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Technology & Entrepreneurship

USAA Road Testing Augmented Reality Car-Buying App

Courtesy USAA

It’s going to get easier to buy a car with San Antonio-based USAA — or at least that is the hope.

The financial service provider announced Monday it was piloting a new augmented-reality app to help members buy cars.

With the app, members can point their phones at a car, and if that car is made after 2000, information on local dealer availability, likely cost, insurance quotes, and projected loan rates are all immediately provided.

“We’re really proud that we have the breadth and depth of functionality we do,” said Chris Cox, chief digital officer for USAA of the company’s mobile app. “Augmented reality, in particular, opens up what I would call a third of fourth dimension for engaging customers.”

USAA joins others entering the augmented reality space, where a phone or other screen digitally adds additional layers of information to the real world. IKEA launched an app allowing shoppers to add their furniture to a room, so a person can see through their phone how a chair, bookcase or other item fits in their homes.

This is the first augmented reality app for members. USAA has piloted other programs internally for employees.

In a Harvard Business Review survey earlier this year, 87 percent of executives responding said augmented and virtual reality would be part of their company’s strategic future.

But it isn’t technology for technology’s sake, Cox said. They think it will increase sales.

“We believe this will provide a boost to the number of facilitated sales that we do to through that service,” he said.

Members can sign up to pilot the app at USAALabs.com. They will review the findings after the pilot ends Nov. 1. If all goes well, they will incorporate the app into their core mobile app.

Paul Flahive can be reached Paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive