Traditionally, large clay models have been used to help car designers better visualize new vehicles as they’re developed. Computer renderings changed the process somewhat, but you’re still looking at an image on a screen, not an object in space. But with the help of augmented reality, that’s starting to change.
Ford announced that its designers have spent the last year using Microsoft’s HoloLens to help them quickly change the size, shape, and texture of different design elements without the need to spend weeks or even months working up a new clay model. Using wireless headsets, the team sees a hologram laid over either a clay model or an actual car. Designers can then scroll through various design changes to see how they look from different angles.
“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 head of component and systems engineering, in a release. “Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times.”
Sure, most of the announcement is public relations fluff to try to make Ford and Microsoft look good, but the technology being used is also impressive. We’ve seen some similar things done with virtual reality in the past, but those required much heavier goggles with bulky wires. They also couldn’t virtually lay a hologram over a physical object.
The future is here, folks, and it’s awesome.