3D Virtual Rides Helps Drivers Customize Their Car Before Purchase

How computer graphic are revolutionizing the auto industry and reshaping the next generation of cars.

Buying a car is an involved process and one of the most significant investments people make in their lives. For many the first step would be to go online and browse reviews while conducting research on various models. To entice potential buyers into showrooms, many dealerships are adding 3D customization options to their sites so they can show customers variations that may not be in stock in the physical store. Recently at the annual SIGGRAPH conference in Anaheim, California, visual projection specialist Christie and NVIDIA showcased an interactive design studio that brings vehicles to life using augmented reality to blend computer graphics with physical models together.

Want to see how the Audi R8 looks on the road before slipping behind the wheel ? No problem. Even the environment surrounding the car can be changed. Christie achieves the effect using a car configurator developed by RTT for Audi. It’s built on RTT DeltaGen software, the same tool many automakers use for digital review of new car designs. To “apply” paint, wheels or any other details, Christie uses unique projection mapping software to create what’s called a WARP mesh – a 3D mesh that matches the physical shape of the screen, in this case the 3D shape of the car’s body. An NVIDIA GPU creates an image and de-forms it so it wraps onto the body.Images from multiple projectors are combined to get a seamless rendering of the car, which is viewable from all angles.  In addition to customizing the car itself and to add further realism, the software renders reflections of the background onto the car to see how the R8 will look in different environments.

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Roy Anthony, the lead researcher at Christie says ‘It sounds complicated to pull off – and it definitely is sophisticated technology. But it couldn’t be easier for the customer to experience.” Christie is already planning to update the graphics hardware to add more realistic effects – and maybe even show the car driving down the road.

The centerpiece of this demo at the NVIDIA booth is a one-fifth scale model of an Audi R8 coupe resting on a surface of specialized projection tiles. Using a touch panel, users can instantly change the appearance of the car, select the style of the wheels and alter the head lamps.

Check out a demo video below.

Video from Thumb Flipper Blog

Images from Engadget

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