Audi's New Augmented Reality Owner Manual Is Incredible

I think this has happened to everyone at least once: You get into a new car, and you don't know what some crazy-looking switch, dial or button actually does. But Audi has a brilliant solution to this problem that involves your smartphone, augmented reality, and ditching the owner's manual for good.

It's an app called eKurzinfo, and while it made its debut on the Audi A1 city car, but now it's headed to the upcoming new 2015 Audi A3. The way it works, according to Wired, is amazing but remarkably simple: Point the camera of your smartphone at various parts of the car and displays instantly pop up with useful information.

Not sure how the cruise control works? Shine the phone over it and get an explanation of how to operate it. Can't find the engine coolant reservoir? Aim the phone over the engine bay and it will tell you where to locate it so you can top it off with fluid. The app can recognize more than 300 areas on the car.

I think it's an ingenious idea, and one that is a lot more useful than the clunky iPad-based owner's manual apps we've seen so far. At the moment, eKurzinfo comes in German, English and Japanese.

No word yet on whether we will get the app when the new A3 comes to our shores, but I hope we will. I'd love to see this technology get applied to other cars, and even older ones where it can help explain esoteric controls and diagnose problems.

What other ideas do you have for augmented reality in cars?