Ford Stylists Around the Globe Can Now Collaborate Using Virtual Reality
Ford designers based in Shanghai and Dearborn can now collaborate with each other digitally by using virtual reality. Ford has auto designers who are spread throughout the world and the company has implemented virtual reality into its systems to allow designers to collaborate on projects virtually and simultaneously thereby eliminating the need for designers to constantly fly across the world for collaborations.
The auto company is experimenting with virtual reality software called Gravity Sketch. The software includes a feature called Co-Creation that was developed by Gravity Sketch in partnership with Ford which now allows the automaker’s stylists across the globe to collaborate together on the same car design project in virtual reality.
The Gravity Sketch feature enables the designer to perform functions such as drawing lines as well as shapes around themselves virtually while they are wearing an HTC Hive virtual reality headset. The virtual reality design software will enable the automaker to save time and create more innovative designs through collaborative efforts.
Ford also expects the Co-Creation feature to help in speeding up its global car design process by enabling auto designers targeting different markets to provide prompt feedback on vehicle designs. The company values the importance of multiple points of view due to the varied tastes and preferences of car buyers globally. What appeals to one market may not necessarily suit the next market. By doing the auto design in real-time in virtual reality, Ford is able to get faster feedback than when its disparate designers are working on multiple 2D and 3D models independently. The Co-Creation functionality in the Gravity Sketch software is capable of supporting up to 10 designers working in virtual reality simultaneously. However, according to a Ford spokesperson, the virtual reality system will work optimally with a maximum of 6 people.
In terms of the design ecosystem, the Co-Creation feature will incorporate more voices into the virtual design environment making it possible to have a more efficient design process which has a knock-on effect on the speed of the vehicle development program. A collaborative design environment accelerates the process.
The system also allows an automotive designer to move into the other designers’ point-of-view within the virtual ecosystem which makes it a potent tool for training new designers. It is also possible to rope in other non-design staff such as the engineers and marketing staff into the virtual reality design sessions. This enables various players in the company to gain valuable insights about the product and be in sync with final product and process.
Designers at Ford are currently experimenting with the Gravity Sketch virtual reality tool in various locales across the world including Melbourne in Australia, Dearborn in Michigan, Dunton in the UK, Irvine in California and Merkenich in Germany. The Ford teams around the world are currently studying the software tool’s workflow feasibility. The automaker believes that making the shift to a VR-inspired design and evaluation process can help in revolutionizing the whole manufacturing process through the reduction of the development time.