Brian Mathews, vice president, Autodesk Labs addressed what’s next at Autodesk University in Las Vegas today. The confluence of technology disruptions that are affecting design was the focus of the talk. Just as rip, mix and burn dramatically altered the music industry, the same is happening in the design community with capture, design and create.
Rip (Capture) – as related to design is the capture of 3D models, and ripping reality to import into our design space. Terrestrial laser scanning is becoming more affordable to small companies and even to the masses. 3D points in space have posed a problem with this raster input not meshing with vector-based design. The move toward automatic object extraction has greatly aided workflows, but Mathews sees a future where designers will only work in point clouds.
Microsoft’s Kinect is an example of low-cost lidar data capture, and so is the use of smart phone photos to capture 3D as in Autodesk’s Project Photofly (now known as 123D Catch). The ability to quickly model history in 3D, collaborating with Cyark, is using this technology on world heritage sites. Another example of this expansion of data capture is remote controlled drones with sensors. Sensors within and outside buildings provides another input of reality relating to performance, allowing the capture and modeling with real-time inputs.
Mix (Design) – the growth of computing power and lower cost, with always-on visualization and simulation, provides the ability to design in context. Leveraging data in the cloud leads to a convergence where you can do cityscale modeling and view buildings in context, measuring performance and impacts within the site. Analysis becomes the start of design, rather than at the end, changing how we optimize designs. The vision is for always-on simulation and visualization. At the nano scale, we’re seeing new materials develop that adapt and
The cloud according to Mathews is a disruptive change, where you can do new things, where we have an infinite resource to draw upon. The computer can be brought into process and design work, where you can run evolutionary product simulations as in evolution. Mathews calls this a frontier of solutions, where the system picks the optimal set of results based upon constraints and parameters. The designer chooses the best direction, and guides the process, with the aid of computer analysis and simulation. Autodesk has new technology called Project Twitch that greatly speeds the processing so that we experience no discernible computing lag.
Burn (Create) – bringing design back to reality involves hyper-realistic visualization, and large-scale models (big-ass models (BAM)) that is powered by the computing capacity helped along by Moore’s Law. 3D printing is leading the burn phase, with the ability to fabricate in plastic, metal, fabric, stone and glass now. There are 75 materials now that can be printed, with work ongoing on how you can combine materials, as well as the electronics that go into them. As with design tools, 3D printing is being democratized, with these tools becoming available, and with these 3D printers able to print the printer itself, it is going viral.
Mathews talks about the post-industrial revolution where making custom products reduces the need for money. The 3D printing is already building cars, and even is being applied to replacement organs with our own DNA so that there is no rejection issues. Manufacturing is having a big disruption with this technology, but so too is construction where there are even 3D printers for buildings.
With technology converging together across all scales, Mathews sees opportunity with his eyes on such disruptions as reality capture, cloud data, infinite computing, and sustainability.