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Ford, Gravity Sketch explore new tool for designing vehicles to meet customers’ needs

From a desk at the Ford Design Studio, a designer enters a virtual room and begins a 3D sketch. He is designing a virtual car around himself and adjusting the attributes to best suit him – the driver.

This work is part of Ford’s latest
exploration of a new process that places the customer at the center of design
and can help reduce the time it takes to create a vehicle.

Ford is the first automaker to work with
Gravity Sketch – a 3D virtual reality tool that enables designers to create
more human-centric vehicle design.

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.

Michael Smith, Ford design manager, said
seeing all angles of a vehicle as it is being drawn truly unleashes creativity
and fosters development of human-centric design from start to finish.

“Jumping right into 3D gives us a 360-degree
view of a vehicle as it is being created,” he said.

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 center, rotating their
3D design to view it from any angle to create a scalable vehicle around their

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 center of the vehicle
as designers are sketching it.

“This application has the potential to help
ensure we are delivering the very best vehicle designs for our customers,” said
Smith. “It moves the entire process into the world of virtual reality, giving
us greater options for reviewing more models in the 3D environment to create
the best possible vehicles.”

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

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.

“Our collaboration with Ford designers has
enabled us to get immersed in their creative process and discover ways to help
fine-tune this application to better suit their needs so they can build the
best possible vehicles for their customers,” said Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Gravity
Sketch CEO & Co-founder.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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