After a successful pilot program over the past year, auto-making giant Ford says that it will expand its use of Microsoft’s HoloLens for vehicle design.
“Over the past year, Ford has successfully piloted Microsoft HoloLens in its Design Center to improve creativity, collaboration and time to market, and will expand testing of HoloLens globally,” a Microsoft representative told me. “HoloLens is reducing the time for some processes from weeks to days, and others from days to hours.”
As Microsoft general manager Lorraine Bardeen explains, Ford has traditionally used clay models to help it visualize emerging vehicle designs. It will continue to use these models, of course, but the auto maker has found that using 3D holograms is less expensive and time-consuming, and can help it experiment more quickly. So it will use HoloLens in tandem with its traditional design approach.
“We can combine the old and 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 and clever vehicles,” Ford’s Moray Callum says. “Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast changing times.”
Ford is also excited by the collaboration capabilities of HoloLens, which allows teams of designers and engineers to share ideas for new vehicles earlier in the process. As an example, they can evaluate in real time how a new side mirror design not only affects the aesthetics but also the customer’s view, Microsoft notes.
This is a big win for Microsoft, but it’s not the firm’s only commercial partnership for HoloLens: The software giant is also working with Case Western Reserve and the Cleveland Clinic, JPL, Lowes, Stryker, University College London, thyssenkrupp, Volvo, and many others on integrating HoloLens into their operations.