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Breakthrough Design Process Provides Inside Look At Breakthrough Ford

5 January 1999

World's Largest Hologram: Breakthrough Design Process Provides Inside Look At Breakthrough Ford Car
    DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- Ford Motor Company is giving
visitors to the 1999 North American International Auto Show an inside look at
a futuristic, super-efficient family sedan; and, at the same time, a sneak
preview of how cars and trucks might be designed in the next century.
    The concept car is the Ford P2000 Prodigy, but it isn't being shown in
traditional fiberglass or clay.  Instead, it takes the form of the world's
largest full-color display hologram -- a 50 percent scale, three-dimensional
image projected from a 40-square-foot panel.  The exterior of the P2000
Prodigy is translucent red, allowing the viewer to see inside to the vehicle's
futuristic powertrain -- a hydrogen fuel cell.
    "Ford P2000 represents the future of the family sedan -- efficient, clean
but fully functional with no compromises on safety, quality and driving
dynamics," said J Mays, Ford vice president - Design.  "It's only fitting we
display this futuristic car in a completely new form.  Our holography display
is the public's first look at a promising technology in its infancy.  Perhaps
it's also a glimpse into the future of product development at Ford."  The 3-D
image of the Ford P2000 Prodigy appears when the tiled panel of holographic
film is illuminated by intense white light.  The film panel contains 900,000
individual exposures taken directly from the computer design data from the
car's development team in Dearborn.
    "Holograms have come a long way from flying doves on credit cards and low-
resolution images on the back of cereal boxes," said Tom Scott, director -
Ford Advanced Design.  "But the most exciting developments are yet to come."
    Holography is a technique in which a complex three-dimensional image can
be recorded and reproduced on a flat, two dimensional surface.  To make a
standard hologram, a beam of cohesive white light is divided into two smaller
beams.  One of these beams, called the reference beam, is kept pure and
travels directly to the photosensitive film on which the hologram is to be
recorded.  The other beam, called the object beam, is reflected off the object
to be recorded and back onto the same film.  As the reference beam and object
beam converge on the film, they interact and combine to form a complex pattern
called an interference pattern.  Once developed, the film's interference
pattern is capable of diffracting light to reproduce an exact copy of the
object beam when illuminated with a copy of the reference beam.  When viewed
by an observer, the copy of the object beam creates an image of the actual
model in 3D space.
    However, the Ford hologram is not a reproduction of a physical object --
the image was created directly from 3-D electronic design data from computers
in the company's Advanced Design Studio.
    As Ford continues to compress its product development times, the company
will bring new customer-pleasing vehicles to market more quickly.  Tapping
into Ford's industry-leading computer capabilities is the key.  Holographic
technology may provide a better means to view and work with complex design
data, Scott said.
    "Our designers and engineers today work on a globally-linked computer
system that processes all data in three dimensions," Scott said.  "What's
missing is a fully interactive way to visualize that data.  Holography appears
to be the most promising technology to produce that breakthrough, and we are
encouraged by our research efforts in this developing field."
    "What this will mean to our customers is simple: higher quality, more
exciting vehicles that hit the market more quickly," he said.

    Ford and Zebra Imaging Team to Develop Hologram
    The hologram of the P2000 Prodigy has full parallax -- that is, a viewer
who stoops down will see underneath the image while a tall viewer can look
down on the top of the car.  Developed jointly by Ford and Zebra Imaging, Inc.
in Austin, Texas, it is easily the largest hologram of its kind ever displayed
to the public.  Previously, it is believed that the largest full-color, full
parallax hologram generated directly from computer data was just four inches
    This type of display hologram may serve as "hard copy" for tomorrow's
designers.  Ford and its partners in the "replacement reality" research
project are also working to develop interactive 360 degree "transmission
holograms" that would allow designers, senior management or customers in
clinics to visualize designs in 3-D in real time.  "This isn't just a
presentation technology for our auto show display.  Holography might allow us
to make design decisions faster to create more exciting cars and trucks for
our customers," Scott said.

    Aerodynamic P2000 Prodigy Car: Production Feasible Technology
    Ford is developing a number of lightweight, fuel efficient vehicles with
the P2000 name as part of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles
(PNGV) program.  The vehicles are designed to prove out revolutionary but
production-feasible concepts in the use of light-weight materials, aerodynamic
design, innovative powertrains, creative packaging and other technologies that
will help make tomorrow's environmentally responsive vehicles appeal to
customers who don't want to sacrifice performance or functionality.
    The five-passenger aluminum-bodied P2000 Prodigy sedan will be extremely
light and aerodynamic (with a drag coefficient of .23) for optimal energy
efficiency.  Two advanced powertrains being developed for the Prodigy:  a
hydrogen fuel cell system (shown in the display) that will power an electric
drivetrain, and a hybrid electric system featuring a very small high-output
compression ignition engine, nickel metal hydride batteries and regenerative