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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 March, 2003, 01:47 GMT
Car mechanics go virtual
By Ivan Noble
BBC News Online technology staff in Hanover

The future car mechanic could wear a hi-tech headset alongside the more traditional grubby overalls.

Man demonstrating virtual reality headset
Sharp dressed vision of future mechanic
A German team belonging to the nationwide Fraunhofer research group has developed a system to bring augmented reality technology to the car repair workshop.

The mechanic dons a headset and then instructions for the job in hand are projected into his field of view.

The technique has been used in the aircraft building industry for years, but now Fraunhofer engineers believe that they have come up with a system which is a practical for car maintenance too.

Virtual furniture

They have developed a piece of software which allows them to put together an augmented reality system quickly without it being tailor made for the individual use.

It works as an ActiveX control, so it can be integrated into existing software as it stands.

The Fraunhofer system is on show at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover.

Its designers are also working with Ikea to develop a system where customers can walk into a furniture shop with a picture of a room at home and have an augmented reality system display how a piece of furniture would look once they had put it together.

And in an EU-backed project, the developers have built a system for people touring ancient monuments which allows the tourist to see the site restored to its former glory.

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