Microsoft's mixed reality HoloLens is helping designers save time and money

Designers at Ford studio have been using Microsoft's mixed reality HoloLens headset to visualize different stylistic propositions in the form of holograms.

As well as being directly integrated into vehicles, new technologies can also play a role in their design. Ford, for example, has been piloting Microsoft's HoloLens technology for a year as part of the design process for its future vehicles.

Microsofts mixed reality HoloLens is helping designers save time and money

The $3,000 Microsoft HoloLens dev kit

Designers at Ford studio in Dearborn, Michigan have been using Microsoft's "mixed reality" HoloLens headset to visualize different stylistic propositions in the form of holograms projected directly onto real vehicles. This way of working saves a lot of time (sometimes up to several weeks), since it's no longer necessary to produce mock-ups or models for each new idea. Here, everything is done instantly — or almost.

Once the holograms are projected onto a vehicle, engineers have the technology at their fingertips to select different aesthetic variations and see the result in real time, whether adjusting a radiator grille, a spoiler or a wing mirror. In fact, HoloLens offers 3D and life-sized visualizations of all of the modifications made to the design of a new model under development. It's even possible to stick virtual "Post-it" note holograms onto projects to facilitate collaboration between teams working remotely. According to the engineers who have already tested the technology, the possibilities it offers are almost endless.

"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," said Jim Holland, Ford vice president, vehicle component and systems engineering.

As a result, Ford is expanding testing of Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality technology globally.

Microsoft HoloLens was demoed in 2015 before going on sale in 2016 to professionals and developers. It lets users interact with virtual reality elements within a real-world environment. It is currently available to buy from Microsoft priced from $3,000.

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