DesignWorks VR: Bringing Virtual Reality to Professional Design

by Vishal Lulla

Virtual reality is garnering a lot of attention right now for PC gaming, and rightly so. VR is a powerful, immersive experience, one that’s very different than sitting in front of a computer.

And because that experience can provide a better sense of how humans and products might interact, businesses are also putting VR technology to use.

They’re using VR to digitally sculpt models of their products before creating physical prototypes. Or understand human factors and user experience. In fact, many design applications can benefit tremendously from the latest virtual reality technology.

To address the VR needs of professional designers, we unveiled DesignWorks VR at this week’s SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference.


DesignWorks VR is NVIDIA’s set of APIs, libraries and features that enable both VR headset and application developers to deliver amazing, high-quality VR experiences. DesignWorks VR has components that enable VR environments like head-mounted displays (HMD), immersive VR spaces such as CAVEs and other immersive displays, and cluster solutions.

DesignWorks VR builds on NVIDIA’s existing GameWorks VR SDK for game developers, with improved support for OpenGL, and features critical for professional VR applications.

With DesignWorks VR, virtual reality developers can push the limits to create fully immersive and interactive experiences.­­

VR for Product Design

The first automotive company to use VR to create vehicles, Ford Motor Company, is in our SIGGRAPH booth (#500) showing how they’ve made VR central to automotive development over the last few years.


Latest - Latest -Ford - Screenshot 2015-08-06 15.56.16-crop

Ford’s team of globally dispersed engineers and designers work in an ultra-high-definition, virtual reality space. It helps them provide simultaneous input on digital prototypes, before building physical prototypes.

“Through its continual strides in the virtual reality space, namely through the development of Ford Immersive VR Environment (FiVE) capability, Ford is now able to evaluate vehicle prototypes in real time, in full scale and in context – bringing energy and emotion, as well as accuracy, to its immersive 3D visual environments.

— Elizabeth Baron, virtual reality and advanced visualization technical specialist, Ford

Created with Autodesk VRED 3D visualization software, Ford’s digital models run on two high-end Quadro M6000 graphics cards. Automotive designers and engineers can strap on an Oculus headset and examine the entire exterior and interior of a car design.

The interactive digital prototype lets designers drill down into the photo-realistic details. So they can see how each particular element looks, such as the texture of the dashboard or upholstery. Or they can check the positioning or shape of individual design elements, such as lighting size and brightness. By using new tools within DesignWorks VR, Ford and Autodesk realized substantial performance improvements to make the demo smooth and interactive.

VR for Cinema

Filmmakers are excited about interactive cinematic VR, too. We have a great example of what’s possible in our booth where you’ll be able to try on the latest Crescent Bay prototype headset from Oculus and step inside Thief in the Shadows.

Created by Weta Digital and Epic Games, this fully immersive experience, set in the Lord of the Rings universe, lets viewers take on the role of a hobbit prowling for treasure in a dragon’s lair. It’s a visceral experience. You’ll have to physically turn around and crane your neck to be able to take everything in.


If you’re at SIGGRAPH, you can also stop by to see the NVIDIA Best of GTC Theater for talks on how companies like Audi and Videostich are working with VR in design. The full schedule is here.

To learn more about DesignWorks VR and get access to the SDK, visit our developer website here.