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.

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 July 29, 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 July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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