How Augmented Reality (AR) is Changing the Automobile Industry
We’ve all heard stories of people looking down at their phones to check a notification while driving and bumping into the car in front of them, or even worse. With today’s high connectivity, drivers have become more distracted than ever. Luckily, Augmented reality (AR) can help prevent distracted driving and ease the driving experience overall. AR can also help automotive companies optimize their car production and sales processes with the use of 3D prototypes and interactive showrooms. Whether by augmenting the user experience or supporting the manufacturing process, AR has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry in numerous ways.
Heads Up Displays (HUDs)
HUDs are AR projections on the front windshield of a car in front of the driver’s seat. These displays can include features such as driving speed and road work ahead, cellular notifications, or entertainment features like the radio station. Companies like Hudway have already begun to sell HUDs. Hudway’s HUD device easily fits into most cars and plugs into a 12V socket. The display shows driving speed as well as navigation directions. Users can connect their phones to the device, allowing the HUD to show notifications and calls as well. Users can select which notifications they’d like to appear on the display through the Hudway app. This development helps decrease distracted driving by eliminating the need for drivers to look down at their phones. Hudway also provides users camera add-ons that project night vision and rear parking assistance. Combined with AI, HUDs can alert users to upcoming road obstacles before they occur. BMW has also created a prototype for a Next 100 HUD that combines AR with AI and notifies drivers about upcoming obstacles like bikers. HUDs give drivers a more seamless driving experience and increase road safety.
While the typical car manufacturing process requires the creation and testing of multiple prototypes, AR can eliminate the need for such physical prototypes, reduce costs and increase manufacturing speed and efficiency. Automobile designers can create AR renderings of their cars, swapping out various parts in these renderings to determine the best car design before creating a physical prototype. Instead of conducting physical tests of each prototype, manufacturers can input their AR renderings into realistic environments and test cars virtually, decreasing the total number of physical tests necessary to determine car safety. Volkswagen already uses AR in its car design process. AR also makes assembly easier for workers, speeding up the physical manufacturing process. AR projections of assembly instructions onto tablets or smart glasses gives workers more detailed information on how to best assemble cars, reducing human error. Volvo currently uses AR in its manufacturing process, providing assemblers with glasses that use AR to portray instructions and documentation, reducing distractions from the work process.
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Various automobile companies have begun to use virtual showrooms and AR in physical showrooms to help sell cars. Digital car showrooms use AR to create realistic 3D renderings of vehicles. Users can inspect the vehicles and even conduct virtual test drives to get a better sense of how the vehicle operates without the time investment of visiting a showroom in person. BMW and Porsche have both created apps containing virtual showrooms that allow users to inspect and interact with 3D renderings of their cars. The Porsche app even lets users conduct virtual test drives. In showrooms, Volvo’s collaboration with Microsoft’s HoloLens uses AR to present potential buyers with more information about the structure and function of its cars.
While many car repairs are simple enough for users to conduct themselves, 2D instructions often do not provide drivers with enough information for them to feel confident in making repairs without the help of a trained mechanic. AR use in car manuals can provide users with the necessary information to conduct car maintenance, saving them time and money. These car manuals can also provide in-depth information about a car’s features, making the car easier to use. Mercedes has already created Ask Mercedes, a virtual assistant that helps users with instructional manuals containing AR. AR can also help technicians conduct repairs. AR instructions on a tablet or smart glasses provide more information to technicians, allowing them to conduct repairs more quickly and with fewer errors. Volkswagen’s MARTA app uses AR to help technicians perform repairs. If no technicians present understand how to conduct a repair, the technicians can create an AR rendering of the car that needs fixing and receive remote assistance on the repair. Australia-based Tradiebot Industries also offers a similar AR solution for automotive repair and service.
AR has enormous possibilities in the automotive industry, benefitting both car manufacturers and drivers by supporting an easier driving and manufacturing experience. At echoAR, we are excited to see future applications of AR in the automobile industry. Our platform helps manage and deliver AR and VR content to devices everywhere. With our scalable infrastructure, companies can easily build their AR app and deliver content to a showroom, repair shop, factory, or even a windshield near you.
echoAR (http://www.echoAR.xyz; Techstars ’19) is a cloud platform for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that provides tools and server-side infrastructure to help developers & companies quickly build and deploy AR/VR apps and experiences.