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How Audi built an immersive experience for the Q6 e-tron on Apple Vision Pro
Jul 3, 2024|3 Min
Audi's Virtual Exhibit XR

Audi is renowned for its innovative automotive design and progressive technology. Their brand promise, “Vorsprung durch Technik,” or “Progress through technology,” is reflected in every initiative across the business and is the driving force that propels the company forward.

Audi and their communications and brand agency SXCES, set out to create new, innovative multimedia content for their unique target audiences: Journalists, content creators, and other media representatives. With the help of Govar Studios, SXCES developed the Virtual Exhibit XR, made with Unity, to provide them with an immersive experience of the Audi Q6 e-tron on Apple Vision Pro.

The goal

Create world-class multimedia content to showcase the Audi Q6 e-tron’s technological innovation to journalists, content creators, and other media representatives.

The solution/s

Unity Industry, visionOS support (with Unity PolySpatial)

Audi’s goal: Demonstrate technological innovation through creative multimedia content

Innovation and technology are part of Audi’s DNA and investing in new technologies is the company's driving force. This is why the brand has been dedicated to developing unique, immersive 3D content, including the HoloLens experience in 2017 (also made with Unity) and more recently, the innovative Virtual Exhibit XR with Apple Vision Pro.

For Audi, all multimedia technology must deliver on two key fronts:

  • Convey the Audi product in a technically correct and easy-to-understand manner
  • Provide high-quality resource material that their target audience of journalists can reuse or repurpose.

In 2017, Audi created a mixed-reality experience with HoloLens. For the first time, they delivered a virtual exhibit that merged a dynamically animated 3D object with real-world surroundings. Using Unity, they were able to integrate their own CAD data into HoloLens and animate it as desired.

Fast forward to 2023, Audi Communications went a step further by integrating Apple Vision Pro into their Virtual Exhibit. The goal of this was to provide users with an immersive experience of the Audi Q6 e-tron, a fully electric SUV that combines cutting-edge technology with luxurious design. They wanted their key media representatives to be able to view every detail of the car’s exterior, down to its rear electric motor’s oil cooling circuit, in real-time 3D.

The experience needed to feature the most natural, high-resolution views of the product. Audi also wanted to improve the display quality of the 3D content and have the ability to switch between AR and VR in order to create a flexible spatial experience.

Audi car Apple Vision Pro
Image courtesy of SXCES

Rethinking 3D creation

Audi Communications faced several technical challenges when building the Virtual Exhibit XR for Apple Vision Pro.

Audi’s software and 3D assets have been brought to their current development maturity through much research and development. While their existing programming for virtual exhibits was developed with Unity, it largely consisted of their own code and custom shaders for the 3D models. To develop it further for visionOS, the existing virtual exhibit would have to be integrated into and optimized for new hardware and software. The output would also need to be verified in the simulator, while device and custom shaders from iOS would have to be adapted.

Finally, while it was important to create static 3D views, it was also critical to correctly present the functions of the product in terms of content and didactics in order to properly highlight its benefits.

Building for Apple Vision Pro from day one

Audi and their teams leveraged the flexibility, data use, and animation capabilities of Unity’s real-time 3D environment to integrate the virtual exhibit into new hardware and software for Apple Vision Pro.

The team started by using their previous Unity project for iOS, Virtual Exponat on Air, as a blueprint. This initial mobile AR application, developed in 2021, was created to show the individual technical details of Audi’s new car models. The team planned to merge iOS and visionOS development, using Unity’s visionOS support and various plug-ins to integrate the existing Virtual Exhibit into the new hardware and software needed for Apple Vision Pro.

Didactically optimized, visually dynamic ways of staging the Q6 e-tron were required to accurately represent its complexity and benefits to journalists. To generate a dynamic 3D representation of the Q6 e-tron, Audi needed to use its original CAD data. Unity allowed them to pull in this data to animate and develop the individual details of all the parts inside the car. They were also able to improve their existing real-time data and optimize shaders and materials based on the new Apple Vision Pro requirements.

With Unity, Audi was able to leverage the benefits of creating in a real-time game environment. This provides flexibility when creating complex animations and visualizations that accurately represent the specifications of each car. Letting the user experience a car spatially and immersively helps them easily visualize and understand the complexities of the product. Using Unity, the result was an exclusive, fully immersive space that combined a complex technology product with multimedia content.

With features like a natural field of view, high-resolution display quality, and the ability to switch between AR and VR, the Virtual Exhibit XR is a leap forward from previous experiences.

Audi Apple Vision Pro
Audi Virtual Exhibit

The outcome

Top automobile manufacturers around the world are developing technologically advanced, high-quality media as a way to showcase products and improve customer experiences. The Virtual Exhibit XR reflects Audi's commitment to driving innovation in this highly competitive industry.

For Audi Communications, long-term impact is key. Technical visualizations must live up to the actual product while providing the brand with a competitive edge in the market. The Virtual Exhibit XR delivered on both counts, showcasing the Q6 e-tron’s technological prowess while also providing high-value content that resonated with their audience.

Audi Apple Vision Pro
Image courtesy of SXCES

Audi’s vision

Audi believes that they are only just beginning to tap into the full potential of spatial devices and that Apple Vision Pro will also find significantly broader acceptance than previous MR and VR devices.

The Virtual Exhibit XR is now available to all areas and departments for use and integration into their application scenarios. The Audi Communications team continues to work on more advanced technology visualizations that will push the limits of feasibility.

Audi's commitment to creating an immersive customer experience sets a high standard for the automotive industry and beyond. Their success exemplifies the impact of customer-centric strategies and the potential to transform how we connect with products and brands through technology. With each victory, Audi continues to exemplify “Vorsprung durch Technik”.

Unity and PolySpatial is a game-changer in Apple Vision Pro development. Its seamless integration, and fast iteration times simplified development. This was key to successfully delivering an immersive experience with stunning photorealistic visuals.
RUBEN DE LA TORRE / GOVARLead XR Developer Audi Virtual Exhibits
Audi Apple Vision Pro
Image courtesy of SXCES
We deliver CGI-based content to visualize complex technology in real time applications. Our objectives include innovation and sustainable workflows. With Unity for VisionOS we found a perfect addition to our existing Unity tool set.
SEBASTIAN KUHN / SXCESKey Account for Audi

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