Augmented reality is a relatively new concept, but now that it’s been integrated into the automotive world you can look for more Jetsons and less Fred Flintstone in your new car.

Most car guys are tech savvy (to a point) so the best way to explain how augmented reality is a potential major asset is to give a basic explanation of what it is.

Jerry Sutherland

Augmented reality is an offshoot of virtual reality. Virtual reality is basically a technology where you can put on a helmet-like device and fight Klingons in a very realistic Star Trek game or take a virtual trip to Tahiti from a couch in your basement.

You can look around this new tech world simply be turning your head so if you’re in a Daytona racing virtual reality, you can look over and see Jeff Gordon beside you and Jimmy Johnson in your rear-view mirror.

Augmented reality takes the experience to another level, so you’ll get more information. For example, you’ll get information on how many laps Jimmy Johnson has on his tires and how much fuel Jeff Gordon has left.

Car builders are pondering how augmented reality can help them sell cars. They recognize the grim reality that new buyers are far less hands-on with their cars and older, experienced buyers are overwhelmed by the massive amount of technology under the hood of their new car.

Enter the augmented reality owner’s manual. This is an app you can put on your phone or tablet that will help you navigate through your new car’s complex technology. It will tell you how to use your GPS, add music files to your audio or integrate your phone with your car.

It will also do things most car guys will laugh at–it will tell you how to boost start your car or check your oil. You point your phone at your engine, and it will give you information about your car like how to find your spark plugs or add coolant to the system. Don’t laugh–new cars are far more of a mystery to more old school car guys than they care to admit. 

This isn’t a bad thing because it can walk you through how to change your tire or even when to change your tires. Tow truck or roadside service guys may hate the competition, but any world where a 20-year-old dude learns how to change a tire is a better world.

Another positive–there’s an outside chance a kid who learns how and when to change his or her tires could evolve into a hardcore car guy. At least he becomes less dependent on outside help as long as his phone is charged–that always a good thing.     

Technology is expanding at light speed, so the next question is simple. Can this augmented reality be applied to old iron? And should it?

The short answer is obvious–augmented reality could easily be applied if you want to add sensors to your car. They could be tied to the existing gauges like oil temp, water temp, oil pressure and gas gauge. You could point your phone at your 426 hemi and it would tell you exactly how it’s running–or why it isn’t.

That’s a good thing plus it may draw tech-savvy Millennials into the murky world of old iron–that’s an even better thing.    

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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