Project Profile: Nissan’s Kinect-powered Virtual SUV

September 6, 2012 by Dave Haynes

I’m not a big fan, at all, of gesture-based interactivity. At least not the big, imprecise and goofy gestures required using Kinect. So I wasn’t expecting a lot of this program Nissan had developed to preview its new Pathfinder in dealer showrooms in the US.

I should disclose that I am working with a Nissan competitor at the moment, but that doesn’t color my opinion at all. I wouldn’t be advocating this – though there are many aspects to this program that I think have potential.

The project requirement was pretty simple. They need to show off a new vehicle to potential buyers, and they need to do it months ahead of a reference vehicle coming off the ships at Long Beach, CA. So do a virtual one.

That all makes sense, and the many, many, many, many dollars that would have been poured into this virtual model definitely has some application for showroom demos and can likely be repurposed for online and in apps.

The problem is the user interface and experience. Kinect is positioned as cool and fun, but do people really want to walk in front of a screen and perform in the middle of a showroom? With seating behind them?

Extroverts, sure, but a lot of people would try it for a few fleeting moments and wander off.

The same execution could be done with better, finer controls that could be put in people’s hands to drive the larger screen.

Or, better, put them on an interactive table (doesn’t have to be a crazily expensive Surface table) that people can manipulate, share and then save or push out their findings.

If I am a dealer and I have people on the floor who are interested in an upcoming vehicle, I don’t want them walking out the door giggling about how bad they are with gesture games. I want their name and email trapped so I can invite them in for a preview night when the first actual vehicle comes off a truck and gets rolled into the showroom.

This smells entirely of a program driven much more by the desire to apply a type of technology than the thinking around what would really work. The video was produced by Microsoft, which is your first clue, and the dealer is a few miles down the road from Redmond.

  1. Eric says:

    Funny how the guy literally needed to “bend backwards” to look up…a little more awkward than I expected.

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