the business of cad
Issue #753 | October 30, 2012
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In This Issue
1. IMSI/Design developing mobileAEC development platform for developers
- TurboSite and GeoWalk
- Attention Shoppers: Prices Are Inverting
- TurboApps SDK
2. The mice are roaring
But none of our other regular columns. Sorry, I'm still getting over jetlag :<
IMSI/Design developing mobileAEC development platform for developers
IMSI/Design is recognizing the unique advantages portable devices have over desktop computers and even laptops: "...mobile hardware has some terrific advantages over desktops. Easy gesture interfaces. All day battery life. Accelerometers. Gyros[copes]. GPS. Digital cameras. Effortless portability and connectivity."
(Although, they do exaggerate the drawbacks to using smartphones for CAD: "Does somebody really want to design the Freedom Tower Building with a tiny bit of RAM and a 3" screen?" I think the last smartphone with a 3" screen was the now-long-dead Palm Pixi; today's smartphones come with 2GB working RAM, not that much less than desktop computers, and 4"-5" screens.)
TurboSite and GeoWalk
Never mind. The company gets the fact that smartphones and tablets have a lot of extra technology built-in for free, and they're writing software to take advantage of the gizmos. The latest, announced today, is TurboSite, a way to do site visits with an iPad by marking up drawings, attaching photographs and text/voice notes, and so on. (See figure 1.) These functions sound just like what's been available on laptops for some time, except that...
Figure 1: Adding geolocated photos to marked-up drawings in TurboSite
The software reads the iPad's GPS and other sensors to locate and orient the photos and notes in the drawing correctly. GPS does not work well indoors, and so IMSI/Design developed GeoWalk that tracks the directions you walk inside buildings by using the tablet's accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass.
And then GeoNudge help pinpoint exact locations in drawings by moving position indicators to the nearest likely position in the drawing. This sounds to me like the "keep car icon to nearest road" function in automotive GPSs. Nevertheless, IMSI/Design is patenting GeoWalk and GeoNudge.
Other features include support for 3D PDF (U3D), and text and dimensions that always face the current view in 3D mode. It uses its own TAP (short for TurboAPps) file that uses a container format to hold multiple filetypes.
Attention Shoppers: Prices Are Inverting
TurboSite is $999 (the max allowed by Apple), but in typical IMSI/Design marketing style it is $499 for now. TurboSite Reader is free. See http://www.TurboApps.com
IMSI/Design is doing what no other CAD vendor is doing: giving iPad and Android apps grown-up prices. I have argued that the polices of Apple Store drove down prices to unreasonable levels, and that CAD vendors need to resist the price deflation.
Consider the twist: the world-wide leader notorious for selling CAD at one time for $29 or less is now charging a thousand bucks for a phone app, while world-wide leader in expensive CAD (Autodesk over the years more than quadrupled the price of AutoCAD) is now charging 99 cents or less for most phone apps.
Ninety-nine cents is nuts, and I predict that Autodesk within a few months will charge more.
Here's another thing IMSI/Design is doing that no other CAD vendor is doing: making their programming code underlaying their mobile apps available as an SDK (software development kit). I don't have details on this, but the company figures its know-how will be useful to other software companies wanting to make AEC apps for portable devices.
The company ceo Royal Farros explains, "Our big-picture goal is to enable an entirely new generation of mobile AEC developers." I'm looking forward to seeing who bites the mobileSDK dangling from the end of the TurboApps fishing line, and which CAD vendor will be next at the river bank casting out their mobileSDK gear.
[Disclaimer: IMSI/Design provided me with an iPad 2 free, which my wife lets me sometimes borrow to test new iOS software.]
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The mice are roaring
I like my job when the currents of change move technology in unexpected ways. The mobile stuff IMSI/Design is putting out is one example. The company told me, off the record, more than a year ago their plans to make waves with iOS and Android apps. Today, anyone can look back at the software they shipped in stages, and the plan becomes clear: first a viewer, followed by translators, then manual mark ups, and now sensor-driven mark ups. Advice to competitors (including those who have much, much larger bank accounts): extrapolate from the first steps to figure out the mouse's next roar.
Bricsys is another mouse that's roaring. They hold the distinction of being the only small CAD vendor to hold an annual developer conference. (The ITC and ODA no longer do this.) If you read my live coverage on the WorldCAD Access blog (see http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2012/10/bricsys-developers-conference-2012-day-two-1.html), then you'll know that the company is offering Inventor for $825. Well, not all of the capabilities of Inventor, but Bricscad V13 Platinum certainly adds Inventor-like functions to an AutoCAD-like CAD program -- something Autodesk cannot offer.
Figure 2: Me speaking about running CAD on tiny screens at the Bricsys Developer Conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(I note that Dassault is hinting at a SolidWorks Lite priced at under $2000.)
The not-in-AutoCAD functions boasted by BricsCAD Platinum include 3D constraints, assemblies, power dimensions (add-on), mechanical parts library, BOM, and a rudimentary motion analysis. "Rudimentary" means that it kind of works in V13 and probably will be fully fleshed out in V14, thanks to the programmers at Bricsys Russia.
Also in the works:
Competitors: take the same approach I advised for doing industry intelligence on IMSI/Design. Look at the steps BricsCAD has taken since V9 (when it freed itself of all IntelliCAD code), read my blog's coverage of the Bricsys Developers Conference, and the extrapolate forward.
In addition, you may want to take into account the following moves made by Bricsys:
The direction is clear: Bricsys wants to become your MCAD vendor; its current tagline reads, "Your Unified CAD Platform."
[Disclaimer: Brisys provided me with accommodation, meals, and some transportation.]
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