(De)Signs of the Times
How Mobile Tech Finally Caught Up with 3D Modelling
By Istvan Csanady, Founder of Shapr3D
After what seems like an endless wait, mobile technology has finally caught up with 3D modelling and design. Kind of. Here, Istvan Csanady, the CEO of Shapr3D - the world's first professional 3D CAD to run on iPad Pro - discusses the 3D mobile design revolution.
Designers, it seems safe to say, are definitely part of the 'in vogue' crowd. Aren't they? Whether other professions like it or not, designers are cool. They wear cool clothes, buy cool music, work in hipster bastions and are - generally - ahead of the curve.
Well, it's a shame the same cannot be said for the technology they use, inherited from the 1980s and 1990s.
Because - and here's the thing - design technology, particularly with regards to 3D modelling, hasn't changed a whole lot in the last 20 or so years. Really. In the time that smartphones and tablets have managed to take over our lives, for cars and trucks to become driverless and for books to go digital, not much has really changed for designers.
This has produced a myriad of different problems. Computer Aided-Design (CAD) is now stuck in a position where the software that is being used is far too complicated, ruining the user experience. For example, AutoCAD - a popular software for designers - has more than 4,000 buttons. This level of complexity makes the entry barrier to design unnecessarily high and ruins both the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
Similarly, the costs of current design software are astronomical. Another platform, Onshape, costs more than $1,000 per year. This makes it a big yearly outgoing for self-employed designers and those that work for small or medium sized businesses (SMEs).
The 3D Modelling Revolution
But all is not lost. 3D modelling has - finally - started to catch up with other technology sectors. Since its inception (exact dates are a little hazy), 3D modelling has revolutionized a number of sectors, including architecture, healthcare and manufacturing. Now, with mobile software options available, designers can finally make the most of mobile technology in the same way that accountants, journalists and other professions did before them.
With mobile technology, 3D modelling has been reinvented for the 21st Century - do not underestimate how much of a revolution this is for professionals that have been stuck with desktop CAD programs since the 1980s.
First of all, the change finally takes into consideration people's changing work habits - namely, when, where and how they choose to work. Freelancing as a designer, or even being a Digital Nomad, allows designers to work wherever they choose. Now, having the right tools for their work available on the go makes this an actual possibility.
For example, the iPad Pro now supports design software that is fully mobile. Users can get the most out of any software they choose to design products on the bus, on a plane, or any other location they want.
Working with mobile technology has advantages for a whole manner of different work types, and design is no different. Through this medium designers can more easily show clients the work they are doing while on the move and provides a higher degree of flexibility than has previously been possible.
Currently, designers - and design - are in the middle of a transition. As people once moved from mainframes to desktops, so people are moving from desktops to tablets. In time, tablets will completely replace desktop computers for designers needs. Indeed, tablet sales have already surpassed the sales of antiquated desktops, fulfilling the post-PC prophecy of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Changing up reality
Yet while internet commentators go crazy for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as the potential answers to all of life's problems, that will not necessarily be reflected in design as a sector, well, at least not for VR.
The reason is that, for now, VR is not necessarily a viable option for 3D design and modelling. This is because the current biggest problem for VR as a design tool right now is that there is no obvious input device. Until one becomes evident, it is not really possible to see VR as a means to create and plan other products.
However, for AR fans, the future is much more positive. Hands can still be used as input devices and can provide designers with an exciting chance to mould their realities around them. Interior designing firms like Decorilla, HomePolish and Havenly have all added various AR services to their arsenals.
AR could, in the future, provide an added layer to design that will help designers make better and more informed decisions. As a technology, AR can perform like a specialized tool for designers, allowing them to more easily customize - and design - their surroundings. However, while that technology remains something of a pipedream, the industry will have to make do with the more recent advances in mobile 3D modelling software.