Sunglass Launches With New API, Dropbox Integration To Democratize 3D Design

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Rip Empson is a writer and rabble-rouser at TechCrunch. He covers startups, music, social, mobile, health, and education. You can reach him at rip[at]techcrunch[dot]com → Learn More

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Cloud-based computer-aided design (CAD) collaboration tool Sunglass, which debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC in May, is today officially announcing its public launch and is unveiling a new API for direct integration with major CAD design tools, like SolidWorks, SketchUp, Processing, and Rhino. The CAD ecosystem now also integrates with cloud storage players, like Box and Dropbox, which combined with its hooks into design tools, makes it far easier for users to add projects or initiate new collaboration sessions in the cloud.

For developers, the API offers them a simple way to create a plugin for any CAD tool directly into Sunglass, and, after installing plugins, users can upload models from within the apps to instantly view, annotate, or edit with anyone in any location.

Sunglass co-founders Nitin Rao and Kaustuv DeBiswas tell us that the startup’s mission is to make 3D design fast, easy, and affordable for everyone — from expert designers to novices — like the Google Docs for 3D objects. In doing so, the Disrupt finalists want to make it easy for designers to make the move from desktop to the cloud, or instantly initiate collaborative sessions in the browser. Hooking into CAD tools like Rhino gives CAD users direct access to HTML5-based cloud collaboration and the ability to exchange data back and forth without going through the browser via their plugins.

Sunglass is compatible with over 40 different file formats, which lowers the barriers for designers who want to share their work and give feedback as they don’t have to worry about their co-workers or collaborators not being able to view their work.

While Sunglass has raised $1.8 million from General Catalyst, Sherpalo Ventures, and Lerer Ventures, the co-founders told us that they’re trying to take the Github approach to monetization. They want to keep the price point low so that it’s available to all users, and will then decide on a price point based on how big or open the projects will be, etc. They want to democratize and, really, crowdsource 3D design and they don’t want price points to be standing in the way. Build a powerful, useful tool, hook users in so that they eventually find it indispensable, and then monetize down the road.

For more on Sunglass, find them at home here.

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