News: Capital One Introduces AR Features to Ease the Car-Buying Experience

Capital One Introduces AR Features to Ease the Car-Buying Experience

If you're playing word association with the terms "augmented reality" and "automobiles," your first thoughts probably center on navigation displays in cars or virtual models of exotic vehicles.

Capital One plans to shift its customers' preconceptions of AR in cars to the purchasing process.

According to a blog post on Medium, Capital One has developed augmented reality functions for the Capital One Mobile app that they'll deploy over the coming months. The new features will allow customers to scan vehicles with their smartphone camera and obtain not only information about that car but also personalized financial information, such as pre-qualified financing and estimated monthly payments, and nearby dealerships where customers can buy the car.

Image by Jessica Chobot/Periscope

"We have realized that car research is a constant process that customers are engaged in, even when they are not actively looking to buy a car," wrote Sanjiv Yajnik, president of financial services, and Curtis Campbell, managing vice president of product, in the post. "Imagine customers being able to get access to this type of individualized information at the point of need, real-time!"

The app is built on the computer vision and augmented reality platforms offered in Apple's and Google's mobile operating systems. For iPhones, the app uses CoreML to scan the vehicles and ARKit to display data. On Android, the app leverages Tensorflow and ARCore. In addition, combined with its own proprietary models for identifying and pricing cars and estimating financing terms.

Campbell disclosed more details about the app during a live video demonstration on with Jessica Chobot on Periscope.

"Where customers struggle today is they may see a car they are really interested, they actually don't know what the payment for the vehicle is specifically for just them. Traditionally...the way that people go get this information is you have to spend time at the dealership. On average, consumers spend about five hours in a dealership buying a car," said Campbell.

Image by Jessica Chobot/Periscope

To alleviate that painful process, Capital One customers will be able to scan a car, answer a few basic questions, and then receive a quote with "exact financial terms" before arriving at the dealership. Through the app, they can browse the available cars nearby, view ratings for the vehicle and the dealers offering it, and then connect with dealers to begin the buying process.

Financing is not one of the more obvious industries to adopt augmented reality. While we've seen computer vision applied to recognizing automobiles before from the likes of Blippar, Capital One deserves credit (no pun intended) for coming up with a novel approach to applying the technology to its business as opposed to a gimmick for the sake of capitalizing on a hot search term.

Cover image via Jessica Chobot/Periscope

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