Auto Metaverse is anxious to “harvest” young people

Car + Metaverse, it is not equal to the animation of fifty cents anyway…

 “The car of the future is the Metaverse of modern people’s mobile life. I have been working on cars for 30 years, and now I feel really interesting.” Wang Jun, president of Changan Automobile, said at the recent Chongqing Auto Show. The sea of ​​stars in the Metaverse has made an old car from a traditional car company excited.

The Metaverse, which includes the most popular concepts in recent years, such as 5G, AI, blockchain, virtual currency, and virtual image, has also attracted many auto manufacturers to enter the game. Auto companies such as SAIC Group, FAW Group, and Ideal Auto have already taken the lead in applying for Metaverse-related trademarks.

The addiction of young people to the virtual world has added a fire to the Metaverse Auto. In the report “Observation of China’s Auto Trends – Interest Direction” recently released by the Autohome Research Institute, it is mentioned that over 40% of the post-00s are pursuing virtualization.

When the auto industry was immersed in the warm atmosphere of the Metaverse, Baidu’s concentration of car-making took the lead. A month ago, Jidu made its debut with the “automobile robot” concept car. Unexpectedly, the “Metaverse Conference” presented by a technology company turned out to be an animation effect that “even children don’t like to watch” by the barrage. This inevitably poured a basin of cold water on “Metaverse + Car”

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

Photo source of Jidu “Metaverse” press conference: video screenshot

From digital exhibition halls, virtual images to virtual test drives, car companies have not stopped exploring the Metaverse. And every time the Metaverse appears in the automotive circle, it is almost always aimed at young people.

Canadian communication scholar Harold Ines pointed out: “The emergence of a new medium may lead to the emergence of a new civilization”. It’s just that the Metaverse, a concept that was proposed more than 30 years ago, has been reborn in today’s era of interconnection of all things. The weapon for harvesting young people has also changed from the original two-dimensional, cross-border, joint, virtual, etc., collectively referred to as a fashionable word “Metaverse”.

Metaverse ≠ Virtualization

There is no consensus on the definition of the Metaverse. Some explanations say that the Metaverse is a virtual world that is linked and created by scientific and technological means, a virtual world that maps and interacts with the real world, and a digital living space with a new social system. It is currently recognized that the Metaverse has five characteristics: virtual social identity, immersion, economic system, sustainability, and extreme development.

Digital and virtual have become the most intuitive features of the Metaverse, and virtual reality technology has become the core of the Metaverse. And young people’s fascination with the virtual world is promoting the evolution of entertainment and social forms.

In the Metaverse, all social behavior revolves around the user’s virtual identity. In the real world, virtual idols and virtual social networking quickly captured the hearts of “Internet natives” represented by the post-90s and post-00s. From Japan’s first-generation virtual singer Hatsune Miku, to domestic first-generation virtual idol singer Luo Tianyi, to fashion idol IMMA, and now the hot trend KOL AYAYI, to the virtual beauty artist Liu Yexi who can catch monsters… Behind the popularity of these virtual idols, there is also a consumption potential of hundreds of billions of dollars.

As long as young people like it, car companies will not miss their marketing attempts. On June 8, there were three press conferences in the auto circle, namely Dongfeng Peugeot, Chery and Jidu.Three car companies with different brand attributes have shown their virtual images invariably.Dongfeng Peugeot launched “Little Lion Girl Léa”, Chery created “Metaverse Girl Axi” to realizecross-dimensional interaction, and Baidu digital human car owner “Xijiajia” also took advantage of the opportunity to debut, becoming No. 000 of Jidu’s first car robot concept car Virtual car owner.

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

Image source: Xiaopeng Motors poster

In the recent e-commerce promotion “618”, the virtual idol Liu Yexi came to the Xpeng Motors live broadcast room, and the Xpeng P7 Dark Knight Edition received tens of millions of views on Douyin.In the official poster, Xiaopeng called Liu Yexi the “New Pengyou” of the Metaverse.

The Metaverse is yet to come, but automakers have found a shortcut or the cheapest way to the Metaverse – avatars. However, will young people transfer to cars because of their pursuit of virtual idols? In fact, it is not rare for virtual idols to overturn.

At the beginning of 2017, Xiaomi teamed up with the popular global virtual idol Hatsune Miku to launch a customized version of Redmi 4X. This creative linkage made Redmi’s attention soared.However, the higher the expectations, the bigger the drop. Many Hatsune Miku loyal fans who want to buy the customized version of Redmi 4X found that the so-called joint name is not much different from the ordinary version except that the back shell of the mobile phone is printed with the pattern of Hatsune Miku.

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

Redmi and Hatsune Miku’s joint image source: Internet

For virtual idols to harvest young people, the premise is that there is something that touches young people. Just like the avatars launched by car companies today seem to be closely related to the Metaverse, but they can’t find the point that impresses young people. At the same time, virtualization is far from being the full picture of the Metaverse, or even touching on the core layers of the Metaverse. This also makes the Metaverse’s hot marketing in the automotive industry in stark contrast to the cold in reality.

Take the virtual press conference of the fifty cents special effects that rolled over as soon as the set was released. Will those young people who are immersed in the game screen with delicate texture and exquisite texture be easily moved by the animation effect that “children don’t like to watch”? The dislocation of demand perception between automakers and consumers is deeper than the gap between the virtual world and the physical world.

Real and virtual split

It is true that car companies’ exploration of the Metaverse does not stop at virtual images. At the recent online press conference of the new Sagitar & Bora, FAW-Volkswagen launched the first online cloud showroom jointly built with Tencent. On the same stage, Ida, the virtual image brand officer of FAW-Volkswagen, was also unveiled. Ida will act as an intelligent customer service, interact with users in the cloud showroom, and provide brand and model explanations. After logging in to the cloud exhibition hall, users can personalize their own virtual characters.

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

FAW-Volkswagen avatar brand officer Ida Image source: Internet

In March this year, FAW Bestune released a new car, the Bestune B70S, on the Baidu Xiyang Yuanyu platform, and launched the digital exhibition hall of the Bestune brand. Here, users can learn about new car information through a 1:1 restored virtual scene, and can also take a virtual test ride.

On the surface, this virtual immersive experience is one step closer to the Metaverse, but in fact, it is still far from it.

Duan Yongchao, a senior engineer at the China Computer Federation, described the core features of the Metaverse in a dialogue program: high interactivity and extreme development. In this space, the boundary between virtual and reality becomes blurred. “It’s like going from a monster game to a sandbox game. People are not bound to a specific scene, but survive while building.”

In contrast to the attempts of car companies in the Metaverse, virtual images, virtual scenes, and virtual test drives are all aimed at creating a strong interaction, high immersion, and user-created environment. But the key link that connects the virtual world and the real world is missing – the medium.

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

A character wearing a highly responsive haptic gear in the movie “Ready Player One”

Musk once said a very interesting thing in an interview: If you want to be in the Metaverse, you must first solve the problem of motion sickness. He argues that the now sought-after concept of the Metaverse was actually invented by kids playing games. “Who would wear a headset every day, put a TV screen on your own nose, and go into that so-called Metaverse.”

The head-mounted display in Musk’s mouth is the key medium to open up the virtual world and the physical world – virtual reality head-mounted display devices, such as VR glasses. Without such media, the so-called virtual scenes built by car companies lose their true interactivity and immersion, which is essentially the same as watching animations.

At the recent NIO new product launch conference, Li Bin showed the panoramic digital cockpit PanoCinema using AR/VR technology on the NIO ES7. When the user wears the exclusive AR glasses, a large screen with a viewing distance of 6 meters and an equivalent of 201 inches can be projected. In official words, it will bring users a full sensory immersion experience.

It is true that the Metaverse’s demand for human-computer interaction and cloud computing capabilities is in line with the development direction of smart cockpits. In the opinion of many industry insiders, smart cars will become an important interface to the Metaverse.

But here comes the problem. The usage scenarios of cars are very different from AR games, and they have high requirements for safety and the driver’s concentration. When people need to enter the Metaverse through a medium such as a head-mounted display device in the car, isn’t this a natural conflict with the physical characteristics of the car itself?

The industrial Metaverse, how far is it from young people

Of course, in the face of new things, human imagination is always limited. It’s hard to say that on a certain day in technological breakthroughs, the barriers of the Metaverse on cars will cease to exist.In various racing games, people have imagined the ultimate form of “Metaverse + car”. For example, in the game “Forza Motorsport: Horizon 5”, the windshield of the car is also replaced with a screen, which can display real-time data such as speed and fuel consumption.

And Panasonic is bringing this game scene to reality. At the CES show in early 2021, Panasonic showcased its next-generation HUD head-up display. The normal HUD function simply displays speed and some other information. Panasonic’s idea was to turn the windshield into a video game user interface. So boldly replaced the front windshield with a screen that supports the use of AR and AI and has 4K resolution.

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

Panasonic HUD head-up display Image source: Internet

As can be seen from the released video, Panasonic’s AR HUD solution can cover more road information, such as vehicle information such as speed and fuel in the near field, and 3D overlay in the far field, showing navigation and other Information and data related to driving safety, and information on the road ahead is mapped along with the heading.

But unfortunately, Panasonic did not disclose the specific boarding time of this HUD solution. The cool cyber car is like advanced autonomous driving. When will it come, it is a metaphysics.

“The Metaverse in science fiction is near”, this is the judgment made by NVIDIA founder Huang Renxun when he was making money for his own open platform NVIDIA Omniverse. Built for virtual collaboration and real-time photorealistic simulation, NVIDIA Omniverse is known as the productivity tool of the Metaverse. Engineers can use Omniverse to simulate warehouses, factories, physical and biological systems, robots, self-driving cars, and even digital twins of avatars .

Meanwhile, Nvidia has already taken its first steps in the industrial Metaverse in the automotive industry. On June 23, the large-scale upgrade project of BMW Brilliance’s production base – Lida Plant officially opened. According to the official introduction, this Metaverse factory based on NVIDIA Omniverse has been planned and simulated in a virtual environment from the very beginning, and a digital twin model has been established and simulated from factory planning to equipment debugging.

Auto Metaverse is anxious to "harvest" young people

AR and real-time video transmission facilitate remote planning, collaboration and equipment commissioning Image credit: Internet

Hu Quan, president of the Industry 4.0 Research Institute and chairman of the Digital Twins Alliance, once pointed out that the entire process of the automotive industry chain and supply chain can become the application scenarios of Metaverse technology, not just the automotive products themselves. But as Musk said, if the Metaverse will come in 40 or 50 years from now, what does it mean for the present? If the auto industry enters the Metaverse before auto products, car companies also need to think about how to impress young people with Metaverse-style futures.

Capital is always chasing the wind, and marketing always needs gimmicks. Metaverse emphasizes the characteristics of interactivity and creativity, allowing car manufacturers who are exploring user operations to find an entry point and a common topic that resonates with the younger generation at the same frequency.

When this group of young people built buildings in the virtual world, some people even spent 1 million just to buy a cartoon avatar. Auto companies also want to “harvest” young people.

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