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BMW Rolls Out AR Solution at All US Dealerships

The wearable solution will facilitate technicians' instant access to data, instructions and remote experts.

While many manufacturers are still learning the benefits of the connected worker at the plant level, BMW is rolling out an augmented reality solution to transfer knowledge from diagrams and veteran mechanics and engineers right to the technician at the dealership.

The solution will be deployed at all 347 BMW Centers and MINI dealers. It combines the Ubimax Frontline, an AR software platform, and the RealWear HMT-1, which stands for head-mounted tablet.  

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This provides the mechanic with a completely hands-free tool that can stream a step-by-step video or work instructions, for instance, onto the display monocle. They need only verbalize the command, like "Call Bob at BMW" to contact their support person anywhere in the world for a remote expert session, and Bob or Linda or whoever will answer and from their laptop, view a camera feed, telestrate images to point out problems or mark steps.  It all adds up to quicker fixes and less wait time for customers. The solution can speed repairs by 75%, Ubimax says.

“This is a great example of how we are applying new technologies to help our technicians work more efficiently and further our commitment to offering the best possible service experience for BMW customers," says Claus Eberhart, VP Aftersales, BMW of North America. By solving issues faster, BMW dealers can get customers back into their cars sooner."

As every carmaker is throwing more and more complex wiring and electronics into their cars, it's understandable that a remote expert would need to be called in at some point for some help, just as a factory engineer might need to call up the vendor when a machine tool goes down.

Going a step further, all the data at the shop is being logged, so BMW can find defects quicker.  It's possible that the data could also improve future designs by equipping engineers with the data to understand how long certain tasks take to complete or find ways to make them more efficient.

What is most exciting is what this represents for all the DIY mechanics who spend their weekends frustrated and prostrate on an oil-soaked driveway, gripping a smartphone in one hand, socket wrench in the other, all while holding back a cascade of man tears and cursing no one in particular, as you try to remove 30 fasteners from the front bumper to install a stupid headlight. (I may someday forgive, but will never forget, Chrysler 200 engineering team).

Right now the HMT-1 is priced at $2,000, and it won’t be long before they, or something like them, reach a friendlier price point, and maybe become the must-have Father's Day gift of 2022. Put one of these babies on, call up your mechanic buddy, grab your socket set and get to work.

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