Cloud and Maker Community are Hot Topics at AU2012

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Industry News
Cloud and Maker Community are Hot Topics at AU2012

By Susan Smith

The message at the morning keynote at Autodesk University 2012 revolved around the cloud and the maker community. These two topics were big last year, but this year they dominated the discussions at the keynote, with guest speakers who are truly on the cutting edge of the maker community.

More Autodesk products are being moved to the cloud to facilitate ease in sharing and ability to store more data.

CEO Carl Bass says  “Cloud architecture is the biggest thing to happen to computing since the PC.” There was also a lot of attention paid to “consumerization” where Autodesk has spent a lot of time providing tools that are free and useful to consumers.

CTO Jeff Kowalski said that simulation is rapidly shifting from “nice to have to a must have,” because things we’re designing are so complex that simulation is necessary part of process. The Shanghai Tower is an example. When the building is completed it will be the tallest in China and second tallest in the world. It’s a complex high performance structure designed to withstand extreme weather conditions such as monsoons. “You can’t do a product recall on a 2,000 foot building,” Kowalski pointed out.

He also added that digital fabrication – additive, subtractive, robotic assembly, and nanoscale/bio is helping us to close the gap between complex designs in the computer and what we can create in the real world.

Trends highlighted at Media Day on Monday included the following:

1) Consumerization of IT – technology used to be consumed through large companies then work its way down to consumers. Now technology is starting to be adopted by people in their personal lives.

2) Creativity and personalization of design – There is an emergence of the creative class, more who want to participate in the design process, and who want to create personalized stuff.

3) The return of making –Maker Faires and Techshop are enabling people to have access to manufacturing equipment, also the learning and sharing and networking with others.

AEC Marketing and Strategy

One of the bigger announcements at AU this year was the introduction of FormIt, a conceptual design solution that allows users to draft on an iPad or other tablet device and begin the building of a BIM. They can do this anywhere. They can use the simulation tools and FormIt is built on the same database as Revit. This tool is synchronized with Revit and Vasari and represents a convergence of mobile and the cloud.

This technology is derived from the acquisition last year of Vela Systems, technology that allows for users to take all data into the field with an iPad. The driver for this acquisition and subsequent product was the fact that mobile was needed in the field. “We need mobile to go into the field and we saw more people using iPads,” said Nicolas Mangon, AEC Marketing and Strategy director at Autodesk.

Another acquisition announced at last year’s AU was BIM 360 Glue, a horizontal system with a cooperative environment in the cloud. Different parts of a project can publish data with this tool. “One of the biggest problems is lack of coordination,” said Mangon. “People have all versions of data, and Glue provides tools such as visualization, clash detection tools, and a way to democratize clash detection. For companies who don’t buy Navisworks, they can use this tool without buying new software.”

Two big trends around CFD include data centers and the health care industry. Simulation, energy analysis, structural analysis and CFD analysis can all be done in the cloud for early design and optimization. Some of the core Autodesk 360 functionality is included for subscribers, for others you have to be using a suite. BIM 360 products are paid for additionally.

Innovation sessions

Innovation Sessions this year were not product-centric, in fact, many of them were quite the opposite.

Design Across Boundaries

Vice president, Building Industry and Strategy relations at Autodesk Phil Bernstein posed the question in this session: “how do you address the global problem of delivering health care services where it’s difficult to receive them?”

Four short presentations were offered by panelists Dr. Myshkin Ngawale, CEO/janitor, Biosense Technologies, Liz Ogbu, Scholar in Residence, California College of the Arts, Dr. Alastair MacDonald, director Strategic Innovation, Balfour Beatty, and Marla Schweppe, professor, Rochester Institute of Technology.     

What Bernstein concluded was the all the proposals had something to do with Media and Entertainment.  Only one of the projects had a technology piece. One had a gadget. “We don’t look enough at social systems; we often dive right into technology first,” said Bernstein. The presentations mostly dealt with a system strategy rather than a physical building design. A lot of technology is already in existence; these presenters were mostly exploring new ways of implementing it.

Liz Ogbu’s concept was to provide health care on a smaller scale in common locations such as big box stores, vacant storefronts, etc.

In developing countries there is great cell phone ownership, mobile banking and healthcare. In the U.S. the low-income populations are not targeted and the potential exists to tap into this market. Ogbu’s human scale solution is popHealth, to use reverse innovation to introduce mobile technology into the system, providing patients with direct access to health information. Mobile platforms would be created to keep in touch with customers after they leave the health clinic.

Autodesk offered a $50,000 grant to one of the panelists take their project past the current stage. The audience voted via their smartphones and the winner was Liz Ogbu.

With an Eye on the Cloud

One of the more interesting innovation sessions was about Cloud Strategy.

Andrew Anagnost, Senior Vice President, Industry Strategy & Marketing, Autodesk offered some insight into the cloud: "Last year, we talked about the power of the cloud to help you do things you couldn't do before: collaborations on big data and nearly infinite computing for visualization and simulation."

"In terms of IT spend; the public cloud environment is now the fast growing space in IT. Big change. And every single one of you is using every single one of these things like you never have before."

"We released Autodesk Cloud last year, which was renamed as Autodesk 360.  Since then, we've had fifteen million users have access Autodesk's cloud services. In fact, Autodesk 360 is continuing to add 1 million new users each month.

"We've had 1+ million renderings done and 15,000 simulation jobs completed since we launched Simulation 360."

Peter Leyden, CEO of Reinventors Network and Former Managing Editor of Wired Magazine spoke primarily on video and mobile.

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