Keeping pace with widespread digitalization, automotive companies are now taking the integration of mixed reality (XR) technologies into their research and development processes very seriously. Autonomous driving and voice interfaces are just two use cases where automotive companies and their suppliers need to look beyond just exterior and interior design, and instead, shift their focus to the complete user experience.
Recognizing this trend, Athena, a specialized engineering studio for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and gamification, has developed not only a vision for the connected, autonomous car of the future, but also the human-centered design process behind it.
Whether it’s for future technologies like transparent or holographic screens or for existing ones, VR-prototyping proves more productive and cost effective in early stage concept development than conventional physical prototyping techniques. With the software cARVR, the Athena team has catalyzed the future of automotive design, proving XR’s value as a toolkit for user experience (UX) designers working at automotive companies to test future technologies. Now, UX designers can leverage XR technologies to quickly build digital prototypes and validate them with users in VR, testing not only the prototypes, but the human interactions that they inspire.
A part of the Goodpatch Group, a global design company, Athena knows that VR can not replace the level of detail and haptic feel that clay models accomplish. Changes to physical prototypes, however, can be very expensive and slow down iteration cycles. For this reason, cARVR was developed with human interaction and the first concept phase in mind. During this phase, problems are more easily resolved and new opportunities can be identified, saving designers and R&D teams extensive time and money down the line.
What’s more, most automotive designers work in silos, with departments developing different parts of the driver and passenger experience independently and with a technology driven approach. With cARVR, the Athena team has removed geographic and skills barriers between designers, effectively disrupting and democratizing the standard automotive design process. cARVR is so easy to use, even non developers can understand and make use of the software.
The development of cARVR has been a complex process, outlined from the onset by an 18-month roadmap. Now, 16 months in, Athena takes a hybrid approach, keeping to the detailed roadmap but with an agile method, constantly seeking expert feedback, which is evaluated and applied to new software iterations.
The car of the future is connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE), and in the words of Dr. Dieter Zetsche, “each of these has the power to turn our entire industry upside down. But the true revolution is in combining them in a comprehensive, seamless package.” To make mobility human-centered, automotive companies need a way to prototype for these technologies efficiently. Athena invites their clients and partners to join their ride to the future of mobility and use immersive technologies to make tomorrow’s reality today.