Lamborghini is set to announce its next supercar, the Huracán EVO RWD Spyder, tomorrow on May 7 at 1 p.m. CET (7 a.m. ET). I'm sure the "V10 super sports car" will be a fast four-wheeler with the sleek low-to-ground profile that makes Lamborghinis so alluring.
I'm less interested in the car — I'm sure it'll be badass and I'll never be able to afford one — and more in Lamborghini's launch in augmented reality (AR) with Apple. Spinning the AR launch as a solution to launching during the COVID-19 pandemic, both companies boasted about using the nascent technology to allow people at home to check out the car. Lamborghini says users will be able to view a 1:1 scale version of the Huracán EVO RWD Spyder, resize it, rotate it, and look at the exterior and interior.
Usually, I'm wont to include boilerplate press release quotes, but it's necessary for context. Here's Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, on the unique collab:
Apple cares deeply about the people of Italy and our friends at Lamborghini. We are inspired by their commitment to return to work safely during this critical time. Apple and Lamborghini share a great passion for design and innovation. We are excited to support the launch of the new Lamborghini with Apple’s augmented reality technology, so that their fans around the world can experience it from the safety of their own homes.
As far as I know, this is the first time Apple's AR Quick Look tech has been used to launch a product that's not its own; Apple has in the past let people play with an AR version of the Mac Pro, iPad Pro, and AirPods Pro using an iOS device. But a Lambo? New waters for Apple.
Now, here's Stefano Domenicali, chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, on the AR launch:
At a time of major business challenges, Lamborghini is innovating once again and exploring new methods of communication. New technologies have accelerated rapidly during this time of global emergency, and Lamborghini is pioneering exciting new possibilities. Starting tomorrow, Lamborghini can be in everyone's home thanks to Apple's AR technology, which is available on hundreds of millions of AR-enabled devices around the world.
Don't get me wrong, using AR to launch the Huracán EVO RWD Spyder is fun, but very ballsy. It's one thing to let millions of people worldwide play with an AR iPad Pro — it's not that hard to render a thin tablet — but another level for a supercar. There's more detailing, especially when you want to examine the interior finish, paneling, steering wheel, dashboard, etc. Lamborghini says the AR model has a "high level of photorealism."
Time to get serious — The publicly announced collab is Apple's most serious display of its AR efforts yet and suggests the company is confident in its AR technology to render a car that sells for north of $287,000. Any high-level Apple watcher could read this move as the company testing the waters to find a killer use case to sell its rumored AR headset/glasses, slated to launch as early as 2022 or 2023.
Finding a killer app — No matter how cool its AR headset looks, Apple will need to show people why they should consider putting a computer on their face. It's not going to be an easy challenge. Despite years of hearing Tim Cook tease AR's untapped potential and improvements to ARKit, we've yet to see a single must-have AR experience. Not even Magic Leap and its storied AR tech could save it from pivoting away from consumers to the enterprise like its AR headset competitors, Google Glass and HoloLens.
Including a LiDAR scanner in the new iPad Pro for improving AR experiences is another hint at Apple getting serious about AR. An AR Lambo will be fun for a few minutes, but Apple is going to need a more compelling reason to get people to pony up for an AR sensor on the new iPhone 12 Pro.