Nissan Partners With HaptX To Bring Realistic Touch To Vehicle Design

Designers can physically touch their concept car before it’s even manufactured.

Nissan is taking a new approach to their vehicle design process that will involve using VR and HaptX’s realistic haptic feedback technology to give designers the ultimate freedom of physically holding and manipulating 3D models in a virtual space.

HaptX’s Glove technology uses a series of sensors and 130 tactile actuators to give you a full tactile experience that provides realistic touch throughout your hands and fingertips.

Auto design has changed over the years. What started off as a pen and paper approach has evolved into a digital format; and even with increased speed computer technology provides, the journey from 3D model to consumer-ready product can still take years.

Utilizing a combination of VR and HaptX Glove technology, Nissan is hoping to reduce that time from years to mere days. With their VR haptic feedback approach, designers are able to feel various components of a digital vehicle, such as the grip of the steering wheel or the sensation of turning the dials on their dash–all before the first piece of steel is bent. This type of virtual interaction allows Nissan engineers to get a better sense of what Nissan owners will experience when they eventually sit inside of the car.

Because it’s a VR environment, designers have full control of the model and space. Users, for example, can hold the frame of the vehicle and push it to the left or right to eliminate a potential drive spot or give themselves more leg space by extending the area between the wheel and the seat.

Of course Nissan is afar from the only car manufacturer dipping their toes into immersive tech. For instance, Ford Motor Company recently began experimenting with the use of AR in their own development process. Nissan’s partnership with HaptX however signifies a much higher commitment towards the use of immersive tech in the manufacturing industry.

Nissan VR with HaptX support / Image Credit: Nissan

“We are entering a new era of design, and Nissan is leading the way,” said Joe Michaels, Chief Revenue Officer of HaptX in an official HaptX press release, “We’re honored to see HaptX Gloves adopted as a tool by Nissan’s world-class design team. Working together, we can radically enhance the vehicle design process so that automakers can make better decisions, faster.”

Just recently, HaptX announced their breakthrough haptic technology with telerobotics, allowing the control a robotic arm from anywhere in the world and feel the objects being held in real-time. Just imagine the collaborative possibilities. Team members working from opposite ends of the Earth could communicate their designs with perfect clarity as if they were in the same room, engineers could identify potential issues earlier in the development process; not to mention the amount of capital the company would save on physical prototypes.

One of the biggest immersion-killers for modern VR has been the lack realistic touch and haptic feedback, preventing designers from being able to interact naturally while in VR. By using haptic prototyping instead of physical prototyping, Nissan designers are able to address this shortcoming – empowering them to create new iterations of car designs swiftly with the customer needs in mind.

Side-by-side of the HaptX VR system in action / Image Credit: Nissan

“This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the design process, saving automakers tremendous time and cost,” according to the press release.

Nissan is the first automaker in Japan to use HaptX Gloves along with VR as part of their design process. Vehicles including the Nissan Leaf–the world’s best-selling highway-capable electric car– and Nissan’s super slick looking IMs – a fully electrified luxury sports sedan concept car showcased at NAIAS in January — are two designs that are touchable through HaptX Gloves.

If you’re interested in checking this out, HaptX, who is also one of the finalist for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Award, will be at SXSW in Austin, Texas along with Nissan. Nissan will be showcasing their virtual IMs model at two locations:

If you at SXSW, you MUST head over to Franklin BBQ.

About the Scout

Bobby Carlton

Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.

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