Product design is an immensely time-consuming process that involves countless variables. Until the end of 2021, KIA’s Europe division product design process for automotive was heavily relied on 2D screens and power walls followed by physical clay models and prototypes for further refinement. The design workflow got a breakthrough when this reputed automobile manufacturer tried new technology, paving the way for more effective visualization work while showcasing projects in a new dimension. In this way, designers can compare a virtual model directly with a physical model while standing in the same room or augment a clay model with virtual details. The traditional process, which would take days to complete, is now reduced to hours – all thanks to immersive technologies. This is just one of many ways VR and XR benefit the product design landscape. Virtual Reality (VR) and Extended Reality (XR) are transforming the landscape of product design by providing designers with immersive and interactive tools to create, visualize, and test their products in virtual environments.
We will explore why these immersive technologies are gradually making their way into the realm of product design and the industries where these applications can add the most value in this article. Hop on.
Product design applications and industry examples
Product design potential applications include:
- Consumer products (Like air purifiers and phones)
- Car design
- Boat design
Industries that can be most benefitted from VR and XR product design technologies include:
- Engineering & Construction
- Defense & Marine
Advantages of immersive technologies on product design
Save time by expediting the process
Designing products like cars and boats typically takes many years to complete. It involves a dozen phases, from sketching, rendering it on 2D screens, and then tweaking or fine-tuning the physical prototype before making the final decision on the model. Large companies used to spend hours on in-person meetings daily or design reviews during multiple phases of the process.
With technologies like virtual reality and extended reality, designers can see and test their designs in 3D before starting to build the actual prototype. Thus, some labor-intensive phases can be completed before time, leading to significant time savings for businesses.
Able to spot design errors in early phases
A case study by Varjo with Mindesk revealed that designers experienced and modified projects on a 1:1 scale in an immersive environment, allowing them to spot more than 80% of the errors that generally go unnoticed.
Immersive 3D can help spot almost twice as many errors as traditional design reviews because one can explore the details of the designs in a true-to-life 3D environment. Thus, immersive technologies also ensure better service quality. Using a photorealistic 3D design is more effective than a 2D model on a screen in clearly understanding a model’s actual proportions. Correct ratios make identifying surface errors easier during the design process, saving time and increasing efficiency.
Did you know?
Volvo Cars designers performed the world’s first XR test drive with the help of Varjo’s technology. They could perform design studies of future cars before they were even built by adding photorealistic virtual elements to the interior. It is the first time that they can drive an actual vehicle while wearing Varjo’s XR headset, seamlessly adding virtual components that seem real.
Provide new opportunities to the design teams
Enterprise end-users and internal design teams can be provided with a new approach to developing new products through XR applications. Although it is undeniable that many 2D design applications will remain prevalent for product design, spatial computing can provide existing applications with new tools. For instance, Design teams can use metaverse collaboration tools like Meta’s Horizon Workrooms to work remotely. The design team can communicate with real-time 3D (RT3D) models while using third-party programs and file types in Workrooms.
Thanks to immersive spatial AR/VR environments, users can import an RT3D model, such as a CAD design. Users can interact with immersive assets alongside others virtually. Spatial computing empowers design teams by allowing them to view a CAD or similar RT3D asset at any angle or distance and even interact with a model.
Further, immersive technologies are also being used to influence buyers’ journeys by promoting yet-to-be-released products. Recently, BMW leveraged mixed reality (MR) technology that allowed its audience to interact with RT3D models of its upcoming cars. Immersive technologies also enable designers to think out of the box without repercussions regarding safety. So, they can work with absolute freedom that challenges their creative minds to make informed decisions before the actual production. As immersive technologies continue to advance, the future of product design looks increasingly promising, with more efficient and effective design processes that can bring innovative products to market faster than ever before.