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How videogames are changing the way you buy cars

Pagani’s new configurator showcases ZeroLight’s work in modelling cars

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Finally, all those misspent years playing Gran Turismo into the wee hours of the morning have paid off. Well, to those of you lucky enough to afford a brand new Pagani Huayra, at least.

A new configurator for the Italian hypercar maker has launched, which promises to provide a greater level of rendering and flexibility previous configurators could only dream about. If configurators dream, that is. Philip K Dick, eat your heart out.

“Our underlying software has its roots in the technology and techniques from racing games,” explains Jason Collins of Zerolight, creators of the new configurator.

The critical difference between this and other dime-a-dozen online configurators is that it’s far more detailed and flexible, because the car is modelled entirely in the digital realm. Just like a racing sim.

Traditional configurators require the car to be photographed in a studio until the lens bursts. When you choose to swap colours, trims or wheels, the car is essentially photoshopped to make it look different. A clunky process.

Zerolight’s configurator instead uses the incredibly detailed CAD data direct from the car’s engineer and designers. ZeroLight tells TG.com: “We deliver an ‘interactive scene’, presenting the actual model of the car”.

With this tech, data can even be uploaded into a ‘Cloud’ to present the entire car. And in this Cloud sits ZeroLight’s software. That means you, as a user, don’t have to download and install anything. And it will work on almost any device.

So now you can configure the model – let’s say the Huayra – in 3D, on demand. Not just zooming in and out but moving your PoV and perspective. That is, you’re not shackled to the supplied photo angles.

So, choose a Huayra. Select the colour, the trim, the wheels, then spin it around to your heart’s content. It’s also in real-time – just like in the aforementioned Gran Turismo – meaning it’s fully interactive. You can open the doors and peek inside, take a look at that engine (it’s a Pagani, you’ll definitely want to do this), and see it driving. In high def, too.

“It is capable of delivering car models at around five million polygons with all of ZeroLight’s advanced rendering and lighting,” ZL tells TG. Add to this the simulation-quality physics engine, and you’ve got something that reacts to changes you make. In real-time.

The end game means dealers ultimately don’t have to fob you off with ‘it’ll sort of look like this one we’ve got on the forecourt’, or rely on static images.

Of course, you might already be familiar with ZeroLight: it’s the company behind Audi’s astonishing virtual reality configurator we first saw in action at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year.

You know the one. The one that allowed you to stand next to a classic 1930s Auto Union race car – with all its internals on display – while standing on the surface of the moon overlooking the earth.

Audi’s upcoming manifestation of the ZeroLight experience goes one step further, too, meaning if you’re physically at the dealership, you can put on a headset and virtually walk around the car you’re about to buy.

“It’s this application of technology developed in another industry to the automotive sector that has allowed us to gain such traction,” explains ZL. Sounds very Tesla-ish, you’ll agree.

Reckon it’ll catch on? Create your new Pagani using a special Cloud demonstrator here, and then let us know what you think below…

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