Wishing to sharpen up the eternally imprecise data collected by using with real, live human beings, Ford is apparently the first automaker to use motion-capture software to assist with its vehicle design. The technology, already used to great effect in video games and the film industry, allows Ford engineers to examine how people really move around in their vehicles and, hopefully, design more ergonomic solutions as a result.
In jargon-ese, Ford's system is called the Human Occupant Package Simulator (HOPS). In real life, it means a "human test subject" hooked up to fifty sensors and doing the things he or she would do in a car, "such as swinging a leg outside of the vehicle or reaching for the seat belt." If you've ever seen a video of how EA Sports makes games like Madden or NBA live, you're intimately familiar with the general process.
Combined with Ford's Cave Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE) and Programmable Vehicle Model (PVM), HOPS allows the automaker make a much better vehicle with pixels before it ever has to render it in steel. It should also mean that future Fords will be suitable for orcs, battle droids, humans, and the Na'vi. Follow the jump to read about the tech, and you can see what one of the lucky "human test subjects" looks like in the gallery below.