How does Geely Design use virtual reality to create best-selling designs?

Geely Design has been using Digital Visualization in its design processes since 2015. Back then, virtual design projects were created, reviewed and adjusted in real-time on large screens – hardly ‘revolutionary’ in terms of technology. A few years later, in 2018, the screens were taken away as design teams dived into the world of VR (Virtual Reality), which since then has become an integral part of the process for a number of different design teams.

From its adoption in the auto industry the use of VR has made significant changes to the way cars are designed. It has increased the number of tools at a designer’s disposal, shortened vehicle development cycles, reduced development costs and improved collaboration across different teams. “VR has changed the traditional ways of the design process,” explains Leo Li, Senior Visualization Manager of Geely Design in Shanghai, “it has increased the capabilities within our design processes and through the use of VR, we can display designs in a completely immersive, virtual way.”

Jumping into VR

As user experience becomes increasingly important in design, designers look for more ways to understand potential users of the products they design. One way in which VR can help here is to allow designers to share different iterations (different colour combinations, for example) of a project with users and let them decide which one they prefer and provide any additional feedback – different versions of a design can be checked instantly and a favourite selected. “VR is like a bridge between the designer and the user,” says Chuck Guo, Lead Designer of Strategy at Geely Design. Bringing the designer and user closer is just one of the ways technology helps the design team create its bestsellers.

A platform for sharing

VR is extremely versatile and can connect multiple teams in a fast, more effective and more realistic way. Reviews become interactive as designers step inside among the designs to conduct reviews in an immersive way, meaning they can get a closer look at a particular design element, or view a project from unlimited angles.

Using VR is also highly complementary to the connectivity of today and breaks down geographical barriers as people working in Geely Design’s vast network can be brought together to work on a single project. As with the user, feedback can be communicated between teams and design centers easily. Whether it is the CEO in Geely Auto’s HQ of Hangzhou speaking with designers in Shanghai, or designers in China sharing with CEVT in Gothenburg, Sweden, distance is no longer an impediment.

In the development of a recent sedan project, VR was used in the pre-design language, car body, and color fabric matching stages extensively to reduce time, costs, and ultimately produce better results. Follow news from Geely to see what the team came up with.

Create amazing designs, save time and money

While VR has permanently impacted the way designers and their collaborators work on projects, as with most digital visualization technologies it saves money and (most importantly) time during the design development stages. Compared to years prior, when physical models would be used, different variations of a design can now be switched between with the click of a button.

In addition, new iterations can be developed and adjustments made at a faster rate, something not only important for encouraging creativity, but also from a production standpoint – in design, there is always a trade-off between making something look good and its ability to be massed produced. “Automobile design and manufacturing is one of the most important directions for industrial manufacturing,” says Leo, “from a design perspective, VR can increase the possibility of having more solutions and iterations [of a design] while allowing for more meticulous and diverse designs.”

Of course, none of this is possible without top-of-the-range equipment, which is why Geely Design has invested a small fortune on the correct hardware including workstations, headsets and body tracking devices. In a fast-moving industry, both the hardware and software used by designers need to be constantly upgraded and updated for Geely to maintain its position at the forefront of the industry.

The future for VR

At Geely Design, the team will continue to enlist the help of VR for its bestselling designs, further integrating its usage into the everyday workflow of designers, thus removing the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds. Cutting-edge technologies, like industrial-grade headsets for example, can be further researched and tested for their usefulness and then used by designers as early as possible.

More so, additional ways to visualize designs, such as AR (Augmented Reality) and XR (Extended Reality) can be further explored. In the future, instead of ‘jumping in’ to the VR world to work on designs, the designs themselves may jump out, bringing the ‘real’ and the digital even closer.

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