LOS ANGELES — Hyundai may not be ditching the paper vehicle owner’s manual just yet, but the automaker is addressing the fact that almost no one ever looks at them anymore with the announcement of its new augmented reality digital owner’s manual.
This isn’t Hyundai’s first foray into the digitization of the owners manual. Some may remember that during the first year of its range-topping Equus luxury sedan’s North American debut, the automaker briefly gave away Apple iPads preloaded with an owner’s manual app to buyers. Though the iPad program was shuttered, the app has grown into the Hyundai Car Care app for Android or iOS, which will be receiving the new augmented reality features in an update coming soon.
After telling the app what model Hyundai car they own and what options they’ve chosen (Tech package, Sport package, etc.), the owner will be able to point their phone or tablet’s digital camera at the car and, after a few moments, have the app recognize the vehicle and overlay clickable information points onto the image of the car. The augmented reality points appear over the front and rear of the vehicle, in the engine bay, over the seat controls and on the dashboard.
Point the camera at the dashboard and it will also be overlaid with clickable info tidbits about the infotainment system. One such tidbit was a fullscreen video explaining step-by-step how to pair a smartphone. There is also information about climate controls, steering wheel buttons and more.
Clicking elsewhere in the AR display brings up a full screen virtual instrument cluster with all of the various error and notification lights, each one able to be clicked to bring up give more information about what what that light or warning means. If it means something too bad — the check engine light, for example — the Car Care app can schedule an appointment with their Hyundai dealer or contact roadside assistance.
Pop the hood and point the camera at the engine to get more information about basic maintenance of the Hyundai. For example, a prompt that asks, “How do I check my oil?” can be clicked to displays a 3D animated overlay that walks the owner through locating the dipstick and checking the oil level. This might be basic stuff for car guys and gals, but for drivers who find their engine bay daunting, this simple animation could be a big step towards making them feel more comfortable popping their hood.
The app worked well during my short demo for explaining simple tasks, such as how to change the air filter, checking the coolant level, or adding air to the tires, but it largely (and smartly) avoids more complex tasks. And beyond the AR gimmicks, the app can also be used to learn more about the vehicle, functioning as a searchable and browseable digital reproduction of the owner’s manual with full color images.
Hyundai is rolling out the AR features for its Car Care app for Android and iOS within the next month or two. The first vehicle supported will be the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, but the functionality will be expanded across its 2015 model lineup and beyond.