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Ford streamlines product development with Barco immersive VR technology

Dearborn, MI – Barco, a world leader in virtual and augmented reality systems, is getting much attention these days at Ford’s new Product Visualization Center in their North American Product Development Center. Product engineers are using Barco’s I-Space virtual environment to improve prototyping, reduce development costs, and accelerate time to market.

“Our new Product Visualization Center represents the next step in advancing automotive designs and differentiating our brand in the marketplace,? said Bob Coury, Ford Core Vehicle Architecture supervisor. “Barco’s I-Space will be critical in our development efforts to deliver quality products at the right times and ahead of the competition.”

Prototyping and design evaluation consume a great deal of time in the automotive product development process. That’s why Ford’s North American product development team decided to check out the company’s European virtual reality center in Germany and look at similar facilities at competitive automakers. After an extensive review, they wanted to pattern their new digital lab like their overseas counterpart. Ford officials consulted Barco to help with the system design and implementation of their virtual environment.

Ford’s new digital lab consists of Barco’s I-Space, a four-sided immersive virtual room. The walls are rear-projected screens that display computer-aided designs (CAD) in full 3D. Four Barco high-resolution, stereo-enabled projectors provide the visual quality to produce photo realistic images. Engineers wear electronic glasses to experience the car designs in 3D from all angles, inside and out. Hand- and head-tracking technology monitors the user’s movements within the visual data and adjusts the user’s visual perspective. It also enables the user to interact with the CAD image.

“Barco’s I-Space allows our engineers and designers to see three-dimensional models of vehicles and components at full scale,? said Mr. Coury. “It will reduce the need for physical prototypes, saving both time and money in the development process.?

With the Barco I-Space in place at the Dearborn facility, Ford now has the capability to remotely collaborate with its European center. This enables design teams on both sides of the Atlantic to be immersed in the CAD data for virtual analysis, decision-making, and development of global vehicle platforms.

About Barco
Barco, a global technology company, designs and develops visualization products for a variety of selected professional markets. Barco has its own facilities for Sales & Marketing, Customer Support, R&D and Manufacturing in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Barco (Euronext Brussels: BAR) is active in more than 90 countries with about 3600 employees worldwide. Barco posted sales of euro 747 million in 2007.

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