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Ford brings Microsoft HoloLens to Design Studio; Drives speed, creativity and collaboration

Written By published September 20, 2017

Microsoft has a proven track record of transforming productivity: empowering people and organizations to achieve more. As part of the digital transformation that the modern workplace is currently undergoing, mixed reality is providing new ways for companies to visualize and interact with 3D data. This improves their ability to innovate, collaborate and make critical business decisions more quickly. Today, I’m thrilled to share our latest collaboration with Ford, who is expanding testing of Microsoft HoloLens after a successful pilot the past year in their Design Center to improve creativity, collaboration and time to market. Ford is embracing the digital transformation of the modern workplace across the company to make people’s lives better in vehicles today while exploring evolving mobility solutions such as autonomous vehicles of tomorrow. Design will become an even more important differentiator in this exciting time and HoloLens and mixed reality are seen as key to standing out.

Unleashing creativity in design

Designers at Ford make thousands of decisions to design just one vehicle, let alone a fleet cars, trucks, and SUVs. These decisions are made in close collaboration with their partners in engineering and management. Traditionally, a lot of this work is done using clay models, which are expensive and time-consuming to develop, and costly to change. While these models will continue to be an extremely important part of the design process, the team needs to feel confident in their design decisions early on before they are built at scale in clay. With HoloLens, Ford designers are blending 3D holograms digitally with both clay models and physical production vehicles. This allows designers to experiment much more quickly without having to physically build every design prototype in clay, which can limit creativity with longer steps. This new technology allows them to create and iterate more freely and quickly. They also envision the potential to use HoloLens in multiple areas of vehicle development, including early product creation, the design process and later engineering studies of designs. In their early work in grille theme development, they proved that what used to take days with multiple physical models could take only hours using a HoloLens and one physical model.

“It’s amazing that we can combine the old and new – clay models and holograms in a way that both saves time and allows designers to experiment and iterate quickly, to dream up even more stylish and clever vehicles. Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast changing times.”

Moray Callum, vice president, Design

New ways for global teams to collaborate

Due to the highly confidential nature of vehicle design plans, designs are limited to a select few viewers. This makes collaboration across teams challenging. Engineers are often working to ensure fit and function without ever being able to visualize the full model design on which they are working. Using HoloLens, design and engineering teams across the company can more easily collaborate, without the risk of leaks of highly confidential designs – which happens to be one of the automotive industry’s biggest competitive advantages. This allows everyone working on the product to better understand tradeoffs and to reflect customer experiences throughout the entire development process. For example, now a designer and engineer can evaluate in real time how a new side mirror design not only affects the aesthetics but also the customer’s view – a process that can be completed in a day when previously designers and engineers had to go back and forth for days or weeks.

“Microsoft HoloLens allows a whole team of people to collaborate, share and look at ideas together. It is exciting because it helps our designers and engineers communicate effectively and ideate to see the future earlier in the process by mixing virtual and physical models. This allows great freedom and efficiency in how prototypes are created or changed.”

Elizabeth Baron, Ford virtual reality and advanced visualization technical specialist
Two men wearing Microsoft HoloLens looking at a hologram of a Ford vehicle.

I am so inspired to see Ford truly embracing the digital transformation of the modern workplace as part of their design process. We know how important it is to honor the way that companies of all types work today while helping them extend their investments for tomorrow. With HoloLens, we are empowering people and organizations to achieve more through the power of bringing the digital and physical together with mixed reality. Ford is honoring tried-and-true approaches of building some of the most innovative vehicles on the market while embracing a more creative and collaborative future for their teams tomorrow. Find out more about what Ford has to say about the collaboration in their Medium post, and explore how our customers are using HoloLens at