The anticipation after the announcement of Google Glass fizzled out quite quickly. Augmented reality glasses were a flop for the mass market, but augmented reality remains an exciting topic – especially for industry.
But what does augmented reality (AR) really mean? While virtual reality is understood as a purely digital, virtual world, augmented reality extends one’s view by an additional digital level.
AR plays an essential role with regard to Industry 4.0. German automotive suppliers in particular want to utilize augmented realities in every step of their value chain. However, the integration of AR functions in consumers’ windshields is also in development.
Mercedes Benz and others have already recognized the opportunities behind the new technologies and, along with virtual reality, have made significant investments in augmented reality, which has different uses in research, development, design and planning processes, maintenance, or even production.
In particular, complex and complicated correlations can be easily depicted with AR in a comprehensible form. As an example, the installation of a vehicle part in a specific vehicle, which is first conceptualized entirely virtually, can be simulated with an AR application. This way, companies can avoid the actual manufacturing of the vehicle part beforehand and reduce research and development costs.
Augmented reality can also be used with regard to the customer; For example, products in marketing can be made emotionally perceptible through AR. It begins with the representation of a 3D model of the desired vehicle through the activation of AR functions using a barcode in a brochure, and ends with a virtual test drive.
Trustfully retaining customer loyalty in the long-run and improving the satisfaction of customers is a major goal of AR. It allows for the development of new opportunities in the areas of maintenance or after sales processes. If my vehicle is due for routine maintenance, for example, as a vehicle owner, I no longer have to go to a mechanic.
Using an app, the driver is shown how to change oil via AR. Automobile manufacturers face the challenge of convincing their customers of AR because the Germans, at eight percent, lag behind the worldwide average of AR users, which is at ten percent.
Quality assurance is also a useful area of application for AR. Here, erroneous production processes can be recognized via augmented reality and rectified through the display of individual steps using an AR app without any experts present. This primarily accelerates the work required for maintenance and repairs. In addition, augmented reality can be used in production and thus improve manufacturing processes.
In the future, cars with an internet connection will be ahead of the game – vehicles with smarter windshields and other AR technologies are to have penetrated the market by 2020 at the latest. What has been performed by navigational devices up to now will be offered by “virtual windshields”. In a digital windshield, information that is integrated directly into one’s field of vision will be displayed in real time.
The driver will be able to continue focusing on the road and receive traffic updates, alternative routes, or gas station recommendations. Being distracted while driving is a thing of the past. The smart driving system will also anticipate the ideal route, indicate the potential breaking distance using overlays, and recognize dangers before the driver does.
This means that many of the introduced innovations have already been integrated by the automotive industry into their processes, or already presented at automotive exhibitions. The future of driving cars with supported augmented reality will soon be a reality.