Virtual Reality Creates New Future for Ford R&D

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Dan Orr, Digital Build Master at Ford, manipulates a virtual flashlight using the Oculus system.

The staff at Randall Reed’s Planet Ford in Spring is pretty impressed with this new technology. Wearable tech, including products like Google Glass or the countless number bluetooth-enabled smartwatches and wristbands, have become increasingly popular over the couple of years. Facebook has taken notice of this with their recent $2 billion purchase of Oculus Virtual Reality, a company that has created a unique virtual reality headset system. With the continued growth of these technologies, Ford aims to maintain it’s reputation as an industry innovator by utilizing Oculus Rift, the company’s VR product, in their research and development strategies.

As one of the first automobile companies to do so, Ford hopes their adoption of the Rift into their R&D process will allow them to obtain a more comprehensive look at how consumers view their vehicles. VR will allow Ford to see what consumer’s are seeing before production of the vehicle actually begins. Take a look at Ford’s application of VR below!

At the Ford Immersion Lab, Ford design teams congregate to simultaneously experience the virtual walkthrough powered by the Oculus Rift. As one staffer sports the Rift headset and explores the inside and outside of various Ford models, their colleagues can view an ultra-high resolution feed of what the wearer is seeing. This innovative application of VR enables the design and engineering teams to examine fine details of the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

As the wearer investigates the vehicle, data is simultaneously integrated back into the team’s design software. This allows for seamless and efficient adjustments to be made wherever the team deems necessary. With over 190 virtual vehicles studied last year, efficient and streamlined processes associated with Ford’s Rift usage are vital in keeping the design team ahead of the game.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 11.23.11 AMElizabeth Baron, VR and advanced visualization tech specialist at Ford, is excited, yet cautious, about the future of VR technology in automobile production. “Let’s be honest, the virtual reality community in business is still pretty small,” she says. “But I always enjoy engaging with people in other industries, everything ranging from agriculture to defense, so we can share ideas about how we use the technology and what the future holds.”

Ford’s reputation as an industry tech leader has the world watching where Ford will take VR technologies like the Oculus Rift in the future. For a look at Ford’s current tech innovations, like SYNC, head over to Planet Ford in Spring (also serving The Woodlands and greater Houston). You can also browse our full inventory online by visiting www.PlanetFord45.com!

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