Explaining the many features of a car has always been a challenge. Manuals remain largely unread. When I was at Volkswagen, someone had the brilliant idea of making interactive CD-ROMs. I protested: “So that car stops with a cryptic trouble light, and now the poor customer is supposed to go home, find the CD, pop it into the computer and check what that light means?” My protests fell on deaf ears, and the CDs were made. Now, someone at Audi had a better idea …
Owners of an Audi A1 can download an application that runs on their iPhone. (Android or Windows? SOL.)
According to Automobilwoche [sub], once the app is on the iPhone, the customer must aim the phone’s camera at the part he or she does not understand, hit a button, and the iPhone will explain what’s going on. If the feature is one of the 65 the iPhone app recognizes, that is. In a later version, the iPhone will be familiar with 250 parts of the car, even if they are under the hood. So in a few years, when you see a lady by the side of the road, aiming her iPhone at the dipstick, you’ll know what to do. Currently, the app is sub-hood-agnostic.
The picture above shows you how this works. You aim the iPhone at the ominous stalk to the left of the steering column. A red quadrant signals that the stalk has been recognized. You push a button, and it says “Geschwindigskeitsregelanlage”, which is German for cruise control. Isn’t technology wonderful?
And what about the warning lights? Not yet. “It is conceivable that in the future, a customer can see with a single click on his smartphone what kind of fuel and oil the car needs,” says Das Autohaus. “The meaning of a blinking warning light will then also be identified quickly and easily via the smartphone.” Sounds like the blinkenlights will come in the 3.0 version.
Trouble lights aside, Audi thought of everything, even of the poor sods who have an iPhone, but not Audi A1. They get four pictures on the web. Aim your iPhone at the picture, and the phone will tell you what it is. I forgot: You need to subscribe to iTunes first.
Sorry, guys: Isn’t there a big screen in the dash? CAN-Bus connected? Why do I feel I am being ignored again?