Techniques and Use Cases for AR Apps in the Automotive Industry
Augmented Reality (AR) is a genuine game-changer for manufacturing design, promising a whole new range of opportunities at each step of the value chain by augmenting human experience in the physical world with graphical and data overlays or inputs. However, much like internet of things development more broadly, AR holds even more promise in the automotive industry than in many other segments. Within the automotive industry, AR now promises to help with inventory management and manufacturing, assist technicians with vehicle maintenance and testing, and AR supports in-car systems for a better experience while driving.
Key Factors within Automotive That Are Driving AR Adoption
The global market for augmented reality technologies within the automotive industry is projected to reach $10 billion by 2026. Looking even further ahead, forecasts suggest that the AR automotive market will continue to grow by 30% each year through the entire period of 2020 to 2026. This mirrors many of the trends we see in other sector-specific examples of IoT app development, but automotive technology stands to create entirely new or niche applications for AR in a way that it is less likely to do for the internet of things as a whole.
MarketsandMarkets Research has forecasted that the largest future segment will be for AR-based heads–up display (HUD) technology, both installed by OEMs and aftermarket. This technology promises to avoid car accidents and make driving a safer experience by placing information drawn from other internet of things devices and sensors on the windshield and within the driver’s vision. It is telling that some manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and BMW, have already begun to lean into these AR automotive technologies by integrating AR-based HUDs to go along with the wider acceleration of internet of things development in some of their vehicles.
One of the critical technological pieces of IoT development technology for semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles is what’s known as sensor fusion. This is the process of drawing together data from a wide variety of separate sensors or internet of things sources in a way that makes it more reliable than any of those sources might have been on their own; An internet of things developmentA kind of that results in data harvesting synergy. Industry experts are also convinced that we are about to witness the extremely rapid development of advanced display tech, such as the OLED and AMOLED screens that you may already have in your television, mobile phone, or laptop computer.
Key Factors within Automotive That Are Driving AR Adoption
- The growth and development of connected vehicles
- Increasing vehicle safety requirements due to evolving regulatory and legal standards
- Bigger and faster generation of real-time data from advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other IoT development choices specific to autonomous vehicles
- Faster and more widespread adoption of advanced technologies and internet of things development on the part of major OEM incumbents
Major OEMs like Tesla, Porsche, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi have already shifted into high gear with accelerated IoT development and internal AR projects to fit in-house requirements. Tesla took out a patent on an AR-based system in 2018 that closely resembled the Google Glass headset. This sophisticated internet of things device purportedly helped speed and accuracy in vehicle production.
The Tech Side of How Augmented Reality Works
AR can add a wide range of capabilities to solutions for different modalities, i.e., senses. Some of these modalities include visual, haptic (touch), auditory (hearing), somatosensory (body position and location), and olfactory (smell). Concerning AR within the automotive industry, we are likely to see the continued dominance of primarily visual AR forms for the foreseeable future, mainly via displays and screens. The experience of driving makes many other forms distracting or dangerous because of their immersiveness. As it stands, AR in automotive is a primary driver behind the development and innovation of heads-up displays.
AR can also leverage the broader internet of things development that has led to increasingly sophisticateduse sensors and markers to embed 3D models of the physical world into the digital world. We’ll explain below.
- Markers. Markers are visible distinguishing marks like physical objects, QR codes, or images which are common methods for internet of things devices to identify their surroundings. A marker-based system uses a camera to discern and extract the features of markers and populate digital 3D models of the world for manipulation. One application of this AR technology in the automotive industry is using AR to locate parts within a warehouse or assembly line.
- Sensors. A sensor-based solution uses the exact camera position in relation to some object in the physical world. You already use technologies like GPS, RFID, and Wi-Fi, examples of the supporting infrastructure such systems can use to define the location confidently. When safety and certainty are critical, this is the option of choice. An example will be in an AR dashboard of surroundings and road or weather conditions.
For either of these scenarios to work, we first need well-trained deep-learning algorithms that can accurately detect objects within fast-moving streams of real-time data.
Augmented Reality in Action within the Automotive Industry
Here are some examples of real-life automotive solutions and the new, valuable perspectives this technology gives OEMs, software developers, startups, and drivers.
1. Presentation Guides and Car Manuals
Within showrooms, AR applications can let salespeople use a headset or smartphone camera to demonstrate vehicle functions and features. The nature of this technology makes it ideal for visualizing a large amount of information, like performance and weight details, financing options, or even interior and exterior parts and trim options. With AR, this information can be updated on the fly and presented interactively to engage and involve a prospective buyer.
AR-powered instructions and guides can be more accessible and effective than lengthy, obscure manuals. An AR-driven car manual app can give vehicle owners better access to info repairs, vehicle maintenance, and in-car driving features. All of this information can be accessed using a smartphone or tablet.
Use Case: Genesis Virtual Guide
Hyundai has made an AR-powered app that offers a virtual guide to its Genesis luxury sedans. Genesis owners can get details on vehicle exterior trim and engine parts, maintenance, and how-to guides for repairs using this guide. The app uses 2D and 3D tracking to provide detailed information on specific parts.
2. Product Development and Maintenance
Augmented reality can be a boon to manufacturing and inspection within factories. Spatial AR applications can help designers select and match the correct design options to various physical vehicle models. At the same time, technicians with AR glasses can view documentation or receive updated instructions without using their hands or being distracted from the task they are doing, and these glasses can correspond with other IoT development implementations to get real-time information on the current state of a part or the vehicle as a whole.
As demonstrated with the Genesis virtual guide app, AR is also beneficial for vehicle maintenance. Technical workers or home mechanics can skip the drudgery of a manual search and instead use AR devices to quickly identify components that need to be serviced using sensors or markers to access the data and history for those components.
Use Case: AR Manufacturing Environment
BMW is one of the earliest adopters of augmented reality within the factory production environment. BMW uses AR to inspect tools upon delivery in Munich, Germany, at its Toolmaking and Plant Engineering units. Technicians use the AR-assisted app to get relevant data on each tool, such as clear surface features and drill holes and then test the tool. Algorithms then overlay each image and compare against a list of around 50 criteria to see whether the tools meet the required specifications. If not, it goes back for reworking instead of moving onward to assembly.
3. Enhanced Driver Experience
The automotive market has always been driven by continuously-increasing demands for luxury and comfort and the evolutionary advancement of safety standards. As a result, vehicles have become more sophisticated as the years pass, bringing us to where we are today. Modern vehicles are complex appliances that integrate cameras, microprocessors, sensors, and at least 100 million lines of code. On top of that, the infotainment systems in some high-end vehicles are more impressive than the home entertainment systems of just a few years ago.
Augmented Reality now stands to improve nearly every aspect of the driving experience. AR can augment navigation, improve the effectiveness of adaptive cruise control, and assist with lane departure warnings. The future also holds developments like AR-assisted dashboards, real-time accident warnings, smart street signs, and AR in-vehicle entertainment systems. These various technologies can all work together to offer drivers instant access to the most accurate information on road conditions and the surrounding environment on a micro and macro scale.
Use Case: 3D-powered Augmented Reality Interface
Nissan has introduced a 3D space around its vehicles using the invisible-to-visible (I2V) technology, which it first demonstrated at CES 2019. This automotive AR technology offers an AR-assisted automotive interface to give drivers real-time road data and safer, smarter manual navigation assistance.
There is no going back in terms of the complexity and sophistication of modern vehicles. This is being driven by advancing standards for safety and highly innovative competition, from automotive incumbents to startups with no manufacturing experience. These factors push automotive OEMs, suppliers, and startups to invest in a continuously improving product and a safer driving experience. That path leads us to increase the digitalization and use of AR in the automotive industry. We already see the impacts of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, and cloud technologies daily, and AR is becoming a critical piece of the truly smart and connected vehicle. It is clear that the future includes a growing role for AR in the automotive industry. Fortunately, Softeq is here to help you evaluate and implement AR technologies, whatever your niche within the automotive sector.