September 25, 2017
Ford is turning to Microsoft technology to up its vehicle design game.
The automotive company is using Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets to bring augmented reality to its design process that, traditionally, was done with clay models. These are not only expensive and time-consuming to make, but are costly to change too.
That’s where the HoloLens comes in. The mixed reality headset and visualization software aids Ford designers in quickly changing vehicle design elements such as side mirrors, grilles and vehicle interiors.
With HoloLens headsets, designers can see holograms in photo-quality backdrops. They also have the ability to quickly scroll and preview numerous design variations projected virtually onto an actual car or clay model.
“We may not be able to teleport yet, but HoloLens allows us to review full-size 3D designs with designers and engineers around the world in real time,” Ford manager of design technical operations Craig Wetzel said. “And we’ve only just scratched the surface, so possibilities for the future seem almost limitless. This is very exciting.”
Aside from being cost-effective and much quicker, HoloLens has the added benefit of being a secure way to collaborate with a large team.
“Using HoloLens, design and engineering teams across the company can more easily collaborate, without the risk of leaks of highly confidential designs – which happens to be one of the automotive industry’s biggest competitive advantages,” Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences general manager Lorraine Bardeen said in a blog post.
“This allows everyone working on the product to better understand tradeoffs and to reflect customer experiences throughout the entire development process. For example, now a designer and engineer can evaluate in real time how a new side mirror design not only affects the aesthetics but also the customer’s view – a process that can be completed in a day when previously designers and engineers had to go back and forth for days or weeks.”
Ford said it is investigating how HoloLens technology can benefit more of its engineering development processes.