959 MSEK (122,245 MSEK). For the full year 2014, global sales reached a record 465,866 cars, an increase of 8.9 per cent versus 2013. The record sales and operating profit cleared the way for Volvo Car Group to continue investing in its global transformation plan.
About Volvo Car Group
Volvo has been in operation since 1927. Today, Volvo Cars is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world with sales of 465,866 in 2014 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding (Geely Holding) of China since 2010. It formed part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, when the company was bought by Ford Motor Company of the US. In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.
As of December 2014, Volvo Cars had over 26,000 employees worldwide. Volvo Cars head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars head office for China is located in Shanghai. The company's main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium) and Chengdu (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China) and body components in Olofström (Sweden).