A new app from BMW and Google lets you digitally customize a car.
Photo by Rainer Häckl, courtesy of Google
You could probably call it tech for the 1 percent: Google and BMW are teaming up to make it easier to shop for that new Beemer you've had your eye on.
The two companies unveiled on Wednesday a new app that helps you digitally customize and virtually walk around a new BMW, so you can feel out the customizations before you buy. The companies unveiled the app during the annual CES tech trade show in Las Vegas.
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The app, called the BMW i Visualiser, relies on Google's Tango technology. Tango uses beefed up smartphone cameras and sensors to map out the parameters of a room and show you 3D objects, as if they were there in real life. For now, the tech is available only on two phones: the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, and the Asus ZenFone AR, which Taiwan-based Asus unveiled earlier Wednesday.
The i Visualiser app, which the tech consulting company Accenture also helped make, will let you digitally trick out only two BMW models: the i8, which starts at $140,700, and the i3, which starts at $42,400. In the next few weeks, you'll be able to use the app at various BMW dealerships in the US and a handful of other countries, including the UK, Germany, China and Japan. Currently, the app is being tested at a BMW dealership in Munich.
BMW i8 plug-in hybrid concept (photos)
Later this year, Google said, you'll be able to download the i Visualiser app from Google's Play app store so you don't have to be in a dealership to use it.
It may seem pretty upscale, but the broader implication is that this eventually could be for more than just rich people -- or those who want to drop the money for a BMW. If this type of tech catches on, and if Google can get its Tango technology into more phones, then it could alter the way people shop for cars, and not just luxury ones.
Google has its sights set on more than just car shopping with its Tango technology. The search company wants it to be used for everything from gaming to education. Earlier this year, Google showed off a handful of demo apps, including one for creating elaborate, digital dominoes setups, and one from the American Museum of Natural History, which will show you a digital image of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
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