Innovation

Porsche Gives AR-Enabled Car Repairs A Spin

This story will come as tragic news to fans of stale coffee, week-old newspapers, half-eaten donuts and uncomfortable chairs. Porsche is using augmented reality technology in an effort to speed up vehicle repairs, a move that could severely reduce the time drivers must spend in dealerships.

Granted, Porsche being Porsche — the dream car brand of countless teenaged boys and the aspirational purchase of so many affluent men — its dealership waiting rooms are likely more luxurious than your average oil change shop. But the point is the same: By giving mechanics in those dealerships access to augmented reality glasses that connect to remote experts, repairs could take less time than before.

The car brand said this week that Porsche Cars North America has started to roll out its “Tech Live Look” program to some of the 189 Porsche dealers in the United States. “The system connects dealership technicians to remote experts via smartglasses for a live interaction that can shorten service resolution times by up to 40 percent,” Porsche Cars North America said in a statement.

More specifically, Tech Live Look — among the latest augmented reality ideas that have popped up recently to better serve U.S. consumers — “combines computerized eyewear and augmented reality software to allow remote experts hundreds of miles away to see what a service technician is seeing and provide feedback while the technician works hands-free,” the statement said. “The system uses industry-leading components: ODG (Osterhout Design Group) R-7 smartglasses and the AiR Enterprise software platform from Atheer Inc.”

In the good ole days of auto repairs — that is, now — a mechanic faced with a complex repair might have to send and wait for “multiple electronic messages, phone calls, photos and even on-site visits by Porsche’s Field Technical Managers to identify and diagnose the issue for repair,” Porsche said. Now, “a service technician at a dealership, for example in Los Angeles, dons the smartglasses and connects through the software with the Atlanta-based Porsche technical support team 2,200 miles away.”

High-definition live video via the glasses enables those support technicians to see exactly what the on-site mechanic is looking at. The remote technicians can, in turn, “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,” Porsche said.

The ongoing rollout of Tech Live Look follows successful car pilots last year, Porsche said. Three of those 189 dealers can utilize the technology this week, with a total of 75 scheduled to have it by the end of the year. Most of the rest will start using Tech Live Look in 2019. Porsche said its program marks the first time the U.S. auto repair industry will have technical support via augmented reality.

The rollout of Tech Live Look comes as cars and trucks become increasingly web-connected and a bigger part of the evolving Internet of Things, and as self-driving cars continue their move toward the mainstream. For instance, this month brought news that Intel-owned Mobileye, an Israel-based firm acquired last year for $15.3 billion, has signed a deal with an unnamed European automaker to supply 8 million cars with self-driving technology.

Augmented reality has also made some newsworthy strides recently.

This spring, PayPal revived its patent for payment-enabled augmented reality glasses. The software described in the patent would give consumers with the glasses access to product and purchasing data simply by looking at an item on a store shelf.

Target, too, is playing the augmented reality game. The retail chain will allow customers — in at least 10 stores for now — to use the Perfect Corp.’s YouCam Makeup app to virtually try on different makeup products via a digital screen.

Porsche, via its own augmented reality move, joins those two major companies — though there is no indication that Tech Live Look would make it clear once and for all that the correct way to pronounce the car brand’s name is not “Porsh” but “Por Suh.”

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