CAD Tech News (#114)

6 Nov, 2019 By: Cadalyst Staff

Vusar Provides Augmented-Reality Viewing of CAD Models on Android, iOS Devices

The new AR app is designed to accelerate product development by helping creators and customers evaluate designs in real-world contexts.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Many tasks and workflows in the CAD world require the purchase of specialized hardware, such as powerful workstation computers and GPUs. The Vusar augmented reality (AR) app, however, runs on mobile devices that users likely already have on hand. "We've made it really easy for everybody to have this immersive experience," said Vusar CPO Brenden Monahan. Early on, the Vusar team experimented with using the Microsoft HoloLens, but found the limited field of view and complexity of dealing with the head-mounted hardware to be barriers to collaboration, Monahan explained. They turned to the smartphone instead because "everybody is used to it, [everybody] has it in their pocket," he said.

Image source: Vusar.
Image source: Vusar.

It's that accessibility and ease of use that distinguish Vusar from other solutions that enable users to view their CAD models in real-world settings, Monahan believes. Competing solutions require "a lot of setup on the back end," he said. With Vusar, in contrast, "We make it super-easy ... you already have the CAD, just drag and drop and you're off and running."

Vusar users upload their models into a library that's shared with other team members; they can then be rotated, translated, and resized in the immersive visualization "studio" (scroll down for a video showing Vusar in action). Multiple 3D assets can be placed into a scene together, if desired, and users can also connect associated data and workflow to their designs. Supported file types currently include STEP, STP, STL, and FBX.

Collaboration at Its Heart

Although CAD software is essential to design creation, it can be isolating, Monahan believes. Paper-based drafters working at tables in shared spaces may have been less productive than their modern counterparts, but they were more interactive; there were "great ideas going back and forth," he said. Today, computer users working solo in their cubicles are "missing that human element, missing that collaborative element" because there is "just one brain in the room," Monahan said. "The modern workplace with the typical cubicle farm stifles that creativity, stifles that free flow of ideas … we've become enslaved to the technology," he lamented.

The question, as he sees it, is how to enable everyone on the project team — including sales professionals and customers — to easily evaluate the latest version of a design. "The collaboration aspect is at the heart of everything we do and everything we stand for," Monahan said. "We're creating a platform that allows free-flowing ideas to be at the center of the process." That contrasts with the nature of CAD tools that are restrictive when it comes to file sharing and licensing: "It's difficult to get information out of CAD and across different platforms so [users] can share and collaborate more easily," he continued. "We're trying to unschackle some of the restrictive features that the current state of CAD has, and make [those processes] easier for all users." Read more »

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

PTC Prepares for 'Inevitable' Future of CAD by Purchasing Onshape, Part 1


With the addition of the Onshape product development platform to its lineup, PTC will be able to offer its customers the choice of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and on-premises solutions — and to power its own eventual transition to the cloud.

By Cadalyst Staff

In October, PTC announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Onshape, developer of a cloud-based product development solution that incorporates CAD, data management, and collaboration tools. Once the acquisition closes, Onshape will operate as a business unit of PTC. Onshape CEO and cofounder Jon Hirschtick will assume "a senior role" leading the Onshape team and will report directly to PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann.

During a conference call for investors and media, Heppelmann confirmed that this is PTC's biggest acquisition ever, with a price tag of approximately $470 million (net of cash acquired). PTC is eager to add a software-as-a-service offering to its lineup in preparation for what it calls "the inevitable industry transition to SaaS." Heppelmann stated, "Today, we see small and medium-sized CAD customers in the high-growth part of the CAD market shifting their interest toward SaaS delivery models, and we expect interest from larger customers to grow over time."

SaaS vs. On-Premises Software

Onshape is provided via a SaaS model, meaning the software is hosted by the provider and users access it through a web browser. Therefore, there is no need for customers to install software locally or invest in powerful local hardware, such as servers and brawny desktop computers, to run the software (but a good Internet connection is essential). Updates are available to all customers simultaneously, and they typically happen much more frequently than in the traditional model of annual version updates; Onshape, for example, automatically releases updates every couple of weeks. Customers do not own the software, as they do with a perpetual license; rather, they pay ongoing subscription fees for access to it.

Read more »


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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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