American automaker Ford is using Microsoft HoloLens to design new cars in augmented reality. The company says it will not replace traditional methods, like clay modelling, but could significantly reduce decision-making times from weeks to hours.
In a statement on Thursday, Ford said the mixed reality headsets would “allow designers to explore different shapes, sizes and textures of future vehicle attributes in minutes and hours instead of the weeks and months it can take to create clay models.” They will now be able to preview numerous design variations, as they are projected virtually onto an actual car or clay model.
“It’s amazing we can combine the old and the new – clay models and holograms – in a way that both saves time and allows designers to experiment and iterate quickly to dream up even more stylish, clever vehicles,” says Jim Holland, Ford vice president. “Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times.”
“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. “And we’ve only just scratched the surface, so possibilities for the future seem almost limitless. This is very exciting.”
The Global Virtual and Augmented Reality Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of around 73.2% over the next decade to reach approximately $198.5 billion by 2025, according to a new report. It points to trends like the introduction of industry-specific solutions, high demand for augmented reality-based head up displays and recent technological developments as factors behind this growth.
Ford isn’t the only automaker to recognise this trend. Volvo, Audi and Volkswagen are all using the HoloLens for training purposes. However, Ford says it is also exploring ways to bring HoloLens technology into more engineering development processes to further bolster its lead in AR technologies.
“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. This allows great freedom and efficiency in how prototypes are created or changed,” says Elizabeth Baron, Ford virtual reality and advanced visualization technical specialist.
Ford has been working on augmented reality for some time. In January, the automaker showcased its latest innovations at 2017 North American International Auto Show with live augmented reality presentations.
Microsoft is scheduled to hold a Windows Mixed Reality event next month to show off the latest version of its HoloLens technology.
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