General Motors designers are taking a break from reality to draw up the next Chevrolet car or truck. But the stylists are not checking out; they are checking in at the automaker's newest 3-D CAVE Automated Virtual Environment to use the latest in virtual-reality tools for an up-close and realistic glimpse at how the sun might reflect off an exterior trim piece or how a particular design trick might make an interior seem roomier.
"It is a very, very important part of the design process, and a cool place to hang out," says Chevrolet Global Design chief John Cafaro.
Cool may be understatement. At one end of the room inside GM's global design headquarters here is a glass screen measuring 15 feet wide and 8 feet tall powered by a Barco 4K Digital Light-Processing stereo projector with a pixel resolution of 4095 x 2160. For perspective, that is twice as powerful as an IMAX theater screen. Bleacher-like seating gives guests an unobstructed view of the product under testing.
At the other end of the room sits the CAVE itself, a 4-sided cockpit of sorts, where designers sit wearing 3-D glasses with little, Martian-like antennas used to track their vision.
So when a designer looks across the simulated cabin of an '18 Chevy Traverse to open the glovebox, or under the dash for one of the large CUVís hidden storage cubbies, onlookers get the same perspective as 18 Barco 4K LED projectors with a pixel resolution of 3240 x 2835 paint real-time images on the screens.