During CES, Sanjay Ravi from Microsoft joined for a live recording of the .metaverse podcast at CES 2023 to discuss the once-in-a-century transformation we are seeing in the automotive industry right now.
For more than two decades, Sanjay Ravi has been leading innovation and industry transformation for Microsoft’s global Automotive, Mobility & Transportation industry business, and providing vehicle manufacturers, mobility service providers, and transportation & logistics providers—including their suppliers and ecosystem partners—with innovative solutions and services strategies that accelerate digital transformation.
Sanjay is actively engaged in several Automotive and Manufacturing industry organizations, industry standards efforts, and government initiatives focused on accelerating digital transformation through key emerging technologies across these areas: the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, intelligent edge, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mobility services. He currently sits on the advisory board for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development focused on transportation and urban mobility.
Read the full transcript of this episode below.
Hi, I'm Ziv Navoth and welcome to the .metaverse podcast. Today's episode is one of a series of fireside chats recorded live at CES 2023 surrounding how the metaverse is revolutionizing the automotive industry and the customer buying journey. In these conversations, we'll hear from a variety of leaders from Microsoft, Accenture, Fiat, Tekion, CNH Industrial, Wejo, PwC and ZF.
We're here at CES 2023 at the Microsoft Booth, specifically focused on automotive. This year has been incredibly exciting, somewhat of a turning point post Covid. Everybody's back. You can feel it in the air. There's tremendous excitement and a lot of innovation happening, and I'm very fortunate to have Sanjay Ravi with me here today. Sanjay is the GM for automotive and runs all of the efforts that Microsoft has in the automotive field. What are you excited about this year?
Edo, as you mentioned, we all are going through this once in a century transformation we keep talking about in the automotive industry. And I'm so energized to see many of the innovations at play, in very practical use cases in the automotive industry. And that's what we are seeing here. It’s super energizing.
We are sitting in a place where the metaverse is transforming the whole buying and sales experience and this is applicable across all aspects of automotive and mobility. So the impact of technology, how that is changing the business processes and making the world more safer, productive and sustainable is the purpose behind what we are doing, and it's super exciting.
“It's never been more apparent how all these technologies are compressing and becoming, not nice to have, but fundamentally critical to the survival of companies in this industry.” - Edo Segal
Yes - I was speaking to a colleague, a senior leader in the automotive industry, and I was asking him if he's gonna be at the next car trade show, and he said no, this is now the car show - CES. Which I think as technologists we've always kind of carried the flag of how technology is important for industries like you would say legacy industries like automotive. But I feel like it's never been more apparent how all these technologies are compressing and becoming, not nice to have, but fundamentally critical to the survival of companies in this industry. Do you agree?
Absolutely. And in fact, this year we are sitting in the West Hall. It's very much focused on automotive and mobility and you're absolutely right, it's probably the best technology show for the entire mobility industry worldwide. And what we are seeing here is all these capabilities coming to life and bringing very specific value; be it around shared mobility, connectivity, how the context specific experiences can be lit up.
All the way down to sustainability and how you can do more with less on the manufacturing floor with the same advanced AI and IOT capabilities. So we are experiencing all of that in action here and it's really exciting.
“Our experience has been that while these websites are catalogs, they're quickly shifting into things that you can fly into and basically be there inside the commercial.” - Edo Segal
I think the levels of disruption now are occurring on all the stacks of this company's life cycle, including how they market, how they sell, how they support and for a long time, Microsoft has had a leadership position in the role of digital twins. I think the work we've done with Fiat is indicative of how that goes from the design phase into the front office, if you will, right? Into a world where you can actually use that digital twin for other purposes? So our experience has been that while these websites are catalogs, they're quickly shifting into things that you can fly into and basically be there inside the commercial. In a world where people don't read anymore, you can really have a world in which people can engage with the vehicle and they're already on a buying journey. So I find it fascinating to consider the implication that has. And one of the things we advocate for is to help give the tools to the design departments within these automotives to be able to go all the way to the customer. Right. As opposed to just engineering tools. What are your thoughts on that?
“One of the things the industry is going through right now is every organization is becoming a digital organization. And they are building amazing digital platforms across all aspects of mobility and automotive.” - Sanjay Ravi
Actually Edo, even to your previous question, one of the things the industry is going through right now is every organization is becoming a digital organization. And they are building amazing digital platforms across all aspects of mobility and automotive. And what you are talking about here from how do you market and sell a car even before the car is physically available somewhere and excite the community and the audience and get them deeply engaged in the vehicle and the product through technologies like digital twins, through technologies like the immersive experience you have created where you don't need a lot of cameras and others. All you need is a browser to go and have an immersive view of the vehicle sitting on your couch in your living room. That is transformative. The industry has been trying to do this in the past by giving a lot of information, like you said, through catalogs and websites and YouTube videos. And what we are talking about is game changing.
“All you need is a browser to go and have an immersive view of the vehicle sitting on your couch in your living room. That is transformative.” - Sanjay Ravi
You're having someone sitting on the couch - perceiving the vehicle, three-dimensional going in, understanding what's happening. And what I'm most excited about is also the collaboration that happens when I'm sitting. One of the things I saw you show is when you sit in the car and I don't understand how the cruise control works, and then click that agent and that agent can see exactly what I'm seeing and it's guiding me to go and say, “yeah, just go and click here and this is how it's gonna work.” And that's game changing and that's a two way interaction, which is transformative because the one way interaction has always been there in different modalities.
And what excites me is the opportunity, not just of the immersive experience, but the two-way engagement that keeps people active, engaged, and then drives a much deeper view into the brand and what the offer is.
“What excites me is the opportunity, not just of the immersive experience, but the two-way engagement that keeps people active, engaged, and then drives a much deeper view into the brand and what the offer is.” - Sanjay Ravi
Yeah if we can go back to the website, we can see that there are multiple layers and there's so many disruptive technologies that are taking place right now. The metaverse is one of them. As you can see, leveraging NVIDIA's capabilities on Azure with Unreal Engine5. This looks practically like a video of the car, but while you're watching this commercial, you can change the color, et cetera. And leveraging the amazing AI progress that we have made. We can now also do things like leverage GPT3, and we've announced here at the show ManualGPT, which is the ability to actually talk to the manual of the book, which is typically this 300 page book. So I can show you an example here: “Does this car have regenerative braking?”
AI Agent begins to answer: “Anytime the driver lifts their foot….”
So you can see that the car, actually talks to the manual and generates a synthetic video, and you can literally ask anything, which is incredible. But if that's not sufficient, and if the AI doesn't solve your problem, I can click on the “Design Yours” button and talk to an actual salesperson. We'll basically go into a live session with a salesperson.”Hi, Tim.”
Hello. Welcome to the Fiat Metaverse store.
Yeah, there he is. Do you have a perfect color that you'd like to see?
Why don’t we go with blue?
Absolutely. We've got celestial blue, sort of a lighter blue. What do you think?
It's really nice. Fantastic. Yeah, so we've had a lot of fun here at the trade show because you can't see it, but around the corner is his little home office where Tim is sitting. And Tim is just using Teams - he's just on a Teams call, no green screen, no special equipment, he’s just using his webcam, and look at how stunning that looks. Tim, can you take us on a test drive?
I can. Let me pull that up for you.
So there's really no limit to what you can now do in this metaverse digital twinning. The automotive industry has always been ahead of other industries in digital in that they've created their cars in CAD for so many years. But those assets can now travel into all these use cases.
How do you think this will disrupt this buying journey?
“ Today's automotive vehicles have a lot of advanced safety capabilities. And it's important for people to understand that and how to use them effectively, and having capabilities like this will also train and teach people in a fraction of the time that it takes today for someone to comprehend all the complexities that exist in the vehicle.” -Sanjay Ravi
Like I mentioned before edo, the whole notion of you being able to interact with someone and, and make configuration, see that in real time, and then take it into photorealistic environments where you see how the vehicle operates - It's game changing. And if I were someone, as a consumer, if I want to go do what we just did in the last one minute, it would've probably taken me time to go drive into someplace, make sure people there have the right configuration, I could spend half a day trying to do what we just did in like 30 seconds or a minute. So this is where I feel really energized in terms of the new generation of marketing and sales, positioning products, explaining how the products work. I’ve talked about safety before, which is a top theme for us. And today's automotive vehicles have a lot of advanced safety capabilities.
And it's important for people to understand that and how to use them effectively, and having capabilities like this will also train and teach people in a fraction of the time that it takes today for someone to comprehend all the complexities that exist in the vehicle.
Yes, and education is really a core theme when you move this entire industry to electrification. So simple questions like, “Tim, how do I charge my car?” They're hard to answer even in a dealership.
Yes, and here we have an animation to help folks understand that. Cuz often times we're talking to people who are making their first EV purchase,
This is not a video, this is live rendered on an Azure server streaming into the browser. No software necessary. This is like the future of what the website would look like. Notice that this car is still the beautiful blue you asked for. It's not a video. This is a live render, it's customized. So that's really an incredible thing. And if we go back to the website for a second and ask Fiat another question: “What are the safety features of this vehicle?”
“There are many driver assistance features such as cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, parking assist, blind spot assist, and more.”
So it's pretty remarkable. And this wasn't possible I would say a month ago.
“(ManualGPT) just takes convenience to a whole new level and also increases the intimacy between a consumer and a vehicle.” - Sanjay Ravi
What you just shared with ManualGPT is - it's just amazing how many of us have carried around a huge manual and probably never looked at it, but always had questions. And, Edo, we were just earlier looking at, and you're walking me through how do I know what the tire pressure is for the car? And I found myself looking around for the tire pressure multiple times, even though I've been using the same model for multiple years. And here you just ask a question and you just have someone coming and answering that for you. It just takes convenience to a whole new level and also increases the intimacy between a consumer and a vehicle.
If you think of the role that Microsoft plays as the most prominent communication technology platform with Teams, and this notion of the role that Teams plays in vehicles, you can imagine that you can always have a call with an AI over a Teams call like this. In the past we had this OnStar button as a construct, but the future is so much more robust than that. You can have this digital twin show up and you can show someone how to change their tire.
Absolutely. You're looking at so many different dimensions. You're looking at a dimension of having that immersive experience. You're looking at a dimension of talking to a real life person who can guide you through things. You're looking at a dimension that is driven by AI and ManualGPT where, through AI, you're getting a lot of information in a consumable, convenient format and all these are coming together, to the convenience of your couch in your living room and when you're in the car.
So these are cutting edge innovations and I'm really impressed with what Touchcast is doing, bringing all the advanced technologies together and putting, and we've heard a lot about metaverse and there's a lot of hyper on metaverse today, but the use cases we are talking about are very practical use cases that are getting into production as we speak.
And this is where I love what Touchcast is doing by bringing in the latest capabilities around communication and collaboration across immersive experiences, across ChatGPT-3 and creating the experiences consumers want and the automakers need to make their brands differentiated and build that intimacy with their customers.
“I love what Touchcast is doing by bringing in the latest capabilities around communication and collaboration across immersive experiences, across ChatGPT-3 and creating the experiences consumers want and the automakers need to make their brands differentiated and build that intimacy with their customers.” - Sanjay Ravi
And it's all packaged in such a way that our big enterprise clients that already are Microsoft customers can easily engage through the Azure marketplace and deploy a turnkey solution that's delivered as a service. So just like you have SaaS, then we refer to this as MaaS, different acronym than Automotive, Metaverse-as-a-Service. And through my career I've seen the gyration between client server, client server, having thick clients versus putting stuff on the server. This is a prime opportunity, historic opportunity, to see how the server plays a role because you can put these incredible machines on the Azure Cloud, which we're seeing here, that render using these incredible NVIDIA GPUs with the Unreal Engine and deliver that to any device.
You can have a $30 Android phone, or for that matter, a very low end in card device even that receives it without the need to render and do that. So we couldn't have achieved any of this without Microsoft support and your personal sponsorship of our journey. This has been an incredible event for us.
We've had over a hundred conversations that are leading to a very impressive 2023. Thank you again for your support and for everything you're doing at Microsoft.
Thank you Edo for the partnership. Working with you and Touchcast and our partners is what inspires Microsoft. We are all about enabling our partner ecosystems. So together we can bring value to the automotive industry, the mobility industry, and eventually to the end customer and the society at large. So it's super exciting how you are bringing these technologies together, leveraging the hyperscale of the cloud so you can bring these capabilities to anyone on the planet who has a browser and that's amazing. The exponential growth we are going to see in terms of adoption is inspirational. So looking forward to partnering and taking this to the market and bringing value to our customers worldwide. Thank you.
Thank you so much
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