The much anticipated initial release of eDrawings for iPad is now available from the Apple App Store. This is an inexpensive app ($1.99) to view SolidWorks models (.sldprt), assemblies (.sldasm) and drawings (.slddrw) on the iPad. Of course, eDrawing formats (.edrw, .eprt, .easm) and .DWG are also supported. All images in this article are actual screen shots.
There is some press recently on Apple’s application for a patent covering a technology that moves a 3D model based on head movement or hand gesturing. A demonstrative video is included which shows an individual moving their head to peer around a model from different angles. This is pretty cool, expect for one minor detail. Are they really marketing this to CAD users? This is about as silly as voice command. Can you imagine this combined with voice command, with engineers weaving and bobbing about as they bark off orders “line!”, “extrude!”, “measure!”, “change my bed pan!”? I would start feeling like I’m playing one of those boxing games on PS3 or Wii.
This is a great tool when applied to the right application. Gaming comes to mind (as noted above). Remote control of deep-sea robots may be another application. Sales gimmick, er, I mean sales display in a department store may yet be another. But CAD? Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to have to move your head from right to left just to rotate a model during a design review, or with your CEO looking over your erratic shoulder?
You know where this would be useful in CAD? When we finally have the type of display that Ironman has (from the recent Ironman movie). By the time we have that sort of thing, I fear the patent on this technology would have expired.
I asked Houston Neal of Software Advice about how CAD users would use this application. I ask this because Apple is developing this application and we all know how Apple is about stuff they develop (it only runs on Macs).
Unfortunately CAD users would likely have to run Bootcamp, Parallels or some other application to run Windows on the Mac, thereby allowing them to run their CAD app.
iTunes did eventually run on PCs, but Apple may have lost early market share and revenue by limiting their iPods and iTunes to Mac in the initial release.
If Apple is serious about supporting the CAD industry on its platform, this new head-bobbing application is welcome, but not nearly enough. Further, use of this technology shouldn’t be limited to just Mac usage at any time.