Ford Tests Microsoft HoloLens for automotive design

Yolanda Curtis
September 22, 2017

In an accompanying video, Microsoft and Ford showed how HoloLens allows users to overlay full-scale concepts over existing physical models in 3D space, helping them fine-tune their designs with fewer physical prototypes. The developers using this technology can scroll and flick through numerous variations of design elements in order to find the right fit-all without having to spend hours physically resculpting or reshaping.

"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", says Craig Wetzel, Ford manager, design technical operations. HoloLens will be combined with clay models, allowing designers to quickly iterate and experiment in a virtual environment before committing any changes to the physical clay model.

It's called HoloLens and the automaker says it is a game changer in vehicle design.

Ford's Holland says designers can change side mirror designs in "near real time" with HoloLens. A Windows 10 computer embedded in the headsets brings the power of the operating system to a holographic device that is untethered, wearable and mobile. This makes collaborating on designs a lot easier, the company said. After you have tested the headphones during a pilot phase, Ford has chose to integrate it into its design process. "This is much more compelling".

Ford has been piloting HoloLens for the past year at the design studio in its Dearborn, Michigan, campus where it's been using a combination of traditional clay models and HoloLens holograms to test new shapes, textures and sizes of future vehicles.

The process of evaluating a vehicle's side mirror aesthetics and how it affects a driver's view, for instance, "normally takes days or weeks", Ford said.

The headsets can also be synced to let multiple team members view a design at the same time. In terms of collaboration, workers can share ideas and provide feedback by attaching voice notes to the mixed-reality experience provided by HoloLens.

The engineers and designers of Ford may model, thanks to the headsets, HoloLens from Microsoft, the changes made to the design of a auto. "Mixing virtual and physical models is exciting, because it helps our designers and engineers communicate effectively and ideate to see what the future looks like earlier in the process".

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