Bell, a leading global manufacturer of helicopters, faced a pressing need to accelerate their product development process.
The traditional method of designing a helicopter, which involved multiple stages including software designs, physical mock-ups, pilot tests, focus groups, and airframe tests, was not only time-consuming but also extremely expensive. Every delay in the process could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue, making it imperative for Bell to find a way to bring their products to market faster.
Sector 5 Digital, a subsidiary of Glimpse Group, developed a 3D model of the aircraft which could be tested in virtual reality using the HTC VIVE headset.
This provided test pilots with an immersive experience, as if they were inside the actual model, allowing for more rapid and precise feedback. The engineers were then able to make modifications to the design based on crucial aspects such as visibility, accessibility, and safety, resulting in significant savings for Bell through the identification and resolution of issues earlier than with conventional methods.
The integration of VR technology into Bell's product design revolutionized the process. By using VR, the design team was able to showcase a full-scale model to stakeholders and clients much earlier in the design phase, resulting in a significant decrease in the time it took to launch the FCX-001.
This achievement was only made possible through VR, which facilitated a ten-times faster design process compared to conventional methods. Due to its success, Bell is now investigating other potential uses of VR technology such as improving customer experience, training, and maintenance.
"Without Sector 5's work, I don't think we would've been able to achieve the same kind of success. We changed the minds of some very influential people...it was huge to get that kind of feedback real-time, especially from a high-ranking official in the military, directly to our CEO. That immediately validated the usefulness of this type of project."
- Levi Bilbrey, Former Creative Services Manager, Bell