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Spec up the perfect car from the comfort of your phone (pictures)

We designed our own personal Fiat 500, using a cool augmented reality app that lets you walk around your ideal virtual car before you buy it.

Andrew Lanxon
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Andrew Lanxon
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Speccing up a new car? This handy new Android app concept might be just the thing to help you shop. It's called Project Tango and it's been developed in partnership with Google, consulting firm Accenture and Fiat. We took a close up look at the app at Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona.

The concept is simple: Hold your device up in front of you -- we used a tablet -- and using an augmented reality overlay on your camera, the app will display a neat new Fiat 500 car in front of you, as though it's really sat there in your room. By using your device's accelerometers and motion tracking, you can then walk around your virtual car to view it from all angles.

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Hold your tablet out to view the car. Take a few steps forward to move towards it, and move the tablet around to check out your ride from all angles.

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You can even open the virtual car's doors and move the tablet "inside" the vehicle to check out the interior.

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Once inside, you can view all the different colour options to get a proper view of what your dream car will look like.

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You can change the style of wheels too.

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You can move around the car in all directions, even getting down low to see how your fancy new paint job will look from below.

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The app is mostly aimed at car showrooms -- you can visit the showroom to see the real car, then use the app to view all your custom paints, interiors and other options. Car showrooms can't possibly make room for physical models that show off all the different options, so Accenture is hoping that this tool will be a good compromise.

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CNET's Roger Cheng and Juan Garzon certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.

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The app will be free and Accenture is hoping to have it ready by the summer.

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The partnership with Fiat extends to the Italian marque's sister company Chrysler, although whether we see other car brands get on board with this technology remains to be seen.

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