Ford has taken the unusual step of revealing two pieces of exclusive technology it uses in car design, including the same technology used to produce the recent blockbuster movie Avatar.

Ford claims that it is the only automaker to use "motion-capture" technology, which captures real-life human movements and transforms them into digital models, to test design concepts. Director James Cameron used the principle extensively in Avatar to bring movement to the film's computer-generated characters. The Human Occupant Package Simulator (HOPS), uses up to 50 motion sensors to track the movement on a real person as they interact with a test vehicle, for example getting into or out of the car. Once the data is stored, technicians can evaluate the movements, change the dimensions of the car or alter the size of its occupants to test designs with precision.

"Before HOPS, the only way to evaluate a given design was to have people get into a vehicle and tell us how they liked it," said Nanxin Wang, Ford technical leader. "Now we can couple this subjective appraisal with objective measurements of their arms, legs and head movements, along with muscular efforts to quantify movement mathematically."

Ford has also used the principles of this technology to create the Cave Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE), an immersive virtual experience to test vehicles even before they are built.

"The CAVE is a room where images are projected in stereo onto three walls and the ceiling to generate real-time, virtual vehicle interiors and exteriors at actual scale," explained Elizabeth Baron, a technical specialist in Virtual Reality and Advanced Visualization at Ford. "When you look around, you can see virtually everything inside and outside of a vehicle that is still only a design in a computer."

Ford also revealed RUTH on Monday; the company's Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics. RUTH is used by the firm to scientifically test the feel and appearance of vehicle switches or knobs, measuring resistance or temperature to ensure that the vehicle is in line with consumer expectations.

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