Ford becomes first car maker to use 3D VR tool for design

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Ford has become the first car manufacturer to work with Gravity Sketch, a three-dimensional (3D) virtual reality (VR) tool that enables designers to focus vehicle designs on personal preferences.

Designers trade in their sketchpads for a headset and controllers to become immersed in VR, imitating gestural interactions through motion tracking that replicates sketching with pen and paper.

Michael Smith, design manager at Ford, said that seeing all angles of a vehicle as it is being drawn unleashes creativity and fosters development of personal design. “Jumping right into 3D gives us a 360-degree view of a vehicle as it is being created.”

Gravity Sketch allows designers to cut out the traditional stage of producing a two-dimensional sketch that’s then scanned to produce a high-quality illustration, which is is in turn translated into data using computer-aided design software to create a 3D model

Working with a 3D model from the beginning allows a designer to anchor a driver at the centre, rotating their design to view it from any angle to create a scalable vehicle around their driver. 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 centre 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


Michael Smith, design manager at Ford

“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 collaboration.

Oluwaseyi Sosanya, chief executive officer and co-founder of Gravity Sketch, said: “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.”

To see Ford designers in action, take a look at the video below: