Each year after Autodesk University the company start on a tour of all their developer communities around the world. In recent years Autodesk have encouraged users, not just developers, to attend and also this year organised an evening Meetup event on Tuesday 9 December, the day before the main developer event in Farnborough.
Organised via the website meetup.com events are defined as, “…getting together to learn something, do something, share something…” and this reflects Autodesk’s idea of an open event with, a limited pre-planned agenda, at which to share technology that spans the Maker hobbyist community to professional design and simulation software.
The ‘I Love 3D’ Meetup was described as, ‘for both web designers and software developers – 3D on the web – Modelling, VR, WebGL and Three.js – make ,models even more immersive and engaging on the web’.
Despite the apparently technical focus a wide spectrum of people attended, including, a Spatial Behaviour Scientist, an Economist, Optometrist, Engineers, Architects and Software Developers.
Jim Quanci from Autodesk led the presentations providing a wonderful mix of helicopter view and dive deep. No surprise really from a man who has staff with titles such as, “chief ideator”. For those of us that use applications such as Revit and AutoCAD, we got insight to the vast amount of work that has gone into the growing number of Autodesk cloud services such as Autodesk360.
Go play with the samples at http://viewer.autodesk.io/node/gallery/
One of the key technologies enabling 3D on the web is WebGL and the fact most modern web browsers now include support. Hardware has also now reached a level of power and sophistication capable of supporting 3D. This extends to smartphones and tablets allowing 3D to be liberated from the desktop enabled by increasingly ubiquitous mobile data with WiFi and 4G.
The meeting invite had included, ‘VR on the cheap with Google Cardboard…’ and Jim teased the audience by leaving a large suitcase full of DoDoCase VR viewers open at the front of the room (can be seen bottom left of the photo above). Google Cardboard essentially takes the principles of VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus and makes them work on a smartphone screen strapped into a box of cardboard with lenses! The audience all got an opportunity to try VR on the cheap accessing samples Autodesk developers have uploaded to the web such as vr.autodesk.io that allows the viewer to navigate around a house and Kean Walmsley’s Morgan 3 Wheeler.
No one left the Meetup empty handed, everyone got to
take away a DoDoCase VR to build and experiment with.
The evening was great fun with the technology being secondary to the people and ideas presented. To me this highlighted and confirmed the BIM hierarchy mantra, ‘People, Process, Technology’, or to gain the biggest benefits from technology, you need people with ideas and imagination. It’s early days for much of this technology but is shows great potential, both free low resolution applications, as well as expensive high resolution. If you want to learn more take a look at the Autodesk Cloud and Mobile DevBlog as a starting point.