Mercedes-Benz and Microsoft HoloLens 2 Demonstrate the Impact of Augmented Reality on the Automotive Space

Promising: Customer service can seem like the slowest part of a car dealership, especially when working on your car. But Mercedes-Benz is rolling out AR technology to its dealerships to speed up diagnosis and troubleshooting of complex issues with Virtual Remote Support, powered by HoloLens 2 and Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Remote Assist. I attended one of the Mercedes trade shows last week to test the implementation and do a little bit of work with HoloLens 2.

For customers facing a formidable problem, Mercedes-Benz often calls in a flying doctor, a specialist from headquarters, who flies in and solves the problem. It could take days, not to mention the cost and environmental impact of these technicians flying from across the country. All this time, the buyer is left without his luxury car.

Although many buyers choose Mercedes for its stylish and functional design, the quality of service influences their future purchases. Long waiting times can lead to brand changes in the future.

Mercedes is equipping all 383 US dealerships with this virtual remote assistant, hoping to improve the efficiency of its dealerships and keep customers happy.

It all starts with HoloLens 2, an augmented reality headset with four visible light cameras for head tracking, two infrared eye tracking cameras, a depth sensor, a five-channel array of microphones and built-in speakers.

The local technician puts on the HoloLens and can then slide the wiring diagrams, schematics, and other parts onto the headset so they can refer to them while working on the customer’s vehicle.

If a problem requires the help of one of the experts, they can call them and even provide them with visual tape from their headset. The experts see what the technician is doing and their faces are broadcast on a small portion of the screen. It’s like having a futuristic Zoom or Teams meeting call in your glasses. Always helpful, these experts can add arrows, circles, and other notes to help point out important issues.

Using the headset requires a little orientation. All you have to do is put it on and do a short calibration. It follows your eyes and can recognize your hands. You look down and tap on your wrist to open a menu to get started or a teleconference. It is projected onto the glass of the headset, but it looks like it is floating in front of you. You can reach out, interact and control the windows using a variety of gestures. It all looked like Minority Report movie and was pretty intuitive to use.

When I finished fiddling with the headset, Mercedes-Benz explained that this technology could completely transform the service industry. Careers that are usually associated with a profession can now become more digital and high-tech, attracting an entirely new demographic of students and employees.

Mercedes boasts that their vehicles today contain more lines of code than the Space Shuttle, the F-35 fighter jet and the pacemaker combined. This great functionality means great complexity. So the automaker turned to HoloLens to identify and solve any tricky issues. Referencing a wiring diagram or schematic that is projected in 3D onto the vehicle you are working on can help reduce wasted time.

Plus, while automakers boast that electric vehicles will have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance, these advanced vehicles could still have issues, likely with wiring and digital components. Technicians using HoloLens can solve these problems faster than those forced to switch between computer and car.

Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to AR. The automaker offers an augmented reality navigation system that broadcasts navigation instructions over the front camera video stream on the dashboard so you don’t get lost. In the new S-Class, this information is superimposed directly on the windshield using an augmented reality windshield. The automaker sees more options for the HoloLens 2. It can be used for sales training or even with shoppers on the showroom setting up their vehicle right in front of their eyes.

Since the advent of augmented reality, it has seemed to be designed for this kind of application – bringing hands-on work and data know-how to simplify complex tasks. Now that Mercedes is rolling it out, we look forward to seeing how effective it can be.

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