Car Design Technology is Going Virtual

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Car designers have an exciting new way to put their thoughts into action. Seymourpowell Studio has devised a virtual reality process where they can draw and manipulate car designs in a virtual environment. This could open the car design industry to new and exciting concepts.

It really all started with Google’s Tilt Brush 3-D painting app in 2016, which caught the attention of the art and design world. Now, Seymourpowell, which is based in London, has designed its 3-D sketching tool that utilizes an HTC Vive headset so the designer/artist can see their ideas come to life. Instead of painstakingly laboring over clay models, the designers can speed up their efforts with the virtual reality tool.

The typical car design process involves several meetings with designers and engineers at the table. These meetings can lead to some long discussions as the designers dream up ideas that are scaled back by the engineers who are tasked with keeping everything grounded.

However, with the intuitive VR process, engineers and artists can work side-by-side in real time, fully encapsulated in a digital surrounding where the view adjusts to every head movement. And the process can go quite fast. A capable designer can have a rough sketch up in a matter of minutes.

The software allows the user to mirror their lines, which is perfect for the auto industry where the designs are typically symmetrical. Team members can jump in and make adjustments at any point during the process. This gives engineers, who have all the specs regarding safety requirements in their heads, the chance to make sure the designers don’t get too far ahead of themselves.

But how practical is this process? Well, it might still be in its infancy, but this process has caught the attention of car companies in Germany and China. Seymourpowell has enough belief in this process that they’ve planned to spend the next 10 years developing even more advancements to the software.

While some concept cars will remain a one-off prototype, some will make it to the car lot. For instance, the 2013 Alfa Romeo 4C – considered an Italian masterpiece by some, has the sleek and modern look of a concept car, but it did make it to the dealership. Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Cadillac, Audi and others have all done the same.

The possibilities with the new virtual reality software are exciting, especially considering that the quickness at which concept cars can be designed, might require us to come up with another term for “concept car.”


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