VR Tech’s Impact on the Auto Industry and Beyond

By Jacques Delacour, CEO and founder of OPTIS

April 6th, 2018 | Innovation


Virtual reality’s applications go far beyond gaming and creating virtual worlds for leisure interaction. Enterprises are using the technology to develop new products and test them in virtual scenarios that are as close to real life as possible. Doing so makes testing products, such as automobiles, safer, as the driver and pedestrians in test scenarios only exist virtually. It also speeds time to market for these products, as multiple physical prototypes do not need to be created, but rather, adjustments to the prototype can be made in real time and tested.


Prototyping using VR technology is becoming more and more prevalent in the automotive industry. Not only are the prototypes that need to be created expensive and large, the industry is also held to high regulatory standards. VR testing can be used to ensure new models will meet these standards even before the car is put into production.


An automobile’s headlights are subject to these standards, and new advances in lighting technology are being made constantly. However, in the auto industry last year, only two out of 37 mid-sized SUV models passed the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) headlights test. With headlights functioning as the most basic form of night crash prevention, this high failure rate brings to light a critical need to improve.


IIHS engineers measure the reach of a vehicle’s headlights as it travels straight and on curves, then compare the results of their testing with a hypothetical perfect headlight system. Using VR tech that allows automakers to test their lighting systems ahead of production, manufacturers can be sure their products will meet standards like IIHS’s headlights test, and even push the limits of the visible distance and width of headlight beams while maintaining regulatory compliance.


Beyond headlights, VR tech allows automakers to test other aspects of vehicle technology. For example, new applications integrating digital micromirror (DMD) technologies are emerging for both intelligent pixel headlights and HUD systems. Choosing VR technology providers that host a library of digital light processing (DLP) that are dedicated to HUD in automotive makes the process even simpler.
Increasingly important to designers in the automotive space and beyond is the ability to test and experience different materials. Being able to choose the right material textures in their design will help develop designs and avoid unwelcome surprises that can result when two colors or materials clash or do not interact well with the surrounding light sources. Using VR tech, designers can create the exact effect and perception of textured materials virtually, allowing them to test and choose materials perfect for the project.


Choosing a VR prototyping method allows for a faster time to market. Therefore, when choosing a provider, it is important to select a company that offers HPC-ready software, meaning it is possible to produce high-quality simulations with high accuracy, while also meeting tight industrial deadlines. VR testing can also ease communication between designers, engineers and other decision-makers. With OPTIS’s SPEOS 2018, for example, users can save 30 percent of the time spent on data exchanges between departments and OEMs and their suppliers. Even non-optical experts can achieve high-level designs thanks to a simple user interface.


In the auto industry and beyond, VR technology’s applications do everything from creating a safer testing environment, saving on the cost of materials when creating prototypes, easing design processes, to speeding the time to market. Expect to see VR tech increasingly adopted by more industries and bringing consumer products to market faster than ever before.