Car manuals of the future will be on mobile

Say goodbye to textbook car manuals, mobile-friendly manuals are here to stay.
22 June 2020

The next-gen car manuals will offer new capabilities. Source: Shutterstock

  • The automobile industry is one of the most innovate sectors
  • Car manufacturers are looking to simplify and modernize textbook-sized car manuals
  • Emerging technologies such as AI and augmented reality are key to adding new car manuals capabilities

There is a rising trend for automakers to adopt more green and sustainable initiatives.

For legacy automaker, Hyundai, the road to sustainability includes earmarking US$51.8 billion in funds for research and development (R&D), and new technologies to fuel its ambitions to be a global leader in the future of mobility solutions. About one-third of the fund will be dedicated to electric and autonomous vehicles set to dominate the automobile sphere if all goes according to plan.

Another South Korean automaker, Kia, is advancing in a similar fashion. The car manufacturer recently announced a new partnership with Google Cloud to develop an AI-based vehicle owner’s manual, which could potentially turn printed and electronic text manuals obsolete.

The mobile-based car manual is called the “Kia Owner’s Manual App.”

The Kia Owner’s Manual App is intended to be easy to navigate — drivers can take pictures of various controls in their vehicles and learn about their names and functions, as opposed to flipping through hundreds of pages in a printed manual.

The multinational car manufacturer has offered augmented reality (AR) mobile apps to customers since 2017, but its use was limited since each Kia model has a different interior layout and switch location, which requires custom reconfiguration for the app.

Now, a solution has been found: Google Cloud and Megazone — Korea’s first official Amazon Web Services partner — has leveraged AI to recognize symbols on switches and has made the app compatible with any new model. This allows for the app to be adaptable, and it’s able to scale to any Kia models, as control symbols in vehicles are standardized across the automobile sector.

Google Cloud’s advanced AI capabilities include image learning technology. This technology pushes for more accuracy and flexibility within the next-generation of car manuals. Adding AI and cloud technology into the mix, drivers are now treated to a more user-friendly interface and experience when using the app.

When a user scans the “cruise control” symbol on the steering wheel with the app, the AI platform will recognize the image based on communications with the cloud server. Instantaneously, the user’s linked smartphone will display a video explaining the functions of the cruise control systems and how to operate it.

The Kia Owner’s Manual App is set to roll out in the second half of this year, starting with new 2021 models to be released worldwide.

Future car manuals 

The auto sector is aggressive in bringing the relationship between humans and vehicles to greater heights by mapping out a multitude of digital transformation paths.

This trend of mobile-friendly car manuals has been gaining popularity after automobile leader Hyundai released an AR app that helped educate drivers about their vehicles a few years back.

The automobile company saw an opportunity to entice a more mobile-savvy, customer-base by offering an app that guides drivers in maintaining automotive features. Instead of going through pages of heavy manuals to find information, modernized car manuals help drivers find vital information and details within seconds. Adding on AR features, drivers can acquire the knowledge needed with a visual aid and better address any car trouble they are facing.

Essentially, the reformat of traditional paper car manuals to compact mobile apps is more sustainable for the environment. Alongside reducing the cost and resources needed for printed car manuals, the automobile sector can venture further into the educational capabilities of AR to promote green technology. AR car manuals can help electric vehicle owners understand the significance of green technology baked into electric vehicles and help owners maintain green technology such as batteries or fuel cells.