Lexus pilot project brings AR to the garage

Lexus pilot project brings AR to the garage

Feature articles |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

As part of the pilot project, Lexus technicians are using AR glasses from RealWear, which were specially developed for industrial use. They are robust, shock-resistant, can be combined with safety equipment and are also suitable for spectacle wearers. During use, a (virtual) tablet display floats in front of the eye of the technician and provides him with information. A camera records what the user sees and can transfer it to another device in real time if required.

The RealWear HMT-1 is voice-controlled and thus provides for free hands at work. The battery life is around eight hours, the connection to networks or third-party devices is possible via WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS or via a USB connection. Your own smartphone can also be used as a hotspot. The software used by Lexus is from Essert.

The main purpose of the AR glasses is to support Lexus partner companies. In the event of a technical problem, the service employee can contact a specialist from the head office quickly and easily. This can now virtually accompany the service employee and contribute to solving the problem. This not only saves time, but also money, as the technician no longer has to be present in person. In addition, the waiting time for the customer is shortened: As a rule, he only has to take his vehicle to the workshop once, annoying subsequent appointments are a thing of the past.

“We want to bring digitization more strongly into after-sales and to our Lexus partners – on the one hand to facilitate their work and on the other hand to improve the customer satisfaction,” says Jens Brech, Director Aftersales, Toyota Deutschland GmbH. “For example, if the customer comes to us with a safety-related problem, a technical expert from the European headquarters is usually called in. Once they arrive on site, they can use AR glasses to connect with the developer in our head office or a supplier, for example, and both can solve the problem quickly and effectively together”.

Information exchange about the RealWear HTM-1 is possible in both directions. The developer or supplier follows the work from the perspective of the technical expert on his screen in the office, but can also send technical documents or image files to the tablet display of the AR glasses if required. For example, to avoid long explanations, the developer can take a photo of the live image, insert relevant markers and send the photo back to the car dealership.

In the Lexus Forum in Osnabrück (Germany), the RealWear HTM-1 opens up another field of business in addition to the application possibilities mentioned above. Up to now the customer could be present at the direct acceptance and take a close look at his vehicle together with the service employee. Since the start of the test phase in June, the Lexus driver can now withdraw into the customer waiting room with a coffee, follow the entire inspection on a tablet and exchange information with the responsible employee. The sound and picture quality as well as real-time transmission should be significantly better than comparable technologies for video telephony.

If the pilot project with the RealWear HMT-1 is successful, further areas of application for improving customer satisfaction are conceivable. For example, the AR glasses can be used in sales and new product presentations can be made accessible to a large audience via live broadcast from the showroom. In the future, individual sales talks could also take place directly in the customer’s living room. By using the AR-glasses the potential buyer can inform the service employee on site which parts of the vehicle he would like to have a closer look at, ask questions and get detailed advice.

The pilot project with the RealWear HMT-1 started in June in the five largest European markets –  Italy, Spain, France, England and Germany and will run until the end of December.

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