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Monday, September 30, 2013, 10:17 am PT (01:17 pm ET)

VW shows off iOS augmented reality repair app for XL1 concept car

German automaker Volkswagen today teased a new iOS-based augmented reality application for technicians working on its XL1 concept car to be shown at the mid-October InsideAR augmented reality conference in Munich.

MARTA AR repair app

Volkswagen's MARTA augmented reality repair app | Source: Volkswagen


The application, dubbed MARTA — an acronym for Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance — is designed to complement Volkswagen's XL1 concept car and assists technicians by visually walking them through the steps to be taken during a repair. The application outlines and labels parts overlaid on a realtime image of the vehicle, and provides helpful contextually-relevant information like which tools are required for that specific step.

The new system is not the first repair-focused augmented reality app from a German automaker. Volkswagen stablemate Audi debuted an iOS offering alongside its 2015 A3 small family car last month, though the Audi app is targeted at car owners undertaking simple maintenance like oil changes, rather than the more complex dealer-side tasks that the MARTA app is designed for.

Both Volkswagen and Audi's apps were developed in conjunction with Munich-based Metaio, so the Audi app may well be an early production look at what the MARTA effort may eventually yield, much like the iPhone's place as an early adaptation of technology originally intended for the iPad. Metaio is a leader in augmented reality software whose AR SDK powers iOS apps like Ikea's innovative 2014 catalog that allows users to virtually "furnish" a room in their home via their iPad.

While this app does not represent an official collaboration, Apple and Volkswagen do have a history of working together. Cupertino and Wolfsburg combined to bring the 2014 "iBeetle" into production, which features an iPhone-specific docking station and companion iOS application. Volkswagen was, however, notably absent from the list of automakers shown off by Apple to support iOS 7's new iOS in the Car feature.