BMW has introduced consumer virtual reality technology into its vehicle development process. Instead of needing expensive specialized facilities to use VR technology, the automotive giant is taking advantage of the HTC Vive's impressive capabilities for fast-turnaround interior modeling feedback.
By using regular consumer technology, BMW's developers are able to implement and test modifications with feedback from teams around the world, using a VR headset in their own local offices. By combining VR with physical and audio elements, the goal is to simulate a regular drive while testing whether a display or specific part of the cabinfrom certain seating positions and viewing angles.
Once potential modifications or new designs have been CAD modeled, designers are able to sit in a reusable interior assembly which makes what they're seeing through the VR headset feel real, while precisely channeled engine and road noise round out BMW's attempts to immerse testers in a life-like environment.
Currently, the Vive headset is coupled with HTC's laser-based Vive Lighthouse tracking system covering 5 x 5 meters (16 x 16 ft), while graphics are run smoothly at 90 frames per second thanks to Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4.
Although the system currently relies on high-end, water cooled gaming computers with an Intel Core i7 and two Nvidia Titan X graphics cards, one of the major benefits of running consumer hardware is the pace at which development occurs. BMW will constantly upgrade and update the various components in its system as faster ones become available.