When we design new ideas, we go through a series of steps in the product design process that ultimately lead to a real, tangible product. One important step is testing the use and interactability with the product. In the past, we made prototypes of cardboard, paper, or any material that was easy to find. In more recent times, we have used 3D printing technology to create prototypes that achieve the look and feel of a real product. Today and, looking into the future, product designers are using virtual reality (VR) to test and interact with new products.
To many of us, virtual reality seems like something taken from futuristic movies. How did this all happen? When did virtual reality become, well, a reality? We create the future we imagine and now the movies and games we once dreamed of have started to exist in the real world, as technology allows.
Many different industries are using VR to improve product design development. In the image above, we can see how Ford utilizes VR to evaluate the interior and exterior of a car. This technology helps their designers make improvements and quick changes to their concept models without having to build a real prototype.
In the video below, we can see how VR assists in manufacturing processes:
Virtual reality is allowing the automobile industry to simulate physical processes, like assembly, before they make any kind of prototypes. Check out what Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing:
The Bresslergroup is in the process of designing an aging-in-place walk-in shower for Jacuzzi. They rented a nearby virtual reality facility to evaluate a simulated version of an early prototype. The VR facility staffer donned a suit packed with sensors, and the designers on Bresslergroup’s project team were able to ask him in real time to interact with different elements of the prototype. The design team observed that some of the controls were in a hard-to-reach area and immediately saw the value of changing these and other design elements.