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Designers at Ford are using virtual reality tools to work with colleagues remotely

Employees at Ford have started to use a 3D virtual reality (VR) tool that enables them to work on designs with colleagues remotely in real time.

The technology has been developed by Gravity Sketch, in collaboration with Ford. It sees workers wear headsets and use controllers to "draw, rotate, expand and compress a 3D sketch."

A feature in the system, called Co-Creation, allows designers around the world to work on and evaluate designs in real time while being in different offices. The Gravity Sketch platform negates the need for an initial 2D design process, allowing designers to work with a 3D model from the start.

In a statement earlier this week Michael Smith, design manager at Ford, said that the Co-Creation feature added "more voices to the conversation in a virtual environment, which results in more efficient design work that may help accelerate a vehicle program's development."

Ford said that designers in five Ford studios around the world were experimenting with Gravity Sketch, looking at both "workflow feasibility" and capabilities relating to "real-time co-creation and collaboration."

As technology develops, VR is starting to be used across a wide range of industries. In April 2019, for example, it was announced that Qatar Airways had partnered with Rolls-Royce to trial a VR training tool.

The technology, which uses HTC Vive equipment, has been designed to give engineers virtual refresher training with Rolls-Royce's biggest engine, the Trent XWB.

A few months earlier, in February, the British Army awarded a £1 million ($1.3 million) contract to a software developer to "explore how virtual reality can be integrated into soldier training."

The Ministry of Defence said the pilot scheme would look to test a range of virtual reality applications. These include high resolution virtual reality headsets; avatars that can be customized to replicate facial features and body shapes; and technology that offers data capture and analysis to help soldiers "better understand their own performance."

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