Personalized buying experience is something every brand wants to offer to its customers. For example, Italian hypercar manufacturer Pagani Automobili S.p.A. produces approximately 40-50 cars a year, and the manufacturer has about 20 showrooms around the globe with further plans of expansion. Given the manufacturing volume, not all stores can have a car all the time. Procedure of buying a Pagani is something special, an in-depth experience that takes several stages – first, a customer will configure the car using an online configurator, then visit a store and get the feel for marvelous materials used and see the car in 4K resolution, pay a deposit and receive the line number. Once the car is about to hit the production line, the customer is invited to perform final customizations and finally travel to Italy for the delivery ceremony.
Thanks to ZeroLight, a virtual reality car configuring experience – Pagani can open as many stores as they see fit, and still offer the customers that special shopping experience. For those outside the showroom, you can visit the incredible Pagani car configurator on ZeroLight’s website. Once you finish your configuration, you can download the screenshot in as high as 4K image quality. The same high-resolution model is used in the stores, using all the fidelity offered by Ultra HD displays.
That is not the end of a story as Horatio Pagani and his team of car artists are not the only visionaries that use ZeroLight’s technology to drive their experience.
The company entered a partnership with industry leaders Audi, delivering the visualization side of the new Audi VR Experience. The result realizes Audi’s vision to deliver the forefront of experimental retail within the Automotive industry. The Audi VR Experience will be coming to Audi stores later this year, with involvement from HTC, NVIDIA and ZeroLight.
This virtual reality experience perhaps the best demonstration of how professionals can take Valve’s Lighthouse room-sized VR technology and make it into an ultimate virtual car experience. “Offering personalized shopping experience is something every car maker wants to achieve” said Francois de Bodinat, Chief Marketing Officer, ZeroLight. “By adopting Virtual Reality, you can achieve differentiation between various brands using digital assets that need to be uploaded to the server only once. You can offer customization levels for each market, for each individual consumer.”
“Car retail changed forever. When we showed our (VR) vision to Audi, we saw senior executives walking on the Moon, making sure they explore every bit of legendary Auto Union F1 car even though it was made out of pixels.” said Darren Jobling, Chief Executive Officer, ZeroLight. “Virtual Reality challenges our mind and and its a pleasure to be able to create ‘immersiveness’ since our humble beginnings.”
During the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, we met with both Darren and Francois and talked about their plans. Based in Newcastle, the company which was called one of Top 25 British Startups created a real-time 3D visualization engine with native support for virtual reality displays. The engine can deliver 5-6 million polygon models in real-time over the Internet, and will be used as the key element of Audi’s “Global VR Experience” showrooms, which are coming to every major Audi dealership in 2016-2017.
ZeroLight isn’t stopping at just the showroom experience. “As we are focusing on customer facing solutions for our omnichannel platform, we develop pixel-precise models, so we can provide a constant and engaging experience along the entire customer journey.” continued Francois. “Our core competency lies in delivering ‘as-real-as-possible’ buying experience along the whole customer journey.” ZeroLight wants to achieve the level of photo realism that could be used not just for VR shopping or car design phases, but also in interactive VR commercials.
In order to create the VR experience, the company utilizes 2-way VR SLI, by assigning separate GeForce GTX Titan X or a Quadro M6000 boards per eye. When it comes to the online configurator business, ZeroLight Cloud is driven through a partnership with Amazon Web Services, probably the largest GPU server provider in the world. Several years ago, Amazon raised a lot of eyebrows when it acquired over 1.5 million Tesla GPUs from Nvidia. Coming into 2016, that number is significantly larger – and enables companies to use as many GPUs as the web site visitors require.
We can conclude that ZeroLight is one of edgy companies that utilize Virtual Reality as an opportunity to disrupt a standardized model and offer new and more immersive experience. While the first Virtual Reality experiences are created with static environments, making sure the limitations of 1st generation VR hardware (90 frames per second per eye) don’t break the immersion, the models being created go beyond what the hardware is (currently) capable of delivering. The company is future-proofed by using Amazon Cloud services, as ZeroLight Cloud delivers high-end web experience which will translate to Virtual Reality as fast as next-gen hardware will allow.