Why is 3D the future of product manuals?

No one can deny the excitement we all feel when we receive at our doorsteps a box containing the product that we bought and we are eagerly waiting for.  We take the box, rush inside, open it, and here comes the disappointment. Parts scattered everywhere like the pieces of a puzzle and a sad-looking paper the so-called “Instruction manuals”.  

We start to assemble but fail miserably. We are stuck with the dilemma of wanting to test the product as soon as possible and the fear of committing errors and ruining it. Now hours have passed, and you are still trying to decipher a piece of paper that has illustrations of parts you can’t even distinguish between one another.  

And here comes your savior, a knight in shining armor, a 3D manual. Your product is in front of you looking as close to its real form as possible with a step-by-step demonstration of how to build it.   

Educating your customers on how to assemble, use, maintain, and repair your product is crucial. However, the traditional way of providing this support is obsolete.  

Everything wrong with instruction manuals:  

The first apparent problem with paper manuals is in its expression “PAPER”. The environment is already suffering from enough problems to burden it with manuals that no one reads or cares about anymore. We all toss them somewhere and start assembling while hoping for the best. It is very boring and noneducative that the intended solution has turned into a problem. 

 frustrating manuals

In a business context, this mean of communication is not profit friendly. From printing hundreds of thousands of documents in multiple languages to hiring someone to answer the never-ending support calls and someone else to train and teach operators on how to get accustomed to a machine, the whole process is overwhelmingly costly and time-consuming.  

Added to that manuals are OLD. How come every step of creating a product has been innovated and technology has been implemented in it but not with customer support? Why do we still need to use an outdated method? Simply the equation of what sellers are offering and the user guide don’t hold anymore. They are not in the same league. It is like selling someone a smartphone and then asking him/her to plug it to a network cable. What is the point?  

All these flaws and more are exactly what 3D solves.  

The added value of 3D manuals:  

Added value for users:

3D is immersive, interactive, and intelligent. It helps you visualize the product, understand, and distinguish each part. It guides you on how to build the device all while saving the planet. The instructions are clear and free of confusion. 

With this technology, you can rotate your object, and zoom in on every detail. Expand the view and get a clear idea of what to use and where to use exactly. Few minutes and voila your product is assembled and ready for you to enjoy it. 

Added values for inventors

Businesses will create 3D manuals that even the marketing team can benefit from them. They can market their product in the most efficient and close to reality way possible. Inventors can communicate their ideas to the users, the operators, and the customers, or any consumer without ambiguity. 

Companies won’t need to answer tedious calls and train employees while assuring that no customers are lost and no machine operators are suffering from fatal injuries. They will gain insights from the data they accumulate about what is a source of confusion for the customers. Thus, they will improve the quality of their products by knowing what to get rid of and what to keep.  

This will save precious time while generating profit since as known-time is money- and companies will be cutting the unnecessary costs generated by creating paper guides. 

We at onboard have created a platform in which companies can create manuals for their customers in a safe way while gaining important information. As a consumer, you use it by searching for what product you are trying to build. After that, we guide you with very engaging step-by-step tutorials to build it.  

In conclusion, a user manual is from the past and has long lost its value.  It is important to acknowledge that interactive 3D manuals are the future of this form of communication since they are efficient, engaging, and cost-effective. Thus, let’s get you Onboard, and let’s make receiving a new product great again.

No, real-time 3D is not a video. They are very different

We all stumbled upon that animated 3D model on a website and though well that is some interesting video. However, the truth is far from that. Real-time 3D is not a video. These models are what we call real-time 3D, an example of what a digital transformation represents which is strikingly different from the digitization of reality through text, images, and even videos. (check out our article “An image on a tablet is not Digital Transformation, nor innovation.” to know more about this subject)  

Have you ever tried to decipher a 2D illustration of a 3D product and failed miserably at it? That’s understandable since it is challenging to try and understand representations of what reality is in a two-dimensional format that strips the product from the details that matter.  

Real-time 3D solves that problem. It allows the viewer not only to visualize but to also interact with the product that is moving in real-time. 

What is real-time 3D? And How does it work? 

3D is captured and reconstructed from the real world in real-time by a process in which animations and images are rendered as quickly as possible that they appear in the exact time you are interacting with them. 

If you are used to playing or watching video games then you have experienced real-time rendering before. According to Unity, 3D images are calculated at a very high speed which is usually 24 frames/sec which is the minimum to trick the human eye and create the illusion of movement appearing as close to reality as possible 

Real-time 3D is dynamically updated in every frame which finishes processing before the next frame arrives and then expires. 

How is it different from normal videos?  

Real-time rendering and videos can be similar since they both use light to create images. However, when it comes to how they are created and the experience they offer, they are widely different. That is real-time 3D is not a video

Videos are an example of digitization which is the process of converting information from a physical format to a digital one. Videos are obtained by converting reality into a digital representation to be used by computer systems.  

They are created using compression technologies. From converting images into digital data and compressing it to its smallest file size to then decompressing it to get a presentation of that data in the form of a video. 

What is the value-added of Real-time 3D? 

Real-time 3D is very interactive and immersive. It embodies the human communication that we at Onboard aim to empower. Aside from viewing the scene in every angle possible it also allows you to dive deeper into it by zooming in on every detail.  

As a matter of fact, if you are an investor or a designer this allows you to know whether you’ve made a mistake in your design or not, what is needed to fix it, and where exactly. It facilitates the decision of a consumer to buy a product or not since you can view it from multiple angles which helps discover and understand if it is the right choice for you. 

Here an example of a real-time 3D. You can go ahead and discover it. 

Videos on the other hand offer a limited experience.  The only use you have of a video is to watch it at the static angle that the person recording chose and the best you can do to interact with it is press the play button 

Here is a short video of the same example shown above  

As you can remark with this format you cannot change the view either zoom in or out. You are able to only experience what the person who created the video wanted you to see

What industries can benefit from it? 

Aside from the video gaming industry that heavily uses real-time 3D, this technique is gaining popularity and is being implemented in other areas.  

Interactive 3D is a form of digital transformation that can revolutionize businesses on an immense scale.  

We at onboard for example are utilizing it to create intelligent 3D manuals. Our goal is to ensure that the inventors of a product are able to communicate their ideas to their users in the most humane way possible. 

The automotive industry can gain a lot using real-time 3D. Who wouldn’t want to peek inside their dream car and observe how they can handle it? 

This technique can make buying a new car at a next-level experience. Not just car purchasing, a house can also be immersive and as human as possible. Thus, the real estate industry is an ultimate beneficiary as well.  

Interior design and design, in general, will also be transformed using real-time 3D. The designer can view his work, move furniture around, and anticipate how the room will look like without the burden of lifting heavy products. 

To sum up, real-time 3D and videos cannot be put under the same umbrella. One is a digital transformation and the other is a form of digitization. Real-time 3D provides an exciting user experience. It is immersive, interactive, intelligent, and most importantly humanly   

Two colleagues at a factory

An image on a tablet isn’t Digital Transformation, nor innovation.

Creating a connected industry is the main promise of the fourth industrial revolution. Its goal is to apply digital transformation to the entire industry supply chain. However, applying this will push the manufacturers to get out of their comfort zones of predefined “successful” processes to be able to adapt to the market since these processes are becoming more and more complex for their frontline workers, who are still unfamiliar with these new technologies, and thus afraid of it.
Lots of concerns are rising with this sped up change, so the question becomes:

how do we innovate and leave humans at the center?


Humans are visual learners by nature, our first experience and discovery of our surroundings are through 3D (physical hand interactions). Images and text are only means of communication humans use to interact with each other. They abstract the true nature of things and sometimes even distort it. For example, manuals who are aimed to help end up confusing even more and lead to a 70% churn rate. They even tend to cause serious injuries especially when a user is using the product for the first time.

At Onboard, we aim to empower inventors and users to communicate humanly. Inventors who are engineers or product designers should be able to communicate their ideas. These ideas are to be understood by the users, the operators, and the customers in the most humane way possible, 3D.

How this digital transformation can benefit the industry?

Digital Transformation

3D brings the flat ideas of 2D to life which automatically improves the overall performance of the industry. According to The Global Digital Transformation Survey Report 2020, 75% of the responders thought that digital transformation has a positive outcome on their business. 3D manuals help identify problems earlier and pinpoint what exactly customers are struggling to understand. This saves the company millions of dollars by fixing what is confusing to customers as soon as possible. Thus, no money nor time is lost on long exhausting training sessions since the manuals are already interactive and immersive enough.

What is the added value of “truly” digitizing manuals and documents for consumers

Making a 3D manual for each product or process will help greatly the person executing. Indeed, it is easier to see the different parts, to know how to use it, and what to do exactly. It saves valuable hours by reducing the time spent trying to decipher the so-called digitally transformed 2D image displayed on a tablet. More engagement and better user experience are guaranteed since 3D helps match the reality of the consumer.

These manuals and documents are also accessible via an application or a web platform. This enables users to see the different components and follow the instructions allowing them to carry out their work efficiently. They can even streamline exchanges in real-time via augmented reality.

In conclusion, capturing reality on an image or a video is not a digital transformation that is merely creating a digital representation fixed in time. However, using 3D as visual communication is, when coupled with the power of the cloud. Having you onboard with us ensures that you will digitize your user manuals the right way. Most importantly, you’ll provide your customers with the best user experience, all whilst learning from them.

Digital Transformation

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