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Ford explores non-game applications for the Oculus Rift
January 7, 2014 | By Mike Rose

January 7, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Video

When investors injected an additional $75 million investment into the Oculus Rift VR headset late last year, there was little indication as to why so much cash was being thrown around all of a sudden.

Now it would appear that this new money may not be entirely down to new video game applications, but rather, a larger focus on non-game applications for the tech.

Car manufacturer Ford, for example, is exploring ways to utilize the Rift to build its future vehicles, according to Fast Company.

Ford is using a combination of Rift and motion-capture technology from Vicon to more rapidly prototype cars in virtual reality. Engineers are able to see a car design in a 3D environment, and even colloborate with other engineers halfway around the world.

The company has already been using computer-aided design for its cars for a while, of course, but it says that this combination of Rift and Vicon is far cheaper than its current setup, costing around $30,000 for the required tech.

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Alex Covic
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Ford Truck Simulator 2014 with multiplayer support - you heard it here first.

SD Marlow
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Well, maybe "build" is going a bit far. Using VR to sculpt a virtual clay model in the morning before sending it off to the 1/8th scale 3D printer while you're on lunch break sounds a lot better.

Tarique Naseem
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Using VR for human factors and ergonomics can be a very useful. I suspect this is the area they'll be looking at, at least initially - For instance, to test the reach of controls, layouts, etc for differing percentile humans. A prototyping tool, allowing them to adjust and move things to test out on users, without the need to build a real life mockup (or at least an initial step prior to building the final mockup).

Tarique Naseem
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This is not their first foray into VR, actually. While at Virtuality, we were commissioned by Ford (via IBM) to develop a promotional VR experience based around a test drive of the, then unreleased, Ford Galaxy. This was showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1994 (I think!)

The user basically sat in a real Ford Galaxy seat equipped with a base shaker, used to simulate the road 'rumble', wearing a VR headset. The user would then be taken on a virtual ride by a chauffeur, who would explain the various features of the car during the journey, and allowing you to interact with some of the controls in the car, using our tracked 'puck' controller with pressure sensors for finger gestures.

Quite rudimentary by todays standards, but fun nonetheless. :)