BMW Using Multiple HTC Vive VR Headsets For Vehicle Development

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a1While the gaming space is getting all the attention when it comes to virtual reality here in the early going, many analysts within the space envision other industries adopting the technology for a variety of interesting applications.  Take for instance the development of a vehicle by an automobile manufacturer.  Virtual reality would enable developers to test out new vehicle features and experience driving in the car before it’s even built, while modifying angles and views to better suit the eventually drivers.

This is exactly what BMW has been doing for decades in fact, but recently the company has been swayed away from the bulkier, more expensive virtual reality platforms of yesteryear and attracted to an up and coming platform.  That platform?  HTC’s Vive.  Back in the fall of last year, thanks to cooperating by HTC, BMW began utilizing multiple Vive developer kits to help in the development of their vehicles.  In doing so the company has become the very first car manufacturer to used common components from the gaming industry to build a system which helps them develop vehicles at a faster, more precise pace.  Not only are they utilizing the affordable HTC Vive headset, but to develop the content for their VR experiences they have turned to Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games.

“This enables stable rendering of 90 frames per second while achieving photo-realistic quality too,” explained the company. “The computation is performed using high-end gaming computers with water-cooled, overclocked components (including Intel Core i7 and two Nvidia Titan X graphic cards). Further advances are expected in terms of both the headset hardware and software, and these will be evaluated at regular intervals.”

The entire virtual reality/mixed reality experience that is being utilized by BMW was created in-house by their team of engineers and is able to transcend the boundaries between the virtual and physical worlds, and because of the portability of the Vive headset, a team working on a project can quickly jump into a virtual simulation from the comfort of their own desks.

“Developers around the globe will be able to take part in the decision-making process from their own office without having to travel too far,” explained BMW. “Only once the draft designs have been approved with the help of the 3D headsets will they actually be built for further testing.”

While virtual reality has been used in the manufacturing and design industries for some time, the fact that affordable consumer headsets can now be brought into the corporate world, could drastically increase it’s use and number of applications.  Ultimately, headset demand may be just as strong from a business perspective as it is with gamers.  It will be interesting to see how other companies put consumer-targeted VR headsets to use over the coming months and years ahead, and just how much time and money it will save them all.

Let us know your thoughts on this interesting use-case for virtual reality in the BMW HTC Vive forum on VRTalk.com

  • VR application in different industries is progressing in a wild pace. Exciting.