Ever wonder what CAD software will look like in 15 or 20 years time? Researchers from two U.K. universities are experimenting with how 3-D CAD applications will interact with engineers, providing a glimpse at what kind of functionality we can expect in the future.
The researchers, Alison McKay, a professor of design systems from the University of Leeds’ School of Mechanical Engineering, and Steve Garner, a professor from Open University, discussed some of their initiatives in an article posted on The Engineer Online. The pair have been awarded a grant from the Leverhulme Trust to explore technology that tracks engineers’ eyes as they look at various parts of their CAD models, which in turn, prompts the CAD software to automatically make suggestions or design developments based on what’s seen. The eye-tracking device builds on a prototype CAD system called The Design Synthesis and Shape Generation (DSSG) project, which McKay led and which produced the first 3-D shape grammar-based design system. The DSSG project was a joint initiative between the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
McKay is quoted in the Engineer Online article as saying that such an eye-tracking device would remove some of the burden of the engineer or designer physically having to interact with the software. The software would already be in tune to their creative process, she explains, and would suggest new ways of seeing the possibilities a shape can offer.
Sounds kind of like mind-reading CAD software–now, that’s something worth waiting for!