- Construction and engineering software company Autodesk has announced two major advancements in the last few days — a "mixed reality" partnership with Microsoft and a new cloud-based service, which provides a virtual workspace to create, manage and share 2-D and 3-D project documents, plans and models.
- Autodesk Fusion 360, software with which users can design, test and manufacture physical objects, will connect with Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset. This is a potential money-saver for product designers, allowing some to forego physical prototyping. The partnership between the two companies will also make collaboration on digital models in the real world possible for those wearing a HoloLens headset.
- The new Autodesk BIM 360 Docs service, according to Autodesk, gives users real-time collaborative access to construction documents via the cloud. The new tool will allow users to interact with and view models in 2-D and 3-D; manage documents with permission-based access control and approval processes to prevent out-of-date information from entering the flow of information; quickly view large-format PDFs; and utilize automated organization of original and updated construction documents.
Autodesk has developed Autodesk BIM 360 Docs in collaboration with major construction industry players, which have provided feedback throughout the development process, according to Autodesk.
"Document management has historically posed a significant challenge for much of the construction industry, yet many still rely on a cobbled-together web of one-off solutions, which isn’t really a solution at all," Jason Reece, technology and innovation improvement lead at Balfour Beatty Construction, said. "We’ve collaborated with Autodesk throughout the development process, and, based on what we’ve seen so far, BIM 360 Docs is on the right track to offering the industry an integrated technology solution for this generations-old problem."
Autodesk said this tool will save time, reduce errors and minimize the waste that typically occurs as a result of document overload and mismanagement.
As for the Autodesk-HoloLens collaboration, Microsoft said HoloLens is neither 100% virtual reality nor augmented reality, Fast Company reported, but a mixed reality system that can create manipulable holographic experiences.
Ben Sugden, the studio manager for HoloLens, told Fast Company the integration of HoloLens and Fusion 360 gives industrial designers and mechanical engineers a tool that offers "much more effective collaboration (in which they) can see and really interact" with their work.
The Fusion 360-HoloLens collaboration reaffirms the movement toward a more technologically advanced construction industry. Wearables like HoloLens are becoming more popular in all aspects of construction, from safety to design, and making it possible to better integrate building information modeling (BIM) systems into everyday workflows.
This is the second major partnership Autodesk has announced in the last few weeks. The software design firm has also invested in drone technology startup Skycatch, which plans to collect aerial data for Autodesk’s ReCap software to process and then make available to designers, engineers and construction professionals to utilize in their work processes.