The automotive industry has toyed with the idea of using augmented reality for years. Most applications have stayed in the realm of concepts, but Porsche is making strides toward real-world application.
Instead of helping drivers to spot dangers on the road like Jaguar and Land Rover, or supplying first responders with 3D schematics of vehicles like Daimler, Porsche is applying augmented reality in dealership service departments. It will be technicians wearing smart glasses, instead of customers, opening a world of possibilities.
Called Tech Live Look, this new program centers on AiR Enterprise software from Atheer, Inc. and smart glasses. The spectacles don’t weigh much, so technicians should adapt to wearing them quickly. Porsche claims they have “the latest” in projection technology, so wearers see crisp overlays on a vehicle.
Attached to these smart glasses is a high-resolution camera with an automatic focus. Technicians won’t need to mess with camera controls, but instead have their hands and attention free to deal with the car. What’s more, the camera is so good it will properly display fine details, like the threads on a screw.
An LED light built into the glasses can illuminate dark portions under the car, or anywhere else. That ensures the camera records whatever the mechanic is looking at clearly.
Real Time Connectivity
The whole point of these smart glasses is to put dealership techs in touch with the Porsche technical support team through an innovative means. That team in Atlanta sees exactly what the technician sees in real time, so they can talk with each other about how to proceed with any repair job, avoiding lags in the conversation.
While technicians at Porsche dealerships go through factory training, nobody knows everything. Being able to connect with the technical support team means a mechanic can leverage the knowledge of many people to overcome especially difficult or novel repairs.
If you aren’t aware, many mechanics these days upload videos of vehicle problems and send them to other mechanics or manufacturer support teams. The Tech Live Look feature in this program streamlines what’s already being done, which is always the sign of a tremendous solution. Porsche isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather is just refining a process for improved efficiency.
Two-Way Visual Communication
Not only can technicians and Porsche support staff communicate back and forth through audio, the video features on the smart glasses allow for two-way visual communication.
That means the technical support team in Atlanta can push images to the technician, and they can project onto the vehicle through the glasses. That includes screen shots from a computer, plus technical bulletins as well as other instructions. Think kind of like the Terminator, only less scary, like the Master Chief and Cortana.
With this tech, communication happens faster and with fewer misunderstandings. Efficiency is the key word. As Porsches and vehicles in general become more advanced and complicated, this additional help almost seems like a necessity.
This isn’t an untested solution. Porsche already successfully ran a pilot program at eight dealers spread throughout North America, including locations in Canada, Florida, California, New Jersey, and more. It was the success of this limited initiative that convinced company brass to move forward with a full-scale effort.
Among the impressive results was a service resolution time decrease of 40 percent. That means technicians were fixing cars faster than before. One of the main ways dealerships make money is through preventative maintenance and repairs. Being able to do that faster puts more money in dealers’ pockets, making them happy.
Car owners get a benefit from this, too. Their vehicle doesn’t spend as much time in the service bay. It’s less of a disruption to their life, so they can keep driving their beloved vehicle. Errors in the repair process become less common, reducing the chances of follow-up visits because of recurring problems.
This new approach to vehicle servicing will hit Porsche dealerships throughout North America in 2018. Don’t be surprised if other automakers follow suit.