A “gremlin” is a slang word from the 1920’s used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) to describe a mythical creature that causes unexplained malfunctions in aircraft. This is still a common feeling among automotive technicians today with hard to diagnose problems in vehicles. It seems that Augmented Reality (AR) is the emerging technology that is starting to assist in hunting these modern gremlins.
Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience in which you view the real world through a device which adds to or “augments” what you are looking at with computer-generated information, like a heads-up display (HUD) in a modern car. This is different from Virtually Reality (VR) which completely replaces what you are looking at with computer-generated images and sounds.
Back in 2009, BMW started developing an AR smart glasses system which would allow technicians to follow step by step instructions to repair vehicle systems and replace components. However, not much has been heard about this system since. In 2013 Volkswagen announced the MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) system but again nothing. Wearable AR glasses have come of age as the Porsche dealership network in North America have starting to roll out the “Tech Live Look” system.
“Tech Live Look” is a system designed around the ODG R-7 smart glasses that claims to substantially shorten and enhance the chain of communication transfer. A service technician puts on the smart glasses and connects through the software with the Porsche technical support team.
Via the high-definition live video from the glasses, the support team sees exactly what the technician is seeing. The support team, in turn can project step-by-step technical bulletins and schematic drawings onto the display inside the technician’s glasses, as well as take screenshots and enlarge images for better visibility. The technician can open and view documents while working hands-free on the car.
This information exchange is far more efficient than sending electronic forms and photos or explaining complex technical issues over the phone. After successful trials in 2017, the system has started going live at U.S. Porsche dealers.
Google tried to launch smart glasses to the public with their Google Glass project. This didn’t take off because people did not feel comfortable walking around the street wearing them. But the Google Glass and other smart glasses have found a home in many factories, warehouses and medical facilities. These are environments where everyone already wears unfashionable eye protection, and smart glasses have been proven to increase the safety and efficiency of these workplaces.