An Inside Look at Porsche's AR Glasses for Technicians
The summer of 2018 can’t move fast enough for Bill Reynolds.
These days, Reynolds, the service manager at Porsche Minneapolis, has mid-August on his mind. Because, on Aug. 15, his facility will start using Porsche’s new Tech Live Look augmented-reality glasses to aid in repair work. And that new product, in Reynolds’ opinion, could make his shop floor significantly more efficient.
“It’s awesome stuff. I’m really excited. We got to demonstrate them down in Dallas” in late March, Reynolds explained of the AR glasses, which are manufactured by a company called ODG.
The service manager says the Tech Live Look “A.R.” glasses are a little like Google Glass—except he’s confident that Porsche’s product will have longer staying power than the “smart glasses” that Google released in 2013. Porsche’s glasses—which, according to cnet.com, cost $2,750 per pair—utilize a pair of transparent displays that sit in front of the user’s eyes, feature projection technology, and come equipped with a high-resolution, auto focus camera. The glasses are expected to be utilized at every U.S. Porsche dealership by the end of next year.
“It looks like a pair of sunglasses,” Reynolds said. “They have the camera built in, and the Bluetooth, WiFi and all that―definitely something that you don’t see very often in our industry.”
Reynolds can envision the following scenarios soon being handled with ease, thanks to the advent of the Tech Live Look product: his Minneapolis facility encounters a vehicle with a fairly rare symptom, so a technician calls the manufacturer’s “tech line assistance”, or “P-Tech.” From there, the service department will be aided by Gold-certified technicians, or former shop foremen, at Porsche’s North American headquarters in Atlanta.
“Atlanta, at that point, will be able to [say,] ‘Hey, Mr. Technician: put the glasses on; I want to see what you’re looking at.’ … Our technician can put his glasses on and he can be literally right over top of the engine compartment, looking directly at whatever component that he feels is faulty, [and] P-Tech will be able to say, ‘Hey, look over here to the left; look over by that valve cover.’”
The glasses, which are already being used at a smattering of U.S. Porsche dealerships in a pilot phase, should aid shop floor processes, in Reynolds’ opinion. After all, they figure to reduce the amount of time in which a technician walks back and forth to a computer to look at vehicle documents.
The creation of the new Porsche AR glasses, “is going to open up a lot of opportunity,” Reynolds says. “The fascinating part of it is, they’re going to be able to send over documents while using Live Look, that the technician is going to be able to have in his field of vision, right in the glasses. Let’s say in the left-hand corner, Tech Live sends a document to us saying ‘Here’s a bulletin on this issue.’
“On top of that, P-Tech can also circle items right in [technicians’] field of vision—you know, “Hey, I want you to look at this circled item, [in] the bottom-right hand corner of your field of vision.”
So, while Reynolds, a Minnesotan, has a definite appreciation for the months of June and July, August 2018 has been circled on his calendar for weeks. Because, during that month, augmented reality glasses could bring a whole new service department future into focus.
“It really opens up a whole ‘nother level of technology,” Reynolds noted.