Who Can Generate 3D/PLM Content For Apple iPad?



Well, it happened. Apple stretched up iPhone in size, removed camera and phone features. So, we have iPad now. What does it mean for people that live design and manufacturing word? Below are some of my thoughts about that. Since, I haven’t had chance to keep it in my hands yet, I cannot say for sure. But it looks cool. Technical characteristics seem reasonable for device you don’t know exactly how to use. When all my work is on cloud/server/laptop, I don’t know what will be justification to have up to 64GB flash.

Let think about what is the possible implication for 3D/PLM world. This device is not for design. Absence of a camera creates some limitation for the application like 3DVIA Mobile and all other applications that want to merge physical and virtual life. This device is probably too expensive to be used on the shop-floor and manufacturing. Potentially, I can see iPad can be used instead of slim laptops, for reviews and by mobile users.

So, do you think iPad life in PLM will be limited? No, I don’t think so. The opportunity will come when we will start generating content that can be easy consumed by iPad. Today, most of the content in design and manufacturing is tuned for desktop computers – CAD and other design systems are desktop oriented, data management and process oriented systems are, for the best case web oriented. What should be done to make this change and make a content to be consumable on iPad?

Think Content
Let’s start thinking about content around us. Design, Simulations, Bill of Materials, Project reviews, Change requests. How to get this content on such a cool device like iPad? Content will be the major driver for people to start using it.

Think Cloud
Today most of the information is somehow located in our desktop applications. Even when we have the data management system (EDM, PDM…), these systems bring information to your desktop and this is becoming a place where we can consume it. We need to re-think it and move to the cloud (public, private… It doesn’t matter- just go away from desktop). In this case, we will start thinking about how to consume it on different devices according to our needs.

Think Mobile
The main benefit to be in the office is to speak with people – not to be connected to the network. You need to be able to connect to network anywhere and get content you are looking for.

So, what is my conclusion? There is a long way to go, but I think PLM needs to think about content. It will allow long life for IP, we generate with multiple devices. Devices will come and die, but content will be forever with companies that create it.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg



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  • Since this is the first release of a device like iPad (though amazon’s kindle and iPhone are the closest), it will be too early to say whether it will stay or die.
    In my view this will definitely get better with the trends we see, and as you rightly pointed out about moving towards cloud.

  • Lokendra, You made an excellent point! Cloud technologies and application will play a huge role in the future distribution of devices like Kindle, iPhone, iPad etc… Thanks for your comments and welcome to PLM Think Tank! Best, Oleg

  • Here’s the beginnings of our answer to your question:


    So we’re not generating the content, we’re just giving users the ability to navigate through the models in the Google 3D Warehouse…

    Thanks, Chuck

  • Chuck, I believe content you mentioned is generated from original CAD system (like SolidWorks, Inventor, CATIA etc.). You are not presenting a native model, but use some tessellated (or similar lightweight representation). This might be different in Google SketchUp, but unfortunately, I don’t have much experience in that. Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg

  • I work at Best Buy and guessed people might possibly want to get in on this next month promo we’re offering with regard to newer customers gift cards. Look it over…folks are getting tons of f-r-e-e stuff these days.

  • Jim Anders

    The iPad is a very interesting device with a lot of promise. To start off with it would be a wonderful platform for 3D CAD viewing. A iPad eDrawings viewer and 3D PDF viewer would be a great place to begin.

    I would also like to see someone do a simple 2D drafting application and be able to work out how multitouch could be implemented in such a way to provide for precision drawing (i.e. snaps, ends, mid points, etc).

    Then I would like to see a basic freeform 3D modeler for the iPad. Something like SketchUp for example. It would be great for simple 3D conceptual sketching.

    More than 25 years ago Apple redefined the personal computer and today’s PC and Mac are the logical result of that vision. Now, Apple is poised to do it all again.

    Fun times!


  • You’re right Oleg, I use a heavy workstation to make simulation video content and I go around presenting content to sales prospects and to my students. I spend more time making my content presentable than creating the content; the presentation has become the most important part for me. I have presented to 20 engineers at once, my classes are usually around 20 students but my sales presentations are often one on one. I plan to use an ipad.

  • Jim, take a look at the Spaceclaim video on Youtube. I’ve got it linked on my blog http://www.smallmouldedparts.com where Ironman gets a few adjustments. I bet this will be done on ipad style slates in future.

  • Jim, thanks for your comment! I think, applications you mentioned, already started to appear. Autodesk sketchbook pro for iPad, SolidWorks Drawings Now (via browser). I’m sure 3DVIA will come soon, since they are running on iPhone. This is only the beginning. Web viewers can be, of course, configured to present on iPad. Best, Oleg

  • Arnold, Thanks for comment and opinion. I agree, sales presentation will be a huge opportunity for iPad, because of a coolness factors… Best, Oleg

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