Next Generation Product Development Tools, Part 8

In my previous entry the migration of digital tools in general was discussed; in particular, advancements in both usability and collaborative capabilities. In this and a couple of follow-up entries, I want to apply those filters to 3D CAD applications.

The Inevitable Fall of the CAD Priesthood

With any difficult to master skill there usually arises a group of experts who, over a period of time, too often take themselves a bit too seriously. The CAD community has plenty of these priests. And they’re not especially interested in giving up their lofty positions. That’s why I’m not surprised to read some of what I find being posted online by old school CAD experts; a significant portion of which amounts to “this new-fangled stuff will never work, I tell you”.

Truth be told, I don’t believe there’s really much of an argument against the following proposition:

At some point when CAD interfaces align with average computer users’ skillsets, powerful 3D tools will become as commonplace as wordprocessors.

What might be a bit more contentious is that I also propose that we may see significant – as in paradigm-shifting, industry-rattling significant – improvement in user interfaces within the foreseeable future; and that increased adoption of such tools will have a wide-ranging impact.

We’re certainly not at the point now (and someone should really tell that to any companies believing they can casually start their own “3D Flickr”), however, consider just the following:

  • Serious tools such as the recently released Moment of Inspiration (Link) are being designed for more accessible and intuitive kinds of interfaces.
  • Sophisticated “hobby” software such as Plushie (Link) bring 3D design tools to often overlooked or ignored creatives; in this case, the sewing community.
  • Game creation tools such as those in the forthcoming Spore (excellent preview on Bit-Tech – Link) will not only make 3D modeling as easy as building with Leggo, but fun as well. A game targeting casual users with a revolutionary procedural modeling system is what I call disruptive technology.
  • For those who recall SolidWork’s entry into the professional CAD market, imagine the next evolutionary step… or two, or three… occurring within an accelerated timeframe; perhaps catalyzed by the arrival of new business models.

    For the past few decades, the Engineering Software Industry has been experiencing a consolidation like many other markets… the industry is ripe for a radical disruption. – Brain Seitz, (Link)


    3 thoughts on “Next Generation Product Development Tools, Part 8

    1. haha! Many CAD systems are very intuitive though. I did not know there was some CAD priests out there! I had learned solidworks for architecture and product design, and after you go through some complex stuff, you can do whatever you want. Saying that I am not a big fan of Catia.

    2. That you and I think nothing of the current tools is not, I believe, indicative of the average person’s experience. I’d venture a very small percentage of people would agree with the declaration “Many CAD systems are very intuitive”.

    3. Pingback: reBang weblog

    Comments are closed.