Ford Tests Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Visualization Software for Automotive Design


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Ford is using wireless HoloLens technology to improve automotive design.

Photo Courtesy: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Co. designers today announced the automaker has been swapping clay-sculpting steels and rakes for mixed reality headsets and visualization software from Microsoft and its HoloLens platform that can update side mirrors, grilles, vehicle interiors, and more in seconds.

Since piloting Microsoft HoloLens for the past year at Ford’s Dearborn studios, designers have been able to explore different shapes, sizes, and textures of future vehicle attributes in minutes and hours instead of the expected weeks and months it can take to create clay models.

“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’s vice president for vehicle component and systems engineering. “Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times.” 

Ford is now expanding its testing of HoloLens, which uses mixed reality to allow designers to see holograms in photo-quality backdrops through wireless headsets. They can scroll and preview through numerous design variations projected virtually onto an actual car or clay model.

Designers see 3-D holographic images of themes and features as though the elements were already a part of the vehicle, allowing them to quickly evaluate functionality, make changes, and determine styling options earlier in vehicle development.

“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, manager for design technical operations at Ford. “And we’ve only just scratched the surface, so possibilities for the future seem almost limitless. This is very exciting.”

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