Autodesk's latest mobile app offering is just the latest in a string of new mobile design tools and the category of mobile really appears to be heating up. I'm curious whether our readers are ready to take the plunge and whether tools that can jumpstart conceptual design is a good starting point given the way engineers currently work.
Maybe it's me, but mobile CAD seems like a tech analysis version of texting while driving? I understand that you can do presentations and maybe back-of-the-napkin stuff on an iPad. (How you can do anything serious, CAD-wise, on the iPhone's screen is beyond me.) Maybe I'm being a Luddite here, but mobile CAD seems like it will be impacted by at least some platform limitations.
Don't think of it as mobile CAD. You're right--doing full blown CAD work, extruding parts and modeling on an iPad or another tablet platform does not make sense. I don't think anyone thinks it does. But there are parts of the design process and engineering flow that do lend themselves to mobility and I think that's what all these early tools are about and where the vendors are heading.
Nice article, Beth. Do you have any idea of what the adoption is for mobile design apps? Is this a solution looking for a problem, or do the mobile apps truly enhance the ability to work with the software? Like a lot of new technology, this may have a generational aspect. Young people are discarding both desktops and laptops in favor of tablets. Engineers coming out of college may see mobile apps as preferable.
I think it's too soon to tell how useful these early-stage mobile design tool apps are for engineers. I do, however, agree with you 100% that younger engineers are going to be looking for tools that run on their platform of choice, which in many cases, will be mobile smart phones or tablets.
Not that these will replace the work done on workstations--rather augment it and give them access to their designs and key designing capabilities while in field or on the road. My guess is these early apps are an exercise in kicking the tires. As engineers' use case of the mobile paradigm is better understood, we'll see second and third-generation mobile apps that will likely be of way more value. I think we're just getting started.
Yes, I agree that we're just getting started on mobile apps in new areas, whether it's in design or in running the plant. In the plant, it's simply easier to take along a smartphone or tablet rather than trying to balance a laptop on your knee. But I'll bet we'll see applications we can't even imagine now showing up on mobile devices.
That makes more sense -- that the parts of design process which are amenable to mobile (like two engineers talking about something on a plane while travelling) are done on mobile. Also, I neglected to consider your second point, which is that vendors have to meet their users on the platforms where those users want to be. For younger engineers, that's obviously tablets and smartphones, notwithstanding what I might prefer.
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