February 24, 2016
Don Reisinger

At Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, Fiat Chrysler showcased a new car sales app that uses augmented reality to allow customers to modify features in a car before they buy. The platform was built atop Google's Project Tango, a technology that allows mobile devices to "see" what's around them using motion tracking, depth perception, and other services.

"The prototype allows car buyers to hold a device and, using the integrated sensor technology and motion tracking, area learning, and depth perception from Project Tango, view, walk around, look inside and configure a life-size virtual car," Fiat Chrysler said in a statement.

The app, developed with Accenture, would allow users to open doors and see a "detailed interior, where changes to upholstery colors or dashboard styles can be made with a tap on the device screen."

While the idea is just a prototype now, it suggests that there are opportunities for car dealers to change how they sell cars. Buyers no longer have to imagine how a showroom car with a tan interior would look with black leather; they just point a device at the car and see for themselves. Once they pick what they want, they can negotiate a deal and drive off the lot.

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