BMW's sending hundreds of headsets to dealer service departments across the country.
Remember Google Glass? Well the smart glasses may not have really take off – like, at all – as a consumer product, but the idea's been finding new commercial and industrial applications. Like at BMW, which is issuing them to technicians in the service departments of its dealers across North America.
The Bavarian automaker is dispatching hundreds of pairs of TSARAVision smart glasses across its dealer network to allow mechanics on the scene to communicate directly with engineers back at headquarters. That'll let them video chat hands-free while working, display step-by-step instructions and schematics, and share photos.
The system combines Realwear HMT-1 headsets with Ubimax augmented-reality software, making for a much smoother process than instructing over the phone or transmitting electronic forms via email. And they're being sent this month to all 347 BMW Centers across the US and Canada, as well as select Mini dealers.
They're being rolled out together with TIS 2.0 (BMW's new Technical Information System) and TSARA, BMW's new Technical Support & Research Assistant. The online case-reporting system is projected to streamline repairs and maintenance by 70-75 percent. "Vehicle technology is becoming more complex," notes BMW service chief Neal Guthrie. "Hiring top technicians and providing them with the best possible systems and tools with which to work, will be critical to our success."
Rival automaker Volkswagen launched a similar pilot program at its UK commercial-vehicle service centers last year and has – among other manufacturers – deployed smart glasses across several of its subsidiaries to enhance design, assembly, and logistics operations. BMW's initiative, however, is the most ambitious application of the technology outside of a factory environment that we've seen to date.
"By solving issues faster, BMW dealers can get customers back into their cars sooner," said BMW's aftersales VP Claus Eberhart. Sounds smart to us.