@tburns: I think you did a great job explaining where the value of tools like this come in in terms of being able to share 3D CAD images that can help visually demonstrate how a part or product works more easily than the spoken word. I do see @tool_maker's point about how technology advancements have a downside in terms of never being able to fully detach from work commitments. That's a much bigger/broader issue to debate, however. In the mean time, mobile tools and social network sharing capabilities do have the upside of giving engineers the flexibility to work outside of being chained to their desk 24/7.
I think this type of technology will change how user guides are put together in the future. A 3D model has the potential to generate any type of imagery needed for technical documentation, from near photographic renderings to engineering drawings and from static images to dynamic animations. It's always easier to show somebody how to do something than spending the time telling somebody how to do something. A concrete demonstration show in context always beats an abstract explanation. Additionally, the user can navigate a complex assembly and drill down to an individual part. That beats flipping through pages of a poorly organized printed manual. If the 3DCAD model is associated with a PLM system, it could provides a great mobile interface to the database. I wonder if Solidworks will develop something similar.
I am a technological neanderthal when it comes to CAD systems, but I have difficulty figuring out when I would need to submit one of my tool designs to a cellphone. Even if I needed approval or customer imput, what would come across even the biggest cell screen out there would be usless. Also aren't there times when you just want to put this stuff down, go home and forget about without the capabilities of somebody tracking you down and sending drawings to your phone.
I know. I see the potential as well, although I'm curious as to how much of these mobile apps/social media integrations are more keeping up with technology advances or really filling a need that's not addressed with traditional collaboration methods.
I'm gearing up to write a story on this so any readers out there that have some opinions or some interesting use cases, feel free to be in touch.
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