Audi’s App Turns Your iPhone Into An Interactive User’s Manual

There’s little worse than describing car trouble to a gearhead friend. They ask you extremely specific information about your car, and you’re left explaining that: 1.) You have no idea how your car works and 2.) When you said you were into cars, you really meant that you liked the British repartee of Top Gear even though you rarely had a clue what they were joking about.

Audi has an interesting solution for Audi A1/A3 owners. The carmaker’s recently updated iOS app, by Metaio, allows you to aim your smartphone camera at 300 parts of your car–like dials, buttons, and even pieces of the engine–to be clearly defined and explained on screen. It’s like a user manual that you can point with.

Interestingly enough, the 2-D and 3-D image recognition is occurring in real time, with all of those backend definitions streaming in from the cloud. This means a user will never need to download updates to expand content. Rather, as the cloud becomes smarter, so, too, will your phone.

Much like Ikea’s recent catalog furniture simulation–which was also built by Metaio–Audi’s app is an example of augmented reality gone right. Whereas many have seen AR’s potential in distracting HUDs and interfaces like GPS that lays right over your own vision, Metaio has constructed the interaction to respond to the simplest of gestures, framing questionable objects on screen and instantly receiving a definition. And in that regard, Metaio sees its software scaling far beyond cars.

“Of course, we want to continue with this partnership with Audi and further automotive partners,” a spokesperson tells Co.Design. “[But] we can see the potential in interactive manuals for almost all industries.”

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