Genesis gives the old-fashioned owner's manual a high-tech update

Genesis Virtual Guide

The number of features and the general complexity of modern cars means owner’s manuals can now double as doorstops. It is unlikely that many owners will want to take the time to read through these tomes, but they contain vital information.

Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand hopes to address this problem using augmented reality. It created the Genesis Virtual Guide for its G80 and G90 sedans as a high-tech update of the traditional owner’s manual. Owners can download it for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The digital manual currently compatible with 2017 models only, but Genesis plans to update it for 2018 models later this year.

This app-based owner’s manual packs a lot of information and features into a Genesis owner’s smartphone or tablet. In addition to a complete digital owner’s manual, it includes 135 how-to videos and 25 3D-overlay images that appear when the user scans different areas of the car, like the engine bay or dashboard.

All a Genesis owner needs to do is hold their smartphone or tablet over a given area of the car and different visual aids appear. Scanning the engine compartment, for example, pulls up maintenance instructions. These cover engine oil and brake fluid levels, jump starting, air filter replacement, topping off washer fluid, and provide an explanation of the fuse box. Owners can also use the AR manual to learn how to change a tire.

Scanning the interior shows labels for each of the buttons, knobs, and other controls, and how-to videos for the functions they perform, such as Bluetooth phone pairing. A section for the instrument cluster explains all of the warning lights, sometimes referred to by the less-polite name “idiot lights.”

Both Genesis and parent Hyundai are getting serious about connected features for their cars. The two brands also offer smartwatch integration and an Amazon Alexa skill for the cars. These features are certainly in keeping with tech zeitgeist, but to be anything more than generators buzzwords, owners have to actually want to use them. A digital makeover could be just what the unloved owner’s manual needs or the Genesis Virtual Guide might just become an unloved app on owners’ home screens.