Immersive Environments and Advanced Visualization Technologies for Testing New Car Designs
Elizabeth Baron
July 10, 2013

Date: July 10, 2013
Elizabeth Baron — Ford Motor Company

The Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment (FiVE) applies a variety of real-time, advanced visualization technologies to allow efficient, quick and effective evaluations of vehicle design proposals. Ford is using virtual and augmented reality in a unique and amazing way to simulate a multitude of customer perspectives very early in the development process. Their approach is different…it combines the best of what the virtual and physical worlds have to offer.

How did Ford get there? Elizabeth will explain how the need for FiVE was fulfilled, the importance of quantifying the vehicle-owner subjective relationship, and the consideration of human-machine interaction. She will explain the totally awesome VR systems used at Ford and the successes and challenges of virtual reviews. She will relay the practical (and impractical) principles Ford employs regarding conducting virtual assessments, as well as the types of assessments that are used in vehicle development and engineering. Elizabeth will detail how Ford quantifies the emotional connection between you and your car. And she will also provide insight on where gaps exist in the current suite of VR tools, and thoughts on the future of human/computer interaction for vehicle engineering and design.

About the Speaker
Elizabeth Baron is a Technical Specialist in Virtual Reality and Advanced Visualization at Ford Motor Company. She manages the Ford immersive Vehicle Evaluation (FiVE) Lab in Product Development, and provides immersive virtual reality evaluation systems used for industrial design and product development. She develops and deploys highly realistic immersive systems that address the unique challenges of automotive design, engineering and ergonomics. She has led the development of immersive VR systems that satisfy evaluation criteria for engineering, ergonomics and aesthetic design to allow different disciplines in product development to communicate in a common environment.

Elizabeth began her career at Ford in 1988 working as a software developer for Ford’s product design software, later specializing in visualization and solid modeling software. She received her BS in Industrial Technology and Computer Science from Eastern Michigan University. She is also a qualified Six Sigma Academy Black Belt. She is a member of the Human Motion Simulation Consortium at the University of Michigan, the Society of Automotive Engineers, IEEE and ACM.

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One Response to Immersive Environments and Advanced Visualization Technologies for Testing New Car Designs
Elizabeth Baron
July 10, 2013

  1. cHi CoMMpDx March 17, 2019 at 8:25 pm #

    Notes by Rob Wilcox:

    Immersive Environments and Advanced Visualization Technologies for Testing New Car Designs

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    Elizabeth Baron’s work at Ford is using virtual reality in service of product design and presentation.

    FiVE for Ford; Remarkable Virtuality – Awesome realism and amazingly efficient product design

    FiVE Ford immersive vehicle environment
    A set of tools
    Adhere to natural world, and cheat it too Able to study natural variation in vehicles. Internal and external environment can be simulated In 1996 – first digital vehicle model at Ford, now many use cases

    Needed to quantify the need for FiVE
    What can you do in VR that can’t be done otherwise? In a natural way.
    Insights into issues otherwise hard to understand.

    Engineering practice and virtual tool to look at the vehicle from a customer perspective.
    Pretend you are a customer in the showroom, but with the model.

    Vehicle-owner subjective relationship
    -visual perceptions, including illusions – intangible but highly valuable. Immersion allows integration of all sensory information, like motion.

    Took a long time to get this idea established. A challenge for being ahead of the time. Took about 5 years to establish in the company.

    Example of illusion? Hood fender headlamp – fit not as much of a problem as thought – shown by by eye tracking and experience.

    Verification of Accuracy of Immersive Stereo views Proved by data including cross-viewer data.

    Guiding Principles needed
    – Vehicle should look as good as possible, but decrease time involved to design it so. 4 hour model build from CAD, going beyond that now.

    How real? – not 100%, but great for the time and dollars spent.
    Continuously improving.

    Do not introduce inconsistencies with the real world.
    It causes sickness. Includes inaccurate magnification, impossible experiences.

    Uncanny valley? Not with cars, but yes with avatars and simulated hands in vehicle simulation.

    Introduction of new immersive tech
    – Cheat reality as much as possible
    – Borrow from other design methods: A to B comparison; nominal and varied states; measure consistency of tests.

    Use corporate database of Ford people body models.

    Participant pool/study size: 15-75. Built a lab in a semi trailer.
    Included using as a recruitment tool and marketing STEM in schools.

    Other companies doing? Yes, variations, all started roughly the same time.

    Principles for Immersion
    – Get into the simulation system in under 1 minute
    – Represent your or another person’s vies
    – Unencumbering HW
    – Evaluators experiential background
    – Participants can become overwhelmed, provide audio narration to compensate
    – Get stereo right, motion queues – very important to make things real, hard to do

    Immersive VR
    – Each PC can immerse 2 people with stereo views
    – Multiperson environment needs a representation of each in the virtual environment

    Design cycle – where is it used? 6 mo into a concept, before engineering;  then all the way through. Also for troubleshooting.
    There are a lot of interfaces in the vehicle where eye could fall into a mismatch – corrected by this process before production.

    New versions – yes; safety, post fail reconstruction? No. Does generate change ideas for future models.

    Mismatch? Visual mismatch of design elements.

    Able to extend simulation in real time across continents. Proved valuable!

    What’s in the immersive experience? No driving – can do, but made people ill. Do have a force-inertial simulation in another simulator.

    Why 2 people simulation? They communicate and provide different roles and have different visual field.

    Back seat simulation? Yes, including small children eyepoints.

    The Ford approach is better than a CAVE (3d immersive room).

    Can use tablet as a window into the model.

    “Created an alternate universe”

    VR verses AR
    Have AR
    Allows mixed physical model. Good for including participant’s body. Precise.
    Users report better FOV than actually exists.

    FiVE0 and FiVE1
    Open room with motion capture and VR glasses

    Wireless displays? HMD supplier lack of innovation. Mostly wired.
    Wireless one requires a large battery belt. Sensix? Oculus Rift? – too low res

    Adjustable vehicle. Correct seated posture. Can’t do some things any other way. Can include car doors.

    CAVE. Ceiling and no floor. Good for peripheral view simulation.

    Ergonomic Manufacturing
    Manufacturing group does not mind invasive/inconvenient on-body simulation aids.
    Jack Human is an industry-standard digital human. Use inverse kinematics for manufacturing ergonomics.

    Application of FiVE
    Different tools for different tasks

    Vision evaluations – windshield, mirror, back, side windows – Done in CAVE

    Ergonomics – reach comfort, roominess, location

    Check kids in back seat? now yes.

    Evaluations for design
    Craftsmanship, themes, higher-order design aesthetics. Even view of car from another car.

    Visual tolerance checks.

    Environmental – includes sunlight and air flow by fluid dynamics simulation.

    Interior and exterior reviews.

    High dynamic range images, light source included in simulation.

    Proprietary vs in-house? commercial product enhanced in-house.

    Do under the hood craftsmanship on certain vehicles. A huge amount of data, the engineering full fidelity data is from a common repository.

    Catia is the CAD software used, but surfaces are added in FiVE.


    Simulator sickness – 2% of people. Pregnancy sensitivity pre-presentation, older people more sensitive?
    Adverse reaction to wearable devices
    Design process historically based on physical models Supplier involvement Rapid pace of change vs stability Validity of one display technology over another It’s more than just cool

    Had to build a cue for stepping out of the modeling area. Simulation would break, now it falls away at the edge.
    Can efficiently move from seat to seat by violating geometry!

    Measures of prototype and build issues. Shown to be reduced. Many drivers not only FiVE.

    CEO likes the program!

    Can look at some things better than the real world. Especially variants. “Better than physical”.

    How is data recorded from simulation? Button on HMD images problem area. Can be electronically shared. But spreadsheet feedback voting tool didn’t gain traction.

    Thanks to the team!! It’s fun!

    Backgrounds of team? CS degree, CAD programmer to start, 25 years at Ford. Manufacturing specialist; Craftsmanship evaluator interior; Mechanical genius-propmaster; Craftsmanship exterior; SW genius; Digital build guru; Variation specialist + others.

    Added roles? realism expert; more SW; …

    Statistics used? Scientific accuracy; based on hypothesis testing.
    Many rejected hypothesis – good!

    Calibrating upgraded systems? Geometry specification of model is more important. HW changes not an issue.

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