The owner’s manual, that collection of writings concealed forever in the glovebox, might now be destined for the great hall of automotive fossils. It used to be sound advice: when getting a new car, read the owner’s manual. Does anybody do that anymore? Seems unlikely today.
In a “get with the times, man” approach, Mercedes-Benz last year revealed a pilot program called “Ask Mercedes.” The program allows customers to explore and learn about their Benz’s features with augmented reality technology that supplements a camera image with computer-generated content.
What a time to be alive.
Through the augmented reality program, customers receive information in real time, without having to decipher the archaic texts within a paper-inspired operator’s manual. Owners of a 2018 E-Class or S-Class (non-AMG) use the application to “get to know their vehicle.” The automaker says by using a smartphone camera, owners can “discover interior features and functions by scanning controls and displays.”
Say the phone camera is aimed at the dashboard, steering wheel or center console – that’s when augmented reality beacons are automatically superimposed onto the controls and displays shown in the camera image. Clicking or taping on a beacon further explains the function by way of text, photos, and video. Customers can even directly link to that section of a digital owner’s manual if they want more information.
This feature would be handy for a complex navigation system, an odd-looking “what’s that do” button, or as a refresher that turn signals are there for a reason. Seriously, point the camera at the little blinker switch just off the steering wheel, then watch the instructional video on how to use it.
If you have questions, follow this procedure: access the “junk and stuff” drawer in the kitchen, usually populated with an assortment of pens, pill holders, batteries, rubber bands, tape, etc. Remove scissors. Open wallet. Remove driver’s license. Hold both scissors and license over medium-sized trash can. Proceed to operate scissors until driver’s license has been successfully committed inside the trash receptacle.
Availability & Expansion
The pilot of “Ask Mercedes” launched late last year, with the augmented reality functions first available for the 2018 E-Class. The company says the recently added capabilities for the 2018 S-Class will gradually expand in the coming months to other models. “Ask Mercedes” is available in the Apple App Store and is supported on the iPhone 6 running iOS 10 or higher.
“We are creating a personalized customer experience that goes well beyond the vehicle,” explained Britta Seeger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales. “With innovative services such as ‘Ask Mercedes’ we are further expanding our digital ecosystem.”
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.