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Home / Features / Next Big Thing: AR superhelpers

Next Big Thing: AR superhelpers

Hyundai's clever app points the way for a new generation of AR aides

I already know how to change my engine oil, thanks…

Well, apart from that time you accidentally poured oil into the coolant tank and had to spend all Saturday flushing the radiator. Anyway, for many people, a car is a giant Rubik’s Cube on wheels. Below the bonnet is a confusing bowl of pipe spaghetti, and dashboards may as well be written in hieroglyphics. You could read the manual, of course, but no-one has time for that nonsense, so Hyundai’s saving its drivers the hassle with a new augmented reality app called Virtual Guide. 

Is this where you try to persuade me to wear some stupid computer glasses?

Nope, this is for your here-and-now iOS or Android phone. Download the app, point your smartphone or tablet at a Hyundai engine or interior, and it’ll overlay guides, diagrams and videos on to the relevant part using 3D tracking tech. At the moment it’s focused on basics such as brake fluid, engine oil and fuseboxes, but there’s no reason it can’t grow into a virtual mechanic. You may not fancy replacing your suspension, but it would be nice to know what that weird new warning light means – and how to stop it.

It would, but then it would be a lot easier if dashboards were designed for humans.

Don’t pretend you don’t want your car to feel like a fighter plane cockpit, with mysterious buttons to discover then completely ignore. Anyway, this is a sign that AR is finally maturing and becoming useful. Just think what other DIY holes such apps could get you out of – figuring out your misbehaving fusebox at home or, like Microsoft’s HoloLens demo, getting a remote plumber to help fix your sink. When smart glasses become so cheap that they come free with a box of Shreddies, we’ll all be queuing up to be glassholes.

Profile image of Mark Wilson Mark Wilson Features editor


Mark's first review for Stuff was the Nokia N-Gage in 2004. Luckily, his career lasted a little longer than the taco phone, and he's been trying to figure out how gadgets fit back into their boxes ever since. While his 'Extreme Mark Wilson' persona was retired following a Microsoft skydiving incident, this means he can often be spotted in the wilds of South West London testing action cams, drones and smartwatches, and occasionally cursing at them.

Areas of expertise

Smart home tech, cameras, wearables and obscure gadgets from the early 2000s.