Meritor, one of the world’s leading suppliers of commercial automotive parts, sought to differentiate itself at the 2016 American Trucking Association (ATA) Management Conference and Exhibition by incorporating the latest virtual reality technologies into its exhibit. The company approached ICON Interactive with the goal of developing an experience that would generate hype for Meritor’s products.
The Meritor “Run With the Bull” virtual demo is approximately three minutes long. It starts viewers off in a large hangar and presents them with an isometric view of a semi-truck. The truck becomes transparent, showcasing examples of the types of parts that Meritor supplies. Viewers can look around the hangar and select from five featured auto parts. Once the viewers have seen all five, the app prompts them to “take a drive”.
The next scene places viewers in the driver’s seat of the same semi-truck, now cruising down a long highway. They pass billboards advertising more of Meritor’s parts, and, if they look around the interior of the truck, a cheeky warning in the backseat tells them to keep their eyes on the road. As the surrounding environment changes from farmlands to forests to desert, the viewer is confronted with a series of hazards typical of the open road—loss of traction, poor road conditions, and deer leaping out from the brush. Every problem is quickly and easily handled thanks to the Meritor components powering the vehicle. After each hazard passes, details about the component in question appear in text on the windshield along with more related facts about Meritor.
Keeping the audience in mind, the ICON team had to make sure the Meritor app was accessible and user-friendly enough to appeal to users who weren’t quite as familiar with VR technology. This idea prompted the team to move the project from the HTC Vive, one of the most advanced VR headsets currently on the market, to portable options such as smartphones utilizing the Google Cardboard viewer. These required easier set-up and also allowed for a take-home experience. Thanks to the chosen device, Meritor customers and salespeople could download the demonstration and take it wherever they needed.
The demo itself also took accessibility and a self-guided approach into consideration. While viewers moved through most of the experience automatically, they could view the truck parts at their leisure and choose when they wanted to proceed to the open road. Other than that, viewer input was minimal, restricted to looking around the environments and focusing on the five featured Meritor parts.
As a result of ICON’s user-friendly “Run With the Bull” demo, Meritor saw a larger than average turnout at its 2016 exhibit, with attendees queuing up to try out the app for themselves. Updated versions of the app were also deployed at the 2017 Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week at the Mirage in Las Vegas, as well as at the 2017 CONEXPO-CON/AGG show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “Run With the Bull” is currently available for download from the App Store and Google Play.