VR for Product Design? The Next Trends in CAD?

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At DEVELOP3D Live we were spoilt with more VR life-transforming experiences and breath taking visuals than you can shake a USB stick at. 

Cool stuff like sitting in a new car before it’s even been built yet and letting customers make their own design choices by adding smell and touch to a VR experience. 

The speed at which Virtual Reality has gone from being a niche tool for enterprises to an affordable technology for design and engineering could not be clearer with a stream of VR themed talks from the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche AG, HTC and Microsoft. 

“No matter what industry you are in, you have to be VR ready,” said AMD’s Jamie Gwilliam. And at Warwick Arts Centre we were treated to a range of exciting VR applications for product development – from conceptual design and ergonomic evaluation, to digital mock-up and retail – to get our creative juices flowing.  

Here are some of NT CADCAM’s VR and CAD highlights from the big day:

JAGUAR I-PACEVisualisation and VR at Jaguar Land Rover
Sandy Boyce, chief designer of advanced interiors at Jaguar Land Rover talked us through the design process for Jaguar’s first electric luxury car, the I-PACE. Design visualisation, he said, played an extremely important part in being able to blend new technology into car interiors (not too many dominating screens, getting the colour palettes and materials right and paying attention to the smallest of design details – such as using the image of a classic driver’s glove imprinted in the surface of the laptop pullout drawer). Visualisation was key not only from a design point of view but also in selling new design concepts to Jaguar’s board of directors. VR then played a key part in the I-PACE launch with more than 200 journalists in one place, able to experience sitting in the new I-PACE as if they were the first people ever to do so. “What is great about VR is we can give everyone a first personalised view of the car at the same time.  It is now an extremely important part of our process.”
ZeroLight Audio imageVR in automotive retail
ZeroLight are using VR channels to help the automotive industry engage with their customers at every part of the buyers’ journey. “At the end of the day car companies want to know if VR will help them sell more cars,” says ZeroLight’s CMO Francois de Bodinat.  Using real-time 3D visualisation technology, ZeroLight created a digital showroom for Audi, allowing users to explore and personalise the brands entire range through Ultra HD 4K displays, VR and web-capable display devices via the cloud. Currently, Audi dealerships equipped with digital modules have seen spending on optional extras increase on average by 15 per cent. (See the Audi/ZeroLight partnership video.) At the 2017 Geneva Motorshow, Pagani used ZeroLight's cloud configurator as part of the Huayra Roadster's launch. Fans worldwide could explore a variety of exterior and interior design options and in doing so, collected more than 280,000configurations during the 10-day show. While ZeroLight’s VR solutions helped Toyota market a car that they hadn’t actually built yet by creating a VR experience to boost awareness of its new Toyota C-HR model. The experience contributed to a 5% lead conversion goal. 

Dustin Brown HOLOLENSA Masterclass in Rendering
Industrial designer Dustin Brown from Microsoft gave us a masterclass in rendering software (SOLIDWORKS/Maya/Rhino/NUKE). Having used visualisation to design everything from Microsoft’s HoloLens launch down to his own personal projects designing lamps, audio systems and cameras, his advice was: “Embrace your tools warts and all, jumping from tool-to-tool just because someone else is, is not going to help you design better. Instead focus on one tool and build a better designer.”

JLR Little Big Machine Design Challenge of the Century
When Tim Burnhope, chief innovation and growth officer at JCB, started describing the design brief he was given for a new  ‘little, big machine’ you couldn’t help but feel the impossibility of the situation. Construction companies are facing increasingly complex challenges of getting their machines on to congested and urban construction sites. So JCB wanted to create one smaller machine but with more visibility, mobility, stability, manoeuvrability and serviceability. Like all good design yarns, this one had a fairytale ending. JCB’s Hydradig is an incredible machine, lifting 1,000kg overside with zero tail swing, has a road speed of 40kph and is able to halve the turning circle of any of its competitors – it is no wonder it won a British Engineering Excellence Award in 2016. In its 70+ year history JCB has now produced more than 1 million machines, yet Tim puts the company’s success down to its desire for continuous innovation. “In tough times of recession most companies cut back on R&D, but for us that is the time to invest because after the tough times, customers will want to come back and when they do, they will want to buy the latest products.”

DR ALAN CHALMERS VR should be a multi-sensory approach
We could have listened all afternoon to Dr Alan Chalmers from Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) talking about how essential it is to have realism in VR and taking a multi-sensory approach so that touch, sound and smell are all part of the VR experience. Currently, traditional VR systems typically only concentrate on visuals and audio and are not capable of providing authentic experiences. So WMG have teamed up with University of Warwick and Jaguar Land Rover to develop and fully validate these highly realistic multisensory virtual experiences for all levels of vehicle design.

SOLIDWORKS Computer Augmented DesignSOLIDWORKS looks to Computer Augmented Design
SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi is on a mission to make our world more creative and interesting by pushing the boundaries of what you can automate in 3D CAD. This is not about taking jobs, he reassured designers and engineers, but about “freeing up that most important asset:  a human’s creativity and innovation. Innovation is what is needed today to improve our world.” 
According to the McKinsey Quarterly Report 2016, only 4 per cent of work activities in the US economy require creativity and because of this, Bassi argues our world has become less interesting as the human working environment revolves on repetitive and routine tasks. Innovation has never been more important in an increasingly complex world, and he says moving to Computer Augmented Design will give designers the power to drive that innovation. SOLIDWORKS wants to eradicate all those mundane jobs that eat away at your creative time, so watch out for Topology Optimisation, Lattice and Microstructures provision for 3D printing, building assemblies with machine learning and predictive computing as well as Optimisation Driven Design with SOLIDWORKS Design X. 

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Ro Pimlott - author


Ro Pimlott View profile

My role as Content Marketing Executive within NT CADCAM is to manage all digital content across our social media channels, email communications and the website.