July 03, 2006
Dassault Systemes Announces 3D For All
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Dassault Systemes (DS) announced the new release of 3D For All solutions, with the Virtools4 flagship product and 3D Office and 3D XE players. Since the acquisition of Virtools last year, DS has executed and expanded its 3D For All strategy and approach to bring life to 3D, delivering a unique platform, technologies and applications to truly share 3D experiences everywhere.

"This new release demonstrates Dassault Systemes' ambition to democratize 3D," explains Dominique Florack, Executive Vice-President, Strategy, R&D, Dassault Systemes. "The new Life Platform brings to the market a unique solution to pervasively deploy 3D Experiences on personal computers, game consoles, intranets and the web, and shows our commitment to bringing the power of 3D to all communities"

This new 3D For All release, allowing users to imagine, share and experience highly interactive 3D content, provides major new enhancements and capabilities, including:

Product-Context-Scenario (PCS) Paradigm: this new paradigm represents a highly intuitive means of capturing the 3D Experience and easily mapping product behavior, as well as the experience of contextual environment scenarios. With PCS, the Virtools4 Life platform allows for the creation of virtual experiences such as driving, shopping, usage, maintenance, and marketing. Starting with this release, Virtools4 endorses the PCS paradigm.

Corporate Intranet Solutions: Created for deployment on corporate intranets, two new products, 3D XE Player and 3D Office Player have been introduced. Based on the PCS paradigm, they bring the power of experiencing products and situations in context to both 3D specialists and non-3D specialists, thereby providing any players involved in enterprises' innovation processes with a common language to share 3D experiences, giving them a unique means to fully comprehend a product in the most intuitive way possible.

3D Experience Environment Pervasiveness: the Life platform extends the variety of target environments for deploying 3D Experiences and now supports Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS computers, Microsoft xBox and Sony PSP game consoles, intranets with 3D Office and 3D XE players, internet with 3D Life Player, as well as immersive environments. This scope underlines the diversity of possible deployments and provides various communities with a powerful solution to create and experience life content. In addition, important enhancements in the Virtools4 platform have been delivered for professional rendering. These now include new support of CgFX shaders for OpenGL 2.0, in addition to HLSL
shader support for DirectX, which was already available in the last version.


by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

When I was first exposed to Dassault's acquisition of Virtools last year at SIGGRAPH, I didn't quite get the reason or the fit. Another engineering software company getting into gaming and entertainment? Dassault has actually been relatively quiet about Virtools about the acquisition, until now. However, since the acquisition, things have begun to make more sense, even if they haven't come to full fruition as of yet. The interactive 3D development nature of Virtools seems like it could go far beyond gaming and entertainment to encompass and include some of Dassault's other offerings, such as CATIA, DELMIA, or ENOVIA. Whether this will this actually happen, though is another matter.

Virtools' applications let users not familiar with 3D modeling to literally add life experience to any 3D object, with what are known as behaviors. As an example, using the company's technology, you can create and experience the work behavior of an employee in a manufacturing plant or visualize the ergonomics of an operator as he or she drives a forklift through the same factory.

The bottom line is that Virtools' software literally gives life to 3D by creating applications with game-like 3D interactivity. Some may question if this is a good thing, and I would respond that in many instances, it could be. I guess you could say it's a multimedia production tool that takes the animation capabilities that are found in most major MCAD products to the next level.

Virtools has a lot of potential as a communication tool for marketing and educational purposes, as well as a simulation tool for evaluating models and other types of engineering projects.

As this press release indicates, Virtools is currently focused on the gaming and entertainment markets, but expect to see it grow beyond those bounds to include mechanical design and engineering in the future. Normally, we would not cover something like Virtools, but its implications and possibilities in the MCAD space made it compelling enough to devote attention to it.

In Memoriam, Louise Elliott

It is with great regret that we have to inform you that one of our closest friends, peers, and colleagues, Louise Elliott, passed away on June 26 after a brief illness. I knew her through her affiliation with SRAC, as well as in her role as a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering Magazine. She knew her stuff and her way around the engineering software community, and could convey it in a clear and straightforward manner. Her intelligence, sense of humor, and integrity will be missed by all of us who knew her.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

FISHER/UNITECH, an engineering technologies firm serving the Midwest, announced it has implemented several PLM solutions this year and new PLM clients include Bowe Bell + Howell Scanners, LLC, Brush Wellman Inc., Merkle-Korff Industries, Pacific Bearing Corp., Pridgeon & Clay, Spartan Motors, Wooster Brush Company and The Holland Group. PDMWorks Enterprise, formerly Conisio, has brought these PLM capabilities to the market and helped FISHER/UNITECH's clients to succeed with PLM. PDMWorks Enterprise, now a product of SolidWorks Corp., helps organizations manage and share product data and automate workflow to allow collaboration from engineering to the shop floor. SolidWorks acquired GCS
Scandinavia AB of Sweden, developers of Conisio, in May 2006.

A Salt Lake City aviation company, Groen Brothers Aviation, is using SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks analysis software to propel design of the gyroplane and the gyrodyne, driving what it calls "the third wave" of flight. A gyroplane looks like a helicopter and flies using a rotorwing similar to a helicopter, but it also uses a propeller typical of a light airplane. Unlike a helicopter, however, a gyroplane's rotor system is not driven by the engine, which only powers the propeller for forward thrust. The forward movement of the aircraft forces air through the blades, causing them to autorotate and thereby creating lift. Since the gyroplane is always in autorotation, it is inherently
safer and quieter than a helicopter, and because it does not need a transmission to the main rotor or a tailrotor, it is simpler, more reliable, and robust, and much more economical to operate than a helicopter.

Autodesk announced that Stannah Lifts, part of the Stannah Group, the UK's largest independent manufacturer of passenger and vertical platform lifts, has been named as the Autodesk Inventor of the Month for June 2006. For more than 140 years, Stannah Lifts has been recognized as a leader in innovation, design and technical excellence for its stair lifts, and passenger and platform lifts. The company recently integrated its CAD system with its enterprise and operation applications, quadrupling production of one of its most popular platform lifts. Autodesk Inventor software is at the heart of this strategy. The platform lifts are typically used for transporting people in wheelchairs up
flights of stairs in department stores and other large buildings.

IronCAD has released IronCAD V9. IronCAD V9 focused on enhancing its intelligent design capabilities that make IronCAD easy to use for new and existing users. SmartSnap technology for precisely snapping geometry and automatic feature reordering are examples of its existing intelligent capabilities that have been standard since IronCAD's inception. Its new "intelligent" creation, modification and positioning capabilities along with many customer-driven productivity feature requests incorporated in this latest release continue to extend design freedom.

CoCreate Software announced a 10 percent expansion of the CoCreate product development platform at Molex Inc. This expansion also marks Molex's 10-year anniversary of standardizing on CoCreate's product development suite. In that time, a six seat 3D CAD pilot has grown into a global product development platform with nearly 400 licenses of Designer Modeling used globally across dozens of countries. What was initially a better approach to 3D design is now an integral part of Molex's business process of PLM. Since standardizing on CoCreate, hundreds of new products have been designed using the full OneSpace
product suite of 3D CAD, add-on design modules, integrated data management, and collaboration.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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