Stress analysis capabilities within Autodesk Inventor allow users to predict how a design will work under real-world conditions before building it. Mini Toolbars bring context-sensitive options directly into the modeling interface, and they will adapt to both the current operation and the current selection.
I've been using CAD on my laptops (all Macs) for over 10 years. I can't imaging being tied to a desktop, although I do occasionally use one. My CAD program (Vectorworks) won't allow me to run my copy on both machines at once - if it did, then I'd use the desktop more.
You raise an excellent point, TJ. But to me, the idea of using a neck-mounted or body-mounted brace defeats the whole mobility promise of tablets so there's got to be another way. My guess is we'll see more 3D-friendly mouse gestures incorporated into the future generation of tablets as all types of data, not just CAD models, become 3D in nature. And your comments about providing an opening for a forward-thinking entrepreneur with a good idea is right on the money!
With a good enough user interface for pointing, clicking, selecting, sizing, etc, I can see using a tablet. It may not be powerful enough to render photorealistically, but I doubt many people design in that manner.
The failure of tablet engineering will be the need for a third hand. Two hands would be needed for manipulating the user interface; one needs a third hand to just hold the device. I see neck-mounted or body-mounted braces in the future. A easel or kickstand for the tablet won't be enough with the amount of hand interaction; the stand wouldn't hold up. Flat on the table is a somewhat un-ergonomic position for the tablet.
Actually mobile is a pretty big new thing for CAD, Rob. I think it's way too early on to tell if the emerging set of mobile design tools fill a need or are gaining traction. There's really only a handful and most deliver viewing and limited markup capabilities--all aimed at engineers or service technicians in the field who need to access 3D models for presentation purposes, design reviews, or potentially in-field service. As far as full-out CAD work goes, I don't think anyone is really thinking a mobile device, be it a smart phone or tablet, will be the preferred platform for that kind of heavy duty, graphics-intensive work.
Nice slideshow, Beth. As with CAD itself, the pictures tell the story. What hit me at the end was the move to mobility. I suppose this isn't a big change -- just a different way to access the same software. But I'm curious about how widely CAD is used by mobile devices. Is this an option that's available just because it can be, or are mobile CAD applications filling a need and getting traction?