Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Catering To Car Buyers’ Desires

Date:
March 29, 2009
Source:
ICT Results
Summary:
Buying a new car is one of the biggest purchases most people make. But how can you be sure that the car you order will live up to your expectations? European and Asian researchers are using immersive virtual reality and emotional design to offer a solution.

View of the CATER car configurator.
Credit: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Buying a new car is one of the biggest purchases most people make. But how can you be sure that the car you order will live up to your expectations? European and Asian researchers are using immersive virtual reality and emotional design to offer a solution.

Related Articles


Most people do not buy cars on a whim and most do not want just a standard model. They will often spend weeks comparing features before deciding whether to splurge on leather seats or put the money towards high-performance alloy wheels instead.

The customer’s choices will not be based on functionality alone – if that were the case we would all drive the most fuel-efficient vehicles that can get us from A to B as cheaply, safely and comfortably as possible. Design also plays a major role, attracting people to a certain model based on tastes and feelings alone.

For manufacturers, this has long created a dilemma. Since the first assembly-line Fords rolled off the factory floor almost a century ago, mass production has meant that vehicles can be produced cheaply enough so that nearly everyone in the developed world can now afford one. However, customers also want more customisation options, from different shades of colours down to engine configurations and internal finishes.

The researchers behind the EU-funded CATER project believe they have developed a better way to efficiently present customisation options to customers and help them decide, overcoming the constraints of dealers’ catalogues and the often bland vehicle configuration systems on automakers’ websites.

“By giving people the chance to immerse themselves in the car in 3D virtual reality (VR), they can better understand what the options are, how they look and will feel more confident about making a purchase,” explains Manfred Dangelmaier, the coordinator of the CATER project at Fraunhofer IAO in Germany.

Immerse yourself in your future car

Instead of flicking through catalogues or having a dealer click through options on a computer, potential car buyers visiting dealerships fitted with CATER’s immersive vehicle ‘configurator’ would be able to visualise all the vehicle options and variations in high-resolution 3D, presented on a television, a large wall display or even in a virtual reality cave.

In the past, the high cost of VR systems has kept dealers from using the technology, but the CATER project has proven that it can be set up cost effectively.

“The hardware itself is relatively low cost at between 10,000 and 12,000 euros for an installation... and the software runs on a normal PC,” Dangelmaier notes. “In addition, it would save dealers from having to have such large showrooms as you would only need cars for test drives not to show off different finishes,” he adds.

To help customers make their choices, the European, Malaysian and Singaporean CATER team has also developed an emotional design tool that helps potential buyers define what they want from a car. Called citarasa, a Malaysian-inspired word meaning strong intent, desire, aspiration and feeling, the concept involves showing customers images of everyday objects that reflect certain abstract emotions, tastes and feelings and connecting them with features on the car.

The system could, for example, interpret that a customer who selects an image of sunglasses wants a cool, modern look, while it may interpret someone selecting a picture of a business suit as wanting more refined features.

“The system is very similar to the mood boards used by graphic designers that help define tastes and emotions through images,” Dangelmaier says.

At the backend, the project team developed a database framework and components to help dealers communicate customers’ choices with manufacturers and these, in turn, to deal with parts suppliers as a way of improving logistics and supply chain management.

According to Dangelmaier, the CATER system benefits all parties concerned. Buyers obtain a better understanding and clearer impression of the vehicle they are purchasing, and the options on it, because they are given the chance to provide “soft information” about their tastes and feelings as well as “hard information” about their wants and needs. Dealers, in turn, should benefit from increased customer satisfaction and, potentially, through customers making their choices faster and requiring less assistance from sales personnel. And automakers should ultimately sell more vehicles while obtaining more information about customers’ tastes.

“Receiving feedback about customers’ likes and dislikes is essential if extremely costly design mistakes are to be prevented when developing new models,” the CATER coordinator notes.

Boost to the struggling auto industry?

In the modern car industry, especially amid the current economic crisis, producing just one model that sells poorly can often mean the difference between the survival and demise of a car manufacturer.

Dangelmaier is, therefore, confident that the current downturn in the industry will not hinder the chances for CATER’s technology to be adopted by car manufacturers.

“The auto industry is not one to go backwards in terms of innovation,” he notes. And, he adds, if virtual reality and customer-focused design help boost sales it could even help lift car companies that become early adopters out of the crisis.

The CATER project partners, who received funding under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research, will showcase their results to car manufacturers from around the world at a workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between March 25 and 28.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ICT Results. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

ICT Results. "Catering To Car Buyers’ Desires." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325092111.htm>.
ICT Results. (2009, March 29). Catering To Car Buyers’ Desires. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325092111.htm
ICT Results. "Catering To Car Buyers’ Desires." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325092111.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins