Interview with Gina Callari, Chief Operating Officer at RelayCars
Our consumer-focused application is available on a variety of AR and VR devices and allows users to view interior panos and exterior spins for thousands of vehicles.
Tell us about your journey into project management in AR/VR? What inspired you to join EVOX Images/RelayCars?
Having spent years in the automotive industry, I wanted to be at the forefront of technology and what that meant for the automotive industry. Apart from having a talented and tech-savvy team behind EVOX, including CEO David Falstrup, EVOX Images was a global leader in their category and for decades had been building towards a VR play, so some could say they were way ahead of the game. I wanted to be a catalyst for the EVOX evolution which today we can see with our recently launched RelayCars.
Is VR-as-a-Service finally on the horizon for the automotive industry and other OEM industries?
We believe so – for a user to be able to view any make and model via their phone or a lightweight headset, try different configuration options, change color and compare cars side by side, it is a very compelling experience for anyone shopping for a car or even just enthusiasts.
Around 17 million cars are sold per year in the U.S. and buyers spend on average 14 hours researching and shopping for a car. Improving immersion and engagement for those shoppers will save time and help drive sales.
What makes EVOX Images and RelayCars a go-to option for the automotive industry?
We have a very scalable and high-quality capture and content creation process that creates the best VR automotive library on the market. RelayCars has been in the market for several years and we’ve iterated the product dozens of times, adapting to the behavior of over a million users. In addition, we’ve been a go-to resource for the automotive industry for over twenty years, so we understand the business case.
Others can create automotive VR and AR experiences but we are confident we have the highest quality imagery combined with the most compelling feature-set in the market.
How do you plan to extend the benefits of your VR images to your customers and prospects? Which industries are you currently focusing on?
As you’d expect, our focus has been and will be for the foreseeable future on automotive. We have both a free RelayCars consumer application and an Enterprise-focused product portfolio to help with design, research, marketing, and sales.
Our consumer-focused application is available on a variety of AR and VR devices and allows users to view interior panos and exterior spins for thousands of vehicles. Depending on the platform, there are additional features we support like side-by-side comparison and color change.
Our Enterprise products offer features to support product design where multiple people can explore the same vehicle via VR and feedback mechanisms for product clinics. We offer a variety of configurations for our sales tools including both self-guided and guided experiences.
How do you prepare yourself and your team for an AI-driven world in a tech-heavy marketing industry?
Our team feels a sense of urgency and I know that we need to move quickly to keep pace with the technology.
I allocate a significant R&D budget, employ a development team with diverse technical backgrounds and encourage everyone on my team to be part of the local tech community. We attend and speak at meetups, conferences and developer forums.
We frequently purchase dev kits and are typically working on a dozen or more prototypes at a given time. We quickly surface these early prototypes to customers and work with them to ensure we have Product and Market Fit.
Which resources do you refer for cutting-edge VR hardware knowledge? How do you consume information on other emerging technologies for businesses directly related to EVOX Images?
We rely on our own team for cutting-edge VR hardware knowledge. It isn’t hard to find great reviews of new hardware, but we have a pretty specific use case and, in order to get the best visual results, need the hardware in-hand. That way we can experiment with our assets and tools to ensure we’re maximizing capabilities of hardware without exceeding performance capabilities.
What are your predictions on the role of AR/VR in marketing and sales in the automotive industry?
Within the automotive industry, I see a huge advance in the servicing of cars and maintenance. AR will help facilitate the communication and services needed to service vehicles or respond to emergency situations. AR/VR will continue to help dealers immensely by allowing them to minimize their overhead costs and offer a much more extensive range of inventory.
At RelayCars, we will continue to evolve our features to create the most personalized experiences for our users. MyGarage, a RelayCars application we are currently developing, allows users to view and store select cars in a customized showroom and encourage other MyGarage users to virtually drop by. By bringing a user’s car selection into a personal environment, customers begin to develop a stronger affinity to the product.
How do you compete/collaborate with your potential customers already working with AR/VR?
We often develop new prototypes with a specific use case or even clients in mind. We frequently approach clients to share these new concepts and solicit feedback. Then we are able to quickly bring new features to existing products or even roll out entirely new products.
Tell us more about your research lab and innovation hub working on AR/VR and interactive content technology?
We maintain an aggressive roadmap with a dozen or more product variants and we quickly test and discard concepts to ensure that we are offering products that meet our audience’s needs. Much of our prototype work involves collaboration and development alongside RelayCars clients.
How do you make AR/VR deliver economic benefits as well as social goodwill?
Major advances in technology often center around communication, and we consider XR technologies to be a huge enabler for more engaging communications globally. This may help reduce isolation and create stronger communities by allowing people to develop stronger and more meaningful connections. We consider these immersive technologies to be another step forward in a more united and connected world.
What are the major challenges for intelligent IoT technology companies in making business results more accessible to local communities? How do you overcome these challenges?
The major challenge for an IoT company making results more accessible to local communities is that much of the value of their company is in the data gathered. It is reasonable to expect them to offer an API for other people to use data or even report builder tool where applicable but there must be a delineation, so they can preserve data that protect their competitive advantage.
The Crystal Gaze
What AR/VR start-ups and labs are you keenly following?
We are excited about Magic Leap, Microsoft’s holographic capture (hoping for a real-time streaming solution soon), developments in light field capture.
Additionally, what technologies within AI and computing are you interested in?
I am very interested to see improvements in computer vision, full-brain simulation (like the Blue Brain project)
As an AR leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopting AR with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for AR technology markets?
I am biased toward automotive but, beyond automotive, I would say real-time streaming of holograms in AR will be a game-changer for remote collaboration.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Gina! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Gina Callari, Chief Operating Officer at EVOX Images/ RELAYCARS where she does Operations Management Client Relations Project Management Marketing, Social Media Outreach Event Management, Solutions Advertising, Production Budget Management in B2B Sales and Negotiations, Editorial, and Content Management.
About EVOX IMAGES®
For 25 years, EVOX Images has provided large-scale global image creation solutions on demand, with a focus on automotive VR and 360 images. EVOX’s automobile stock image database offers the most extensive package of consistent, high-quality still and 360-vehicle imagery on an unmatched delivery schedule. EVOX continues to drive innovation in automotive imagery with a new generation of virtual reality solutions and build-to-order CG products. The company captures vehicle photography and CGI globally and without needing access to manufacturer CAD files. EVOX Images is used by several U.S. auto marketers including 20,000+ dealer websites, all 6 major dealer solutions providers, 17 OEM’s, 525 newspapers and 8 top portal sites.
Featuring the most expansive and high-quality VR automotive library on the market, RelayCars is a virtual reality suite of apps that allow both enterprise and general consumer users to explore the interior and exterior of thousands of different vehicles via smart phone, tablet, web or VR headset. The app is available for free on iOS, Android, Oculus Go, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR and Microsoft MR. RelayCars is the sister-company of EVOX Images, a company best known for providing rapid, large-scale global image creation solutions on demand with a focus on automotive VR and 360 images. For more information on RelayCars, please visit www.relaycars.com or follow RelayCars on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.