Ford Embraces a New (Virtual) Reality


From Henry Ford’s assembly line to Tesla’s Gigafactory, automakers have a strong legacy of embracing new design and manufacturing technologies. To this end, Ford recently began using Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headsets and visualization software to help reduce the time associated with garnering feedback and implementing key design changes.

Primarily focused on aesthetics like side mirrors, grills, and interior components, the HoloLens platform allows designers to see holograms in photo-quality backdrops with wireless headsets.

An embedded computer and controls on the headset also allow for scrolling and previewing design variations that are projected virtually onto an actual car or clay model. These full-size, 3D designs can be shared with designers and engineers around the world in real time.

Additionally, as team members move around a vehicle, HoloLens scans and maps the environment to produce visuals mirroring the angle at which the car, truck, or SUV is being viewed.

The headsets can also be synced for simultaneous design reviews by multiple designers, and audio notes can be used to share thoughts amongst team members viewing the design at different times.

So far, Ford is enjoying the time-to-market benefits. The next step could be utilizing this technology to advance more elements of product development in a virtual reality environment.

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