Scotcan: Thanks for the very rich description of a real-world engineering scenario, which points up both the limitations and potential for tablets, including the iPad. I agree that the current technology might have limitations in the scenario you describe, particularly for the large design review applications where there are multiple people present. I do think, however, that the iPad could be connected via HDMI to a large-screen monitor for presentations--if it can't today, it will tomorrow.
Again, not sure the tablet will ever be a direct replacement for modifying geometries in CAD, but my guess is these auxilliary CAD apps and new mobile design tools will zero in on particular stages of that very same design review task and find ways in which they can add value. I'm curious to see what others think.
In Aerospace Liaison Engineering there is a need to visit the shopfloor on a regular basis to resolve problems. Most times there is a requirement to look at both the next higher assembly or the previous lower assembly. All over the shopfloor are (usually) a number of computer terminals in which Liaison has access to the whole aircraft if needs be and by accessing that data a speedy resolution of problems is possible. Authorizing a fix on the spot is possible by accessing the information, copying it into the Liaison personal account for formalizing later on AND at the same time running hard copy to sketch up the preferred fix in conjunction with the shop limitations (access and blind spots for example) which provides a comprehensive record of correcting nonconformance. It is oftimes necessary to work with several drawing sheets spread out on the shopfloor tables in order to figure out anything, so, the I-pad in these circumstances would be regarded as a toy. It depends on the job and the scale of whatever you are working with whether an I-Pad would be adequate...it is nothing to do with young engineers versus old engineers. The 64 bit laptop I use for concept work is taken to the clients place where I can plug in to a big screen via HDMI or to a monitor make the presentation and where change is necessary make notations in the CAD which is resident in the laptop. It would be interesting to see a counter point-of-view which shows that the I-pad can adequately do the same thing particularly when dealing with more than one person.
Darel and Dave both raise good issues. I think the idea of an engineer trying to do full blown CAD modeling on one of these devices is crazy given the size and performance characteristics you both note. On the other hand, there are definite uses cases where the right app could really improve an engineer's workflow. It's zeroing in on what exactly those use cases are that is the real challenge for developers building these apps. Once they do, the younger generation, even the gentleman I interviewed, and the more seasoned engineers will no doubtedly take note.
Oh, we'd embrace the mobile apps but seriously the iPADs fall well short of the requirements to run true engineering software. Turboviewer is just a viewer, right? CAD software on 512MB RAM to do hard core design or analysis when we are used to 4GB of RAM or higher with 64bit architectures? Also, it has to be capable of multi-tasking and running more than one app at a time in this way. Until it can do that, my/our mobile hardware will remain a laptop.....engineering grade laptop. As for the screen size, yes, size matters but that could be addressed through technology.
Perhaps it is a matter of focus, engineering tools still require workstation horsepower for productive work. Apps need to be geared more to post-build design review and troubleshooting aids to break into the market.
The devices still are new enough that the market hasn't shaken out yet and the concern of how the devices will survive on the floor is still an issue.
Super story. You re so correct. I love my station and the size does matter. HOWEVER sometimes it is very convenient while talking to some collegues in airports or shows to grab your android is show some small photos or drawings just to keep the conversation going. With the zoom options you can really show nice drawings. I never did any changes on the phone size screen , just review.
I found this story both interesting and, quite frankly, jarring, because it doesn't comport with what we think we know about uptake of mobile apps in CAD. For example, our recent Slideshow: 11 Top iPad Engineering Apps included a number of CAD apps, and I guess many folks -- myself included -- just assume usage, or more correctly the desire by engineers to use these apps, is rampant. This article gives one pause and cause to reassess this. Moreover, it's not simply a traditional early adopter/late adopter dynamic, cause you give the example of a younger person who's not too keen on the mobile apps.
Great story. I agree, Rob, that there's a generational issue here. And while I applaud vendors for trying to capture this space, I suspect it will be uphill battle for quite a few years. As Beth points out, many engineers (even younger ones) are tied to the screen size and graphics-rendering capabilities of bigger systems.
Nice story, Beth. It answers a number of questions I've had about why all these mobile apps. Are people really using them?
I believe there is a generational aspect to this. Young engineers will be much more comfy with mobile apps than their older counterparts. We saw this in automation, where a lot of the boomers were resistant to software developments, while the kids coming out of engineering school couldn't believe the plants were not more automated.
It is curious that tech-literate engineers would be slower to adopt mobile apps than general consumers, but I think it's likely because they don't necessarily see the real business value in apps yet. Engineers, by natural, are a skeptical lot and don't necessarily want to play around with "toy" apps that don't really do anything substantial. I think once the apps choice evolve to the point where they are delivering real business value and solving real problems, engineers will be first on the bandwagon. It just takes time.
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