Monday, 4 february 2019 | Brenda Rodríguez López
Virtual reality is just one of the many technologies that has emerged in order to transform our lifestyle. When we talk about this immersive technology, the first thing that springs to our minds is the entertainment industry, but the implementation, development and boost of VR promises a lot more. The automotive world has been aware of its potential from its inception. This is one of the sectors that is betting on it more strongly. How are the main automotive brands using this new disruptive tool? To what extent can virtual reality change the automotive industry?
Ford's agreement with Gravity Sketch is a good example of what is the potential that virtual reality may realize within the automotive world. The US carmaker has noticed the multiple benefits that the use of this immersive technology can bring along, in particular, in the design process of vehicles. Virtual reality not only means optimizing the experience of the professionals who are responsible for the design of cars, but also saving time, improving productivity and obtaining more efficient results.
Designers can now give up the use of the paper format, and accomplish the task from the digital dimension directly. In order to do this, they can use VR glasses and wireless controls. These devices enable professionals to create 3D sketches of vehicles which they can move, hold, rotate, resize and modify. This technology makes it possible to adopt an approach which is more focused on the future driver's experience. However, it should be said that this is not the first time that the company has tested immersive technologies. It had already done it before with mixed reality and Hololens devices.
Ford is not the only car manufacturer that bets on VR as a revolutionary technology in the design of vehicles. In the last edition of Siggraph in Vancouver, Porsche introduced its application "Speed of Light", which is an immersive technology that makes possible to get to know exactly how light behaves with the different surfaces and angles of vehicles. Last year, Seat praised the virtual reality's ability for reducing the production time by 30%. The firm is aware of the potential that this technology has both inside and outside the factories, in particular, in authorized dealers. The Spanish manufacturer points out that one of its great advantages is the opportunity to offer customers new experiences such as selecting the finish or the color of vehicles, and checking the results on the spot.
In the last edition of CES in Las Vegas, visitors could see the new proposal of Audi on entertaining on board. The idea of the firm is that, in the not too distant future, passengers in the rear seats can enjoy immersive experiences (movies, video games and interactive content) thanks to the use of VR devices. The peculiarity of this new model is that it will be a technology adapted to the movement of cars in real time. The program may replicate the behavior of the car in such a way that if the vehicle slows down at a stop sign, either an obstacle or a quick question will pop up on the game or the interactive program.
Although the firm of the four rings has used its Audi e-tron to show this project, it has also participated in the founding of the startup called holoride GmbH (through its subsidiary Audi Electronics Venture GmbH) in order to market an open source platform for content developers and other car manufacturers. This startup plans to commercialize this new alternative of entertainment in three years.
Although a priori it may seem dangerous, the use of immersive technologies does not have to be limited to the occupants of the rear seats. Drivers' experiences can be dramatically optimized through the use of augmented and mixed reality tools. Head-Up Displays (HUD) are driving assistants that convey useful information to the people who are at the wheel in cars (indications such as the state of the road or the best route to reach the destination). It is a model of driving which is inspired by the pilots' helmets of military aircrafts, which they have been widely reproduced in the universe of video games. Thanks to it, drivers do not have to look away from the road, since images may be projected onto the windshield or other elements of the vehicle.
WayRay is a Swiss startup which is dedicated to the development of this type of proposals. Hyundai and Porsche are some of the brands that have bet on this company financially. Both firms have a different future of driving in their spotlight. They are not the only ones. At CES 2019, Nissan also showed a proposal which is inspired by immersive technology. "I2V" is a system that enables drivers to see what at first glance is "invisible". Through different sensors which are placed inside and outside vehicles, drivers may anticipate the changes that the environment will experiment. This system also makes it possible for driver's friends and relatives to appear in the car in the form of avatars, and for the car's atmosphere to be able to change depending on the weather conditions.
These are just some of the examples that have recently made public, but the automotive industry has found a gold mine in the development of immersive techniques: autonomous driving, after-sales service, training of employees, new models of commerce,... The automotive world needs professionals who will be capable of leading in a changeable and complex era. That is the reason that has led The CEU IAM Business School to design trainings such as our Master´s Degree in the Automotive Industry Businesses and our Automotive Sector MDP.