New Autodesk Seek Integration Aimed at Consumer Market

3 Dec, 2009 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Web service now links with Dragonfly and Showroom to get building product data into the hands of homeowners.

At Autodesk University 2009 in Las Vegas yesterday, Autodesk announced a service designed to help building product manufacturers extend their reach into the consumer market as well as engage commercial and residential design professionals. The company is connecting Autodesk Seek to two Autodesk technology previews: Project Dragonfly, a home design application, and Project Showroom, an interactive web service that enables users to mix and match products in lifelike room settings.

Autodesk Seek is a web service that provides building designers with branded and generic building product models and associated design content in a variety of CAD formats — such as doors, light fixtures, and furniture — via a web browser or directly from AutoCAD and Revit software applications. Designers can use Seek to quickly search and embed building products, including 3D models, 2D drawings, and performance data, in their projects, which can greatly facilitate the building information modeling (BIM) process. Launched in 2008, Autodesk Seek has grown to encompass more than 36,000 products from nearly 1,200 manufacturers. The service sees half a million searches and as many as 100,000 downloads per month, "and growing," said Jeff Wright, senior director, Autodesk Content Network.

The integration of Autodesk Seek with Project Dragonfly and Project Showroom offers new opportunities for building product manufacturers to connect directly with homeowners and to provide a personalized experience for their customers, Autodesk reports. Dacor, a luxury kitchen appliance manufacturer, is now offering customers the ability to design, visualize, and experiment with their products using Project Dragonfly, a web-based application that homeowners can use to configure room designs and layouts on the fly from any computer or browser.

Autodesk's Project Dragonfly is aimed at homeowners who want to create and share room designs. Now the web-based tool will allow users to drag and drop Dacor kitchen appliances into room designs.

Dacor will be the first manufacturer to take advantage of the new integration between Autodesk Seek and Project Showroom, a hosted service for delivery of "synthetic photography" that building product manufacturers can provide via their web sites. Using Project Showroom, Dacor will offer a branded version of Showroom on its web site that will enable visitors to mix and match products and create photorealistic room settings that show how the combined design, products, colors, and lighting will look.

"Technology offers new ways to engage with customers and provide a more personalized experience. As we evolve our marketing plans to take advantage of this, it made sense to partner with Autodesk, given their strong customer base of professional designers and history of innovation in the manufacturing and AEC industries," said Steve Joseph, vice-president of marketing at Dacor. "The combination of Autodesk Seek, Project Dragonfly, and Project Showroom will help Dacor reach and connect with designers, give our customers the opportunity to directly participate in the design process, and help our company realize significant cost savings on set construction and product photography."

Manufacturers such as Dacor will pay Autodesk to make product models accessible via Dragonfly, Wright explained. Autodesk also is setting up a new service intended to help manufacturers prepare product models to include in Seek. Dragonfly will be free to consumers.

Designs created using Dragonfly can be output directly to Revit and AutoCAD, so consumers could conceivably develop their own design ideas using the free tool, then hand off the concepts to a professional for development, Wright explained. "Consumers are really asking for these visualization tools. Now they can get involved [in the early design process]," he added.

Dragonfly and Showroom are currently available as technology previews via the Autodesk Labs web site. "We're likely to graduate Dragonfly from Labs sooner than Showroom," Wright said, "likely in the coming year." Then the company will begin to promote the tool to the consumer market.

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