Biomimicry is a branch of science that looks to leverage the results of 3.8 billion years of evolution to solve engineering problems. It asks the question WWND — What Would Nature Do? The theory and practice are used to apply what we can learn from nature to the designs of engineered items.
Recall my blog post from years back
Dr. Nakatsu is making a return visit to the United States. He will be covering biomimicry via lectures at some schools. He shared his presentation with me, and with his permission, I am sharing a subset of it with It's Alive in the Lab readers.
Passengers on a train experience noise from a variety of sources. The noise increases as the speed increases. It would be a disservice to travelers to slow down the train just to make the ride quieter. Commuters want to be able to get to where they are going in as little time as possible.
The pantograph is necessary because it connects the train to overhead wires as its source of power. Unfortunately, it is a source of noise due to vibrations at high speeds. A new design that eliminated the vibrations was inspired by the study of owl feathers.
An owl's feathers have tiny serrations on the edges. This allows the owl to quietly sneak up on prey at night.
By including tiny serrations on the edges of the pantograph, the noise was eliminated.
The original design of the shape of the train resulted in a popping noise when going through a tunnel.
The shape of the Kingfisher's body is optimal for transitioning from air to water to catch fish.
The Kingfisher's body was studied as part of redesigning the shape of the nose of the train.
With the train's nose reshaped like the Kingfisher's beak, the popping sound was eliminated.
Entertainer from the 1960's, Bobby Darin, once sang:
"If I could talk to the animals, just imagine it
Chattin' with a chimp in chimpanzee
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting with a cheetah
What a neat achievement it would be"
We can't talk to animals yet, but we can certainly learn from them.
Biomimicry is alive in the lab.
I first met Carl Bass when he picked me up at the Oakland Airport in June of 1990. I was interviewing as a software developer for his HOOPS 3D graphics software. I hadn't developed on a PC before, didn't know the C programming language, and didn't know 3D graphics, but other than that, I was perfect for the job. I am grateful that Carl saw other qualities that I had to offer.
Here is Carl's letter to the employees.
Many of you have seen the announcement we made this morning, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts and plans with you directly. For the last couple of years, I’ve been having discussions with the board about stepping down as CEO, and today we announced that I will do so. I’m pleased that I will be leaving the company in Amar [Hanspal] and Andrew [Anagnost]’s capable hands while the board searches for a new CEO. I know they’ll do a great job at holding down the fort—and I’ll be honored if either is chosen to be the next CEO. I’ll continue to serve on the Autodesk board and I will be here to help them and the board through the transition.
I love Autodesk and am immensely proud of what we have created together, but it’s time for me to do something new. Autodesk is doing very well and the financial markets are noticing. Our leadership team is strong, and our strategy is in place to go further and accomplish more than we could have ever imagined when I took over day-to-day operations as COO 14 years ago. Our transition to an all-subscription business model is well underway, we’re enjoying early but strong success in the cloud, and we have settled with our activist investors. Now seems like the right time, for both the company and for me.
I am not leaving to spend more time with my family—that presumes my family wants to spend more time with me. I will, however, be spending more time in my shop with my robots. I also have some other plans and will have more to say on what I’m doing in the next few months.
It’s been a privilege to lead Autodesk, and I feel very grateful to have worked with so many talented and passionate people. Together we have built a fantastic business and developed products that literally have changed how entire industries get their work done.
Great, Good and Important
When I first became CEO, people asked how I wanted to define Autodesk and I often answered somewhat cryptically, “great, good, and important.” In my mind, great companies are defined, first and foremost, by their financial performance. Good companies are defined by their values and culture and how they treat their employees, their customers, and the communities in which they do business. And important companies make a real difference in the world.
Being able to do all three is the most critical and difficult task any executive team faces. By almost any measure, I think we've done very well on all fronts.
Great: About 14 years ago, we formed a new executive team and since then we have significantly increased the financial performance of the company on every metric. Following the global economic meltdown of 2009, our investors have enjoyed 6x financial returns. When the team was formed, the market capitalization of the company was slightly more than $2B—today, it’s more than $18B.
More importantly, the decisions we’ve made have always been about building long-term sustainable financial success—something that many in the investor community shun in favor of short-term returns. As a devout capitalist, I truly believe that producing strong financial results while also keeping an eye on the horizon builds great and enduring companies.
Good: Good companies are not solely about financial performance and shareholder returns. We have taken a stand on issues that affect our employees, our customers and our planet. I’m proud of the kind of culture we’ve built, where diversity of background and experience is valued. We’re inclusive, and we respect each other and value what the individual brings to the team. We win awards every year that speak to our great culture, but more important than those awards are the ways you embody the same thing every day with your words and actions.
Important: Autodesk is in the privileged position of being the tool makers to the people who design, make and build everything around us. Over the last few weeks as my decision to step down became more real, I’ve begun to even more keenly notice around me all the truly incredible things our customers have created using our tools. From buildings to cars and movies, workflows from conception to fabrication, we’ve made a huge impact on the industries we serve, and I’m proud of the respect we have for our customers and honor the trust they’ve put in us.
My Awards Speech
When I first became CEO, people asked me what it was like and I joked “I immediately became smarter and funnier.” So, starting tomorrow, I’m expecting the opposite. I’ve been honored to be in this position, but I have tried very hard to never forget the difference between my job and who I am. At the risk of sounding like a bad Academy Awards speech, I’d like to end by thanking some of the people who have been critical to my and Autodesk’s success.
First, I’d like to thank Carol Bartz for believing I could do this job and saying so more forcefully than those who thought I couldn’t. I learned so much from her. She and the founders created the amazing base we built upon.
Thanks to our customers, who are really the reason we exist. We’re so proud to be your toolmakers and to be a part of the incredible things you’ve designed, built and made in the world.
Thanks to our partners around the world who’ve been so critical to our success. I’ve appreciated the dedication and focus you’ve put into representing Autodesk and serving our customers.
Thanks to our long-term shareholders—you’ve always had your eye on sustainable growth and returns and I truly appreciate your ongoing support.
Thanks to the CEO Staff and the broader leadership team who have done such a phenomenal job. None—and I really mean none—of the company’s accomplishments would be possible without your vision, leadership and professionalism. We’ve worked together for a long time, most of it very good, but we’ve been through some difficult times as well. Despite my inability to express it regularly (or maybe at all), your encouragement, support and friendship means everything to me. And I’m going to add one final plea to never stop striving to be the absolute best in everything we do.
And finally, and I’d say most importantly, thanks to the thousands of smart, devoted and passionate employees who have contributed to Autodesk’s success. As CEO, I got used to taking outsized credit (and blame), but I never once forgot who does all the hard work. I have cherished my interactions with you and that’s the thing I will miss the most.
I have always believed that the best leaders have the vision to see what's possible and the courage to make it happen. I hope in some small way I’ve held up my end of the bargain, because you have all done more than your fair share to make Autodesk a great, good and important company.
Thanks for everything,
Suddenly, Amar Hanspal (Senior VP of Products) and Andrew Anagnost (Senior VP and CMO for Business, Strategy, and Marketing) are smarter and funnier. Kidding aside, both of them are terrific leaders too.
True leadership is alive in the lab.
We all know TED - Technology, Entertainment, and Design. As a design company whose software allows you to make anything, Autodesk puts the D in TED. My colleague, Maurice Conti, is Director of Applied Research and Innovation in the Office of the CTO. Maurice's TEDx Portland talk is up on the TED site.
"Over the course of the next 20 years, more will change around the way we do our work than has happened in the last 2000."
— Maurice Conti
Technologies like the ones Maurice describes are exactly the kinds of services that Autodesk will be making available via the cloud though Autodesk Forge. If something can take shape in one's imagination, it can be given form in the real world. Emerging toolsets will augment human abilities and help mankind to amplify its ideas.
AI is alive in the lab.
I read this on Shaan Hurley's Between the Lines blog and thought I would share it too.
"If you use an Autodesk cloud based or connected service like AutoCAD 360, BIM 360 or Fusion 360 and want to know when planned maintenance is scheduled or if a problem you are experiencing is related to an outage, how do you check the status? There is a page to see the current status and maintenance scheduled for the services."
— Shaan Hurley
If you want to know the health of our cloud services, you can check out health.autodesk.com.
Employees can even subscribe to stay abreast of the health of our cloud services.
It was great that Shaan posted this on February 2, Groundhog's Day, since whether or not the day is cloudy is an indication of things to come. You can expect more cloud services from Autodesk as we leverage our Autodesk Forge platform.
Forecasting is alive in the Lab.
Today I start a new job at Autodesk. Though I have been associated with Autodesk Labs for the last 10 years, as a software development manager and as a program manager, my new focus is on Autodesk Forge. For the uninitiated, Forge is:
Although Forge is intended for external developers, we can use it internally too. That's where I come in. My job will be to help our researchers convert their research into technology that can be included in our professional services. Our strategy for doing so is to take the research and use the Forge platform to get it to the appropriate technology readiness level:
Basic principles observed and reported: Transition from scientific research to applied research. Essential characteristics and behaviors of systems and architectures. Descriptive tools are mathematical formulations or algorithms.
Technology concept and/or application formulated: Applied research. Theory and scientific principles are focused on specific application area to define the concept. Characteristics of the application are described. Analytical tools are developed for simulation or analysis of the application.
Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept: Proof of concept validation. Active Research and Development (R&D) is initiated with analytical and laboratory studies. Demonstration of technical feasibility using breadboard or brass board implementations that are exercised with representative data.
Component/subsystem validation in the laboratory environment: Standalone prototyping implementation and test. Integration of technology elements. Experiments with full-scale problems or data sets.
System/subsystem/component validation in the relevant environment: Thorough testing of prototyping in a representative environment. Basic technology elements integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements. Prototyping implementations conform to target environment and interfaces.
System/subsystem model or prototyping demonstration in a relevant end-to-end environment (ground or space): Prototyping implementations on full-scale realistic problems. Partially integrated with existing systems. Limited documentation available. Engineering feasibility fully demonstrated in the actual system application.
System prototyping demonstration in an operational environment (ground or space): System prototyping demonstration in an operational environment. The system is at or near the scale of the operational system, with most functions available for demonstration and test. Well integrated with collateral and ancillary systems. Limited documentation available.
Actual system completed and "mission qualified" through test and demonstration in an operational environment (ground or space): End of system development. Fully integrated with operational hardware and software systems. Most user documentation, training documentation, and maintenance documentation completed. All functionality tested in simulated and operational scenarios. Verification and Validation (V&V) completed.
Actual system "mission proven" through successful mission operations (ground or space): Fully integrated with operational hardware/software systems. Actual system has been thoroughly demonstrated and tested in its operational environment. All documentation completed. Successful operational experience. Sustaining engineering support in place.
Once the technology is ready, I will work with the Autodesk product managers to include the technology in our existing cloud-based offerings. I will try to do this by demonstrating some use cases, created based on the feedback that I have collected from technology previews over the years.
As far as the technology previews go, they will continue. Our beta coordinators will be coordinating the technology previews just like they have been doing with the beta programs.
ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, and CONSTRUCTION COLLECTION
|Alison Keller||Senior Experience Design Program Manager|
|Bill Glennie||Principal Experience Designer|
|Gerry Huot||Software Quality Assurance Manager, BIM Design Structure|
|Tim Yarris||Principal User Experience Designer, BIM Design Civil|
PRODUCT DESIGN COLLECTION
|Andrew Sears||Senior Software Quality Assurance Engineer, Simulation|
|Chris Mitchell||Principal Software Quality Assurance Engineer, Inventor|
MEDIA and ENTERTAINMENT COLLECTION
|Kelly Michels||Senior Quality Assurance Analyst, Design Animation|
|Nancy Haj||Maya Project Manager, Film and TV Solutions|
|Stephanie Pennings||Program Manager, Digital Arts|
|Yann Laforest||Senior Quality Assurance Analyst, Film and TV Solutions|
So fear not. You will still have the opportunity to help shape the future of our technology with your experience.
As far as It's Alive in the Lab blogging goes, my plan is to continue blogging occasionally about Forge and see what the level of interest is. If people keep reading, I will keep writing. What will be alive in the lab will be some Forge-related projects. I will continue to use Twitter but plan on using Facebook much less. I am just so sick of fake news on Facebook and epidemic negativity based on inaccurate information. I will tag posts with the hashtag #AutodeskForge.
Change is alive in the lab.
For Christmas, I received not one, but two, Amazon echo dots. I received one from my boss, Jon Pittman, and another from my teammate, Lucas Prokopiak. Each knew that this would be the perfect gift for me. Jon's gift was accompanied by the book, SPIN SUCKS, and Lucas used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design and create a personalized holder.
For the uninitiated, an Amazon echo dot is a voice-activated assistant. In many cases, it's like using a search engine without the typing. Anything you can find by using a search engine, you can get using an Amazon echo dot. The default name for the device is Alexa, so once you hook it up to your wireless network, it listens for voice commands when it hears its name. You simply say things like:
Alexa responds in a pleasant voice. In addition to retrieving information and playing games, Alexa will maintain a to-do list or a shopping list for you. This offers the advantage of being able to add things, hands-free, to these lists right when you think of them. For the grocery list, when I open the refrigerator and see that we are out of almond milk, I can say "Alexa, add almond milk to my grocery list." without having to grab a pencil and paper. My wife, Sheryl, made an excellent spaghetti dinner the other night, and I really liked the sauce, so I immediately asked Alexa to add it to our grocery list so we could get more of it.
When you are out buying groceries, you use the Alexa app on your smartphone to see the items that you have added to your list:
Here is where I think an improvement can be made. I would love to be able to input to the Alexa app the layout of my grocery store and have the list sorted in the order in which I will encounter them.
At the Safeway where Sheryl and I shop, we have:
This would be a really handy feature. Right now, as soon as the list gets moderately long, I have to scroll back and forth to see what items to buy. If I could input the store layout to the Alexa app once, and then have the app order the items on my list, I could shop and check them off as I encounter them. If we wanted to get really futuristic, local in-store-GPS could know what aisle I am on and my smartphone could call out "grab Orowheat whole grain bread" just before I pass it on the bread aisle. Think of it like driving directions for grocery shopping.
I am an idea guy. Michael Keaton's line of "Feed mayonnaise to tuna fish." in Night Shift resonates with me.
Dreaming about improving the shopping experience is alive in the lab.
Autodesk is 35 years old today. The company was started on January 30, 1982. In honor of the day, we're supposed to wear our oldest Autodesk shirt.
My HEIDI (HOOPS Extensible Immediate Drawing Interface) is the oldest, but few employees know about the graphics system that was the basis for the original release of 3D Studio Max and the AutoCAD R13 ADI driver that was shipped as part of correction release 3 in early 1995.
The WHIP! Netscape Navigator Plug-in wasn't until later in 1995. If you want to read a funny story, check out Birth of DWF: "I can have Carol call you."
The AutoCAD R14 shirt from 1997 would bring back a bunch of pleasant memories.
Decisions? Decisions? I went with the AutoCAD R14 shirt.
AutoCAD R13 was not Autodesk's finest hour. The release was slow, required too much memory, buggy, and late. To ensure that history did not repeat itself, AutoCAD R14 was developed with a tightly controlled process. Tribunals and reviews were held to ensure quality and on-time delivery. One of the bravest decisions I have ever witnessed was when Software Development Director, Ajay Kela, decided to replace the graphics system in AutoCAD. The existing system had been developed over a number of years, had a long legacy of customer expectations for exactly how it was to operate, and an entire industry (development of ADI drivers) had sprung up around it. The problem was that its architecture was antiquated given the more graphics-rich models being designed by AutoCAD customers and advances in graphics technology. The development of the replacement system completed near the latter part of the project (the risk), but its performance was so much faster than the existing code (the reward), that Ajay pulled the trigger and opted to include the new system in the AutoCAD release even though its lateness was out of process. Part of his decision was based on the passion and thoroughness of the new system's development (high probability of success) by relatively new to Autodesk coders, Jeff Kowalski and Brian Mathews. That was many years ago. Jeff is now Autodesk's Chief Technology Officer and Brian is a Vice President in the Product Development Group.
Perhaps this incorporation date is why the Autodesk fiscal year runs from February 1 through January 31. We're about to start FY18.
Birthday celebrations are alive in the lab.
Update: Why celebrate on just one day? Today I am sporting my WHIP! shirt.
It's a Friday, so I am not going to blog about free Autodesk technology previews that you can try. Instead, I am going to share some fun facts about where I live. Despite the glut of fake news on Facebook, I was able to unearth much of this information via a Facebook group dedicated to the city where I live. I was then able to verify it with sources from friends and the Alameda Museum.
My wife and I live in a homeowner association called Crown Harbor in Alameda.
Crown Harbor is a small gated Alameda California community of 76 townhomes nestled along Ballena Bay, Crab Cove, and Crown Beach. Crown Harbor is a quiet, well-kept community on the San Francisco Bay, close to downtown Alameda's Historic Webster Street shopping, restaurants, post office, twice-weekly Farmers' Market, and much-anticipated seasonal events such as Concerts at Crab Cove, 4th of July Parade, and Neptune Beach Community Celebration. Alameda Hospital is less than two miles away. Crown Harbor is only ten minutes away from Oakland's world-famous Jack London Square. San Francisco is a fifteen-minute ferry ride away. World-renown wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma County are less than an hour away with award-winning Rock Wall winery less than ten minutes from Crown Harbor.
(If that sounds marketingish, it's because it's from the Crown Harbor website. I can use it because I wrote it.)
So here are some fun facts that I learned about the history of the site where Crown Harbor exists today.
Aerial shot adapted from an image posted on Flickr by user FlyingKite
Crown Harbor is located adjacent to Crab Cove. Crab Cove is now a tide pool/marine life education center that is part of the East Bay Regional Parks District; however, the site was originally a maritime training facility.
The Crab Cove site includes the Glory of the Seas building, built in the 1940s as part of its training center for U.S. Maritime Service officers. The second story of the building that faces the Bay is cantilevered and curved, giving it the appearance of a ship's bridge. Looking out the windows overlooking San Francisco Bay from that second-story vantage point on "the bridge" provides a feel for what it must be like to be on a real ship's bridge. The original throttle and wheel, used in merchant officer training, still remain.[Thingamabob]
Google Map of Crown Harbor Today with overlay of where Neptune Beach used to be.
Crab Cove is the site formerly known as Neptune Beach, where both the American snow cone and the popsicle were first sold in 1923. The name comes from Frank "Pop" Epperson who sold his Epperson Ice Pop known as "Pop's Sickle."
Neptune Beach's two huge outdoor pools hosted swimming races and exhibitions by such famous swimmers as Olympian Johnny Weismuller, who later starred as the original Tarzan, and Jack LaLanne, who started a chain of health clubs.[Wikipedia]
Crown Harbor is also located near Neptune Court which depicts resort life in Alameda in the 1920's to this day. It is the only part of Neptune Beach that remains.
1878-1885 Baths Map from the Alameda Sun with an approximation of where Crown Harbor exists today.
Adjacent to the site where Crown Harbor exists today were public baths:
Established in 1878, the Sunny Cove Baths were located at 456 Central Avenue which is now the site of Paden School.
Also established in 1878, the Alameda Baths were located at 448 Central Avenue which is also now the site of Paden School.
Established in 1882, the Cottage Baths were located at 564 Central Avenue, and its clientele included "First Lady of the American Theater" Ethel Barrymore, "The World's Greatest Entertainer" Al Jolson, Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde author Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Call of the Wild author Jack London.[Alameda Museum]
Robert W. Crown (image source: The Alamedan)
Crown Harbor gets its name from its proximity to Crown Beach.
This state beach was named in memory of State Assemblyman Robert W. Crown, who campaigned for the site's preservation as public parkland.
Assemblyman Crown was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street.
Thanks to Steve Sorensen for the map.
Crown Harbor was constructed in 1980-1981. The map from 1973 shows:
Local history is alive in the lab.
Our partners will be performing hardware maintenance this Saturday evening that will affect the Autodesk Feedback Community — technology previews and betas will be unavailable. This will start at 6:00 pm PST and will last about an hour. To be precise, the planned downtime is from 6:00 p.m. PST on Saturday, January 28 through 7:00 p.m. PST. In Greenwich, this would be 2:00 a.m. GMT on Sunday, January 29 through 3:00 a.m. GMT.
We realize that any systems outage impacts the operations of Autodesk, our partners, and our customers. We work diligently to minimize the duration of downtime and appreciate your understanding. You can get back to providing feedback when as soon as the servers come back up.
Updating servers is alive in the lab.
A while back, I blogged about a TED Talk that was about flags.
The basic rules of flag design include:
I live in Alameda, California. Alameda resident, Donald Ingraham, designed the Alameda flag back in the late 1980's/early 1990's as part of a city-wide contest for the design.
Based on these rules described in the TED Talk, our Alameda flag is well designed.
Though I live in Alameda, I work in San Francisco. San Francisco, on the other hand, was specifically called out as having a bad flag design in the TED Talk. Here's how Autodesk is pitching in to help out.
You too can get involved. Visit www.sanfranciscoflag.com today.
Recently, It's Alive in the Lab reader, Michael Greshko, shared his entry for a new San Francisco flag with me:
Dear Mr. Sheppard:
I wanted to contact you today to share with you my redesign of the San Francisco flag. I am not from the city or state, but I have enjoyed my visits, and I like a good design challenge. (I am not a professional designer, but it's fun for me in my spare time.)
The green and blue represent land and water/sky. (The two green triangles also represent the Twin Peaks.) The white between them represents unity, as well as surf (land/water) and the city's fog (land/sky).
The red represents progress, in two ways:
- The rising phoenix on the current flag, as it flies rightward from land up and into the sky. (The red band is approximately the color of the current flag's flames.)
- An overhead glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge midway through its span across the strait. The pink at the heart of the flag represents diversity, an important source and mediator of unity and progress. It also nods to the gay liberation movement and the city's LGBT legacy.
Do let me know what you think of it.
I like Michael's better than mine:
Flags are alive in the lab.
Here's another blog post for Autodesk employees.
Yesterday when I typed up the Periodic Table of Reservable Conference Rooms at Autodesk San Francisco Offices, I thought to myself, "I don't even know where some of these conference rooms are. Our meetings tend to be in the same nearby rooms, week in and week out. Perhaps we should get out more and explore more of our office space? It would add a little variety to our meetings. In addition, we could perhaps meet employees that we do not know whose offices are nearby these far-flung conference rooms? We could form relationships that may help us get even more done."
With this in mind, I came up with Autodesk Conference Room Bingo.
Each time I have a meeting in a conference room, I mark an "X" on its location on the Bingo board. The goal is to complete a row or column. The more adventurous could even try to X out the entire board.
Relationship building is alive in the lab.
Periodic tables are all the rage:
Narrative Science: The Periodic Table of Artifical Intelligence
KA Connect Conference
Most of my blog posts are for Autodesk customers, typically to make them aware of a free technology preview that they can try and provide feedback on. This feedback determines if the technology graduates to the next step or is retired for the time being. In today's case, this post is for Autodesk employees. Our San Francisco presence initially started on Floor 5 of the Landmark Building at One Market. We then expanded to floors 2 and 4 in that building. We have since expanded to other buildings.
Here is a periodic table of reservable conference rooms in San Francisco.
I like how our Facilities department has numbered the rooms using a convention. The first digit indicates the building:
The second digit indicates the floor:
You can see that the naming employs a variety of conventions:
With this information, employees can determine where to head for their next meeting without popping up DWF files of our office floor plans.
How does your office number and name your conference rooms? Let us know at email@example.com.
Conferring is alive in the lab.
Arthur Harsuvanakit is a technical assistant to our CEO, Carl Bass. They codesign stuff together. A while back they imagined, designed, and created some jewelry. The jewelry pieces were presented as gifts to Autodesk Board members.
Investment casting is where one creates a wax or clay mold that will be used to produce of an object. In this case, liquid metal will be poured into the clay mold to make jewelry. Arthur and Jewelry Designer/Caster, Alexis Pavlantos used our Autodesk Ember 3D printer to make the molds.
Here is how the jewelry turned out.
Preparation for metallurgy is alive in the lab.
Jon Pittman is our VP of Corporate Strategy for Autodesk, although sometimes I wonder if he is the VP of Corporal Strategy[link]. I kid. I kid. Actually our CEO, Carl Bass, says his management team says that he has only two management styles: the carrot and the stick. Carl's retort is that "I can't figure out how to hit them hard enough with the carrot." All kidding aside, for Christmas, Jon gave me an Amazon echo dot, a Dilbert calendar, and a copy of SPIN SUCKS: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age by Gini Dietrich.
The book contains a bunch of best practices for public relations. I am happy to report that Autodesk has an excellent PR department in that, from what I can tell, we practice all of them. This includes our use of social media. I can recall the days of yore when Shaan Hurley wanted to start the first Autodesk blog. As a technologist, the PR team was nervous about a non-PR person communicating directly with the public. Today, Autodesk has many blogs with a social media policy that provides guidance on blogging, posting, tweeting, and image sharing. We're all one big happy family. We avoid the black hat techniques like gaming search engines with industry keywords and employ white hat techniques by having interesting stories to tell in unique ways.
One of my favorite blogs is called indexed. Indexed author, Jessica Hagy, displays thought provoking ideas on index cards.
I have done this for book reviews before (FLOW, Codermetrics, Shutting Up, The Infinite Resource, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service), so I thought I'd try my hand at being a Jessica Hagy by providing an index card for each chapter of SPIN SUCKS. Hopefully, it's interesting in a unique way.
Here are some key concepts from the book.
"People are not rational creatures. We do not behave in predictable patterns. As much as we'd like to apply science to our communications, it's nearly impossible to do so." [page 9]
The Google Drama
"...Google prioritizes fresh, educational, and valuable new content when crawling your website." [page 27]
Shareable and Valuable Content Creation
"Like attorneys and accountants, we [PR professionals] sell our brains for a living." [page 46]
Whisper Campaigns and Anonymous Attackers
"According to Campaigns & Elections, astroturfing is a 'grassroots program that involves the instant manufacturing of public support for a point-of-view in which either uninformed activists are recruited or means of deception are used to recruit them.'" [page 60]
"Should there be a footnote at the end of every written piece saying which PR firms or professionals helped with the story?" [page 75]
The Dark Side of Content
"Sometimes the longest distance between two points is the shortcut." [page 83]
Your Customers Control the Brand
"When you look at your own behavior — how you get your information, where you participate online [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn], where you read your news [CNN.com] — you can tell things have changed. But, for some reason, we want to hold on to the idea that we have control over how people perceive our brands." [page 103]
Note: The world does change fast. SPIN SUCKS was published in 2014 and includes FourSquare as a popular social media avenue.
The Convergence of Media
"Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation and Ctrl Alt Delete..., said you don't have a community until the members begin to talk to one another without the help of the author or moderator." [page 117]
Crisis Communications: Trolls, Critics, and Detractors
"Unfortunately, the social Web won't let things die if they can prove you wrong." [page 120]
The Future of Communications
"The investors who support your business are important to keep in mind, but they don't buy from you... They don't tell their friends and family about you. [Customers do.] ...It's also hard for employees to get their heads around 'There's been a drop in earnings.' [instead of] 'We missed the mark with our customers.'" [page 138]
Many chapters start with a short story of a PR activity gone wrong. This leads to a set of guidelines to ensure PR-related company success. For people who are new to the PR profession, the guidelines are a great recipe for what one needs to know. They are also beneficial for anyone engaged in social media who has a curiosity about how "public relations" works. As I was already familiar with many of the guidelines from my work with our Autodesk PR team, I would have loved even more horror stories.
Thanks for the book, Jon.
A no-spin zone is alive in the lab.
My wife, Sheryl, and I have a townhouse at Crown Harbor in Alameda, California. In a series of blog posts, I outlined the process we followed in 2011 to make some energy improvements to our home:
In 2013, we signed up for green energy supplied by the city of Alameda.
I entitled the modest proposal blog posts based on the fact that we wanted to spend a modest amount of money in exchange for modest savings. As the years have passed, I shared the monetary results. If I wanted to be really accurate, I could have expressed the energy reduction in terms of units of energy (e.g., kilowatt hours) instead of dollars. I mention this because by signing up for Alameda Green, Sheryl and I volunteered to pay more for our energy in exchange for not polluting the planet. Had we not done that, our dollar savings reflected in the calculations that follow would have actually greater than what is shown; however, for the sake of simplicity, I am just using the dollar amounts.
Here is what we spent in 2011:
|Building envelope sealing||$1,409|
|Building Permit Processing||$250|
|BPI Safety Compliance Test||$499|
|Duct replacement and airflow balancing||$1,550|
|Return duct sealing||$473|
Here are the incentives we took advantage of:
When I combine our expenses with our incentives, I get:
|Item||Cost / Savings|
|Out of pocket||$5,430|
|1st PG&E rebate||-$1,216|
|Federal Residential Energy Credit||-$50|
|1st Alameda Power Rebate||-$2,300|
|2nd PG&E rebate||-$201|
|2nd Alameda Power Rebate||-$82|
Our condo is 1,977 square feet. We have been watching our electric and gas costs since we first moved in, particularly since the work was completed in April 2011.
Various factors affect our results like: average daily temperature, price increases from year to year (particularly for the green energy), how much company we have, and how long our showers are. Variations aside, we have seen reasonable savings and have now come out ahead.
|Year||Electrical Savings||Gas Savings||Total Savings|
Given our $1,581 out-of-pocket expenses, we have more than recouped our investment by accumulating $2,589 of savings and are actually $1,008 ahead.
If you look at our minimum and maximum payments, you can see what the best case scenario would look like for the years to come.
As I noted in my original blog post, we undertook this project, not for the money, but because we felt our house was broken. When you borrow money to pay $646,000 for a townhouse, another $1,581 to make it right doesn't seem all that wrong. From now on out, it's all additional savings of between $265 to $791 per year, so it makes sense from both an environmental and financial standpoint.
Measurement of home energy savings is alive in the lab.
Friday was Friday the 13th, and I didn't realize it until my boss, VP of Corporate Strategy, Jon Pittman, sent me this:
Today, I don't have that problem. I know what day it is. Autodesk employees in the United States have the day off to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a civil rights activist who fought for equality of people regardless of race. Ahead of his time, he was assassinated for his efforts. Today, though our society is not perfect, we have made great strides in treating people equally. The San Francisco Bay Area shines in this regard.
We will get back to responding to your technology preview feedback tomorrow. For today, we will think about how far we have come, and how far we have to go.
Dreaming is alive in the lab.
If you are worried that robots will take your job, check out this video that features my colleague, Senior Research Engineer for Applied Research and Innovation, Heather Kerrick:
You can see that robots and humans will one day work side by side to accomplish things that neither could do alone.
Cooperation is alive in the lab.
Technology previews are an opportunity for Autodesk customers to provide feedback. How many of these do your remember?
Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. Thanks to the Autodesk community whose participation in technology previews makes them possible. You can check out the list of active technology previews on the Autodesk Feedback Community site.
Fondness for technology preview history is alive in the lab.
Remember when Elon Musk proposed a Hyperloop that would transfer people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. No sooner had he done that than a few Autodesk employees starting using Autodesk Fusion 360 to toss around ideas for what the loop and pods might look like and how they might be built.
Well, it got even better.
Formed on social media site Reddit, rLoop.org is a non-student team has reached the final stage of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. With their designs approved by SpaceX, the rLoop team set up an Indiegogo campaign to fund their successful manufacture of their Hyperloop pod to make safe, cost-effective, and efficient high-speed transit a reality. I signed up for $50 because I believe in this (and I wanted the cool T-shirt). It also doesn't hurt that they use Fusion 360.
Well my swag has arrived:
The rLoop team has a survey to name their pod. Go ahead and express your preference.
I won't tell you which one I voted for, but here's a hint.
One suggestion was that we have a write-in campaign for Poddy McPodFace.
Hypertravel is alive in the lab.
The Autodesk Knowledge Network (AKN) allows you to access a broad range of knowledge to help you get the most out of your Autodesk products and services. It also is the home to Autodesk's forums. The AKN team creates tools for learning, like in-product help and Screencast (which started out on Autodesk Labs as Project Chronicle from Autodesk Research). In the tradition of Project Chronicle, the AKN team currently has a NextGen Learning project where the goal is to work closely with a community of students, educators, and professionals to help Autodesk create amazing online learning experiences that will empower our customers to improve their design work with Autodesk software.
One of the new tools on the NextGen Learning project is Project PRAXIS. Project PRAXIS is a free technology preview of a workflow diagramming tool that is cloud-based. Here is the technology preview process workflow documented using Project PRAXIS.
Try it and see for yourself.
The AKN team has decided to extend NextGen Learning and Project PRAXIS to December 31, 2017. They are happy to continue to hear your thoughts about web-based workflow authoring and publishing. Please share your thoughts with them at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the NextGen Learning forum dedicated to Project PRAXIS.
Diagrams are alive in the lab.
Design Night sells out fast, so act now.
Here's how this one is being billed:
Virtual reality is alive in the lab
As part of his keynotes for Autodesk University in Las Vegas, Autodesk CTO, Jeff Kowalski, has talked about how tools are our greatest gift in that they help mankind evolve. He's also mentioned that tools are also our limiting factor. In the large, we make tools, but tools make us.
Regardless of the tool, what makes us make things? In other words, why do people make? My colleague, Autodesk Technical Fellow, Tom Wujec, has some ideas:
Makers exercise their entrepreneurial spirit.
Makers work together to build a sense of community and solve local challenges.
Makers enjoy their freedom of expression.
Makers take something from conception to completion and can say "I made that!"
So what inspires you to make something? Let us know at email@example.com.
Making is alive in the lab.
Since it's a Friday, I'll blog about something other than a technology preview.
Most people read this blog by viewing the latest article. As such, the blog's home page is the blog's most popular page. There's also the technology preview newsletters that get quite a bit of traffic; however, sometimes people use search engines to visit older pages. According to Google Analytics, these are the most visited blog pages (in order of popularity) between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 even though nine of these ten blog articles were published in previous years.
Given all of the pages that have been visited last year, Google Analytics shows the spikes in visitation to the site that occurred when the newsletters were released:
It also shows that the US and UK are where most visitors come from:
And, here I mistakenly thought I was a ladies man:
Most visitors are about my age:
Even in this age of mobile phones, Windows is still popular among blog readers:
where Chrome (what I use) rules:
Thanks to It's Alive in the Lab readers who make the blog possible. Without you, the blog is like a tree falling in a forest that no one hears.
Accounting for taste is alive in the lab.
As I have mentioned before, Autodesk believes that the future of making involves 3 fundamental changes:
With this in mind, I ordered a custom-made shirt from Original Stitch and chronicled my experience:
The Original Stitch shirt didn't fit, so I repeated the process with a technology-based measuring process from a company called MTailor.
On Thursday, December 22, I received my custom shirt from MTailor — just in time for Christmas. It fits perfectly. Here it is, right out of the packaging:
Unlike with @Original Stitch, my sleeves are the correct length:
I received my shirt in time to wear it comfortably for long holiday travel:
...because when you're on a long flight, the only thing worse than a middle seat or a crying baby is a shirt that does not fit.
Recall that another tenet of the Autodesk future of making things is that computers and humans will work more in partnership. This experiment allowed me to see that my iPhone, which is basically a handheld computer, is great at replacing a tape measure to capture my measurements. When I tried on the shirt, the first words out of my wife's mouth were "I'm never going to buy you shirts again." So I guess Autodesk is right with our belief that bespoke products will replace off-the-shelf ones.
If you sign up using this link, we each get a $20 discount.
Accuracy is alive in the lab.
With the start of the new year, it is time to repost an updated version of my milk carton blog article. We do have a few technology previews finishing soon, so act now if you want to be able to throw your two cents in.
|Most technology previews are like milk cartons. They have expiration dates on them. When a technology preview expires, the technology preview no longer operates. A preview has a time-bomb in it that makes it stop working on a particular date. We do this so there is a sense of urgency to try a technology preview and get back to us. Our customers are busy people, and without this, they would just say "I'll get to that later."
When a technology preview expires, any data that has been created by it continues to be valid. It's just that the data cannot be edited using the technology preview since the preview does not run anymore. Certainly, new data can't be created either.
This time-based approach allows us to get timely feedback, early in the technology life cycle, on the general idea, user interface, performance characteristics, and correctness of the results.
Here is a list of active technology previews and their associated expiration dates. The list is sorted by expiration date — so act fast if you want to provide feedback on these technology previews before they retire or graduate.
|Expiration Date||Technology Preview|
|January 31, 2017||
Export LMC for AutoCAD
Drive your METABEAM laser cutter directly from AutoCAD.
|January 31, 2017||
Try voxel-based modeling engine for multimaterial 3D printing.
|February 15, 2017||
Try new infrastructure model content authoring tools.
|March 6, 2017||
Project Calrissian for CFD
Apply flow design to wrap surfaces to prepare for simulation.
|March 18, 2017||
Connect your BIM process to intuitive structural analysis.
|March 31, 2017||
Dynamo Plug-in for Robot Structural Analysis / React Structures
Connect Dynamo to Robot Structural Analysis / React Structures.
|March 31, 2017||
Make amazingly rich interactive 3D presentations on the web.
|May 1, 2017||
2D to 3D Tool for Inventor
Create 3D models in Autodesk Inventor from 2D data.
|August 1, 2017||
Project Scandium for Moldflow Insight
Extend your simulation capabilities.
|September 1, 2017||
DWG Sync for Revit
Manage DWG files imported into Revit families.
|December 31, 2017||
Help us evolve the learning resources we supply.
|December 31, 2017||
Try workflow authoring/publishing via the cloud.
(Part of NextGen Learning)
Technology previews have a specific end date so no one confuses them with alpha, betas, or subscription offerings. A development team is focused on a technology preview for a project interval. While they are, they want the feedback and the ability to make a decision so they can continue development of the technology or quickly move on to something else. We appreciate it when we debut technology previews, people try them right away, and they provide us with an up or down vote. Your experience shapes the future of our technology indeed. As I always say, "Trying a technology preview, liking it, but not telling us, is the same as not trying it."
Checking the expiration dates to see what can still be tested is alive in the lab.
Tim Barrios, Damon Beyer, Kevin Dankwardt, and I were computer science majors at the University of Lousiana at Lafayette from 1977 to 1981. We were also Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) members. In fact, as juniors, we formed a team and won 1st place in the annual ACM programming contest at our school. As seniors, we came in 2nd place because I tried to improve our code on the fly (as I typed it in) and inadvertently introduced a logic error. That bug was on me. Did you ever wonder why computer programming errors are called bugs?
Our ACM meetings featured guest lecturers, one of which was Admiral Grace Hopper. Admiral Hopper was a computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. In 1944, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and invented the first compiler for a computer programming language. A compiler converts what the programmer types in (in a programming language) to instructions that the machine can execute. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), one of the first high-level programming languages. Admiral Hopper also popularized use of the term bug in reference to computer software or hardware design failures. [Wikipedia]
I'll never forget how Admiral Hopper drove home the idea of programming efficiency by showing us what a nanosecond was. She held up an eight-inch piece of wire to show how far electricity could travel in that amount of time. In computer programming, every nanosecond counts.
The most dangerous phrase in our language is "We've always done it this way." I try to fight that.
— Grace Hopper
On December 22nd, Kevin visited the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. He alerted the Smithsonian in advance that he was coming and convinced them to allow him to see Admiral Hopper's log book. It had never been publicly displayed before.
The book contained the remnants of a dead moth — the original bug that had gotten into the hardware and caused an early computer program to produce an incorrect result.
That one's not on the programmer. That's a bug that can truly be called a glitch.
If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.
— Grace Hopper
Debugging is alive in the lab.
I have reported about this before:
Over our holiday break, our team was thrilled to learn that Brittany's idea, Project Dreamcatcher's design, and Arthur's fine craftsmanship were recognized by WIRED Magazine's third most innovative object of 2016 that you'll actually want to use.
When Brittany Presten was interning with us this past summer, she came up with the idea to create a chair. Naturally, she enlisted the help of Arthur Harsuvanakit, Technical Assistant to Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass, and designer extraordinaire in his own right. Arthur has been codesigning objects with Carl for 5 years now. They've designed bowls, jewelry, tables, desk lamps, and most recently, a unique clock, together. Brittany and Arthur used Autodesk's Project Dreamcatcher to generate the design. As an experienced designer, Arthur was able to help guide Brittany through the process. Together they defined the requirements, such as "support a 300 pound person" and "don't put material here so the person has a place to sit." Dreamcatcher used these requirements to generate several designs. As an experienced woodworker, Arthur helped Brittany select a design that lent itself to being made more easily.
When it came time to create their design, although Brittany had experience with 3D printing and some metal fabrication, she had not done much with wood. As an experienced woodworker, Arthur was able to guide her efforts. Together, they made jigs and fixtures and used the CNC machinery in its most optimal fashion. They spent long hours hand sanding the pieces — resulting in a beautiful object.
The Elbo chair is a testament to generative design and a collaboration process regarding fabrication. It's just another example of how with Autodesk, you can make anything.
Getting wired via teamwork is alive the lab.
For those who believe that the end of the world is only 19 days away (inauguration day), fear not. To quote our CEO, Carl Bass, in an email to all employees after the election.
Whatever happens now, we should take pride in the company we work for and our vision of helping people imagine, design, and create a better world. And especially in Autodesk’s culture, which puts a prize on openness of thought, the ability to disagree in a constructive way, and then to find solutions and move forward. We value and foster diversity and respect for everyone. As we move forward, I hope that what we all do every day, to help our customers design, make, and use so many things that contribute to a better world, will help sustain us and provide positive focus.
For today, enjoy today. Starting Tuesday, January 3, we will be back to work helping to make Carl's rallying cry come true.
Hope is alive in the lab.
I have been blogging since February 14, 2006. Normally I write about new, updated, retired, or graduated technology previews from Autodesk. Blogging is a way to spread the word about a technology to encourage potential users to try the preview. It's part of my job. For my first two years of blogging, I pretty much covered just the technology previews and nothing else.
Then one day our CEO, Carl Bass, told me "You know Scott, if you're going to blog, people kind of want to feel like they're hanging out with you." This did get me to share more of my personality on my blog. I started using every bad pun possible and covered non-work-related topics. So in the spirit of blog posts that are not the run-of-the-mill technology preview related, here are my favorites for 2016 (ordered chronologically).
Thanks to all the It's Alive in the Lab readers who make this blog possible. Here's looking forward to another year of blogging in 2017.
Favoritism is alive in the lab.
The Mesh Enabler started out as a technology preview of an add-on for Autodesk Inventor. As shipped, Autodesk Inventor creates mesh features when you import mesh data from certain file formats. The mesh features are for visualization purposes and cannot be modified. Using the mesh enabler add-on, Inventor users can convert the mesh data to base features — solids and surfaces. They can then manipulate the resultant base features as if they are native Inventor data.
The Mesh Enabler has since graduated and is now available as an add-on from the Autodesk App Store available to Autodesk Subscription customers.
Autodesk software is free to faculty and students for at-school and at-home use via our Education community.
As we want students to be able to have every advantage in their education, I make the Mesh Enabler for Inventor available. Teachers and students email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I share a link to the download from my Buzzsaw site.
Education is alive in the lab.
Dear Family and Friends:
|The big news for our family is that Stephanie is getting married. She and Blake Lerdall are tying the knot in September 2017. My duties are: propose a toast, attempt a father-daughter dance, and write a check. I am qualified for only one of those duties. Actually, Sheryl and I are thrilled as we think the world of Blake. Stephanie and Blake continue to live and work in Chicago where the small nuptials will take place. Stephanie still works in PR for Hyatt, and Blake manages logistics for Constellation Brands who distributes alcoholic beverages. And yes, there are fringe benefits associated with Blake's job.|
|Steven completed a semester at ASU but decided that he missed Texas. So now he's attending Sam Houston State University (SHSU) where he's majoring in marketing. Sheryl and I are happy that Huntsville is not far from Houston where he can visit family and New Braunfels where he can visit his Marine Corps buddies. In addition to school, Steven's been doing CrossFit training to stay in shape. He has a part-time job for the Veterans Administration helping students with their benefits. He gets to field crazy phone calls like parents trying to get benefits for their child who was kicked out of boot camp because "completing 2-months out of a 4-year commitment has got to count for something, right?" He's looking forward to his upcoming years as an SHSU Bearkat.|
|In Sheryl's world, she has returned to full-time teaching. I guess you should never say never. After full time in third-grade last year for a teacher on maternity leave, Sheryl thought she'd return to occasional substitute teaching. Unfortunately, one of her teacher friends needed to take the year off on medical leave, so Sheryl stepped up to the plate to teach Kindergarten full time this year. This year is a marked change for the school as Kindergarten is full-day for the first time ever, and the district has a new math program. It's long hours for Sheryl, but she adores her students. The children and parents adore Sheryl. One student remarked, "I love Mrs. Sheppard." Another chimed in "Me too. I love her more than my mom." Sheryl's retort was "Oh don't say that."|
|After being the Program Manager for Autodesk Labs for the last decade, I will start a new job at Autodesk in February. I will still be in the Office of the CTO, but I will be working with our research group to convert their new discoveries into technology that actually makes it into the hands of customers. The approach is to develop cloud-based services that are made available via application program interfaces. As this job is more internally focused and less customer-facing, I might not have to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so much in an attempt to "try to be an interesting person" which has been my marching orders from the CEO for the old job. I know my family will be thrilled to see my over-sharing cease.|
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Scott, Sheryl, Stephanie, and Steven
"Be true to your words, and your words will be true to you." — Arthur Wood
"The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest." — Rodney Dangerfield
We have time off from December 23, 2016 through January 2, 2017. We'll get back to responding to your technology preview feedback up our return. Happy Holidays.
As a scientist with a Catholic upbringing, I find archaeology associated with Jesus Christ's life quite fascinating. According to documentaries that I have seen on the American Heroes Channel, despite popularly held beliefs:
Jesus was not born on December 25 in the year 0. A monk who devised our current calendar made an arithmetic mistake. It is more likely that Jesus was born in the year 4 BC.
Jesus was not born in a manger. In 4 BC, there was very little wood available to build a stable. It is more likely that Jesus was born in a cave. The manger story comes from a line in the gospel where it says that Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no room at the inn. The Greek word for "inn" actually means "guest room." Since there was no room in the house (the guest room), Jesus was probably born in the basement, which would have been a cave, much like today's wine calendar, that was beneath the house. Animals were often kept in the basement, so manger probably translates to a "small feeding trough" in the basement rather than a stable.
Historical inaccuracies aside, what many Christians celebrate today is inspiration from Jesus' teachings rather than the facts of his life.
Inspiration is alive in the lab.
Sarah Krasley and I are colleagues. Actually, I have now her desk next to Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass. I got this prime real estate when Sarah relocated to our Autodesk New York office. She has since started her own company, and I got an email message from her yesterday that shared her company's highlights and lowlights. As Autodesk VP of Products, Amar Hanspal, recently recounted his lowlights while working at his startup, Red Spark, in this season of sharing, with her permission, I thought I would share Sarah's story.
Dear Friends of Unreasonable Women,
This was "a growth year filled with teachable moments." Actually, that's just a fancy way of saying: my first full year at the helm of a start-up was at times harrowing, illuminating, and thankfully, once in a while, extremely satisfying. I learned that starting a company is full of plot twists — some fun and some not so fun. In the spirit of sharing both the good and the lackluster...
Here are three highlights and lowlights of this year for Unreasonable Women:
Lowlight #1: We managed to make over 20 prototypes and get to five, ready-to-grade proofs-of-concept funded by our Kickstarter round and some bootstrapped capital, but wish we could have moved further into production and optimization.
Highlight #1: We learned a MASSIVE amount about technical apparel design, patternmaking, grading, and stretch materials and contracted an incredible team of patternmakers, fit specialists, sample-makers, and technical designers (more about that later).
Lowlight #2: We learned that nine months of pitching a women's bathing suit business to investors who've never tried one on is a losing proposition, regardless of a large market size, a stellar team, and evidence of market traction (even The Economist thinks so).
Highlight #2: We also learned there is much more value to be unlocked in the category than what resides in the garment itself. So...
Highlight #3: We pivoted! Starting in the new year, we'll begin a capital raise for Shimmy, a suite of graceful, data-centric technologies that use automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented reality (AR) to accelerate conventional apparel technical design workflows now and make customization of apparel a near-term reality.
Highlight #4: X Swimwear will roll out in April 2017 as an e-commerce test case for the technology — so we can be agile and iterate as both users and toolmakers.
Highlight #5: I brought on a co-founder and feminist I've known since business school, Andrew Newsom. He's been in finance for over a decade and most recently dreams up the systems that underpin the next era of mobility for Toyota.
Lowlight #3: We needed to do a lot of traction testing and couldn't afford a photographer, model, stylist, retoucher, etc. to get a website up and running.
Highlight #7: Because we mostly DIYed it, we searched for ethical guidelines for how much or how little to retouch photos. We couldn't find any, so we're making some!
Meet our first social impact project: The Retouchers Accord.
We're bringing photographers, models, activists, thought leaders, post production artists, fashion brands, stylists, toolmakers, and models together to develop a Hippocratic oath for the people who make the images we see in advertisements and in the media. Our first symposium for 100 image-makers is on January 17th in NYC. Please let me know if there are individuals or companies you think would be productive in this work.
Highlight #8: And lastly, we moved! After an incredible nine months at the Pratt Brooklyn and Fashion Design Accelerator as Venture Fellows, we joined New Lab and get to work in this dreamy space amongst friends and colleagues breaking boundaries in manufacturing and technology.
If you've read this far, we thank you for your precious time.
The trajectory of 2017 is anyone's guess, but we hope you get the humbling gift you helped give us: ideas that wake you in the night and make you grin from ear-to-ear and a supportive group of people who believe in your ability to execute on them.
Wishing you Happy Holidays and a 2017 that exceeds your expectations!
Founder & Principal, Unreasonable Women
@sarahkrasley pretty much everywhere
Thanks, Sarah. Best of luck in the new year. I know all about photo retouching. There was that time CBS apologized about a retouched photo of a slimmer Katie Couric in a darker dress and I used it to make fun of Shaan Hurley.
Fashion is alive in the lab.
Technology previews are about feedback. We make them available for free and ask that project participants share their thoughts. We need affirmation of the technology before it takes the next step. It's not a done deal. If that were the case, we'd go straight to beta and forego the technology preview process. That's why trying a technology, liking it but not telling us, is the same as not trying it. Project participants are quick to share when something does not work but less inclined to speak up when it does. Truthfully, we want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Project Scandium is one of those technology previews where Moldflow Insight 2017 users apply for participation, and the team approves the applications based on their needs. The technology preview extends simulation capabilities by offering new capabilities to try out and provide feedback. Moldflow users can have this technology preview installed next to their commercial products.
Based on feedback from previous instances of the technology preview, these capabilities and extensions include:
In addition to these new capabilities, the following capabilities from the previous Project Scandium have been carried forward so the team can continue to get feedback:
You too can apply for participation:
Yesterday I posted a new build that extends the technology preview to August 1, 2017. This gives participants plenty of time to complete their evaluations and share their thoughts.
Extended simulation is alive in the lab.
Most technology previews are wide-open. Others are limited. Project Play is a technology preview where you request participation. The team looks at how many slots are available and adds participants on an ongoing basis. Recall that there is a relationship between Project Play and Autodesk ReMake. Many of you may remember Autodesk ReMake when it was a technology preview called Project Memento.
Project Play — the technology that powered the Smithsonian X 3D project and the latest interactive web, mobile, and VR experiences of the digitized Apollo 11 command module, is available as a technology preview. Project Play is a node based WebGL authoring tool for creating real-time interactive web experiences. These can be product instructions, real-time interactive presentations, or configurators, among others. They are created in the browser and can be viewed and interacted with in browsers, on mobile, or experienced through VR devices.
Now does that sound like something you want to play with? If so, here's how to join:
As part of requesting participation, you fill out a short survey:
Your answers to these questions are what the team uses to determine if they grant your request for participation or not, so be specific in your answers.
Last week the team updated Autodesk ReMake. Technology champion and product manager, Tatjana Dzambazova described what was in the update.
We just pushed out a new build of Autodesk ReMake for both Windows v184.108.40.206 as well as Mac v117.25.67 with a few bug fixes and some small updates. The updated features/improvements include:
We look forward to your feedback at email@example.com or in the dedicated discussion forums on the project.
Improved playtime is alive in the lab.
As I have mentioned before, Autodesk believes that the future of making involves 3 fundamental changes:
With this in mind, I ordered a custom-made shirt from Original Stitch and have been chronicling my experience:
The Original Stitch shirt didn't fit, so I am repeating the process with a technology-based measuring process from a company called MTailor.
On Monday, December 12, I did get an update from MTailor. Due to the holidays and my less frequent blogging, I am just getting to sharing it now. Here is what it said:
Using the link, I could see that my shirt will arrive close to Christmas.
Recall that another tenant of the Autodesk future of making things is that computers and humans will work more in partnership. This experiment will help see if my iPhone, which is basically a handheld computer, is great at capturing my measurements.
Progress reporting is alive in the lab.
Since we have the holidays coming up, instead of writing about technology previews, today I thought I'd write about climate change. I believe in science. As Dilbert cartoonist, Scott Adams, pointed out on his blog:
If science says something is true — according to most scientists, and consistent with the scientific method — I accept their verdict. I realize that science can change its mind, of course. Saying something is “true” in a scientific sense always leaves open the option of later reassessing that view if new evidence comes to light. Something can be “true” according to science while simultaneously being completely wrong. Science allows that odd situation to exist, at least temporarily, while we crawl toward truth.
Although we're not supposed to get scientific advice from cartoonists, that's the great thing about science. Even something as universally accepted as Newton's Law of Gravity was able to change. At first, we thought gravity was a force that was sucking us towards the center of the Earth based on the Earth's gravity. Now we know that gravity results from the warping of time and space where it's actually pushing us towards the center of the Earth. The significance of this difference is that even if the Earth disappeared by imploding upon itself, the gravity of where we are now would still be in effect.
Climate change is often presented in a binary fashion — either you believe in it or you don't. Actually, there are more options than that:
Some people deny that climate change exists. A handful propose that it is a hoax invented by other countries to thwart the United States' manufacturing industry.
Some people acknowledge that climate change exists but contend that it is not man-made. It is just the natural cycle of the Earth. They contend that there is nothing mankind can do about it.
Some people acknowledge that climate change exists and is man-made, but also believe that the problem is too big for mankind to address. Their view is that we have gone beyond the point of no return or nothing will get solved unless all countries on Earth get on board and curb their greenhouse gas emissions. Having the United States take action, when other countries don't, is just a waste of time and needlessly puts the United States at an economic disadvantage.
Some people acknowledge that climate change exists, is man-made, and that every little bit helps to improve the planet.
Regardless of your position, Autodesk makes sustainability solutions available for those who make places, things, and media. Many of these solutions started out as technology previews where customer feedback guided their development. They are now rolled into Insight 360.
Our sustainability efforts make sense from a triple bottom line perspective: good for people, good for planet, and good for profits. So regardless of your position on climate change, there are other aspects worthy of consideration.
Possibilities are alive in the lab.
"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine
Where have you been?
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine
What did you dream?"
— "Welcome to the Machine," Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd, 1975
When you push a vacuum cleaner around your house, you don't consider yourself to be working with a robot; however, when a Roomba travels around the house and picks up dirt on its own, it's considered a vacuuming robot. So what makes a robot a robot?
We've had lots of discussions about this at Autodesk, and we've decided that here is what's required:
Robots need a power source to operate.
Robots rely on actuators or motors and hydraulics to convert energy into movement and force.
Robots use sensors to see and feel what’s happening in their environment.
Robots leverage effectors — tools that handle materials and manipulate things.
Robots have a control system — a brain that directs their operation.
If you take any one of these characteristics, the thing is no longer a robot. It's a machine.
What has your experience been with things that blur the line between machine and robot? Do you prefer the kind that say "Danger, Will Robinson!" or "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Machines are alive in the lab.
Mitko Vidanovski is a Customer Success Manager at Autodesk who works in our Reality Computing Group. Reality Computing is related to getting reality into the computer (via techniques like scanning or photogrammetry with software such as Autodesk ReCap 360) or getting things out of the computer into reality (like 3D printing with Autodesk Ember).
Mitko shared an interesting laser scanning project that the Reality Computing team recently completed. Every 7 years for about a 2-week period, a World War II submarine known as the Pampanito gets dry-docked in Alameda, CA for inspection, repaint, and complete repair to her hull. The team seized this opportunity to laser scan this 300-feet long monument.
Some of the project details include:
For more information, check out the full USS Pampanito story in the Autodesk ReCap 360 gallery:
I live in Alameda, an island city, that is adjacent to Oakland and across the Bay from San Francisco. The fact that Mitko and team were in Alameda makes perfect sense to me. The Alameda / Oakland estuary is a human-created, navigable channel. It was originally a small delta where the San Antonio Creek flowed from Oakland. The delta gave way to the tidal marsh that covered the northern portion of the island. Even though the delta was shallow and impassible at low tides, it was used for shipping as early as 1853 at what was known as Hibberd's Wharf where produce was loaded and shipped to various locations around San Francisco Bay.
The delta was used for more intensive shipping beginning around 1869 when the Central Pacific Railroad loaded railroad supplies, produce, and equipment from Alameda facilities. It was at this time that the township of Alameda recognized the important role that a more navigable waterway could play in commerce and began lobbying the federal and state governments for money to improve the delta's navigability. A plan was developed to widen and dredge the mouth of the delta and connect it to the San Leandro Bay by constructing a canal between Alameda and Oakland. Work began on the estuary project in 1875. By the middle of 1902, the final connection to San Leandro Bay was completed, and Alameda became and island.
After the channelization of the Alameda / Oakland Estuary was completed, the shipbuilding industry began to boom along its shores. Shipyards such as Hay and Wright, Campbell, and Stone's moved their operations from the peninsula to the heart of the estuary. Stone's Boatyard, now located just east of the Park Street Bridge, is still operating. As the shipyards flourished, ship-based operations increasingly relocated to the shoreline of the estuary. Large ships, such as 300-foot-long square-riggers became a common sight in the estuary. At the turn of the century, Alameda retained and extensive fleet of whaling vessels as well as the Alaska Packers salmon fleet.
The land near the estuary has a long history related to transportation. The shipyard facility housed a Southern Pacific (SP) engine roundhouse from approximately 1870 until 1910 that was used to service and store SP steam engines. In 1910 the roundhouse was removed, and the main shop building was constructed. The shop building was used to repair SP electric cars on the Alameda and Berkeley lines until 1941. In 1941 the yard was purchased by United Engineering Co. and turned into a shipyard. Most of the buildings on the site were constructed between 1941 and 1944. During this time, the main shop building was used as a machine shop. During World War II, Union Engineering Company purchased the land from Southern Pacific to construct and repair ships for the war effort. Todd Shipyard purchased the land in 1958 and operated one of its eight shipyards here until closing in 1984. In 1992, Bay Ship and Yacht leased the property and proudly continues the long tradition of ship construction and repair in the estuary. Bay Ship and Yacht began as a mobile ship construction and repair team created by present day owner Bill Elliot. Using customized shipping containers as mobile work sheds and tool cribs, Bill and his team of shipwrights, riggers, caulkers and carpenters would travel from job site to job site around the country repairing historic ships and constructing new vessels. One such vessel was the replica of the 300-ton brig Niagara, flagship of the United States Navy during the War of 1812.
There is a large concrete wall at the end of the main pier. That wall is part of a 33,000-square-foot, floating dry dock.
The dry dock is used to raise large boats (up to 350 feet long) out of the water and then hold them while they are repaired. The floating platform and wing walls contain machinery and ballast tanks that control the process of raising a boat from the water. First, the ballast tanks are flooded and the deck of the dry dock is submerged to approximately 18 feet below the surface. Then a ship can be pulled above the platform and between the walls when the ballast tanks are drained, and the dock rises to the surface carrying the ship along with it. At this point, repairs can begin on the vessel.
The information about the scan comes from Mitko. Thanks, Mitko. The Alameda historical information is from a placard that is next to the estuary.
Shipyards are alive in the lab.
Tovi Grossman is a Distinguished Research Scientist for Autodesk in our Toronto office. You may be familiar with his work on Autodesk Screencast and Autodesk Sketchbook Motion. During the week of Autodesk University, Tovi had the pleasure of visiting the London Design Museum to see Madeline Gannon’s “Mimus” exhibit, which explores the future of human and robot interaction. Tovi filed this report that I am sharing with It's Alive in the Lab readers.
For those unfamiliar with her work, Madeline Gannon is a multidisciplinary designer exploring computational approaches to design and is implementing cutting-edge tools that explore the future of digital making. Madeline’s relationship with Autodesk began when she worked in the User Interface Research Group in Toronto exploring the novel concept of on-body design and fabrication. She went on to join the Pier 9 Artist is Residence Program, where she developed Quipt, a gesture-based control software that allows industrial robots to interact closely with people, and famously became known as the "Robot Tamer." Madeline is also a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Melon University, and Tovi is serving as an external member of her thesis committee. Her thesis continues to explore the boundaries of human-robot interaction and interactive digital fabrication.
The London Design Museum is one of the world’s leading museums “devoted to contemporary design in every form from architecture and fashion to graphics, product and industrial design.” It just completed a major move to a new location, and Madeline was commissioned to exhibit a new piece at its grand opening, "Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World."
Madeline’s new exhibit, "Mimus," is the next generation of her work from Pier 9. The exhibit was developed with the support of Autodesk, Pier 9, and the Boston BUILD Space. The software and hardware for the exhibit were developed in the BUILD Space just before its own grand opening.
The Mimus system uses an array of 8 infrared depth sensors, mounted on the ceiling, to see the people around the exhibit area. The software stitches the individual sensor data into a single point-cloud that maps out the entire perimeter of the enclosure. This 3D information is used in real-time to determine the behaviors of the robot, so that it can do low-latency people tracking and basic gesture detection.
Besides pushing the boundaries of human-robot interaction, the "Fear and Love" exhibit was also designed to explore our fear, love, and anxieties surrounding robots and automation. From seeing people’s reactions to the exhibit, it is clear that it will successfully accomplish this goal and is a topic that Autodesk should continue to research.
Several articles have been written about the exhibit, including our own In The Fold blog post, which you can read for further reading and information. If you haven’t seen it already, check out the Autodesk video "The Future of Making Things: Robotics" where Autodesk Director of Applied Research and Innovation, Maurice Conti, shares some broader perspectives on how humans and robots will work together in the future:
Robots are indeed a combination of hardware and systems. Humans and robots together can achieve things that neither could achieve on their own.
Image and Video Credits
Design Museum, Madeline Gannon, Charlie Nordstrom, Gareth Gardner, Dezeen, ATONATON, LLC, Autodesk Inc.
Design Night, open to the general public, is an events program at the Autodesk Gallery at our One Market office in San Francisco. At each event, guests explore a different theme — such as biomimicry, light, or robotics — that challenges the conventionally narrow definition of design. The theme is reflected in all aspects of the event, from the activities guests enjoy to the food they eat/alcoholic beverages they drink, to the music they hear. The result is a fun and fascinating venue for exploration, networking, and the exchange of ideas. Though regularly held in San Francisco, and sometimes in Lake Oswego, Oregon, there will be a Design Night: London at the Design Museum on Thursday evening, February 16, 2017. Attendees can check out the "Mimus" exhibit plus all of the other exciting aspects of the night.
Robot interaction is alive in the lab.
Philippe Videau is Technical Assistant to the Head of Product Development at Autodesk. You may recall Philippe when he was one our interns for the Summer of Fabrication 2015. Lucas Prokopiak is a Technical Assistant to the CEO for Applied Research and Innovation. Lucas is part of a team that just won two Spark awards for their clock design. Philippe and Lucas recently did some work with fabrication and filed this report. With their permission, I am sharing it with It's Alive in the Lab readers.
Chocolate doesn't last. It's either eaten as soon as it emerges from its wrapper blanket, or it just melts away in the sun only to be trodden on by someone yelling obscenities here and there at the fact that he's just stepped in something brown. While chocolate maybe doesn't last, it's been with us for ages, centuries, millennia, essentially any time period relatable to the human experience — and it's been a significant part of that experience, whether as "food of the gods" in pre-colonial Mesoamerica, during Valentine's Day highs and lows (chocolate is the best consoler), or as the main theme for one of the best SpongeBob SquarePants episodes known to man.
During last year's X Summit, Autodesk's internal design and user experience conference, individuals were treated with custom chocolate bars — made beforehand, the traditional way (with molds), all good and well and delicious. For X Summit 2016, we were looking for more of a challenge this time around, a chance to try something new and raise the bar (mediocre pun intended), and an opportunity for participants to explore the software-hardware interface. So why not let folks design chocolate for themselves or for that special Valentine someone in an unconventional way — through CNC milling — and try out our own products (after all, we make software for people who design/make/use things) and some pretty nifty hardware?
Here's the breakdown of how things went, in a cocoa-nut-shell (we'll get into the details below):
Participants created new or used pre-made designs with Autodesk's Fusion 360 software to digitally visualize the chocolate engraving.
They then generated toolpaths and learned about preparing and transferring data to the manufacturing realm (i.e., the hardware itself), making use of a clever Fusion add-in that simplifies the oftentimes complex process.
Lastly, using ShopBot's desktop CNC mill (called Handibot), participants watched their designs carved out in the chocolate and voila — bespoke chocolate galore!
At this point, feel free to grab some chocolate. We're going to jump into some of the nitty-gritty elements now, and despite what "research indicates," we're exceedingly convinced that looking at pictures of food makes us — and anyone who's reading this blog post — hungry. So let us stay away from posting too many chocolate pictures here, and let's keep rolling.
One of the reasons why we're now more able to engage participants (who have often never touched much design software or hardware) in the design-to-make process is the amount of unprecedented access we have to high-quality tools, computational power, training and, perhaps even more significantly, the power users have to customize their experience. Take, for instance, our experience with Fusion 360. Conventionally, to prepare the chocolate for milling, you would need to run through a still somewhat manual computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) process — a pretty specialized and laborious task that you would have to update every time your design changed. With Fusion 360, though, you can build on the product's API and add-in platform, which allows you to develop scripts catered to your needs, whether it be for milling chocolate or for designing your next autonomous car.
And that's exactly what we did. Using an add-in written by Fusion 360 API designer and developer guru, Brian Ekins, participants could bypass the CAM process entirely and send their chocolate designs directly to the Handibot module, allowing them to create a 2D-engraving of their sketch. We're in the process of updating it, FYI, but feel free to give it a whirl. Helpful info can be found here on using samples from GitHub for Fusion.
Here's a brief preview of the add-in's primary features:
In addition to transferring participants' sketches to the Handibot, the add-in has some pretty neat elements (see above) that enable users to create randomized circular, mesh, and/or flower patterns. These, too, are seamlessly transmitted to the mill.
Anyway, for those of you pay-per-click marketers, we're talking easily over 50 clicks down to something like 5-mega time-savings, especially important for us since we were trying to engage as many participants as possible ... and trying to mill the chocolate before it melted.
At this point, we were ready to move over to the hardware side of things and get down to manufacturing. While we did end up fabricating a custom chocolate fixture (as in modifying the spoil-board) — which took a bit of time — the tool calibration, homing, and offset were straightforward and well-illustrated in the FabMo platform (the open-source, digital fabrication and motion platform developed by ShopBot, the software used for "talking" with the Handibot itself) and were only needed to launch the process.
Using the add-in, we can transfer that "special someone" chocolate to FabMo, verify the toolpath, and send it to Handbit for milling!
Once the data transfer and set-up were completed, the milling craziness commenced. Freezing the chocolate does help to slow melting, though we milled some bars at room temperature without any issues. Some suggested cooling the chocolate with milk — a splendid idea if I've ever heard one — the result of which would be, of course, chocolate milk. We do have to use the Handibots a second time, though, so that idea was dropped immediately to our dismay ... Anyway, the clean-up is not that bad either (just vacuum the chocolate chips), as long as you don't have melted chips flying around, in which case, you've got a bit more work on your hands.
Here's our "special someone" chocolate being milled:
Check out some of the Fusion chocolate cuisine designs our participants made down below! Some of them were real works of art, though a few were devoured before we could grab a picture of them.
We hope you enjoyed our journey through how manufacturing meets food! I've attached some worksheets and other materials that outline the process below:
Thanks, Philippe and Lucas.
Chocolate is alive in the lab.
Project Falcon was our original technology preview that simulated air flow around vehicles, buildings, outdoor equipment, consumer products, or other objects of your choosing in a virtual wind tunnel. Falcon technology was extremely geometry tolerant and easy to use, enabling you to begin seeing and understanding air flow behavior within seconds of starting the application. Results updated almost in real-time in response to changes in wind-direction and speed that you specified. Visualization tools included 2D and 3D flow lines, shaded result planes, vector plots, and surface pressure shading. Quantified outputs included velocity, pressure, drag force, and drag coefficient. Project Falcon used a revolutionary automatic meshing technology that handled flow around any geometry at any stage of design. This technology was coupled with a transient, incompressible fluid flow solver and LES turbulence model in a way that delivered quick results and required very little setup on behalf of the user. The technology preview graduated to become Autodesk Flow Design.
There was also a prior technology preview called Project Ventus for Simulation CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) that used numerical analysis and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid flows. The technology preview was a solution for generating CFD quality meshes for models that would traditionally be impossible to mesh without tedious CAD cleanup and alteration. The goal of Project Ventus was to eliminate time and effort required to generate quality CFD meshes for external flow analyses in Autodesk Simulation CFD software. Project Ventus also provided a secondary benefit: There were file types that Project Ventus could read and generate meshes for that Simulation CFD could not work with at the time, including Autodesk Alias, Google Sketchup, STL, and OBJ files. That technology preview retired.
For a few months now, we have had Project Calrissian for CFD which is our free technology preview of an application that combines functionality from Autodesk Flow Design and Project Ventus. The bulk of this preview includes enhancements to the capabilities of Flow Design. These enhancements include solver optimizations, the ability to pause an analysis, lift and drag charts, and additional results viewing capabilities. When the need arises to go beyond the fluids physics of Project Calrissian, there is the ability to export the model directly to Autodesk CFD. Surface wrapping technology that existed in Project Ventus now resides in Project Calrissian and allows you to push the surface wrapped geometry directly into Autodesk CFD 2017 for more detailed analysis.
Yesterday I posted a build to the project that extends the technology preview to March 6, 2017, so there is plenty of time for you to try it for yourself and report back your results. As we did on Project Falcon and Project Ventus, we look forward to your feedback on Project Calrissian. You can reach the team via email@example.com or the feedback forum associated with the Autodesk Labs project on the Autodesk Feedback Community site. Based on feedback, the technology could then graduate, retire, or be extended. Its fate is in your hands. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.
An extended force is still alive in the lab.
Here's a blog post that I started on Friday. It's the old and the new.
My Christmas present arrived early. I got a new PC. I got an Acer Predator G9-791. Though I have historically bought DELL computers for my home use, I liked the specs on this one:
I liked that it has a 512 gigabyte solid-state drive for the operating system so it boots up fast and a large 1 terabyte hard drive that will be large enough as my data storage only seems to grow as in more pictures, more spreadsheets, more music. (The Leading Edge PC that I bought in 1984 had a 10 megabyte hard drive. The combination of drives in my new PC are 157,286 times larger.)
My old DELL XPS L501X PC started out with Windows 7. As it started to age and slow down, I upgraded it to Windows 10 in hopes of resuscitating it. That improved some things, but it was still slow. I am not sure why PCs seem to slow down with age. My guess is that each operating system tries to do more on our behalf, but the original processing power remains the same. In addition, our perception of "what is considered slow" probably changes. All I know is that this PC seems fast today. Ask me again in 7 years.
With both machines connected to my wireless network:
The PC comes with some performance tools that may help me keep it running at peak performance.
Scott has been a very good boy this year. Thank you, Santa Claus.
Christmas is alive in the lab.
As I have mentioned before, Autodesk believes that the future of making involves three fundamental changes:
With this in mind, I ordered a custom-made shirt from Original Stitch and have been chronicling my experience:
Although a reply to my last email to Original Stitch Customer Service Representative, Glenn Foster, let me know that the 50% discount offer is still available, since I am out of pocket with nothing to show for it but two shirts that do not fit, I have decided to cut my losses and move on to MTailor. I feel very safe in my decision. Check out the MTailor website:
They can have such a policy because MTailor has a smartphone app that takes the measurements. This has the potential to remove human error from the process as in my Original Stitch case, using the wrong measuring tool or not measuring my sleeve length in the non-industry-standard way that Original Stitch requires.
The first step is to download the free MTailor app for my iPhone,
I selected Shirts as compared to Pants or Suits.
MTailor sells more than just tailor-made shirts. I do need a new suit for a wedding, so maybe I will be back.
I picked a style I liked.
I picked a collar I liked.
I picked a sleeve cuff that I liked.
For the collar and cuff, I went with the recommendation since they are the experts. I am just the consumer.
I was all set and could see the price.
The checkout step starts the sizing process.
The first step is to make sure you are wearing form-fitting clothes. I stripped down to an Under Armour shirt and my underwear.
Here's how it works. You start by placing your phone on the floor. You stand 10-feet away in a prescribed position with your arms up and legs apart. You position yourself using an outline in the frame. After a 3-2-1 count down, you spin 360 degrees around while your phone videos you. You then answer a few questions.
Since I was in my underwear, I removed part of the image for this blog post. The MTailor app actually captures two images: one with me and one without. The app can compare the two and deduce my geometry from the difference. An MTailor expert reviews my video for accuracy, and then it is deleted.
That was all there was to it. The whole process took about 5 minutes.
I got a receipt email message to confirm my purchase.
Another tenant of the Autodesk future of making things is that computers and humans will work more in partnership. Let's see if my iPhone, which is basically a handheld computer, is great as my measuring buddy. MTailor contends that their process is 20% more accurate than human measurement. It certainly has the potential to be better than my disaster with Original Stitch. I'll share my result when I receive the shirt. My son ordered 2 shirts, so we'll have 3 data points.
Tailoring is alive in the lab.
Recall my post about the Summer of Autodesk Fusion 360 Fabrication where I mentioned that Technical Assistants to the CEO, Arthur Harsuvanakit and Lucas Prokopiak, were working on a holiday gift for Autodesk CEO staff members with our CEO, Carl Bass. Gerard Furbershaw and Jeff Smith from the LUNAR team are their cohorts in this effort.
Well, this team of 5 submitted their clock design to the Spark Awards and won Silver.
The Spark Awards are an international cross-industry body that fosters discussion of design importance and the value of good design. The judges chose 59 finalists from a larger group of applications and then awarded 8 bronze medals, 4 silver medals, 3 gold medals, and 2 Spark winners.
In addition, to their Silver award, the fantastic five also won the Spark Award for the Prototype Category!
Way to go team!
Now is the perfect time to check out Fusion 360. (Do you see what I did there?)
The correct time is alive in the lab.