and Group Executive John Hirschtick mesmerized the 4,300+ attendees at the
Tuesday General Session of SolidWorks World 2009 with four predictions ranging from
user interface technology to prototyping.
he did start out with a disclaimer that these were not "product announcements,"
the company is clearly taking a deeper look at some of these areas, as
evidenced by video footage shown during his presentation.
first trend Hirschtick described was user interfaces using touch and motion –
something he said has already been exploited by mobile phone makers and
tablet-type displays. Hirschtick said touch-and-motion capabilities based on
using the hands as they were meant have important implications for CAD
designers, as they will allow designers to work more naturally with creating
and viewing models.
video of an active research project of a table-top touch screen computer at
SolidWorks showed users creating a line with a simple touch-and-hold function, an
arc with a two-finger touch and a spline with three fingers. Even more
impressive was seeing the user manipulate the view using touch.
will have a chance to experience a live demo of the touch-and-motion technology at the event's Exhibition Hall this
touch and motion, Hirschtick said CAD will become a hardware business
again, and users will migrate to more CAD-specific devices. He said SolidWorks was not necessarily going to get into the hardware business, instead
partnering with others with that core expertise.
Hirschtick said there will be online applications for 3-D CAD in the
future. While he doesn't think it will happen overnight, he said this
isn't some crazy futuristic trend but is in fact mainstream in other
applications like email today. "The fact that there is no need for backups or
device drivers is very compelling," he said.
also expects CAD in the future to exploit video game technology, which he said
has the very best standard-mode graphics. The industry has made enormous
advancements in terms of quality and speed, he said, and "we need to pay
attention to it." He mentioned a capability in Solidworks called "Ambient
Occlusion" that currently allows designers to add more realism to their
drawings, saying it will get even better in the future.
3D printing was the final trend that Hirschtick discussed, saying here that while
it isn't a new concept, it is getting a whole lot better and will in fact
become a key part of the CAD designer's daily experience. "If you haven't seen
3D printing lately, you haven't seen it," he said. "There have been amazing
improvements in color, speed and quality of the models, and the cost of models
is going down."
To wit, Hirschtick then interviewed two
Solidworks customers who use 3D printing extensively in the design process. At
New Balance, the design team produces dozens of 3D models per month, applying
them in novel ways such as to produce simple molds to produce running shoe
parts for testing. After only a few hours of CAD design work, Sony Ericsson
produces 3D models in order to get mobile phone prototypes into the hands of
designers to test for scale and ergonomics.