IMSI/Design Brings Markup to a Mobile Platform

Following through on its mission to make mobility a core tenet of its design tool strategy, IMSI/Design has released TurboReview, an app for smartphones and tablets that adds markup to the list of capabilities now accessible on mobile devices.

A companion to its TurboViewer, a free DWG viewing app for both Apple's iOS and Android that lets engineers view models on a mobile platform in up to 20 different CAD formats, TurboReview lets engineers do both 2D and 3D markup when out in the field. In addition, company officials said the app is the first of its kind to support 3D PDF (U3D), opening up the range of possibilities for design teams to share and collaborate on more product-related data.

The redmark tools available in TurboReview encompass the usual line,
circle, rectangle, revision cloud, highlighter, text, and rectangular text box functions in addition to capabilities for creating screen shots of drawings and markups for enhanced collaboration. Company officials cite the app's ability to keep text and dimensions always facing the current view in 3D as another unique feature in addition to arrow leaders, which snap to 3D objects to lock them in and allow for orbit correctly, according to Doug Cochrane, IMSI/Design's chief technology officer.

Cochrane said the soaring popularity of tablet and smartphone platforms is driving the need for full-fledged productivity tools on these platforms, not just games or engineering novelties. Given the sheer volume of tablet and smartphone sales, the numbers are pretty hard to ignore. Market research firm Gartner expects worldwide media tablet sales to grow 98 percent this year, from 60 million units shipped in 2011 to a total of 118.9 million units by end of year -- Apple's iOS remaining the dominant platform. Another research firm, NPD Group's DisplaySearch, projects the number of smartphones shipped to hit 567 million by 2016.

Cochrane said in an interview:

The iPad is the perfect form factor for any type of off-site or mobile work when you need to view CAD designs. 3D PDF is an important part of the work flow for a lot of our customers so we're enhancing their workflow to be able to view it on a mobile device.

He said IMSI/Design's plan from the start is to develop tools specifically designed to exploit mobile devices and allow engineers to do work on platforms and form factors that are best suited for their particular environment. That means if they are at a client site or on the factory floor, it's not a laptop that's conducive for looking at 3D models and making comments, but rather a tablet device that they can hold in their hands and potentially even snap pictures. "They don't want to carry around a mouse or a physical digital camera when walking around a site or shop floor," he said.

Unlike TurboViewer or some of the other free viewer mobile apps announced thus far, IMSI/Design is charging an introductory price of $34.99 for TurboReview (its regular price will be $49.99). That seems a bit steep for a mobile app (or at least more than many potential customers are used to paying), but Cochrane said it's justified given that this is a full-fledged productivity tool and not some kind of fun distraction. "One visit to a job site with the ability to do markup on your device more than covers the cost of the software itself," he said. "This is an app with real functionality and ROI. It's not for entertainment, but a real workforce productivity tool."

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