Auto Tech

Volkswagen brings 3D smart glasses to its Wolfsburg plant

The specs can read barcodes and provide part-pickers with all the information they need without having to consult a form or memorize numbers.

Thankfully, if everybody's wearing the glasses, there won't be anybody saying that you look like a bit of a dork.

Volkswagen

Despite the strict policies and practices involved in assembling vehicles, it's far from a perfect science. Wrong parts can get pulled, which can waste a good deal of time. And when you're responsible for a variety of parts, managing everything at once can get complicated.

Volkswagen thinks it's devised the solution -- 3D smart glasses that provide all the information a plant worker needs.

When working requires both your hands, it's hard to keep a whole bunch of information straight at the same time. These 3D smart glasses (augmented-reality glasses would probably be a better description) provide information directly in the wearer's field of vision -- storage locations and part numbers no longer require memorization or a piece of paper tucked away in a pocket. The glasses are also controlled by either touch or voice, making for true hands-free operation.

Even better, the glasses also operate as barcode scanners. To ensure the picked parts are correct, the glasses will read barcodes and display them as either green or red. If it's green, you picked the right part. If it's red, it's back to the bin with you, although seeing a red barcode should stop you from picking it in the first place, ideally.

Right now, the wearable is limited to 30 employees in VW's Wolfsburg plant, spanning multiple departments like windshields and driveshafts. Eventually, the automaker wants to roll the glasses out to additional plants and brands, all in the name of making assembly that much more efficient.