As a manager of the team generating ideas for new features on Fiat Chrysler vehicles, Carolina Harris knows the automaker's latest models bristle with more technology than ever before.
So when her teen children began getting behind the wheel for the first time, she saw a need for a tool to introduce them and others to the parts and capabilities of the machine.
Mimi Nguyen, left, and Carolina Harris with the new Ram 1500 TRX for which they developed the "Know & Go" mobile app. It uses augmented reality to provide information about the truck's features.
"For my kids, as early drivers, I thought how could they have a tool they could use to quickly learn?" said Harris, who has been with the automaker for almost 21 years and studied business management in Mexico. "So many people, they don't know that they can potentially improve their driving experience by pushing a button or using autonomous features while driving the highway."
Harris eventually teamed with Mimi Nguyen, Fiat Chrysler's propulsion systems program manager, to develop the "Know & Go" app that uses augmented reality to help owners explore the features of their vehicle at their own pace. They presented their idea to executives in June at the Italian American automaker's first-ever "Pitch Night," and the app will debut with the new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX performance pickup truck set to begin hitting dealers before the end of the year.
After downloading the app, owners will be able to point their phone camera at the vehicle and virtual circles will appear in the camera view on the steering wheel, ignition button, and other parts on which the user can tap to learn more. Selecting them will show an image of the part with its name and description. The app tracks the user's progress, includes how-to videos and can link them to a digital owners' manual for more.
Using the Know & Go app, owners will be able to point their phone camera at the vehicle and virtual circles will appear in the camera view on the steering wheel, ignition button and other parts on which the user can tap to learn more. Selecting them will show an image of the part with its name and description.
"It's a perfect fit for what the auto industry is going through and as cars are getting more advanced," said Karl Brauer, executive analyst for automotive search-engine iSeeCars.com. "The miniature phonebook-sized manual that you have to wade through feels like you are an archaeologist mining for the information. There's been steps in this digital direction, but the AR components plus the comprehensive features beyond AR make it probably one of the more advanced versions at this point."
Augmented reality is a digital interactive experience where a virtual image is placed on top of a real-world environment. "It's a quick way and easy way to learn about anything," Nyugen saud,
The 12-year veteran of the automaker had been toying with how that technology could address her previous work in consumer research that had taught her many customers are unaware of all of their vehicle's capabilities.