Hyundai Virtual Guide should put an end to the question, "What's that thing do?"
If you're a bit overwhelmed at the length of today's modern owner's manual, which can stretch longer than a "Harry Potter" novel, you're not alone. Heck, even automakers are realizing that it's not terribly efficient. Hyundai's devised a solution that incorporates augmented-reality technology, and the result requires nothing more than a smartphone or tablet.
Hyundai Virtual Guide, available later this year on Google Play and Apple's App Store, whittles hundreds of pages of information into an app that recognizes dozens of your vehicle's features. So long as your vehicle is a 2015 Hyundai Sonata, that is -- additional models will be made compatible with the app following its launch.
This info-dense application includes 82 different how-to videos, covering everything from oil changes to air filter replacements to Bluetooth phone pairing. There are 50 or so additional informational guides that can help you get the most of your car without having to thumb through a paper index that spans 100 pages on its own.
Augmented reality comes into play by way of six 3D images built into Hyundai Virtual Guide. After scanning an area of the vehicle, like the engine bay or the dashboard, the app will point out different parts and offer up any relevant information. If you scan your engine and click on "Engine Oil," it'll start by showing you how to look at the dipstick to measure the oil level. Pretty clever.
To figure out which components were worthy of inclusion, Hyundai polled buyers on the most difficult features to figure out. Considering an ever-growing segment of the population is constantly staring at one type of screen or another, this is one of the best ways to supply information to new buyers.
This isn't Hyundai's first foray into expanding the owner's manual outside the bounds of paper. The automaker included an iPad loaded with a digital manual on its Equus flagship luxury sedan. It also has an app that will display the owner's manual inside the vehicle on the infotainment system's touchscreen.