Design Engineering

Ford uses hologram technology to design new vehicle elements


Automotive design hologram

The automaker plans to test Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality technology globally to gain speed in designing more stylish vehicles for its customers.

Ford designers hologramFord designers are looking to the future when it comes to making vehicle design elements.

Automakers usually work with tools such as clay-sculpting steels and rakes on clay models. However, Ford designers are trading in these tools for mixed reality headsets and visualization software.

Ford’s Dearborn designers have been piloting Microsoft HoloLens technology, which enables them to see proposed virtual design elements as if these pieces were part of physical vehicles.

In a matter of minutes, designers are able to see different shapes, sizes and textures of future vehicle attributes. And with this success, Ford is now expanding this pioneering testing across the globe.


“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, Ford vice president, vehicle component and systems engineering.

HoloLens technology uses mixed reality, which enables designers to see holograms in photo-quality backdrops through wire-free headsets.

“We’ve only just scratched the surface, so possibilities for the future seem almost limitless,” says Craig Wetzel, Ford manager, design technical operations. “This is very exciting.”

This system scans and maps the environment to render holograms and images from the angle at which the vehicle is being viewed through the headset. A Windows 10 computer embedded in the headsets brings the power of the operating system to a holographic device that is untethered, wearable and mobile.

“With HoloLens, we can instantly flip through virtual representations to decide which direction they should go,” says Michael Smith, Ford design manager. “As a designer, you want to show, not just tell. This is much more compelling.”

Ford has adapted HoloLens technology to enable designers to collaborate with engineers to better understand the customer experience, too.

This new system will allow designers and engineers to explore a variety of different iterations in a matter of hours. All team members can view the designs simultaneously for ease of use and collaborative teamwork.


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