Ford’s use of Microsoft HoloLens technology blurs the lines between physical and virtual reality. Bob Gritzinger reports.

Somewhere between the visceral feel of a hard clay or foam model and the ether of virtual reality, Ford is experimenting with a new mixed-reality technology that combines physical vehicles and computer imaging to improve designs and speed development.

The year-long pilot programme using Microsoft HoloLens wireless headsets enables designers to visualise various elements and features as though they are physically part of the vehicle in the studio.

“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,” says Jim Holland, vice president-vehicle component and systems engineering. “With just a snap of your fingers you can change a design.”

During a demonstration at the automaker’s design studio, design manager Michael Smith shows how HoloLens allows him to share different iterations of a grille design or a mirror housing with a roomful of spectators. Different options can be projected onto the car’s surface by navigating virtual menus with a click of the finger. This article first appeared in WardsAuto.

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