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Ferrari's new app lets you virtually dismantle your $300,000 sports car

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It's a problem we've all faced — you're in your local Ferrari showroom, but you just can't decide which color supercar you want to buy this time. Classic red? A nice suave black? Garish yellow, to beat your Lambo-owning friends at their own game? Finally, there's an answer.

Ferrari has joined forces with developer Zspace to create the Ferrari AR showroom app, software that uses 3D tracking technology to recognize real-world cars and superimpose shapes, colors, and videos onto their real-time images. The app lets customers in Ferrari showrooms hold a tablet in front of their chosen vehicle and virtually change the rims, brakes, and paint job, building a custom specification for their new ride without the dealership needing to order it in.

The app currently works with five Ferrari models

The app uses 3D tracking technology built by augmented reality specialists Metaio, and has seven "feature spotlights" that customers can select, including an X-ray view of the selected car that shows its components, a 3D breakdown of the brake assembly, and a visualization of the vehicle in a wind tunnel. Select the brakes option on the app, for example, and wheel pops out from its housing, displaying the brakes and screws that hold it in place.

Metaio's technology is able to detect the car by tracking its edges. When the device housing the app is pointed at a Ferrari, it judges the distances between its panels, wheel arches, and other parts of its chassis, before overlaying the chosen graphics. Hold the device steady, and prospective Ferrari purchasers can change the car's color on the fly, using the augmented reality tech to repaint it without needing to leave the showroom.

Edge tracking technology has been used by car manufacturers before. In 2013, Volkswagen worked with Metaio to develop augmented reality software that showed technical information for the German manufacturer's hybrid concept XL1 car in real-time, visualizing real and virtual parts side-by-side on a tablet pointed toward the vehicle.

For the moment, the new Ferrari app works with five models — the 458 Speciale and Spider, the FF, the California, and the F12berlinetta — but the car manufacturer could conceivably use the technology for the rest of its range, too. (Not to say you'll see many unsold LaFerraris in dealerships.) American customers will have to wait a while before they can see their augmented reality Ferraris, though — the app's being rolled out in Japanese and Australian showrooms first, but will make its first appearance in the US at the upcoming InsideAR augmented reality show in mid-May.