@johngaltrules: Not sure this is what you had in mind, but I know 3D Systems has some sort of iPad/iPhone free 3D content app that lets users view, share, and edit 3D files on their devices and prepare them for 3D printing. The tool is called netfabb Mobile and you can check it out here.
I agree, Jack, and I don't think any one sees the tablets as a replacement for a CAD-optimized workstation--mobile or otherwise. I think just as iPads have become a supplemental tool for mainstream business folks, they are likely to become yet another accessory in the digital toolbox for on-the-go engineering professionals.
I really can't see the use of the iPad and such as design tools, per se. I think there will always be a need for something with horsepower and an array of input devices (and big screens). That said, these devices are great for go-anywere applications such a viewing a drawing in the field or making an minor adjustment. Just like I wouldn't want to write the next great American novel on an iPad.
Now, what I could see happening in the coming generations of these devices is a type of docking for the office, like laptops.
One thing that surprises me about all the new enterprise iApps is the cost. $4.99 seems to be a popular price. I would guess the real use will be for trouble shooting on the run. Ipads, iPods, iPhones are easier to use on the run than laptops.
I suspect there will be a place for using iPads in this field. I think of most of these tools as supplemental to the workstations. Frequently we go to meetings and display output from a workstation on a projector. It would be interesting to have a meeting discussing the latest engineering model for exampel and some could use an iPad to view it on their own, others might use the projectors images from the workstation.
The key is flexibility to use the tools available in a way that is convenient and useful to the people involved. Not everyone needs an expensive workstation to do their work. Tools like this allow for others to view and discuss the models without having to bring a workstation with them.
In short if it improves collaboration at an effective price then there will be a place for it.
These seem like nice evolutionary advances in extending the ability of collaborators in different parts of the company, supply chain and world to review designs and design changes, particularly when travelling away from their offices. But doing designs on an iPhone? I don't think so.
Are there any security issues? Say from News of the World-type hackers?
These first wave of apps are definitely more focused on viewing and simple collaboration tasks as opposed to "real CAD work." My guess is the gestures and touch interface of the iPad and other tablets will usher in new paradigms for working with 3D models and geometry that have the potential to replace what you might do today with a stylus or mouse. Doing conceptual design and sketching seems to lend itself well to the graphical nature of tablets; inputting numbers and values for parametric-based modeling--that's a whole other story.
Do any of the iPad CAD apps allow one to use a stylus for input? Seems like that would really make the difference between an ancillary app (or a viewer) and something on which you could do "real" CAD work.
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