Monday, February 09, 2009

What's the future of AutoCAD

At the AutoCAD 2010 Backstage Pass event I had the chance to learn about where the future of AutoCAD might lie. That being said, please read the same disclosure I read before you start counting on anything.
Some future trends are already starting to show with the addition of the ability to print to 3D printers in AutoCAD 2010. This feature builds on the ability to easily create and manipulate 3D objects by putting them in your hands in a short amount of time. One of the 3D prints I held in my own hands was a fully functioning mechanical gripping device with moving gears. The potential here to not only model in AutoCAD but to affordable print a 3D piece, test it and refine it before sending it to be manufactured is huge. Now take a leap forward to using a series of pictures or video to capture actual components or building data and bring that directly into a model. 

Check out this Youtube video on Video Trace.


Some of you may have already seen the 8 foot touch screen shown below modeled by R.K. McSwain. This is pretty fun because you can put your hands right into your design to manipulate not only your perspective but also to refine your design.

John Schmier from Autodesk labs shows below how the Autodesk labs team modified this system to use a Wii remote for navigation. Finally my gaming will pay off. Just so you know, they did the same thing with a Play Station remote.

Other neat things I saw or heard about maybe for the future were;
  • Improving deployments for CAD Managers
  • Easing customization for users
  • Use of piont clouds
  • Improving portability back and forth with Autodesk verticals
  • Adding analysis tools
  • Always improving performance
  • Data Linking
  • Mesh to solid and solid to mesh
  • Parametric constraints in blocks (more on that later)
In the end the thing that stuck with me was the idea that AutoCAD is being designed to be an easy tool begin design with. It is getting easier to transfer those designs to other Autodesk software to refine them and also to transfer that refined data back to AutoCAD to share designs with others. I think we are going there, and I am looking forward to a whole line of Autodesk software coming together and sharing many common functions to facilitate interoperability and portability of data. AutoCAD is not going to fade away any time soon, just the opposite, Autodesk is leveraging a powerful tool to do even more.
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