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Archive for October, 2013

Bringing Buildings and Infrastructure Together

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


Bentley Year in Infrastructure Kicks Off in London

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013


AutoCAD 2014 for Mac released

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Creating a buzz in the Autodesk world is Autodesk AutoCAD 2014 for Mac released yesterday. The Mac version does not join the AutoCAD Windows release cycle but is now aligned with the Apple schedule to take advantage and be able to support major Apple OS updates. Also the release includes Apple’s release of the next version of OSX  Mavericks as well as some new iPads, Apps, laptop and Mac Pro announcements.

Shown during Apple’s new product announcement live event were AutoCAD for Mac 2014 on the Mac desktop and AutoCAD 360 on the new iPad Air tablet.

Among the new features for AutoCAD 2014 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac are support the new Apple Mac OSX  Mavericks OS which is the release after Mountain Lion, Retina Display Support for better viewing comfort with increased pixel density, and eTransmit Support for better transmittal of DWG and reference files, called Package Drawing.

Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac video:

Dell Precision M3800 ultra thin and light workstation announced

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Pat Kannar, Director of Product Marketing, Dell Precision, talked about the release of the Dell Precision M3800 ultra thin and light 15-inch workstation that represents the last product in their portfolio line of ultra workstations. Kannar said this is the first thin and light workstation in the market.

“This M3800 most exciting platforms we’ve delivered,” Kannar said. “It fits in end-to-end solutions, and is one of the most smartly designed platforms for engineering, design, and for those creating products and energy systems.”

Customers have wanted a thinner and lighter workstation without compromising performance, and this workstation delivers all that. “It has all the traditional components you have in a workstation, quadcore, CPUs, professional graphics, NVIDIA, great memory and storage options put it in a form factor 18 millimeters thin,” said Kannar.

The M3800 is less than ¾ inch thin (18 mm) and weighs 4.15 pounds, with dual cooling to keep it running cool and quiet, and up to 10 hours six minutes of battery life. It has NVIDIA Optimus graphics technology that also maximizes the battery life. NVIDIA provides QHD 3200×1800 pixel display with multi-touch capability. The chassis is made from anodized aluminum and carbon fiber chassis which is very lightweight and durable. (more…)

Sefaira offers cloud for sustainability analysis for early stage design

Friday, October 18th, 2013

In a Q&A with Sefaira’s CEO Mads Jensen, he talked about the firm’s cloud solution for sustainability analysis, designed for early building design stages.


AECCafe Voice: Why would anyone use Sefaira when most major CAD software companies have their own cloud setups for their own software products?

Sefaira is the only firm to offer a seamless and intuitive solution for sustainability analysis, specifically created for the early stages of building design. Because of this, more than 200 leading design firms have adopted Sefaira as their main solution for high performance building design today.

Sefaira does not compete with CAD / BIM solutions from existing vendors, but rather integrates directly into existing design processes and tools. In this way, Sefaira complements existing design tools, and provides our users with a best of class experience for high performance building design, and – for this reason – we are the fastest growing solution for high performance building design, growing by more than 33% in the last quarter alone.

 AECCafe Voice: What does Sefaira provide for early stage analysis that is not provided by current early stage analysis software?

The key features that differentiate Sefaira and make it particularly suitable for early stage analysis are:

  • Easy and intuitive use – user interfaces are specifically designed for architectural design at the very early stages, allowing users easy exploration and comparison of design options
  • Speed –Sefaira runs analysis in seconds, comparing strategies and combinations of strategies to fully understand all options and make the right decisions in a time-scale that is compatible with the needs of early stage design where decisions often need to be taken rapidly
  • Clear, print-quality outputs – Sefaira facilitates discussion among project stakeholders and makes the decision making process faster and more seamless
  • Parametric analysis – Sefaira response curves enable the designer to optimize key design parameters such as shading, glazing ratio and building orientation in seconds where this historically could take weeks
  • Support – Sefaira’s engineering team provides outstanding client support as well as training, webinars and documentation to make performance analysis easy for non-engineers

AECCafe Voice: What is the cost of using Sefaira, and what is the pricing model?

 Sefaira is Software-as-a-Service with an annual enterprise-licensing model for an unlimited number of users within a firm. The cost depends on the number of projects that are analyzed with Sefaira. The starter price is $5,000 and covers 3 projects per month.

 AECCafe Voice: How does the cost and efficiency compare to existing offerings?

Sefaira requires less training than other tools and is much easier to implement within architecture firms. By implementing a practical tool for performance analysis our customers are able to meet requirements that would otherwise be hard or impossible to meet.

Our customers are telling us that because of Sefaira they have been able to win more business, reduce their design costs and avoid costly rework to meet sustainability targets during later project phases, and that no other solution for sustainable design offers such a compelling return on investment witnessed by the rapid growth of our client base.

Lightworks announcement: Artisan for ZWCAD+

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Lightworks, a  leading supplier of rendering solutions announced the release of Artisan for ZWCAD+ in a technology partnership with ZWCAD Design. Artisan is an intuitive and affordable rendering application for high quality, fast visualization.

Lightworks has created an API that allows plug ins and connectors for such products as BricsCAD, TurboCAD and Archicad. They have also written an AutoCAD one but never released it. Clive Davies, business development director, said, “The reason for this is that Autodesk already has rendering functionality built into AutoCAD and other products. The clone products, those using DWG format, are less likely to already have rendering built in and so many of them would like that capability in their products. The clone products plus the rendering application are also less expensive than a seat of AutoCAD.”

According to the press release, Artisan is used worldwide by designers and architects. The release of Artisan for ZWCAD+ means that users can now visualise designs within their design workflow. The unique Artisan ‘bridge’ into ZWCAD+ allows current
drawings to be directly linked, with no need to export, therefore creating an  efficient design and visualization workflow. Artisan includes high quality drag and drop material libraries and SnapShot feature that enables the creation of unlimited iterations of the same design. This simplified workflow results in a shorter design cycle and faster time to market.

David Forrester, Chief Executive Officer at Lightworks commented; “We’re pleased to be partnering with ZWCAD+ to bring our easy-to-use rendering application Artisan to ZWCAD+ users worldwide. At Lightworks we create solutions to work with existing user-workflows and we’re proud to say we now provide the ZWCAD+ users with affordable rendering technology that works intuitively with their CAD system.”

Daniel Huang, Product Manager at ZWCAD+ commented; “3D visualization enhances realism by leveraging the power of today’s rendering technology whilst also enhancing the effects that are difficult to achieve using 2D alone. The combination of Artisan and ZWCAD+ means users can flexibly handle more diverse architectural and interior tasks using high-quality rendering.” (more…)

Spike from IkeGPS laser based device features measurement capabilities with photos

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Spike (Smart Phone ike!) from IkeGPS is a laser based device that attaches to your phone to ensure that you can rapidly & accurately measure & model an object up to 200 yards (600 feet) away just by taking a snapshot of it.  For ten years, Ike has been designing measurement and modeling systems for industrial customers.Using the IkeGPS technology, Spike makes use of the smartphone’s technology and adds its own features. It incorporates a digital camera, 3D compass, a laser range finder and GPS that snaps onto the back of your phone and fits into your pocket.

Spike integrates your smartphone’s current technology with some specialized features of its own. It amalgamates a digital camera, a 3d compass, a laser range finder and GPS. It fits neatly into your pocket yet is robust enough to use every day.

According to Darrell Etherington of Techcrunch, “The benefits of the Spike and its powers are evident…telecom and utility companies, architects, city planners, builders and more would be better served with a simple portable accessory and the phone they already have in their pocket than by specialized equipment that’s heavy, bulky, requires instruction on proper use and lacks any kind of easy instant data portability like you’ll get from a smartphone app’s “Share” functions.”

“The short version of IkeGPS was developed in concert with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a number of years ago,” said Leon Toorenburg. “It was a handheld GPS device with a laser rangefinder and a camera, and you can locate the target and take a photo of it at the same time. It is used to geotag measurements of buildings, and you don’t have to worry about where you took the photos because it’s attached to the GPS. We took it a stage further with the electrical ultility industry, they have no idea of what’s on their power poles, and with one photo they can take a measure of everything on the pole. They don’t have to spend hours at each pole with a measuring tape.”

Insurance adjusters can also use it to take a photo of a wall that may be falling down, for example, and get the size of it.

Laser range finders typically cost $1500 or so. This app that runs with the smartphone allows you to make measurements just from your smartphone, with height, width, distances without having to connect the rangefinder app to the smartphone at all.  “We’re also going to publish an API that allows people to take the functionality inside their custom workflows. Say you have an app on the iPhone, an insurance app and you want to measurement-enable that app, you can use our API and incorporate this into the insurance app,” said Toorenburg.


Behance founder Scott Belsky to speak at Autodesk’s RoadMap conference

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Behance founder Scott Belsky, who will be speaking at Autodesk’s RoadMap 2013 Conference on November 5 and 6 in San Francisco, talks about what creative work will look like and how it will change the way we collaborate. Belsky talks about how the creative career will generally be accomplished by those working on their own.

Scott Belsky, founder of creative community Behance (bought by Adobe last year), and author of Making Ideas Happen, describes in this video how technology is shaping how we create and collaborate.

95 Percent of Americans Say U.S. Infrastructure System is Failing

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013


Mike DeLacey, president of Microdesk spoke about Microdesk’s recent survey that highlights the American public’s concern over infrastructure failures and the lack of government funding.

Last year, DeLacey said Microdesk conducted a survey of design and construction professionals to see what their thoughts were on the decline of infrastructure in the U.S. This year the general public was surveyed. “Some of the primary things the general public recognizes is that there are some real challenges around real quality in the U.S. infrastructure,” said DeLacey. “They feel our infrastructure isn’t where we want it to be but don’t recognize how bad it actually is.”

93% of the general public surveyed believe that the federal government should take the primary role in doing something about the failing infrastructure. The survey is intended to bring awareness to the public and the government, so that hopefully the information will help result in transportation bills to meet the funding requirements.

In addition to the fact that most bridges in the U.S. are 50 years old or older, and are not up to safety standards, natural disasters occurring in increasing frequency have highlighted this situation. The current infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and energy (power and water), cannot withstand natural disasters.

“We’re going in and repairing things after the fact, but we don’t have the plan for preparing before the fact. That’s what we’re trying to shine the spotlight on,” said DeLacey. “We have the ability to do things proactively rather than waiting for things to happen and then coming up with emergency response to that.”

U.S. infrastructure ranks a surprising 15th among world economies, as emerging countries have newer infrastructure. “Many of them invest a percentage of GDP considerably more than the U.S., 3-4 times more, so they are building new infrastructure at a very rapid pace. The U.S. infrastructure mostly is 40-50 years old, and we are investing a very small percentage of the GDP to maintain and replace it.”

Most bridges have a 50-year lifespan and are coming to the end of that lifespan. New technology and materials can be used to make the bridges of the future last longer. However, there is always a tradeoff between costs, quality, longevity, and the question is if the goal is to maintain something as inexpensively as possible to extend lifespan, or put something new in place that will last 50 years, or to put something in place that will last a 100 years. Do we have a comprehensive plan to deal with the fact that the infrastructure is coming to the end of life? What is the plan?

93% of respondents think the government should take the lead role in delivering that funding, however, we currently have a federal government that is shut down.

Private funding has been a way for the federal government to shirk responsibility for critical infrastructure, but 68% disagree that improvements should be provided by the private sector. As those entities take responsibility for roads and bridges, they create toll roads, and that way citizens are paying double for infrastructure – to the federal government through taxes, and tolls via the states and private companies.

The following is Microdesk’s press release on this topic:

NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Microdesk, a leading provider of business and technology consulting services to help firms successfully plan, design, build and operate land and buildings, today unveiled the results of its 2013 “State of the Industry” survey. The surveyof over 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted online in August by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microdesk, asked questions regarding their sentiments on a wide range of issues, from what infrastructure is believed to be at greatest risk to how improvements should be facilitated.

Following a year in which Americans witnessed the devastating impact of natural disasters including Hurricane Sandy and infrastructure failures such as bridge and building collapses throughout the country, the survey revealed Americans are keenly aware of the country’s failing infrastructure system.

Where U.S. Infrastructure Stands: Americans Recognize Dismal State

  • A 2013 report from The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. infrastructure a “D+” grade based on condition and needed fiscal investments. According to the survey results, Americans’ sentiments echo the ASCE’s findings, with 77 percent giving infrastructure a “C” grade or below.
  • The World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitive Report ranked infrastructure in America as 15th among world economies, behind Singapore, United Arab Emirates and others. Americans also recognize that the U.S. is falling behind. Only 20 percent think the U.S. ranks first or among the top five.

Infrastructure Challenges: Americans Show Concern on Bridges, Roads

  • As America’s infrastructure system faces increased scrutiny, 41 percent of Americans believe that bridges will be most vulnerable to damage and decay. 26 percent believe that roads will be most vulnerable.
  • Asked to provide insight on what three types of infrastructure systems should receive government funding, sentiment again heavily leaned towards bridges and roads. The results of where funding should go include:
  • Bridges (63 percent)
  • Roads (57 percent)
  • Energy systems (37 percent)
  • Americans, overwhelmingly concerned with bridges, believe the average age of U.S. bridges is 48 years old. The ASCE sites the average age is 42, indicating Americans may be overly cautious on bridge viability and recognize most are nearing the end of their typical 50-year design life.

Tools For Change: Americans Look to Technology, Government

  • Americans rank major infrastructure failures as their greatest infrastructure-related concern (32 percent), followed by tax increases due to repairs needed (20 percent).
  • Overwhelmingly, 93 percent of Americans feel that the government should play any primary role in helping guide U.S. infrastructure improvement.
  • While President Obama made unsuccessful attempts to call on lawmakers to approve funding this past year, the survey reveals a majority of Americans (41 percent) believe the lack of funding for proper maintenance is the greatest risk to the U.S. infrastructure system.
  • As concern mounts around major infrastructure failures, and the associated costs, Americans identify the following solutions for getting America’s infrastructure back on its feet:
  • Technology: a majority (90 percent) agrees that technology plays an important part in improving the quality of U.S. infrastructure.
  • Private vs. Public Funding: 68 percent disagree that improvements should be financed by private funding, not government funding.
  • Regulation: 75 percent agree that increased government attention in the form of laws and funding is needed to improve the quality of infrastructure.

“After a hard year in which Americans experienced the devastating effects of everything from hurricanes and tornados to bridge failures and train derailments, there is a strong awareness that our infrastructure system is in serious danger,” said Michael DeLacey, President, Microdesk. “Our consumer survey shows that Americans are looking for a combination of government leadership and funding, along with new technologies, to get U.S. infrastructure back on its feet. This mirrors the sentiment we saw in our first State of the Industry survey2, as well as other recent polls of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry professionals. As consumer awareness grows, now is the time for a serious discussion around next steps.”

Please visit Microdesk



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