Creating prototypes and new designs for expensive vehicles is much easier (and more affordable), when companies can use virtual environments to innovate.
Kia stives to be a constant innovator in the automotive marketplace, committed to delivering ever-more impressive solutions for safety and efficiency behind the wheel. To compete in a rapidly evolving landscape, the Kia team regularly invests in new and improved technology to enhance their team’s design process.
In recent years, Kia’s partnership with Varjo, and Autodesk VRED technology, has allowed the company to develop an immersive photorealistic environment for product iteration.
Let’s explore how Varjo, Kia Motors, and Autodesk built a new world of automotive opportunities together.
Discovering the Potential of VR
According to Kia, when its European team first experimented with Varjo VR headsets, they we’re immediately impressed by the clarity and resolution the company had to offer. The Creative Manager CGI at Kia Motors, Thomas Unterluggauer, said it was the first time the team could literally see every individual detail, from the metallic flakes in the car’s paint, to the depth and quality of textures.
The exceptional level of visual detail offered by Varjo meant the Kia team could work with more realistic models of cars during their creative process.
Although VR alone was enough to get Kia excited about the opportunities of an immersive future, it was the mixed reality devices from Varjo that really drove Kia to take the next step.
With Varjo mixed reality headsets, Kia’s designers can work with colleagues within a physical design space they’re used to, while collaborating on real-scale, photorealistic car models.
The mixture of real-world and virtual experiences meant teams could collaborate in a more immersive format, without wasting any expensive resources.
According to VP of Design at the Kia Motors team in Europe, immersive collaboration through mixed reality worked far more naturally than the team expected. Teams felt as though they were able to adapt to the mixed reality experience rapidly, so they could quickly dive into creative projects with their teams.
Designing New Concept Cars with MR
The flexibility and inspirational nature of the Varjo MR experience was an important investment for the Europe Design Centre at Kia, invested in helping to change the perception of the Kia brand worldwide with the development of modern, futuristic concept cars.
Designing these cars requires a great deal of flexibility and agility from the Kia team. Unfortunately, previous creative processes were often restrictive for the Kia team. Until recently, Kia’s team were largely reliant on 2D reviews and screens, followed by the creation of physical clay models, and expensive prototypes.
The process was time-consuming and complex, with a lot of expenses to consider for the Kia creative team. What’s more, according to Frank Hubbe of the digital department at Kia, a 2D model rarely delivers the right experience for designers, as it’s impossible to create a truly realistic impression of what the car will be like in-person.
The ability to collaborate and design in a more immersive environment with Varjo’s photorealistic XR and Mixed Reality solutions represents a powerful step forward for Kia designers.
Kia Europe experts can now complement their entire workflows with access to virtual and mixed reality. Each member of the team can showcase, collaborate on, and transform projects in new ways.
For instance, with Varjo and the Autodesk VRED software, designers can review virtual models directly against a physical model in the same shared space, or against a clay model with overlaid virtual details. According to Hubbe, Varjo and VRED offer teams the context and depth of the virtual world, with the flexibility of the virtual world.
Powerful Remote Collaboration
The integration of Autodesk VRED software for creativity and Varjo technology was a powerful investment for Kia. When the pandemic hit, it also meant the company could continue to bring teams together to work on designs in a virtual environment, without compromising on creativity.
The VR/XR solutions from Varjo and the VRED Autodesk virtual collaboration features mean Kia’s global studios can collaborate on the same photorealistic models regardless of where they are in the world. The powerful technology ensures every minute detail of a virtual design is the same for everyone working together in tandem.
Until recently, discussing a model with the design management team at Kia global headquarters would require designers to fly to Korea to get the job done.
Now, reviewing a digital model with design management is a process which takes place in the XR environment. The ability to carry out design reviews in a virtual space means Kia can save significant time and money, while reducing their impact on the planet.
Notably, Kia also pointed out that despite the challenges countless teams have faced in the last couple of years, the team hasn’t had any reliability issues with the Autodesk VRED software and Varjo hardware.
Although the team was concerned collaborating via XR would be a complicated process, many team members have adopted the technology with ease.
The Kia experts leveraging XR technology today are rapidly adapting to the advantages that a flexible, and immersive environment can offer. The technology is bringing the employees of Kia together, wherever they are, even at times when staff can’t share the same physical space.
The First Mixed Reality Device with Autodesk VRED
Varjo was a natural choice for XR technology for Kia, as the only solution supported by Autodesk VRED, the leading automotive visualisation software in the market. According to Autodesk VRED Product Manager, Lukas Fath, Varjo and Autodesk allow for the perfect introduction into mixed reality environments for automotive designers.
With VRED and Varjo, Kia automotive designers have been able to share ideas, come up with new products, and collaborate more efficiently than ever before. What’s more, the high-quality accuracy in the VRED software and the photorealism of Varjo means designers can spot problems and make changes to designers faster than ever too.