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Ford uses Microsoft HoloLens technology to speed up vehicle design globally

ABR Staff Writer Published 21 September 2017

Ford has expanded the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality technology to all of its global centers to speed up vehicle design.

Ford designers can now wear a pair of wireless headsets to see several digital designs and parts, as if they were superimposed onto a physical vehicle and will look as though they are physically part of the vehicle.

The technology lets then explore and test different shapes, sizes and textures of future vehicle attributes in minutes and hours instead of weeks and months, which could otherwise be done by creating clay models.

Ford vehicle component and systems engineering vice president Jim Holland said: “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.

“Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times.” 

Ford says that it has been piloting the new technology for over a year at its Dearborn studios and now it plans to test this technology across all of its global centres.

When designers wear their headsets and move around an actual vehicle, the Microsoft’s HoloLens accurately scans and maps the environment to render hologram and images from the angle at which the vehicle is being viewed.

And, the system can impose the 3D holographic images of these and features as if these elements are already part of the vehicle. This gives chance for the designers to evaluate the design, make changes and to determine styling options earlier in the development stage.

Ford design manager Michael Smith said: “With HoloLens, we can instantly flip through virtual representations to decide which direction they should go.

“As a designer, you want to show, not just tell. This is much more compelling.”

Other than vehicle design, Ford also says that it is investigating how to integrate HoloLens technology into other engineering development process to further strengthen its competitiveness using virtual reality technologies.

Image: Ford to test Microsoft’s HoloLens technology globally in vehicle design. Photo: Courtesy of The Ford Motor Company.