Hololens can project virtual design elements onto a clay vehicle rendering or a fully-realized prototype via wireless headsets. With an AR application like the one Ford is using, you could have it right in front of you, laid on top of a real-world vehicle rather than just checking it on a screen or in a brochure. This week, the company is announcing that it's expanding its testing after positive early results.
While Microsoft's commitment to HoloLens is uncertain, it seems Ford at the very least found it useful enough to expand their use of the unique Mixed Reality device.
And with the magic of the world wide web, a designer in North America can sit in the drivers seat of the virtual cockpit joined by a colleague in Australia, India, or elsewhere around the globe in the passengers seat; designers and engineers across the globe can all study the same design together, in real-time.
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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. They were also able to use legacy tools such as clay models less often, allowing them to create and iterate more freely and quickly. When developing a computer-designed part or crafting a full-size clay model, it could take days or weeks to finally look at what the designer wanted to see. New auto fascias can be modeled using computer software, and then mapped onto an existing vehicle or clay model; different versions can be drafted, and scrolled through and reviewed by multiple team members. The company will now be rolling out HoloLens to Ford designers around the world.
Using HoloLens the design team at Ford were able to make the thousands of design decisions needed for each vehicle faster, and collaborate better with their partners in engineering and management. For example, the technology allows a designer and engineer to evaluate in near-real time how a new side mirror looks aesthetically, as well as the customer's view of the vehicle's surroundings. The headsets can even be synced to allow multiple team members to view a design simultaneously, making collaboration easy.
In addition to being used in the design studios, Ford is exploring using HoloLens to help their global teams collaborate.