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3D Car Tuning: What You Should Know

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About 3D Car Tuning!

Updated October 3, 2018

Technology has brought many wonderful things to our lives and in fact, pretty much anything you can think of that’s man-made has happened thanks to technology. But 3D car tuning?

For those of you that don’t (yet) know what 3D car tuning is, we’re going to try and explain it, why there’s a need for it, and how you can get involved if that’s what floats your boat.

Let’s start with the basics.

3D Car Tuning

3D Car Tuning 1

Essentially, 3D car tuning is the ability to build or customize a car (perhaps even your car) in a digital environment. Sounds simple right?

Forgetting about your car for the moment (because that’s a whole different ballgame), there are a number of websites and apps that allow you to pick your favorite vehicle and change a number of parameters; paint scheme, wheels, bodywork, glass … pretty much everything on the exterior of the vehicle.

The results are often (but not always) high-quality pictures or renderings; in other words, it won’t look like a cartoon.

Is there a use for 3D Car Tuning?

There is no doubt that many of the users of these systems will be doing it for a bit of fun – something to pass the time, just as you would any other app or website, but there is also a semi-serious side to it.

If you’re one of these gearheads that spends hours thinking about what’s next for you ride, what could potentially look good, how your car may look with vents in the hood or with a big wing on the deck then yes, 3D car tuning could actually be a useful aid.

It’s unlikely that you’ll find a design agency using the software for any mock-ups, but that’s missing the point – this is aimed purely at the home or amateur market, something to give you an idea or simple representation.

Augmented Reality

3D Car Tuning 2

Just as with many other software systems, apps or sites, Augmented Reality (AR) is happening right now, and as the technology develops, it’s going to be possible to place your car in any surrounding with a whole bunch of mods (including the interior) and get picture quality, HD images.

While it really is still in its infancy, 3D car tuning has the potential to grow into something that can be used as a tool, rather than a toy. Some of us might remember the early days of AR and VR on home consoles (PS2 Eye Toy, Xbox Kinect, etc.), but real estate agents and developers are now using VR to sell homes and new developments – it has gone way past the novelty stage.

The Future is Here

While we’ve looked at the simple, free to use versions aimed at hobbyists, there is already another aspect of 3D car tuning that is used around the world – simulators.

At the higher end of the spectrum, we have world-renowned motorsport teams (think ALL Formula 1 teams) using software to not only build their cars in a virtual environment but also test them and tune the setup.

3D Car Tuning 3

These systems cost millions of dollars, but they can be used to accurately predict everything from tire wear to lap times, the most likely outcome of each race and so much more. However, as you might expect, this isn’t a question of drag & drop, a couple of clicks and you’re done.

These 3D car tuning systems take massive amounts of computing power, which in turn means a huge amount of resources and time goes into making them work. Every single detail from the real car is replicated virtually, right down to drag-coefficient, fluid levels, ride height, and other things way too detailed to understand here.

Not only that, the teams then get their own race or test drivers to put mileage in ‘driving’ the simulator because it’s actually accurate to within tenths of a second.

Future Technology in 3D Car Tuning

We’ve touched on AR already, but as it stands today, the current technology we have that’s easily accessible isn’t really powerful enough to run the kind of system needed to have a flawless experience.

Having said that, it’s often said that a regular pocket calculator today has more computing power than the Apollo 11 did (the first manned mission to the moon), so who knows what pocket or mobile technology will be capable of in another ten or twenty years.

There are a number of manufacturers and tech industry giants that are constantly updating, improving, and even creating new technology. Surely it won’t be too long before we have the technology available to us that could scan a physical product (in this case, a car) and then project it to the environment we’re in so that we could almost touch it, but certainly walk around it.

The Takeaway

Of course, this all sounds rather fanciful, but people also laughed at Henry Ford before he went on to demonstrate that he was indeed talking sense. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” is a phrase that has been attributed to the great man himself, and hopefully you can see where he’s coming from.

It takes foresight to recognize that emerging technology can be shaped to fit another need or desire, not necessarily the sole intended purpose when it was first thought of. It’s no surprise that it’s the likes of Elon Musk and Google that are leading the charge (no pun intended!) when it comes to futuristic technology.

But what does this mean for 3D car tuning?

Simply put, this will undoubtedly be a huge area of growth, going from a fun way to waste a few minutes or ‘design’ your new ride, into something that can help drive the automotive market onwards to better things.

Until everyone has access to the kind of computing power that most universities would be grateful for, designing your car in this environment will remain a specialist area.

Depending on where you sit in the market (amateur enthusiast or full-time car builder), you better believe that 3D car tuning software will make an impact in your life – the only question left is when will it arrive en masse?

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Chris Riley
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I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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