About 10 years ago, when I left Autodesk to go work for Océ, I worked on an online plan room. The premise was simple:
- People who created designs, like architects, would upload their plans to an online plan room called Océ Plan Center.
- People who actually constructed the designs, like general and subcontractors, would request printed copies of the plans from Océ Plan Center.
- People who printed the designs for a living, reprographers, would download the designs, print them on Océ devices, and charge for the service when the general and subcontractors came to pick up their printouts.
It was a simple idea. When it became clear that this was not catching on, I appealed to Océ to try something different. I asked "What business are we in?" The reply was "The printing business — we sell large format printers, toner, and paper." I disagreed. I thought we were in the business of "getting information from guys who design buildings into the hands of guys who swing hammers to make buildings." I suggested two alternatives:
- We could develop a project management site based on DWF files where we facilitated a paperless construction industry. I thought we would use Panasonic Toughbooks instead of paper.
- I asked "Why don't we make some kind of device that we place in the middle of a concrete slab that shoots out laser beams and shows construction teams exactly where to work instead of having them mentally translate from what they see on the paper to the actual work environment?"
Océ was just not having it. They thought I was crazy. So I came back to Autodesk. Now it's about 8 years later, and they have been acquired by Canon. And look at this device I recently learned about:
I guess if you wait long enough, all things come to pass.
Robotic positioning is alive in the lab.