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LA Forum 2018: Into The Virtual World

29 November 2018 | by Chris Maillard

The second session of our Forum dealt with one of today’s hottest topics – the growth of virtual and augmented reality as a way to interact with vehicles, and also as a powerful and liberating design tool. (if you missed our report on the first session, by the way, it’s here)

It was moderated by the Chair of ArtCenter College’s Transportation Design course, Stewart Reed, a minor local celebrity in his own right thanks to his status as mentor to many of the designers in the room. Stewart made the observation that VR was already a feature of his faculty’s tuition, as it is an absolute necessity for a professional designer’s toolkit nowadays.


The first designer up was Andrew Moir, Design Manager of Hyundai North America, whose short but punchy presentation (including a very funny clip from Johnny English) emphasised the importance of virtual reality in the design environment, putting it in context rather well and moving the session very much in the right direction.


Next, giving an exhaustive overview of his firm’s current and possible future models, was T. Jon Mayer, Senior Director of Design for Volvo Cars USA. He focused on how his customers interacted with the cars, and moved on to the recent 360 concept as a fine example of how future vehicles will work in a world where autonomy and virtual reality mean that your choices of how to use a transport solution will be far wider.


Michael Smith, Design Manager of Ford, put the emphasis very much back on the design possibilities of VR, with a highly detailed masterclass on the Gravity Sketch program and how he has deeply integrated it into his workflow. The demonstration was very impressive (though it was slightly sneaky to use as his examples a much more glamorous set of cars than the current Ford range).


Last in the session, and appropriately with a real showstopper of a presentation, was Frank Saucedo, Director of GM Advanced Design, California. Frank’s presentation moved seamlessly from Powerpoint slides to video, and eventually thanks to a controller that he’d been concealing around his person, resolved into a live fly-through of a virtual city, all created in VR. Mind-boggling and highly ambitious, it left the audience stunned.

LA 2018