Nomad in the Oregonian

Heads-up technology system comes to auto repair at Portland dealership

For years US Air force fighter pilots have used heads-up displays – flight data projected into their field of vision – to save valuable seconds in critical combat situations. Now auto mechanics are using heads-up displays to cut repair time and save money for their customers. Even the most experienced technician needs to spend a certain amount of time referencing a diagram or parts list before working on a vehicle. Given today’s sophisticated systems, the technician may need to spend even more time away from the repair rack. So any tools that that will help complete the repair quicker and more efficiently have a positive effect on the customer’s bank account. Earlier this year, the service department for Jim Fischer Volvo in Portland started using a new device that has returned measurable dividends for the dealership, it’s technicians and customers. Nomad Expert Technician System is a hip-worn wireless computer and head-worn display that scans repair and service information directly in to the technician’s field of vision.

- A hovering image –

Technicians see a display image hovering directly in front of them at arms’ length, superimposing diagrams and text directly over their workspace. This means they can perform work without having to move back and forth from the vehicle to stationary computer terminals, printouts or repair manuals.

Nomad is the brainchild of Microvision, a Bothell, Wash- based company that designs and develops high-precision scanning systems and relate technologies that enable projection displays and I mage capture products for a broad range of military, medical, industrial, professional and consumer products.

Microvision noted that audited field trials have proven technicians can increase their productivity by reducing the amount of time it takes to an automobile by up to 40 percent. That also translates to more cars going through the shop each day, allowing for a quick return on investment and greater profitability for the repair facility.

John Prosser, service director at Fischer Volvo, has already seen even better results. "It’s a great system", he said. "We’re just ecstatic."

In a trial at Volvo Trucks Technical Support Center, technicians were timed performing complex diagnostics procedures. Using Nomad, the results showed a 31-percent gain in productivity. Another trial, conducted at American Honda’s Training Center, resulted in a productivity gain of 38 percent. In that evaluation, two technicians, novice and journeyman, were timed on a battery and charging system test procedure both with and without Nomad. American Honda Motor Company and Microvision recently launched a cooperative promotional effort to offer the Nomad system to all Honda and Acura dealers nationwide. The Nomad system is designed for easy integration into a dealerships existing computer network. Up to 250 technicians can have concurrent, but separate, sessions through a secure Internet/intranet connected terminal server computer. Besides technicians, Nomad can be used by service advisors, parts personnel and service dispatchers.

- A Volvo Database –

According to Prosser, Fischer Volvo has gone a step farther by building it’s own "energetic" database. That data can factor each vehicles repair history into the needs of the customer who brings it in for service. Five technicians at Fischer are using the Nomad system, though that number is expected to increase. The dealership is the first in the Portland are to use the system.
Thanks to mistersomuch.