Prague (CZ) / Los Angeles, CA (USA), October 2017 - New technologies play a crucial role in almost all industries, and the automotive branch is certainly one of the most important. The development of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) brings innovative solutions to several areas of the automotive field – from car design and development to test driving, showroom experience, and employee training. The AR/VR already is a billion-dollar market, and it is expected to reach $120 billion within the next few years.
"Virtual reality helps car designers to be much faster and more precise in developing new vehicles. What used to take months and needed to be tested as a physical prototype, we can now speed up with virtual reality," says Marek Polcak, CEO and co-founder of VRgineers, the Czech-American virtual reality engineering company that sells the VRHero 5K, a high-resolution professional VR headset to carmakers like BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, and Skoda.
VRHero 5K’s crystal-clear VR imaging allows car designers to accelerate the development of new prototypes, lets pilots experience a realistic cockpit environment, and gives architects the opportunity to fine-tune the smallest details and materials of future buildings. VRHero 5K sports a dual-display 5K resolution; a 170-degree field of view; patented custom-built optics; and native support in various enterprise software applications. Together with the headset’s durability and software security, it makes VRHero 5K the best available VR solution for professionals in the enterprise market, including the auto branch.
The automotive industry has extensive experience with VR/AR technologies in the design and evaluation processes. The most common are room-sized immersive 3D visualization systems with multiple data projectors and goggles similar to those used for 3D cinema, which were developed in the 1990s. Though they have played an important role in scientific and engineering visualizations, the solution is very costly: up to hundreds of thousands of euros.
As the new generation of high-quality enterprise-level VR headsets is becoming more readily available, the current market for these immersive solutions is being disrupted. Offering a higher pixel density, and thus better picture quality, for only a few thousand euros, it is a hard-to-ignore alternative, with a potential to transform the whole industry.
"The market today is hypercompetitive. We’re constantly seeking ways to cut costs, especially in the prototyping, production, and marketing phases of each new model. This is where we see significant opportunities to use VR, especially in the digitization of the production process." said Leoš Červený, Virtual Reality and Digital Factory Coordinator at SKODA Auto, part of the Volkswagen Group.
On the customers’ side, high-resolution virtual reality offers an opportunity to choose, configure, and "test drive" their future vehicle. VR is also starting to play an important role in driver education, bringing driving simulators to a completely new, realistic level. Last but not least, VR can be used for point-of-sales employee training to teach them about new car models and their configurations.
Polcak added: "I believe that VR will become part of every product-design process as a natural step towards effectiveness, better decision making, and new creative possibilities. We are used to checking and evaluating designs on computer screens today, and 3D-printing in prototyping is also becoming a routine. Soon it will also be routine to evaluate and work on models in virtual reality, getting a much better feeling for the prototype and speeding up the development process. But for this you need a new level of virtual image quality and clarity, which is only delivered by professional headsets like the VRHero 5K."