PLM, Mobile Devices and Capturing Input

PLM, Mobile Devices and Capturing Input

Any mobile device these days is an extremely powerful capturing tool. With the latest development of front and back end cameras, the ability of the mobile device to perform as a scanner, image and video recorder becomes second to none. The ability to capture photo and video open lots of opportunities to innovate. One example – look on the statistics of camera usage on Flickr:

Another example. Just think about latest acquisition made by Autodesk – SocialCam, company focused on social video sharing. One of the fundamental capabilities on SocialCam app was to capture video by a mobile device (like iPhone or Android).

I can potentially imagine many other (fewer socially fancy scenarios) where using a camera can significantly change and even disrupt existing processing many manufacturing companies have in place these days. Think about maintenance, support, operation, manufacturing problem reports, field construction reports and many others. It also can be applied in analyses and other CAE tools. The most interesting “capturing capability” I’ve seen was in Autodesk ForceEffect application.

Another example of content capturing and merge is 3DVIA mobile app:

I think about two capabilities PLM/PDM systems lack today – ability to capture input from mobile devices and the ability to manage a significant amount of media content. Let me speak about them a bit more.

Capturing Media Input (Photo, Video)

It sounds like a simple task, but in fact, it lacks almost in all PLM tools (even those that claim they are HTML5 mobile browser compatible). Welcome to engineering reality. You can see applications running in the mobile browser, but it lack of proper support for camera and other capturing capabilities.

Content Management and Storage

Once captured, image and/or video needs to be handled and managed well. It starts from the initial storage and transmission. Then it goes to the ability of PDM/PLM system to manage this content, which can be significant in size, requires the ability to be sorted, search, applying meta-data, relating to other information sources and many others. You hardly can find these capabilities in most of the available PDM/PLM systems. They are not adjusted for such a type of content.

What is my conclusion? Most of CAD, PDM and PLM vendors today are claiming mobility and support for modern devices. However, in many cases, it is about taking “existing system” and saying – it is available on a mobile platform. I wrote about it in my post – PLM mobile gold rush. Did vendors miss the point? At the same time, not to miss small details becomes so important. This is something PLM vendors need to learn from mobile app developers in consumer space and web. Extra-click and bad user experience can destroy the future of your app. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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