BMW is introducing new technology across its dealer network for technicians in the shop.
New “smart glasses” are part of a larger system to help technicians work more efficiently.
The glasses and corresponding technology programs will be available later this month.
BMW is getting into the augmented reality game. BMW plans to use the visual overlay technology in their North American dealerships to reduce repair and maintenance times; thereby increasing overall workshop efficiency and, eventually, improving customer satisfaction. Yes, this applies to MINI Dealers as well.
And no, you, the driver, do not get to wear them while you’re driving. This is about your car, not you specifically as the driver.
We covered this last year when Porsche jumped into the augmented reality game in much the same way. BMW’s plan is called the Technical Support & Research Assistant or TSARA. The AR glasses are called TSARAVision Smart Glasses. Yeah, no, really, TSARAVision. Let’s look beyond that for the time being and delve a little deeper into what the Bavarians are up to.
TSARA is BMW’s new online case-reporting system and not to be confused with Tristan Tzara, the DadAist poet (although it might be fun if you do). BMW’s TSARA aims to speed up the repair and maintenance process by 70 to 75 percent. They aim to do this via an instinctive and mechanic-friendly interface that supplies faster case-entries (handy for book keeping) and full multimedia support. In a nutshell, TSARA aims to provide technicians in the field (i.e. mechanics in dealer repair shops throughout the country) quick and trouble-free access to technical information.
This includes a live link to BMW engineers in real time for further technical support. All of this is part of BMW’s new Technical Information System, or TIS 2.0.
BMW’s new Technical Information System is a multimedia platform for this kind of technician support. It was developed in-house with feedback from technicians in the field by BMW North America, and can be accessed by dealer personnel on any mobile device. When accessed, it puts all technical data for every BMW and MINI model at the technician’s fingertips. This helps mechanics from having to stop in the middle of jobs to flip through shop manuals, or dial up diagrams and such on computer terminals.
How Do BMW’s Smart Glasses Work?
Once hooked up, technicians can collaboratively work through a given issue to resolve it faster and more efficiently. If need be, the expert on the other end will project technical bulletins and schematic drawings onto the display inside the technician’s glasses with step-by-step guides. Technicians can also take screen shots and enlarge images, which sounds real handy.
I know what you’re thinking. “What about greasy fingers covered in gunk pushing all those sensitive buttons?” BMW is way ahead of you. The mechanic can open and view documents via voice instructions right in the middle of working on your car. Think of it as BMW’s own internal version of Amazon’s Alexa.
“TIS 2.0, TSARA, and the TSARAVision Smart Glasses are great examples of how we are applying new technologies to help BMW technicians work more efficiently and further our commitment to offer the best possible service experience for BMW customers,” said Claus Eberhart, Vice President, Aftersales, BMW of North America. “By solving issues faster, BMW dealers can get customers back into their cars sooner.”
Change For The Better
TSARA is much more efficient than sending in electronic forms or uploading photos, or explaining complex technical issues over the phone. “No … no, right next to that. There’s a notch and I think it has to be … ” will soon be a thing of the past. At least at all 347 BMW and MINI dealerships. And BMW was fiscally smart too, using available, off-the-shelf components like Realwear HMT-1 Smart Glasses and Ubimax Augmented Reality Software. However, despite the new technology, there is still a need for good technicians.
“Vehicle technology is becoming more complex, which only highlights the need for excellent technicians,” said Neal Guthrie, Department Head for Technical Service, BMW of North America. “Hiring top technicians and providing them with the best possible systems and tools with which to work will be critical to our success.”
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.