Ford embraces HoloLens to streamline its design process

Following a pilot program over the past year, Ford is now expanding its use of Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality headset in its design process. As announced by Microsoft in a new blog post, Ford will tap HoloLens to simplify its car design process so designers can iterate more quickly.

One of the biggest areas HoloLens will have an impact is in the process of clay modeling. The models are an important part of the process of designing a car, Microsoft explains, but they can be expensive and time-consuming to create. Additionally, any changes further exacerbate costs. HoloLens will be combined with clay models, allowing designers to quickly iterate and experiment in a virtual environment before committing any changes to the physical clay model. In a Medium post, Ford VP Jim Holland explains this alone represents a big impact on the design process.

It's hard to overstate how radical this is. When developing a computer-designed part or crafting a full-size clay model, it could take days or weeks to finally look at what the designer wanted to see. Even the sketching process can soak up weeks of work before the team moves forward with an idea or determines it might not be feasible.

Ford will also use HoloLens to simplify the collaboration process for its global workforce. Using the headset, team members can more easily work together from around the globe on confidential designs without the risk of leaks.

HoloLens still isn't available to consumers, but Microsoft has already seen some success with the mixed reality headset among commercial partners. That momentum looks to continue, as Microsoft is already planning a HoloLens 2 with a dedicated custom AI chip and other hardware updates. However, the wait for the next HoloLens might be a long one, as it's been rumored to be coming as late as 2019. In the meantime, Microsoft is busy targeting the consumer market with its Windows Mixed Reality efforts.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Hololens 2 or whatever they are bringing in the future won't be for consumers....
  • And you write this comment from 2019? Right;")
  • Just not.
  • Would like to use this in my woodshop. Would also be fun to use when building legos to show you the next step in the directions.. 1000 uses they could have launched by now. Built a dedicated team to code it for companies, gotten the hardware on scale so it's affordable... don't know what's with the half hearted commitment but it will cost them while Facebook comes out with that stuff and then Apple invents it oh so amazing!
  • This reminds me of Windows vs Mac in the 90s. Not all consumers were ready for computers or could afford one. So MS went after businesses. And then this tickled out to the consumer as more could afford them and gathered huge support due to the massive gains they had made in business.  The same with Hololens vs Google and Apple AR. Ms have been massively winning the business sector in AR. So many companies have brought it on board into their business. While Google and Apple tumble around trying to gain average consumer support. The issue is Consumers aren't ready for AR glasses on all the time. all the while MS are gaining a huge amount of AR apps and sales due to people actively using Hololens across the world in business. By the time Consumers are ready for AR properly and actively seek to buy a device on a large scale MS will have a HUIUGGGEEE head start in a working solution worldwide due to completely dominating the business sector. Google Glasses simply could bit replace Hololens in any business. It's simply not powerful enough. It's feature set is far weaker. AR I expect consumers won't really look at it till 2025-2030 earliest. As I said by which time Holoens will have been used with millions of apps across the business sector and become far smaller in design and tech. At which point bet have a massive advantage over the competition in apps, uses and technology.  You have to remember MS only lost the Phone war due to being late to the party. And not getting to the business sector first. MS has never failed when adopting to business first. And with AR they are so far ahead its exactly like Windows vs Mac in the 90s. 
  • I thought the Microsoft competition was far ahead in the VR wars. I am writing apps for my Mixed Reality headset, Microsoft's partners have developer kits available today, and will have mass market devices in the public's hands in less than a month. Companies are adopting the Microsoft product, using it today, getting work done, increasing their productivity, improving their work. One company that is Microsoft's competition has a piece of cardboard that you put your phone into. It doesn't have the high qualities as the Microsoft product, such as the dual 1440x1440 at 90MHz displays. The other company's offering is something that was available in Microsoft's products from years ago. Apple's own site offers as one of the biggest examples of AR is a farming game that will allow you to take a picture of your farm and then overlay it onto the floor through your phone's display. It is not interactive, you need to hold your arm out to hold the phone (gorilla arm, anyone?), it does not allow you to play the game, just see a picture through the phone's screen. Some here like to proclaim that Microsoft will lose to the competition, but Microsoft is far ahead of the competition and offers so much more than the others do.
  • Now they need to add Cortana inside the cars.