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Virtual reality could play important role in the future of car b

Immersion in a digital world through the use of virtual reality headsets could play a large role in the car-buying process in the near future. On a tour around the top-secret Infiniti Design London centre, we were shown how virtual reality and high-tech rendering software are already playing a huge part in the development of new car colours and painting techniques. Designers use the technology along with state-of-the-art rendering software to analyse how different lighting in environments all over the world affect how a new colour is perceived. Matthew Weaver, Infiniti’s design director, said: “Technology speeds things up and allows us to visualise what a future product will look like much earlier in the process. “One major advance is in the ultra-fast render software packages we use. This allows us to drop a new car into a virtual environment with a new palette of colours. “We can then get a feel early on for the context of the car. The development of 3D imaging has also helped us to move things forward.” Infiniti’s designers already believe that virtual reality technology will advance enough in the next two months to allow for multiple designers from around the world to simultaneously occupy the virtual space so they can analyse a car or new colour together in real time. With virtual reality capabilities developing as quickly as they are, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to imagine how they could play a significant role in car dealerships, where customers could specify their new vehicle in a virtual space before seeing it in the metal. Despite the growing significance of technology, however, Weaver believes that car design will remain human. “Humans design our cars and I don’t see that ever changing,” he said. “Technology can inspire our design techniques, but won’t replace them.”