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Could Microsoft’s HoloLens tech change the way cars are designed?

Microsoft’s HoloLens is here, and the company believes it can change all sorts of everyday activities through the power of augmented reality.

That includes potential applications in the car world.

One of Microsoft’s promotional videos for the HoloLens shows people manipulating a CAD rendering of a motorcycle, then projecting it onto a desk for floor space to create a full-size virtual mockup.

The implied idea here is that designers could use the system to view their work in three dimensions without engaging in the time-consuming process of making a physical model.

In the car industry, full-size clay mockups of new designs are typically built and shown to executives for approval, but doing it all digitally could allow designers to incorporate any changes more easily. It would also save a lot of clay.

Microsoft isn’t the first to think of this. Ford already uses full-on virtual reality headsets to allow groups of designers to go over new cars – even when they’re not on the same continent.

The advantage of HoloLens seems to be that it allows users to view virtual projections overlaid onto the actual environment. That makes it potentially easier to use in the real world.

Users won’t have to completely tune out that real world to use the system, although they will have to deal with looking ridiculous because they’ll still be wearing plastic doughnuts on their heads.

Of course, the HoloLens is just in its current form is just for demonstration. Don’t be surprised to see automotive applications if it ever goes mainstream, though, if for no other reason than so automakers can feel good about being swept up in the technological zeitgeist.