For quite some time, I’ve been saying to my peers and detractors that 2018 might finally be the year the “cloud” takes off, whether we’re talking storage in the cloud, CAD in the cloud, simulation in the cloud – whatever in the cloud. I also think that another “cloud” innovation that will get its just attention is the point cloud that will grow far beyond its traditional role for representing surfaces to becoming an integral component of 3D modeling and maybe even virtual reality.
So, exactly what is a point cloud? Technically, a point cloud is a data base containing points in a 3D coordinate system. A point cloud is a very accurate digital record of an object or space. It is saved as a (very) large number of points that cover surfaces of a scanned/sensed object. The points in a point clouds are always located on the external surfaces of visible objects, because they are the points reflected from scanned objects.
In a three-dimensional coordinate system, these points are usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates, and intended to represent the external surface of an object.
Point clouds can be created by several methods, including 3D scanners and photographs. These devices measure a large number of points on an object’s surface, and often output a point cloud as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the device has measured.
Reality Capture – Converting Photos Into 3D Models
The key factor in acquiring point cloud data is the access/visibility to scanned surfaces. It is important to remember, that point clouds are created with visible access to real objects. Regardless of the method of acquisition (scanner or photos). It is impossible to obtain points on the surfaces that are not visible from the position from which data is collected. This means that to cover entire objects, many scanning positions must be combined.
In November, Autodesk announced several updates to its Forge platform, including new cloud application development tools, the Forge Application Framework, and several new investments at Forge DevCon, the company’s event for Forge developers held immediately before Autodesk University.
Since its inception in December 2015, Autodesk claims that rapid progress has been made with adopters of the Forge Platform in changing both what and how things are made, and at transforming “the future of making things.”
The cloud-based Forge Platform features APIs and SDKs developers can use to create design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, and other types of enterprise applications. The Forge developer program aims to bring together a community of cloud application developers by providing application development resources.
The Forge Program consists of three main components:
The Forge platform (PaaS) that originally provided access only to APIs, but now can be used to do that as well as build apps from scratch with the Forge Application Framework
The developer program which is the growing Forge community
Autodesk Forge Fund investments that increased significantly in 2017
What is Autodesk Forge?
The Forge DevCon event is part of a comprehensive Forge developer program that provides learning, support, and business development resources for Autodesk’s community of cloud developers. This community includes developers representing industries that include architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and manufacturing, as well as emerging areas such as augmented reality (AR), additive manufacturing (AM), and the Internet of Things (IoT). The majority of Forge developers are using multiple APIs to create services and solutions that fuel how software products are designed, built and used.
In 2017,bitcoin value surgedfrom just under $1,000 at the beginning of the year to nearly $20,000 by mid-December.
While some industry leaders are skeptical of bitcoin, others are eagerly investing, confident in projections that bitcoin value will reach $1 million by the end of 2020. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but then again, I’m no financial expert.
However, many financial pundits and industry observers see bitcoin’s supporting technology, blockchain, as the true star with the greatest potential in coming years, and manufacturing could prove to be one of its biggest successes.
What Exactly Is A Blockchain?
According to Investopedia, “A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order, it allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.
Originally developed as the accounting method for the virtual currency Bitcoin blockchains – which use what’s known as distributed ledger technology (DLT) – are beginning to appear in a variety of commercial applications, including manufacturing. Currently, the technology is primarily used to verify transactions, within digital currencies, though it is possible to digitize, code, and insert practically any document into a blockchain, including those found in the manufacturing process. Doing so creates an indelible record that cannot be changed and the record’s authenticity can be verified by an entire community (supply chain) using the blockchain instead of a single centralized authority.
For as long as I can remember, cloud storage and computing have offered two things – endless (unrealistic) promises and perpetual (unrealistic) growth. For some time that was true, but several things have occurred in the past couple of years that temper those claims and portend what may happen in the future for technology providers that become increasingly reliant on the cloud – reliability, accessibility, and security.
Cloud computing, or internet-based computing provide shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. From the beginning, it was intended as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort.
Proponents have always claimed that cloud computing allows companies to avoid upfront infrastructure costs, and focus on projects that differentiate their businesses instead of on infrastructure. Proponents have also claimed that cloud computing allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less maintenance, and enables IT to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand. Cloud providers typically use a “pay as you go” model. This can lead to unexpectedly high charges if administrators do not adapt to the cloud pricing model. Even so, the potential for premium MCAD with minimal computing hardware cost make the prospect attractive and compelling.
To a large extent most of these claims have proven true, and I have been a proponent for many aspects of cloud computing, but there is also a downside – generally, you just don’t need as many people to run and maintain a cloud-based organization.