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Using Tech-Enhanced Experiences to Aid Service

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Michael Lamm’s workplace features plenty of potential for distraction.

Porsche Minneapolis’ showroom features a 16-monitor mega TV, for starters. On the shop floor, a classic, 356 1600 Super sports car might be tucked away in one bay. And, near the shop doors, you’ll occasionally see a 918 Spyder with a price tag approaching $1.2 million.  

So, when Lamm, a technician, first heard that his employer was getting Porsche’s new “Tech Live Look” glasses, he assumed they were mainly a way for the OEM to supervise the shop floor. But he soon discovered he was wildly incorrect.

“At first we were a little nervous; we thought, ‘Porsche is going to be watching over us,’” he says. But, he eventually learned that the innovative Live Look glasses are, “a great idea to communicate faster, and get [support] responses right away, and to have them be able to see, instead of trying to explain by typing over and over; it brings that down to an hour, rather than, like, three days.

“The responses are immediate from Porsche. So, it’s just really easy to communicate back and forth with them.”

Lamm says Porsche’s new Tech Live Look smart glasses, which utilize augmented reality technology (somewhat similar to the Google Glass product), are the envy of all OEMs. The glasses utilize the AiR Enterprise software platform from AR provider Atheer Inc. and feature the latest in projection technology, with an auto focus camera and a powerful LED.

And, ultimately, the glasses have made technical assistance calls go from frustrating to incredibly efficient for technicians like Lamm.

 

Looking Back

When your head’s under a hood and you’re studying the intricacies of a sports car’s engine, it’s not always easy to articulate what you see in a phone call. In years past, that fact had always irritated Lamm, whose workplace tends to roughly 450 vehicles per month.

“Being a technician, it gets harder and harder to explain to Porsche these difficult issues,” says Lamm, currently entering his seventh year in the industry.

Porsche officials heard such complaints from technicians, and, by the summer of 2017, reacted. In July 2017, the luxury OEM launched a pilot program at eight U.S. dealerships, testing what eventually became the refined, Tech Live Look glasses of today.

“When this project started, the technicians said their biggest gripe when they’re working is just not having [an expert] there to see what they’re seeing,” noted Renita Whitfield, Porsche’s program manager of Tech Live Look. “So, with these smart glasses, that eliminates that problem.”

That’s one reason why Porsche plans to have the Tech Live Look glasses in each of its 189 North American dealerships by year’s end.

 

A New, Clear Vision

When Lamm first got his hands on the Tech Live Look glasses, he was rather nervous. After all, Porsche Minneapolis had just one pair of the glasses (which also feature an intricate, mouse-like device that fits on one’s fingertip), and they weren’t cheap, with a retail price of $2,750.

But, those initial fears quickly subsided. Training, provided by Porsche, was a breeze, requiring all of one hour.

It didn’t take long for Lamm’s employer to put a streamlined process in place for utilizing the smart glasses. Nowadays, when he gets stumped by a vehicle problem—say, with wiring issues—he can dial up an expert at Porsche’s North American headquarters in Atlanta, and quickly allow them to see what he sees.

That procedure essentially works like this: a technician might ask a question via the Porsche Technical Electronic Communications (or PTEC) website. Lamm can request to communicate with an expert technician by putting in a ticket. When the OEM receives that message, experts immediately set up a time to correspond with the technician in need.

Soon after, the expert is able to view what the technician is viewing, on a computer monitor, and can usually walk them through a repair. The experts in Atlanta, who are usually former Porsche shop floor workers in their own right, can freeze digital images that appear on the technicians’ glass lenses and even highlight what they want the tech to focus on, or send a technician links to different instructional articles.

By all accounts, it usually takes around 10 minutes for the experts to diagnose issues.

“I’ve been to [Porsche headquarters] a few times,” Lamm says. “They call it the fish bowl; it’s

a big glass room that the tech line people sit in. It’s just walls of computer monitors and books, from back to the ’50s. They have everything. So, they can just walk over, grab it, and look something up for us.

“It’s really neat that they can have it all at their fingertips. They can really quickly look it up,

to have a suggestion for a next step.”

 

Looking Ahead

When Porsche launched the Tech Live Look program, the OEM projected that the smart-glass technology would reduce repair resolution time by 40 percent. In Lamm’s experience, that prediction was accurate.

“Just being able to have [experts] see exactly what we’re talking about, rather than have to describe it, saves a lot of time—it just speeds up the process, a lot,” says Lamm, whose employer often uses the glasses during engine replacements.

He says technological innovations like the Tech Live Look glasses are the future of the auto industry.

“The program was designed well; it’s really user-friendly,” he says. “Overall, it’ll really help the technician.

“I believe, once the word gets out there that these [smart glasses] are working very well, that everybody should be using them.”

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