Find or Sell any Parts for Your Vehicle in USA

Augmented reality application streamlines home car maintenance

Thu, 30 May 2013

The basic home motor-oil swap is about to get a lot more futuristic -- at least if the augmented reality application being developed by AR-media goes anywhere.

AR-media's app uses a tablet's camera to position guides and instructions over a car's engine bay in real time. It sounds complicated, but it appears to be relatively seamless in action.

The company has produced a brief demo video that shows a user performing very basic maintenance -- nothing more complicated than checking fluid levels, really -- on a Ford Fiesta. We see potential here, but the demo raises a number of questions:

If you don't care enough about your car to know where the dipstick is without an app, wouldn't you be inclined to let a mechanic handle your tuneup? Will you need to get a vehicle-specific version of the app to maintain your car? Will this kind of tech allow people to do anything more complicated than top off their windshield-wiper fluid levels?

Will users care that they look utterly ridiculous waving their iPads around in front of their engine bays, kind of like those people who use tablets to take photos?

Clearly, augmented reality has a long way to go before we reach Jarvis-like levels of sophistication (but getting Paul Bettany to narrate the app would go a long way). But this gives a taste of what the tech will accomplish once it's integrated into head-up devices like the much-hyped Google Glass.

If there were some way to combine this concept with a wireless OBD-II port reader (Bluetooth-based versions already exist) and make it all work seamlessly with a hands-free device, it could make working on -- and perhaps even modifying -- the tech-laden cars of today and tomorrow feasible for the ambitious home mechanic.

No word on when AR-media's app will be ready for consumers, but we'll be sure to let you know when it hits stores. If they're not able to bring it to market, rest assured that someone will make this tech, or something similar, work.

By Graham Kozak