A primer on immersive design visualization

The value of real-time 3D technology for designers is substantial. Let’s explore why immersive design visualization makes such a difference in their workflows.

Designers have employed 2D digital visualization to replace sketches and various physical models in the design process. While faster and cheaper than earlier design methods, 2D visualization is poor at conveying scale and proportion. Additionally, designers need to prepare multiple renderings to simulate the perspective and depth of field (DoF) necessary for creating a credible real-world, 3D feel. Further, most digital-visualization tools are relatively weak at incorporating interaction. Some don’t even bother.

Look at the automotive industry as an example. Car designers have historically used a combination of sketches, detailed renderings, quarter- and full-scale clay models to mock up new car models. But as cars have become more complex – and consumers more demanding – the time and cost of each design stage has increased exponentially over the years. Additionally, while sketches and clay models can convey the color, product scale and design proportions, they do not offer high fidelity or any interactivity, and are quite expensive to iterate on multiple concepts/versions.

Putting designers and their creations in the same interactive space

For the design phase, real-time 3D importantly brings together the strengths of digital visualization and dimensional modeling, and adds extra capabilities. It can convey the sense of scale and proportion of the physical product, especially when combined with tracking, that lets the observer inhabit the scene. Not only does the model exist in a virtual space, so too does the designer or other participants, providing a fresh way to review and evaluate alternatives. As well, colleagues, wherever they’re located, can put on an XR headset and collaborate in real-time on the same model, streamlining the review and iterative processes.

The Holodeck VR experience by Lightshape, showcased in this video below, allows Audi development and production teams to fully experience and iterate on designs virtually, before committing to a physical prototype, thus realizing immense time and cost savings. The VR holodeck gives designers, engineers, and stakeholders an experience that can be shared with remote teams for a realistic impression of the proportions of future models.

In this large-scale VR installation, Audi’s team works collaboratively on a virtual car model using voice annotation, real object tracking, MR integration, and conferencing with other remote participants.

The power of immersive design visualization

Real-time 3D also lets you add interactivity to bring a product to life. Take a vehicle – a real-time 3D model can hold triggers for interaction, like doors and tailgates that open, allowing for a vivid integration of interior and exterior views previously limited to advanced prototypes. Users can explore sight lines, perspective and views through the greenhouse in ways that clay models can never offer. Participants can even experience human-machine interface (HMI) systems functioning as they would in the real car.

These evolving capabilities mean that immersive visualization in the real-time 3D environment is much more suitable for reviewing and collaborating on complex engineering design challenges than traditional methods. Real-time 3D can also bridge the communication gap between designers and engineers by changing the process into an immediate, immersive experience that is accessible outside the design studio.

In automotive, for instance, collaborators and decision-makers must currently gather around the clay model, or the fragile clay model must be laboriously transported from venue to venue to garner feedback. With real-time 3D, participants from across the globe can share in the same experience without the inconvenience, expense or time penalty of travel.

Speeding iterations and lowering costs

Since design inspiration must take place on a schedule, any tool that accelerates the process is ripe for adoption. Real-time 3D not only lets you explore more design options and iterate faster, allowing for design issues to be identified and resolved more quickly, it also saves money – potentially minimizing the need for physical models in the process. This can lead to significant savings. One major automotive OEM estimated that real-time could lead to saving $3–5M on the cost of developing a new vehicle.

Learn more about the power of immersive design visualization on our website and in our whitepaper: Top 5 Ways Real-Time 3D is Revolutionizing the Automotive Industry.

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