With all the obstacles that came with Covid-19 and remote working, Ford is doing its best to enable effective collaboration, regardless of physical distance. Ford has been a big player in gaming, always helping to ensure that its real-world vehicles are replicated as faithfully as possible on console and TV. In fact, Ford has had more of its vehicles appear in video games than any other car manufacturer. Now, the company is applying lessons learned from gaming to its own processes by creating virtual customer clinics so that the business can continue to get valuable feedback.
“The advent of the coronavirus pandemic meant customer clinics were no longer possible or had a limited number of participants,” said Mario Meichelboeck, digital engineer of Tools, Strategy, and UX at Ford of Europe. “This was a great opportunity for us to fast-track virtual testing, to create test scenarios that participants can complete from a computer, anywhere in the world. Gaming technology has made that possible, and made these clinics more fun.”
The early returns are in, and Ford feels that these virtual clinics have been successful enough to continue. With more participants from different markets and demographics and a wider range of possible situations, the virtual testing results give better and more reliable data. It enables Ford to learn more about what customers want and how to implement these preferences into the development products.
Ford is also planning to expand this offering by running further virtual customer clinics created through the use of gaming engines. In the design studio, Ford’s designers use gaming engines to build animations that visualize how future vehicles look and function in real-world environments. The key benefit is interaction: to create new features, to implement feedback from customers, and learn how future vehicles interact with our daily lives. Previously done with prototypes, this now occurs in game‑like worlds.
To take a new approach to design and anticipate future trends, Ford co-created a virtual gaming race car with gamers. Almost a quarter of a million esports fans took part in online polls to help determine the appearance of the extreme Team Fordzilla P1, on show at IAA Mobility in Munich, Germany, September 6-12.
(All information was provided by Automotive World)