There have been a few, seemingly half-hearted, attempts at reinventing the owner's manual - that thick stack of bone-dry information that you only look at if you're well and truly stumped. Hyundai tried swapping in iPads with the Equus, which didn't really take, while Chrysler switched its owner's manuals to digital form in 2010. Chrysler
Audi, though, may have taken things to their logical conclusion - augmented reality. While it'll likely be more practical once Google Glass and other wearable tech is adopted on a wide scale, augmented reality allows users to project information on scenes, usually through a phones camera, which is how Audi does it.
Called eKurzinfo, the app looks through your phones camera to identify and explain different parts of the car. According to Metaio, the app's developer, the app recognizes 300 different parts of the car. Our sister site, Engadget, provides the best example of the app's abilities - if you point it at the engine temperature gauge, the app tells you what the gauge measures, and if the reading is too high, eKurzinfo will even show you where to find the coolant tank.
The app debuted on the A1, but is also available on the new A3 sedan. It's not clear if it'll come to the United States when the new A3 arrives or which operating systems it will work for. Scroll down for a video of eKurzinfo in action.
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that only Dodge had released a smart phone owner's manual app, but the app is available for all Chrysler family models.
Metaio & Audi AG Release Interactive Augmented Reality Manual
Munich & San Francisco, 12 August 2013: Metaio, world leader in augmentedreality (AR) software and solutions and AUDI AG - global leader in luxury vehicles, today announced the release of the Audi A3 eKurzinfo augmented reality mobile application, available for free download on iOS devices in the App Store.
After the success of the Audi eKurzinfo app for the Audi A1, which was nominated for the 2013 GSMA Global Mobile Awards for Best Mobile Solution for the Automotive Industry, Audi AG has extended the availability to the new Audi A3.
The new app can recognize over 300 individual elements of the Audi A3 – from the insignia on the windshield wipers and entertainment system to actual engine components under the hood – in order to return relevant how-to information or even virtual overlays of maintenance instructions animated in real-time 3-D. Metaio's cloud-based architecture pushes digital information directly to the device, meaning the user will never have to update the app.
The new design of the Audi A3 eKurzinfo app brings the most intuitive user experience with it: using Metaio's latest 2-D and 3-D augmented reality tracking technology, the user positions the camera of the mobile device directly over individual vehicle elements, instantly detecting and returning information on the desired subject. For example, after scanning the engine compartment, the app would return information with an animated overlay showing how to locate the engine coolant and refill it to the appropriate level.
The Audi eKurzinfo app is available in English, German and Japanese.
In the future, Metaio sees visualization technology decreasing the need for lengthy, costly and complex user manuals. Car owners should be able to access information instantly and directly from the car itself.
"After the remarkable success of the first version of the eKurzinfo application, we are delighted to continue our partnership with the Audi AG. We see enormous potential in the field of interactive service applications. In the future it will be possible to automatically retrieve the specific information relevant in a certain situation", Dr. Thomas Alt, CEO of Metaio.