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article imageFord uses Microsoft HoloLens to accelerate its car design

By James Walker     Sep 21, 2017 in Technology
Ford has started using Microsoft's HoloLens headset to streamline its car development process. The company is using the mixed reality device to more rapidly iterate over design prototypes, allowing it to test the look of different parts in near real-time.
The collaboration was announced jointly by the two companies today. For Ford, it's a way to make its business more efficient by giving designers a way of evaluating their decisions as soon as they're made. Microsoft benefits by being able to demonstrate another commercial application of HoloLens, one of its most significant digital transformation technologies.
Ford's been using HoloLens in its design teams for over a year. Its engineers can view virtual models of the parts they're building. They appear in front of them as if they're real components. Different sizes, shapes, textures and finishes can be tried out "in minutes," instead of the weeks it would take to build a traditional clay model. The design process is dramatically sped up.
"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, vice president of Ford vehicle component and systems engineering. "Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times."
Ford's benefitted so much from HoloLens that it's now expanding its use of the headset. After piloting mixed reality design at its Dearborn studios, it plans to bring HoloLens to its designers across the world. The company's also evaluating how HoloLens could streamline other areas of the car development process.
Microsoft Hololens
Microsoft Hololens
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Microsoft's keen for HoloLens to be used in industry because it demonstrates the technology's a worthwhile business tool. Although mixed reality's only just getting established, trials such as this project with Ford show it already has applications in the workplace.
Microsoft hopes the success Ford has had will encourage other enterprises to bring mixed reality into their processes. The company said that HoloLens can aid with both the innovative and collaborative areas of a team's daily work.
"Microsoft has a proven track record of transforming productivity: empowering people and organizations to achieve more," said Microsoft. "As part of the digital transformation that the modern workplace is currently undergoing, mixed reality is providing new ways for companies to visualize and interact with 3D data. This improves their ability to innovate, collaborate and make critical business decisions more quickly."
Other workplaces using HoloLens include Volvo, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lowe's and Autodesk. Microsoft currently sells HoloLens to interested businesses for $5,000 as part of its "Commercial Suite." The company has confirmed it's working on a second-generation version of the headset but it's not looking to launch the device anytime soon.
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