One of the most hopeful promises of augmented reality is that it will eventually help us understand the world immediately around us. I’ve always thought one of the best uses of AR technology in this respect was its application to cars: Pan your phone or tablet across an engine bay, for instance, and an AR app will tell you where to put oil or coolant, or which bolts to remove in order to access the battery.
Audi brought us a little closer to this (augmented) reality today with the release of an AR companion app, using technology from German-based AR powerhouse Metaio, for its entry-level A3 that explains features in the cabin and engine bay.
That a driver can identify cockpit controls like the windshield-wiper stalk and climate controls through the app is interesting, though perhaps not terribly useful (aren’t these things labeled?) But being able to look through an iPad or iPhone’s screen at an engine bay and immediately see an augmented-reality arrow pointing to the coolant reservoir cap is immensely useful, and a big step forward.
This isn’t the first app of its kind from Audi; the first was released a while ago for its Europe-only A1. The new app for the A3 improves on the A1’s by nearly quadrupling (to over 300) the number of components the driver can identify through the app.
If you’re wondering where the app is, you can stop looking; the app is, for now, only available in Germany. Expect the app to come to the U.S. when the 2015 Audi A3 sees its U.S. debut early next year.