In case you didn’t get the memo, VR headsets aren’t just for gamers and other recreational users. In fact, the latest announcement from BMW proves that they can be a valuable asset in product design. The German company has revealed that it will be the first automaker to introduce a “mixed reality system” by implementing the HTC Vive into the process of designing new vehicles.
We already know that HTC Vive VR headsets let you do things like send and receive texts and check your calendar. Unbeknownst to the casual user, though, is the fact that the headset is capable of functions that can benefit a company such as BMW in the form of more flexibility and efficiency, as well as lower costs.
BMW has been using virtual reality technology since the 1990s, but now the car manufacturer is using the HTC Vive to zero in on new applications with computer-generated design schematics (powered by Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games) instead of the tedious drafts of old. Designers on staff will use the VR headset to visualize interiors and other physical aspects of BMW vehicles. They’ll also be able to simulate a city and go for a virtual test drive that will determine if the driver has adequate visibility behind the wheel.
The ergonomics of the vehicle will also be another benefit of BMW adopting a “mixed reality experience.” Engineers will be able to establish whether or not drivers will be able to comfortably reach the steering wheel, dashboard, and controls from their seats. To get a true feel for the driving experience, BMW has made a mock-up car prop that includes engine sounds and ambient noises. Previously, these functions could only be performed at expensive specialized facilities.
BMW has already been using a number of HTC Vive developer kits in a pilot program since the fall of 2015. The company’s goal over time is to implement the hardware into “many different developer workstations, with little effort.”
The consumer version of the HTC Vive is priced at $799 and began shipping earlier this month.
Photo Credit: BMW
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Source: The Stashed