Ford have announced a partnership with 3D virtual reality tool Gravity Sketch, a unique one in the automotive industry. For one, it essentially means that Ford designers trade in their sketchpads for a headset and controllers to become immersed in virtual reality, imitating gestural interactions through motion tracking that replicates sketching with pen and paper.
Traditional automotive design begins with a 2D sketch that’s then scanned to produce a high-quality illustration. Once these renderings are evaluated, a few are translated into data using computer-aided design software to create a 3D model. That model is transferred into a virtual reality environment for further evaluation and to determine the design’s feasibility. This can take weeks, meaning designers need to be extremely selective about which designs make it to the 3D modeling stage.
Gravity Sketch allows designers to speed the process from weeks to hours, skipping the 2D stage and working with a 3D model from the beginning. Designers can anchor a driver at the centre, rotating their 3D design to view it from any angle to create a scalable vehicle around their driver. They can even step inside the vehicle sketch to quickly adjust design attributes to best suit occupants. Gravity Sketch enables Ford designers to place the customer at the very centre of the vehicle as designers are sketching it.
Across five global Ford design studios, dozens of interior and exterior designers are now experimenting with Gravity Sketch for workflow feasibility and its potential for real-time co-creation and collaboration. Shifting to a model that designs and evaluates in virtual reality could revolutionize the entire process by drastically reducing development time and allowing for more 3D representations in the evaluation stage.