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CAD Tech News (#110)

5 Sep, 2019 By: Cadalyst Staff


Alienbrain 2019 Introduces Unreal Engine Integration

Thanks to a new plugin, the version control software for artists and designers can now be used from within Epic Games' Unreal Editor.

By Cadalyst Staff

Alienbrain sounds like a company from the video game world, and that is indeed the industry it catered to when it was founded. Today, the version control software developer aims to serve artists and designers working in simulation and product design as well as game development and computer graphics. Alienbrain's customers now include the likes of Herman Miller and Raytheon as well as gaming powerhouses Nintendo and Sony.

There are other version control systems on the market, but most were created for software developers to manage source code. "I think most architects find it very complicated to work with those tools," Alienbrain founder and CEO Nic Johns told Cadalyst. His company's software, in contrast, was built specifically to help teams wrangle their digital art files, and the interface is intended to be highly visual and simple to use.

Alienbrain users can browse through their files visually, thanks to thumbnail images. Image source: Alienbrain.
Alienbrain users can browse through their files visually, thanks to thumbnail images. Image source: Alienbrain.

Alienbrain combines file storage, version control, and collaboration functionality. The Alienbrain server manages all project files, preserving historical versions and a timeline for each, so changes can be undone by reverting to an earlier version.

Unreal and Beyond

The key feature of Alienbrain 2019 is a new integration with Unreal Engine, a 3D content creation engine that is increasingly being used in design visualization projects. "Unreal is going places, it has a lot of potential," Johns commented. Just as Unreal — which began life as a video game engine — is expanding into the realms of CAD and architecture, "I feel that we can also move in those directions," Johns said. Read more »

Gravity Sketch v1.7 Unchains Conceptual Design with Oculus Quest VR

When paired with Facebook's untethered virtual reality hardware, a new version of the 3D design solution lets users sketch out 3D designs anywhere.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Gravity Sketch, an early-design software solution for sketching out concepts and collaborating in virtual reality (VR), has grown since I tried it at the SIGGRAPH conference last year. With the release of version 1.6 in April, the eponymous company launched Gravity Sketch Surface. This Wacom tablet–specific version was designed to complement the existing VR version, enabling designers to move back and forth between 2D and 3D creation environments.

"It's been taking off," Dae Ho Lee, head of operations at Gravity Sketch, told Cadalyst. For certain tasks, such as tracing over reference images, "2D space could be a slightly more familiar medium to some designers than the immersive space," he explained. Gravity Sketch users can transition among desktop, mobile, and VR platforms to suit the task at hand and hardware availability.

And last month, Gravity Sketch launched the first portable version of its VR sketching and collaboration tool. In this case, "portable" refers to the fact that Gravity Sketch 1.7 can be used with Facebook's Oculus Quest — a standalone, wireless set of VR hardware — to create designs anywhere, whether or not a computer is close by. "Quest is the first of its kind, it's completely untethered," Lee said.

Oculus Quest virtual reality hardware is not tethered to a computer, so users don't get tangled up in cords, or brought up short as they move. Image source: Oculus.
Oculus Quest virtual reality hardware is not tethered to a computer, so users don't get tangled up in cords, or brought up short as they move. Image source: Oculus.

Lee explained that if users install the software onto Quest, they can even work without access to Wi-Fi. CEO and cofounder Oluwaseyi Sosanya explained that users can quickly sync the Quest (or other VR system) with design files stored in the cloud — "kind of like using an external thumb drive."

Smaller Costs and Bigger Customers

According to Lee, one of the big barriers to VR adoption, especially in enterprises, is the cost of hardware: In addition to often-spendy VR headsets and controllers, users need powerful computers with graphics cards burly enough to handle VR applications. Oculus Quest, in contrast, starts at $399 for one headset and two handheld controllers — and doesn't need to be paired with a computer. "It's a price point that's half that of a smartphone these days," Lee observed. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

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