Success Factors for AR Implementation in the Field of Automotive Businesses
By Juergen Lumera, Director Global TIS Product Management And Innovation, Bosch Automotive Service Solutions
Especially in terms of technical trainings, AR applications also provide particularly high benefits as they allow different training scenarios to be implemented. The trainer can, for instance, control the case displayed on the devices of the participants, that is, on their smartphones, tablet computers or smart glasses. Each participant can thus be provided with an individual view, for example into the engine compartment. The whole group of participants and each and every one of them can actively follow and experience the explanations the trainer provides for each training situation. In the same manner, the trainer can also access each participant's device to provide remarks, hints and tips on how to proceed.
The possibilities to support automotive businesses by means of AR are huge. However, its implementation and market launch are not negligible. What do we need for this purpose? First of all and most importantly: contents. There can’t be any AR without contents.
For many years, Bosch has been supporting automotive workshops with diagnostic data, service and repair instructions as well as technical tips for almost any vehicle make, model and type. So, the contents are already available.
To develop them into AR contents, new tools – and ways – of planning technical documentation are required. That is, 3D data is to be created and the IT infrastructure to be built up in order to make the huge amount of data usable for AR. The challenge now is to handle the vast variety dominating the automotive sector by means of intelligent variants management. On the client side, uncomplicated access is to be arranged. Several additional details need to be planned and the matching applications are to be programmed.
AR applications must be defined clearly and are to comply with an overarching AR strategy
Once the potential benefits of AR for both the company and the users have proven, the second phase can be started. For a larger-scale implementation, a pilot project is created. For this purpose, a more sophisticated use case is chosen, which includes different parts of the company and comprises a significant amount of users. In this case, the contents and the application are not handmade anymore, but are rather created industrially. In addition, the integration of the application into existing processes and tools should be possible, too. Follow-up costs are to be evaluated as well.
At the third phase, the project is rolled out. Prior to this step, however, the availability of the required hardware is to be ensured. A scalable, reliable and robust AR platform allowing the AR application to be published in a device-independent manner is yet another prerequisite. What’s more, global support – around the clock and seven days a week – is to be ensured as well.
The successful rollout of an AR enterprise solution requires the commitment of a company’s entire value/supply chain rather than the compilation of development-originated data. AR applications must be defined clearly and are to comply with an overarching AR strategy. The solution should always be developed together with both the experts creating the contents and the users. This is the only way to make sure the users will accept the system and use it for their work. For this purpose, it must be possible to neatly integrate the AR solution into the user’s working environment. And yet the demands placed on the system should not be too high either. An AR application doesn’t have to solve all problems at once. It doesn’t make much sense to wait for the availability of the next hardware generation, for instance.
For the time being, we believe that this results in two ideal possibilities for the application of AR on the automotive aftermarket: Technical live trainings right on the vehicle on the one hand and the localization of vehicle components and identification of relevant and often hidden parts for both maintenance and repair on the other hand.
What exactly does this mean and how did we proceed for the implementation? Having created the prerequisites for the creation of AR applications by means of an own AR platform fed with the required data by databases already available, we launched a limited application onto the market at first. Documentation and first use of a new exhaust emission tester was illustrated and complemented by multimedia elements using AR. Concomitantly, we determined the benefits of AR applications by means of a field study at Bosch Car Service workshops. Thanks to AR applications, mechanics were able to see the location of hidden components. Complying with the contents of the real image displayed on the tablet computer, instructions and required components were superimposed. The study proved that using AR applications, time savings of 15 percent can be achieved even on common vehicles and in case of less sophisticated repair tasks. In case of sophisticated repairs or if dealing with current vehicle technology, the time – and thus money – savings might be much higher.
In terms of technical trainings, we now also offer the first service training supported by AR, the two-day apprenticeship for “high-voltage technicians – working on intrinsically safe HV vehicles” carried out at the Bosch Service Training Centers close to Stuttgart (Germany) and Ballerup (Denmark). Prior to this training, automotive mechanics can also test the new training technology on the topic of high-voltage technology at a Bosch workshop offered at the international Automechanika fair in Frankfurt (Germany) taking place from September 11th to 15th.
Rather than just explaining technical backgrounds, AR allows guiding the users at technical trainings or in case of service or repair tasks. Considering the increasing complexity of automotive technology, we thus empower workshop personnel around the world to maintain and repair modern vehicles with high quality.