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Computer Aided Design (CAD) enters the era of mixed reality

Written By published March 26, 2018

Simplygon brings CAD users into the era of mixed reality and expands the extensibility of 3D content

I’m excited to share this month’s blog post with you all. In addition to highlighting some of the cool work we are seeing from the mixed reality community, I also have some important Simplygon news to share.

In the time since we acquired Simplygon they have been working quickly to bring the value of the Simplygon service to mixed reality.

Let’s dig in!

Bringing Computer Aided Design (CAD) into the era of mixed reality

Throughout history, media portability has been critical to the adoption of new computing experiences. For example, prior to the mid-1990s, compact disc owners were unable to move their music from physical to digital media. As audio encoding technology became ubiquitous, music and other digital files became much easier to move between devices. This portability enabled the journey from physical media to mobile mp3 players, to digital music stores, and finally to today’s world where access to nearly every song lies just a few clicks away.

We think about examples like this as we make investments to support the extensibility of 3D content across screens and into mixed reality. 3D content of all types – static, animated, simple, and complex – is key to transformative mixed reality experiences. This is why we’ve invested to support GL Transmission Format (glTF) (known by many as “JPEG of 3D”) as an industry standard 3D file format and to bring Simplygon’s 3D asset optimization and decimation services into the Microsoft family.

Today, I am excited to announce that Simplygon has added compatibility for JT and STEP file formats, which are pivotal to the productivity of CAD professionals. The addition of two of the most common CAD file formats brings automation of 3D optimization to customers across many industries. As the enterprise increasingly embraces the era of digital transformation, CAD support for Simplygon empowers more industries to painlessly and efficiently bring their existing assets into mixed reality.

For 3D content, this announcement is another early step along that same transformative path. CAD users are now able to create on their PC in JT or STEP formats, transcode and optimize via Simplygon, and distribute their work to their preferred device endpoint. We will continue taking steps along the journey to 3D portability and making the proliferation of 3D content as simple as possible.

JT and STEP are two of the most common CAD file types and are both ISO standards. These file types are heavily used in manufacturing industries and are vital to solving 3D problems. JT files, used heavily in product lifecycle management software, is primarily used to analyze and augment the geometry of complex models. STEP, or Standard for the Exchange of Product model data, is primarily used to share 3D models between users with different CAD software packages.

How to get started

Simplygon Cloud is available in Azure Marketplace today. To start, visit our Azure Marketplace home to learn how to deploy the Simplygon Cloud virtual machine and start optimizing your 3D assets. Please also visit our documentation for examples and more information on how to integrate this into your workflow today.

Continued adoption of mixed reality

During the month of March, we saw some fun, unique, and inspiring work from the global mixed reality community. Here were some of my favorites!

Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority (TRMUA) uses mixed reality to view simulated GIS features

This is so cool! Len Bundra, the IT/GIS director for the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority (TRMUA) in Toms River, New Jersey and Alec Pestov, a developer from Toronto, Canada and Founder and CEO of Meemim worked together to create a mixed reality experience that would allow utilities (and eventually other organizations) to collaborate with shared content and data. When we talk about mixed reality and HoloLens giving people super-powers that change the way we work, this is exactly the type of innovation we are talking about!

Renault Sport Formula One team brings their creations to life with Microsoft HoloLens

I loved reading about the work that the Renault Sport Formula One Team is doing with HoloLens to make it easier for race fans to experience their one of a kind (literally!) creations. As Mark Everest, IS Development Manager at Renault Sport Formula One Team notes, “We build two cars a year, not thousands of cars. The innovation rate involved in design, simulation, testing and manufacturing is much faster than consumer car companies.”

Before each new season begins, an entirely new car is born. The Renault Sport Formula One Team has partnered with Microsoft to create a mixed reality experience that brings the car to life at events around the world – without the car (since there is only one) physically having to be there. And while the team is exploring how the HoloLens could impact engineering in the future, this experience will immerse viewers in the current evolution of design from earlier cars — like the RE40 (1983), R26 (2006), and R31 (2011) — to the most recent models, paired with facts about the design process and performance.

Reinventing Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers’ ‘Bloom’ for mixed reality

Musician, producer, visual artist, and thinker Brian Eno, together with longtime collaborator Peter Chilvers, launched their first mixed reality project with Bloom: Open Space, a generative audio-visual installation brought to life with HoloLens. Based on their award-winning app, Bloom, the innovative mixed reality installation blurs the lines between the physical and virtual, exploring uncharted territory in the realms of both applications and generative art.

Murmur: Arctic Realities at Mystic Seaport

I have written before about how inspired I am when people use mixed reality to tell stories and paint an otherwise blank canvas. This month I wanted to call attention to an exhibit that is coming to life at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT.

Murmur: Arctic Realities explores Arctic landforms called pingos – ice hills rising from permafrost soil, covered by a thin layer of earth. These hills grow over centuries and then collapse, pockmarking the landscape in the Circumpolar North.

Seattle artist John Grade and new media artist Reilly Donovan have partnered to present an immersive technological component for Murmur using HoloLens. Through HoloLens, Grade and Donovan have created a holographic patchwork of tundra, complete with water, living organisms, and the sound of Arctic birds. As visitors move about the gallery they will notice that aspects of the experience respond to their presence.

I look forward to sharing our update for next month where we will dive into the work we are doing along with our customers and partners at Hannover Messe, one of my many favorite industry events.

Talk soon!


(P.S. – feel free to follow me on Twitter @lorrainebardeen where I regularly share updates and answer questions from the mixed reality community)

Letters, I heart MR over layed on a blue background

Computer Aided Design (CAD) enters the era of mixed reality