Ford is Scaling Up its 3D Virtual Reality Car Design Across the Globe With a Co-Creation Feature
Ford has been experimenting with virtual reality 3D car design following its collaboration with the London-based intuitive and immersive 3D design company Gravity Sketch. Now the automaker has introduced a Co-Creation feature that will allow Ford designers across the globe to work within the same virtual reality space. The company has also expanded its virtual reality 3D design to other global offices beyond its Dearborn home.
Several of Ford’s interior and exterior designers based across five of its global design studios are currently experimenting with the virtual reality technology. This global collaboration has been enabled by a new feature in Ford’s VR design technology (which was developed in collaboration with Gravity Sketch) called Co-Creation which was developed for Ford. Through Co-Creation, designers across far flung corners of the globe are able to create, collaborate and evaluate the designs simultaneously. They are able to walk around the 3D vehicle design in real time from the comfort of their workspaces or studios.
A designer in Dearborn and another in Melbourne will be able to walk together into the virtual reality design space and perform changes or review vehicle designs. Once the collaborating designers are done working, they can take off their VR headsets and get back to their separate physical workspaces which are in reality, thousands of miles and several time-zones apart.
The Co-Creation Feature was developed by Gravity Sketch in collaboration with the Ford designers.
The virtual reality technology has enabled designers at Ford to set aside the traditional auto design tools such as pens, pencils, sketchbooks or CAD software for a virtual reality design environment powered by high-end VR headsets and controllers along with a motion-tracking technology that replicates the physical act of drawing sketches using pen and paper. The Co-Creation tool enables designers to perform various design functions including drawing, rotating, compressing, expanding and 3D sketches. It also provides a real-time collaboration function that allows multiple designers to simultaneously work on a design project and make changes in real-time.
The Co-Creation technology is not only enhancing collaboration but also helping designers save time and the cost of international travel during the design process. Without the possibility of real-time collaboration, Ford’s designers would have to travel across the world to collaborate on critical design projects.
The conventional auto design from 2D sketches to 3D rendering normally takes weeks. With the new virtual reality design tool, Ford’s designers are able to bypass the 2D design phase thereby shedding off much time and man-hours it would have required to transform the 2D sketches into 3D. This will also allow the automaker to generate more 3D representations for evaluation at a much lower cost. Ford’s designers can also use the tool to bounce off ideas virtually.
Ford is the first automaker to use the Gravity Sketch tool. The 3D virtual reality design tools helps designers create vehicles designs that are more human-centric. The Gravity Sketch tool immerses designers into a VR world where the pencils and sketch pads are replaced with a VR headset and controllers where the human gestural interactions are simulated via motion-tracking technology that accurately imitates the real-life sketch work using pen and paper.
As a collaborative design tool, the Co-Creation tool will enable Ford designers to add more voices to the conversation around design work within a virtual environment. The result will be a more efficient design process that will also help in accelerating Ford’s various vehicle development programs.
Design work that would normally take weeks would now be accomplished in a matter of hours. The Gravity Sketch tool will also be an important training tool for new designers since it’s possible to transfer a design to another designer’s point of view within the VR environment so as to see from another person’s perspective.
The Gravity Sketch tool has been implemented across Ford’s five design studios around the world, allowing its designers to experiment with the tool for workflow feasibility as well as its real-time co-creation and collaboration capabilities.