A Vision of Mobile CAD

  • Autodesk Q4 Financials
  • DWF and JT
About this Issue….
A weekly news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

Welcome to AECWeekly! In the world of as-built there are numerous solutions out there that promise cost/time reduction in terms of generating as-built drawings and floor plans. There are laser scanning options that have become very popular but are still costly. Yet in the realm of laser, there is another solution out there that also offers CAD mobility and wireless connectivity: GiveMePower's PowerCAD SiteMaster. Take a look at SiteMaster in this week's Industry News.

Also, for the first time in its history, Autodesk's revenues are over $1 billion. Read about their Q4 financials.

To send contributions to those who were affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami, take a look at this site: Network for Good: Help Support Disaster Relief in Southeast Asia

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, New Products, Awards, Wins, and Upcoming Events.

AECWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

A Vision of Mobile CAD
By Susan Smith

In the world of as-built there are numerous solutions out there that promise cost/time reduction in terms of generating as-built drawings and floor plans. There are laser scanning options that have become very popular but are still costly. Yet in the realm of laser, there is another solution out there that also offers CAD mobility and wireless connectivity:

GiveMePower's PowerCAD SiteMaster, which seems to be the only program of its kind that can instantly create industry-standard "real time" as-built drawings and floor plans in the field using a portable laser measurement device wirelessly connected to either a Windows laptop /XP tablet computer or handheld Windows Pocket PC or cell phone.

Some customers estimate at minimum 40% cost/time reduction per job immediately or up to 10 times instant productivity gain. What SiteMaster is, is a new mobile and wireless field solution which “automates the creation of wireless, laser-generated as-built floor plans, area estimates, and building inspections for architects, appraisers, contractors, engineers, estimators, facility managers, installers”-in short, anybody who constructs, reconstructs or manages buildings of any kind.

How does it work? From the keypad of a portable laser like the Bluetooth® wireless Leica DISTO Plus, you can simply Point, Shoot, Enter and instantly PowerCAD SiteMaster wirelessly creates “intelligent” outer walls, inner walls, openings, areas, symbols and other site details that appear exactly as measured on your Bluetooth enabled Laptop, Tablet, Pocket or Handheld PC. Inspection details, such as digital photos and hands-free audio VoiceNOTES can be inserted at any time, ensuring everything that exists on site at the time of your visit is included. When you're finished measuring, your precisely measured plan is complete, saved in industry-standard format and ready for instant sending via email or wireless data transfer.

According to Bill Walton, president and CEO of GiveMePower, “we are the only full-fledged CAD system that runs across all Windows computing platforms. Our brand name is PowerCAD and we have a number of different solutions for users of all skill levels. SiteMaster is a flagship product dedicated specifically to simplifying the lives of construction and building management professionals.”

The company is the result of the coming together of industry veterans who formulated a vision of “CAD anywhere” computing on any device including a new generation of mobile PCs. From a building design and management perspective, the founder of CADsoft, Tim Nye (who sold the company to Rand Corp.) came on board to help address the AutoCAD compatibility side of things. One of the developers of Microsoft Mail came on board to address mass-market appeal, and a senior Lucent project manager added expertise on wireless and connectivity issues. “Our whole vision was to look at the CAD industry at large - and how we could get field and office personnel transparently connecting from any location.” At the time (four years ago), mobile computing was in its infant stages but definitely a force to be reckoned with in the coming future.

The key to what GiveMePower is doing - is “anytime, anywhere and anyone design, viewing and digital blueprinting.” “We're very strong into the wireless connectivity for workforce collaboration and the solutions we have right out of the starting gate are offering at least double or often up to 10-15 times productivity gains right now,” claimed Walton. “By ensuring transparent compatibility with all popular desktop systems, people are able to instantly benefit without having to alter their existing systems and processes.”

Although the company has sensibly hitched their wagon to the Microsoft star, all GiveMePower solutions run independently on any Windows device, utilizing the web and wireless interconnectivity as an extension thereof. “This is important so people are not dependent on 100% uptime connectivity on a job site. Sounds minor but having continuous, uninterrupted operation that is not dependent on a wireless connection was one of the most difficult parts of what we've done,” Walton noted.

SiteMaster has been designed to be easy to operate, but sophisticated enough to produce finished, architecturally rich floor plans, not just basic field sketches. Instead of using a tape measure you are using a laser shooting device from Leica, Hilti or Bosch that you simply “point and shoot” to measure. This allows you to gather everything you need and get key data even without a direct line of sight.

“A series of interactive video tutorials are available so people can easily train themselves to know what these different lasers are there for and how they work,” said Walton. Portable lasers represent a fast-growing industry with Leica's DISTO division reaching nearly $50 million in sales last year. “Leica was excited with the possibility of true mobile CAD computing--not just viewing and not something that was internet dependent,” Walton specified. “As a result, we now have an alliance where SiteMaster provides the missing link to a field-to-finish solution using Leica's market-leading lasers.” Having a device collecting data is one thing, the next step is putting that data into something that can process it such as SiteMaster.

An example of the use of SiteMaster is its deployment for a parkade reconstruction upgrade at Cartier, the world renowned French watchmaker and jeweler. SKY Parks, an English designer of multi-story car parks, was asked to upgrade their automated car park. It was discovered that over time, the pads they had built for each car to rest on began to sag. So CAD Limited, a UK based consultant, used SiteMaster in conjunction with Leica DISTO and Bosch laser measuring tools and an Orange mobile PDA using Bluetooth, to finish the entire survey for the retrofit in just two and a half days. The results were passed into Nemetschek's AllPlan software. Within a day, they had produced a client VRML walkthrough.

According to Walton, GiveMePower is one of the only companies who use the new and latest object-oriented drawing exchange libraries from the Open Design Alliance, a non-profit group dedicated to providing user-transparent interoperability between competing CAD systems. This means SiteMaster is compatible with AutoCAD and other leading systems, with direct reading and writing of AutoCAD DWG and DXF files from R12 to the latest R2005, and DWF export just a click away. “For CAD exchange, we're sticking primarily with DWG and DXF at this point, with DWF for lightweight, web-ready transfer. Results can also be produced in PDF and other popular formats such as TIF and BMP for printing or importing into Microsoft Office and other Windows applications,” explained Walton.

Autodesk Q4 Financials
Autodesk exceeded its financial projections this fourth fiscal quarter ending January 31, 2005, with net revenues of $356 million, a 21 percent increase over $295 million reported in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Dmitry Shkipin'
    As a field measuring professional and a General Partner at Prime Edge As-Built Services (http://www.primeedge.com) use of CAD applications such as AutoCAD has been a given for many years. With the technology advances in handheld devices, PowerCAD and PocketCAD both came to light, a very good direction for ever-mobile construction industry. In my experience, this Laser and Mobile CAD technology is good combination for certain tasks, but not all by far. When completing asbuilt verification process different information needs to be verified such as wall lengths, reflected ceilings plan layouts, electrical outlet locations – from entire sets of construction drawings to simple floor plans. When existing CAD files are available for use, PowerCAD or PocketCAD combined with laser technology allows direct and, more importantly, instant understanding of the space and project in general. However, in my own experience, working with such small device to create drawings from scratch is simply an effective approach. After numerous attempts our company found it to be more effective in using a somewhat a “hybrid” combination of using a link between laser equipment and a handheld device while sketching. Data is collected into a database and later gets transferred into desktop CAD application. In a nutshell, technology is still new and definitely has a long future ahead of itself. Feel free to play with it; I think both PowerCAD and PocketCAD will give you a free trial. These two packages, by the way, are far more advanced then any others you may find at this time.
    Dmitry Shkipin, Associate AIA
    Prime Edge As-Built Services
    1684 Decoto Rd., Unit 157
    Union City CA, 94587
    (510) 499-4148 Tel.
    (510) 794-4178 Fax

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