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Project Title

Wearable Computing Enhanced Augmented Reality for Automotive Service

Project Summary


To research and develop interactive augmented reality (AR) technology and application for high effectiveness and quality of automotive service, leveraging the emerging technology on wearable computing and the power of smartphone.


The competition in automotive aftermarket is high so it is essential for car dealers and local garages to provide competitive after-sale repair and maintenance services to survive and drive success. One of the key challenges for technicians and mechanics is that they must be kept updated and refreshed with new information due to the rapid technological changes and adaptions seen in the automotive manufacturing process. Traditionally, they can reply on manuals and servicing documents provided by manufactures. However, this can hardly cope with the changes and complexity nowadays.

In this project, we propose a wearable computing enhanced AR approach to address the challenge and maximise the opportunities of service excellence. AR overlays the physical and real world environment with the computer generated sensory input such as live video, sound, 3D models, text, etc. Over the last decades, AR has been used to provide better in-car services (e.g., navigation and entertainment). However, it has not been well applied to other domains in the automotive industry. We will enable AR on common servicing tasks through real time auto parts/components tracking, locating and consulting. This project will be based on the latest wearable computing device Vuzix Smart Glasses and smartphone, aiming to provide a completely hand-free AR interaction framework for automotive service industry.

Approach and Outcome

One of the most important and challenging techniques in AR is the pose estimation which registers and aligns the digital/virtual objects seamlessly with the real environment to create an impression of immersion. This project will study and explore using the Vuzix Smart Glasses (VSG), a hands-free wearable device, and smartphone to address the limitations of existing approaches. Connecting with smartphone, VSG poses a great potential to enable us to develop an advanced AR framework for auto repair and service.

The main research tasks, approaches and deliverables of this PhD project include:

  • Integrating AR with VSG

    • Conduct case studies to analyze the need for AR and identify user interactions with AR in the problem context.

    • Explore how VSG is connected with smartphone to access information stored within, particular 3D representation of a given environment (such as under the car bonnet).

    • Develop a trial AR app to testify the findings and define metrics to measure the performance, including components tracking, virtual objects registration and overlaying, robustness to the lighting condition etc.

  • Exploiting system designs for auto repair and service.

    • Design intuitive and natural interactions to help user to work through instructions and steps for repair and service.

    • Benchmarking interaction performance, such as against user just working from a normal set of PDF instructions on an LCD screen inside the vehicles.

  • Validating design and system (e.g. an app) in a real world practice (through the sponsoring company and local garages) and providing guidelines and cases to support for wider deployment.

Academic Impact

Augmented Reality (AR) is both a field of research and technology located at the intersection of computer graphics, computer vision and artificial intelligence. During the past decades, many AR technologies and systems have been developed. Before the development of smartphones and its wide public adoption, most of the applications required head mounted display (HMD) devices connecting with computers to track the environment and overlap virtual information. Aiming to develop an AR system with higher performance and more advanced features for automotive service industry, this project explores the potential application of the latest wearable computing technology, VSG. Integrating with smartphone, VSG is expected to allow a completely hand-free AR interaction system, which has advantages over existing AR systems.
We foresee that this PhD project will open a new research direction and increase BU’s presence in this cutting edge research area. With the novelty of the approach, it is expected that a number of high quality (3 or 4 star) journal articles be published, and the objective of the project is seamlessly in line with BU’s vision on fusion.

Societal Impact

The automotive industry in UK is one of its largest, employing 175,000 people in vehicle manufacturing and a further 675,000 in related automotive activities [1]. This industry has seen many changes over the past decades. Such changes will continue to affect how technicians and mechanics provide aftermarket services. Technological advancements and consumer demand will continue to have a great impact on the work of auto technicians and mechanics. In order to run a service business successfully, the garages and dealers’ workshops must provide excellent repair or maintenance service so as to satisfy the customers’ need. More importantly, knowledge and skills are the indispensable elements in performing vehicle repair and maintenance service. This PhD project aims to leverage the emerging wearable computing technology to assist the after-sales services of the motor industry. The outcome of this project will improve the technical quality in repair service and eventually the overall after-sales service quality of motor industry. Beyond that, this project may also benefit the individual driver who to contextually access the instructions required to maintain their car, where is needed when is needed.


Training Opportunities

The supervision team of this PhD project consists of 3 academic staff who have expertise on computer game, computer vision and human computer interaction. These skills are not only essential for the project but also complementary to each other. The PhD student who embarks on this project will have regular weekly meetings with supervisors, being encouraged and guided on research methodology, writing papers and dissertation.

Within SciTech, the student will also have chances to meet other PhD students in SciTech and/or other schools, discussing and sharing ideas, experiences, challenges and difficulties in a friendly, supporting environment.

Apart from training programs the Graduate School offers, in the Faculty of Science & Technology (SciTech) a series of research presentations and seminars on digital media and creative technology will give the student a wide view and exposure to research methodology and strategy.

Supervisory Team & Research Environment

First supervisor

Dr Feng TIAN, School of Science & Technology, Bournemouth University, UK

Additional supervisors

Dr Nan JIANG, School of Science & Technology, Bournemouth University, UK

Dr Hui YU, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth, UK

informal enquiries

To discuss this opportunity further, please contact either Dr Feng Tian via email:


All Candidates must satisfy the University’s minimum doctoral entry criteria for studentships of an honours degree at Upper Second Class (2:1) and/or an appropriate Masters degree. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.


Please complete the BU Research Degree Application 2014 and submit it via email to the School Research Administrator – Naomi Bailey - by Tuesday 26th August 2014. Further information on the application process can be found at

PhD Studentship Project Proposal May 2014

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