We’ve noted this before, that a key application for augmented reality technology will be rapid support and lookup of service information in “service manuals”.  How great would it be if you could just take a picture to find the relevant information?

As ArsTechnica reports, motorbike company KTM have developed a service manual which shows off the potential of this technology.

To find out a little bit more about how KTM went about creating the AR app, they spoke with Vuforia’s Jay Wright (Vuforia is an AR firm that was bought from Qualcomm last year by PTC). Wright said there are now more than 25,000 Vuforia-built AR applications in Google Play and Apple’s App Store, but most of them are consumer-facing – largely marketing-oriented – apps. (You can find a great automotive example at McLaren Cars.) This will soon change. “We’re about to see serious traction in enterprise [applications],” Wright said.

KTM_service_manual_AR_2Building an AR app requires several steps. The first – which is relatively simple, according to Wright – is telling the app what it’s seeing. “You’ll notice the content appears ‘stuck’ to something,” Wright told us. “The application has to recognize the environment or the target.” These targets can be images, objects, or surfaces. “It can be as simple as taking a picture or using a little scanning tool that we have that runs on your phone.”  This is where technology like eyesFinder – which can rapidly match known images in a library to an unknown image – enables the capability.

The next step – generating the 3D content – is a bit trickier. “A lot of what’s available [to the developers] is still 2D diagrams,” Wright told Ars. “Getting that into 3D and making it simple and compelling is somewhat of a chore.” This usually starts with technical drawings or CAD files – although the latter can often be much higher-resolution than necessary. “To be frank, it probably depends on what format people have the line drawings and what format they have the CAD files in to determine the fastest path,” he said.

AR apps in this context will do more than just recognize objects with their cameras. With Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it should be possible to query information directly from the car (or bike)—think engine oil level, coolant temperature, and so on—and present it to the user within their interface.

Additionally, AR will benefit as devices in your hand shift to devices on your head. “Ultimately we believe all these line of business applications are starting with a tablet because that’s what’s possible, but they will all at some point be in eyewear—they’ll be on your head.” Wright says we’re in the early stages of that hardware being viable, but he believes it should get there quite quickly.

Stay tuned … you may see AR tech popping up in a service manual near you … in the near future.