Design Nights sell out quickly. Act fast.
Indoor space is alive in the lab.
New Orleans is a unique city with its own food and culture. The part of the city I like best is the French Quarter also known as the Vieux Carré (old square), This part of the city is the oldest in New Orleans. The city was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. Every child learns that in third grade in Louisiana. In addition to fine food and cosmopolitan culture, the French Quarter has a distinct architecture. Most of the present-day historic buildings were constructed during the late 18th century, during the city's period of Spanish rule, and reflect Spanish colonial architecture.
I took a few photos as we wandered around in search of food and music.
Architecture appreciation is alive in the lab.
Happy Cinco de Mayo.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CS&E) team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Jon Pittman is the VP of CS&E, so it should come as no surprise that Jon routinely makes submissions to issues of the POV Dispatch. Jon is also a Lecturer at the Haas School of Business of the University of California at Berkeley. Jon contributed this book review to a recent issue, and I thought I would share it with you.
Book Review: The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAffee
Reviewed by Jon Pittman, VP of Corporate Strategy
The Stage Is Set
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies is a great book — and one that is very timely. The authors are MIT economists who have been at the forefront of the debate about the structural changes to our economy and our world caused by technological progress. The fundamental thesis of the book is that we are at the beginning of a second machine age that will affect us as profoundly as did the first machine age. Quality of life and GDP did not really change all that much for tens of thousands of years until the first industrial age — defined by the steam engine. Then society's wealth dramatically increased, as did our standard of living. The authors believe that we are in a second machine age — propelled by digital technology. They assert that exponential technologies, the digitization of everything, and recombinant innovation are creating machine intelligence that will substitute for human mental labor as machinery did for physical labor. Basically, work that is routine or algorithmic in nature will be automated away by digital technologies — robotic or otherwise. The only forms of human labor that will remain — are those requiring emotion and empathy — child care, care of the elderly, personal services such as personal training, coaching, hairdressing, etc. — or those that require the kind of intelligence that machines cannot (at least in the immediate future) replicate — design, innovation, etc.
The authors offer two policy suggestions:
Their short-term suggestion is to use education to create those skills that cannot easily be automated. This is a daunting task, since much of the educational infrastructure and mindset is oriented toward the memorization and mastery of bodies of knowledge and procedures. What we don't do so well is helping people develop judgment and critical thinking. Nevertheless that is the prescription that is required.
Their longer-term policy suggestion has to do with how we distribute wealth and reward labor. Here the suggestions are around changes to taxation and even a guaranteed annual income.
The book very clearly articulates the ideas Brynjolfsson and McAfee have been discussing for several years. It crystallizes their core argument and is a very provocative book that ties together technology, education, and policy in an economics context. It is clearly a book that is written by technology optimists — they believe that technology will address many of the world's problems — but also point out the challenges posed by powerful technologies that amplify the human mind. It is unclear that their solutions are workable — but at least their book is a catalyst for conversation. This is a must-read.
The second age is alive in the lab.
Our Autodesk vacation policy for employees in the United States is 2 weeks per year. Unlike other American companies, we don't earn additional vacation as we gain seniority with the company. What we get instead is a 6-week sabbatical every 4 years. I am enjoying mine right now. For the last month, my wife and I rented an apartment on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
New Orleans is a unique place. It has its own cultures (Creole and Cajun), music (New Orleans style jazz), unique food (lots of seafood), and architecture (Spanish combined with French).
All good things must come to an end. While in New Orleans, we drank at bars and ate in restaurants — many of these places more than once. Have you been to any of these?
We are thankful for the time we spent in New Orleans. Our families, friends, and locals made it a month to remember.
"I've got my suitcase in my hand
Now, ain't that a shame
I'm leavin' here today
Yes, I'm goin' back home to stay
Yes, I'm walkin' [from] New Orleans"
— “Walking To New Orleans,” Bobby Charles and Fats Domino, 1960.
Real life will all too soon be alive in the lab once again.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a unique way.
Please, join us for our first Reality Computing Meetup in SF! For this first event, we will be sharing our view of what Reality Computing is with interesting presentations made by Autodesk (and other) folks.
There will be plenty of time to network, discuss and share, in this very interesting place that showcases what Autodesk customers do with their design software in various market segments. Drinks and food provided.
Reality computing is alive in the lab.
It's like that last minute phone call that turns out to be a reprieve from the governor. The technology preview of Project Shapeshifter was originally supposed to end today. The team decided to keep going to collect more feedback. You now have until July 30 to make your feelings about the technology known. For the unfamiliar, Project Shapeshifter lets you select a basic shape, adjust some sliders, and generate a 3D printable object. There's only one word to describe it: fun.
Physical transfomration is alive in the lab.
What is this piece of glassware? As part of our New Orleans vacation, my wife and I rented a house built in 1824. The place is furnished, so my guess is that this is something consistent with that period. But what exactly is it? Share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curiousity is alive in the lab.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Bill O'Connor is a Corporate Strategist. I first met Yuan-Yu Kristy Liao when she was an intern. Now she is a full-time Visual Experience Designer. Bill recently interviewed Kristy for the POV Dispatch, and with their permission, I thought I would share it with you.
Hello From Out of the Box: A Look at Autodesk's Culture
an interview with Visual Experience Designer, Yuan-Yu Kristy Liao by Bill O'Connor, Corporate Strategist
Bill: Hi, Kristy, thanks for agreeing to talk with us today.
Kristy: You're welcome.
Bill: You know, in POV we've written a lot about Autodesk's culture — what it is, how it's strong, and how it needs to improve. And in thinking about other ways to look at this culture, we thought it would be good to talk with you because of your unique perspective as a young Asian woman — which we thought would give you three interesting lenses through which to view Autodesk's culture.
Kristy: I think it's a good topic, because there have been a lot of things that have come as a surprise to me working for Autodesk!
Bill: Okay, but before we start on that interesting subject, let's give our readers a little background about you, how you came to work at Autodesk, what you're doing now, and what your experience has been like.
Kristy: I come from Taiwan originally, and as an undergrad I studied architecture. I was also a lifelong Autodesk customer, using AutoCAD, 3dx Max, and Maya, so I knew about the company's products, but not much about the company itself. I came to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in architecture at UC Berkeley. During that time I joined the IDEAS studio, and worked with a team on a project building a virtual hospital, which eventually resulted in a paper being written. Then I left the Ph.D. program to focus more on design, did a project with Autodesk as a consultant, and then became an intern here, and eventually a full-time employee.
Bill: Okay, so here is where I think we can start talking about the Autodesk culture: what was it like when you first started working with Autodesk people, and how was it different from what you were used to, both from Taiwan and from Berkeley?
Kristy: The first thing was that I noticed was that the company was very different than what I thought when I was just a customer — much cooler really! — especially when I saw the work in the Autodesk Gallery. And I thought the people were pretty cool, too — smart and open to all kinds of ideas. I also noticed that most of the people in the meetings were older than me, so that was a change from being in school.
Bill: Was there anything about the working culture of Autodesk that surprised you?
Kristy: Yes, I remember one thing... Initially I was told that we young people were hired to help take design into the future, but while designing I was often told that, "Well, that's not really corporate enough..." or "That's too playful..."
Bill: And what would you think of that?
Kristy: To me it was very different because I was being asked to be "creative," and I would bring something that coming from design school I considered creative, but they didn't want to deviate from current trends.
Bill: Can you give an example?
Kristy: Sure, I worked with another colleague on this amazing video which took weeks, but at the end I was told to take out all the artistic parts. On another project, we were trying to do a logo for a team, and one of the designs I brought in was an image interconnected with the letters of the team's acronym, but that was deemed off-brand.
Bill: Kind of like the octopus that we have in our OCTO (Office of the CTO) logo.
Kristy: Right. And I thought my design might be pretty cool, but again, it was seen as not being Autodesk's style.
Bill: That's interesting; so you kind of ran into the "that's not how we do things here" concept! As someone who's been at Autodesk 11 years now, I'm sure I've played that card in meetings many times, even if I haven't always been aware of it. What else do you remember about your early days at Autodesk?
Kristy: Well, first I want to say something about how I ended up at Autodesk at all...
Experience Required. Young People Need Not Apply.
Kristy: I really think if I hadn't had the UC/Berkeley connection, it would have been really hard for me to get a job at Autodesk, because so many of the jobs, even the relatively lower-level ones, require "5-10 years of experience." That means, basically, that you're not hiring people right out of college, and that means you're not getting their very young, very different perspective on the work we're doing.
Bill: So we could be missing a lot of good people because of the emphasis on a certain level of "experience."
Kristy: I think so.
Bill: The other problem when you focus so much on certain kinds or amounts of experience is that there's always a kind of "group think" in any field or function — a "way we do things."
Kristy: And sometimes people can do a job well even though they haven't done that exact job before. For example, at one point when I was still doing creative work, Amar asked my manager, Dan Ahern, what I wanted to do eventually. He told him I wanted to work on product design, and even though I had never done that professionally, Amar said, let's give her a try. And it's all worked out great.
It's a Matter of Trust
Bill: Now that you're on the AutoCAD design team, what's your experience like these days?
Kristy: It's funny: the AutoCAD design team is considered by many people as the "fun" team, always noisy, having celebrations, playing music, etc.
Bill: I should come hang out with you guys... Actually our OCTO team is a little like that, too. It's funny, as I'm hearing you talk about this stuff, the word that keeps popping into my head as we talk is "osmosis," like cultural osmosis. I know that people who have worked with OCTO say that as the project goes along, they find themselves getting into a looser, more improvisational mode, just from working that closely with us. Does the same thing happen with people working with your team?
Kristy: I think maybe, but I think whether or not your group's style affects other groups is based a lot on trust. Because if I'm going to try to convince you to do something new, something different, maybe something a little risky, if you trust me, if you've seen me do good work and have good judgment in the past, you're more likely to give this new idea a chance.
Bill: So we could say that creativity, and innovation, require trust — otherwise it's easy to revert back to doing things "the way we always have."
Kristy: Right. And sometimes I think we should have more faith in our senior executives, trust that they will be open to different, new ideas. Like Amar has been, with the idea of me doing design work for AutoCAD.
Bill: Maybe sometimes the people below the very senior people are more worried about taking a risk than the senior people themselves; I guess that's human nature, to want to impress the boss, but maybe we should all remember that impressing the boss can also mean wow-ing the boss with a wild new idea.
Kristy: I think that's actually part of the San Francisco, Silicon Valley culture — always wanting to do something new, pushing boundaries, and Autodesk definitely has a lot of that these days.
Bill: And we could have even more if we hired more "out-of-the-box" rebels like you, right?
Bill: Thanks for talking to us today.
Kristy: Thank you, Bill.
Thanks Bill. Thanks Kristy.
Exuberant teamwork is alive in the lab.
Our Autodesk vacation policy for employees in the United States is 2 weeks per year. Unlike other American companies, we don't earn additional vacation as we work more years with the company. What we get instead is a 6-week sabbatical every 4 years. I am enjoying mine right now. For April, my wife and I are renting an apartment on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. New Orleans is a unique place. It has its own cultures (Creole and Cajun) and music (New Orleans style jazz). But most importantly, it has its own unique food.
Regardless of the city you are in, how many of these have you eaten?
We are thankful for the time we are spending in New Orleans. Our families and friends are making it a month to remember. But here's a huge shout out to the chefs, hostesses, and waiters/waitresses who play such a vital role.
Normal food will all too soon be alive in the lab once again.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CS&E) team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Jon Pittman is the VP of CS&E, so it should come as no surprise that Jon routinely makes submissions to issues of the POV Dispatch; however, Bill O'Connor is a Corporate Strategist who provides the lion's share of the articles. Bill contributed this book review to a recent issue, and I thought I would share it with you.
Book Review: Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley
Reviewed by Bill O'Connor, Corporate Strategist
Before we dive right into this book review, here are two caveats, by way of setting some context:
First of all, this is a book about "innovation" — and I usually hate books about innovation. (Note: And when I say it's about "innovation," I am basically using that word as synonymous with "creativity," as per the title of the book.) I am unabashedly biased against books on innovation, because almost all of them are terrible. 95% of them are I.B.N.U.: "Interesting But Not Useful"; and therefore, generally speaking, not worth your or my valuable time. Harumph.
Second, I know the authors of this book. Well, one of them, anyway: Tom Kelley. I arranged for Tom to speak on main stage at Autodesk University in 2008 (he did a great job), and I've stayed in touch with him since then. To me, Tom, himself, is kind of the opposite of "books on innovation," in that his work is generally I.B.A.R.U.: "Interesting But Also Really Useful." So in the interest of total transparency, I began this reading/review process with a distinctly pro-Tom attitude.
For me, this book review was a great example of the proverbial immovable object — innovation books are bad — meeting the irresistible force — but this one is by Tom Kelley... Conundrum! Which force would prevail?
The Takeaway: So, Is This A Good Book?
The short answer is: I think this is a very good book. Most people — and even some people who know a fair amount about innovation — will find much of this material either new, or at least a fresh presentation of things they need to be reminded about. One possible downside: For the innovation obsessed, some of the stuff near the front of the book about how "everyone can be innovative/creative," and "the power of innovation/creativity" might seem obvious, but it's my experience that we can all benefit from this particular pep talk, to keep our perspectives on this important topic fresh.
A Little Background
First, some background: as I started to say above, the authors are David Kelley — Founder of IDEO (one of the world's leading design firms, by many estimations) and creator of the Stanford d.school — and his brother Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO, and author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation. They are both based in the San Francisco Bay Area; and IDEO has a global presence where they work with an exceptionally wide range of companies, organizations, and people on all manner of projects involving design, strategy, and yes, innovation.
Style and Design, Writing and Content
Hosannah of hosannahs, it's beautifully designed and fun to read. The illustrations are stylish ink drawings, the layout is clean, and the section where the authors are actually recommending that you do something specific are clearly delineated from the rest of the text. The writing style is brisk and energetic — very SF Bay area design firm meets inspirational professor-style — and the blend between ideas/concepts and real-world stories is just right.
In terms of the content of the book, I think it's generally very good. For example, one of the stories they tell is about the founding of the news reader app called Pulse, which was started by two students in a class at the Stanford d.school, then developed in a nearby Palo Alto café, and finally sold to LinkedIn for $90 million. This story is not only a great example of the Silicon Valley Dream (which is like the American Dream, but on steroids), but also a great illustration of many of the pieces of advice that the Brothers Kelley are doling out in the book, for example:
The Pulse founders, Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari, started the company as part of a d.school class, which meant they had only 10 weeks to get the whole thing up and running. The Kelleys consistently tout the value of constraints as a spur to fresh thinking, positive urgency, and innovation.
Adopt a Do Something Mindset
As opposed to the "Let's Plan Everything Out First" mindset, these guys sat at a Palo Alto cafe, started creating the app, and started showing it to people in the café. Then they would tweak it — literally making dozens or even hundreds of tweaks every day — and show it to more people. In other words, prototyping and iteration — plus a constant stream of customer feedback.
Engage With Potential Customers
A key part of the "Do Something" mindset is the engaging-customers component. This is in keeping with the currently en vogue Lean/Agile approach to...well...just about everything — the idea that you envision something, make a version of it, show it to someone, and improve it, over and over again.
Two other principles that are peppered throughout the book are:
There is great benefit in careful observation/understanding of the customer as opposed to just interacting with them when you show them your work.
Taking an "open" approach to collaboration and creativity yields great benefits versus keeping everything behind closed doors.
Again, for all of these principles, students and practitioners of innovation will have seen them and probably used them before, but the way in which they are presented and the stories that bring them to life add up to more than the sum of the conceptual parts.
I would say that if you care about innovation/creativity, and want to keep expanding your understanding of it and your ability to do it, the book is well worth reading.
P.S. If you don't have time to read the book yourself, you can check out the TED video.
Confidence is alive in the lab.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CS&E) team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Jon Pittman is the VP of CS&E, so it should come as no surprise that Jon routinely makes submissions to issues of the POV Dispatch. Bill O'Connor is a Corporate Strategist and also provides a lion's share of the articles; however, we also include guest authors. Recently, Applied Innovation Engineer, Evan Atherton, and Technical Assistant to the CEO, Arthur Harsuvanakit, contributed this to a recent issue, and I thought I would share it with you. There youthful perspective was refreshing to old guys like me. This gives you one peek behind the curtain of Autodesk.
Two Young Autodesk Guys Talking About Autodesk
by Applied Innovation Engineer, Evan Atherton, and Technical Assistant to the CEO, Arthur Harsuvanakit
Arthur and Evan report to Maurice Conti, Director of Strategic Innovation
Arthur: When I started here two years ago, there was a strong feeling that I was the youngest person on the floor, and perhaps the whole building — the feeling was almost palpable. In a way it was a hurdle to adjust to the environment and relate to my co-workers because I wasn't middle-aged and married with kids. But I will say that this is changing, the company is hiring more young people, and we are living proof of it.
Evan: Yeah, I guess it's a little easier for us to be in the office late at night. And right out of school, we're used to staying up until all hours of the night working on projects. That's when some of the best bonding happens — at 3am!
Arthur: But maybe the issue isn't about age, and more about mentality. Young people just don't know any better, and with inexperience comes no perspective, which in a way is a new perspective. Since young people don't have that previous experience, they won't make assumptions based on past knowledge that may or may not be relevant anymore. I think some people call it "Beginner's Mind" and maybe that's just what we need.
Evan: Another point about experience: It actually took me two years to find a full-time job here because every job posting asked for "5-10" years of industry experience. By putting that limitation on every job descriptions, all we do is limit the pool of capable candidates. There are many people, some of them pretty young, who do work well beyond what their experience would indicate.
Arthur: Yeah, just look at the people going through the Artist-in-Residence program at Instructables.
Evan: Overall I think we need to hire more people right out of college. What they lack in experience, they make up for in new perspectives. I would consider it an investment in Autodesk's future.
Arthur: I think in many ways we're naturally more attuned to what's new, with things like social and mobile, and are constantly thinking about what's the next cool thing.
Evan: Yeah, and if we had hire more people who are living social and mobile every day, we might not have to do so much acquiring of companies that do social media, because it would be already ingrained more in our culture.
Arthur: And that's actually a good argument for why it's sometimes better to hire individuals than acquire teams, by buying companies. After all, are we making acquisitions to keep up with the industry or to lead it? I see hiring inspiring people with a wide range of experience levels as an investment in being a leader, in finding the next frontier in the industry.
Evan: Yeah, I guess if all we do is acquire, the best we can do is be a fast follower. We're relying on others to come up with new ideas and lead us, and then we react to them. Also, another reason to consider hiring people out of college is the fact that college student are our future customers. Why not have them make the tools their peers will eventually use?
Arthur: One lesson I learned in the design school was that you don't give the user/customers exactly what they want; you give them something they didn't know they wanted.
Evan: Like a saber tooth giraffe?
Evan: Never mind.
Arthur: If we create roles that allow people to explore and expand the company's goals, then we won't have to be too focused on legacy, and we can focus on other things that are important, too, like surprising ourselves and our customers.
Evan: To me it comes down to creating roles that would be really valuable to the company, rather than just filling holes in the organization. If we find an outstanding person, we should make a role for them. I was an intern twice, and it was still incredibly hard for me to find a full-time position. It seemed like most of the interns that got converted were MBA students who already had years of experience.
In my opinion, we seem to be able to come up with meaningful work for our interns, who are still in school, but we're often unable to provide them with entry-level jobs upon graduation. A good friend of mine also interned here and I think it was a huge loss to the company that we just let him go because there wasn't a job opening he fit at the time. If all we're looking to do is fill very specific roles, we are limiting our room for innovation.
Arthur: Ok, so I think what we are really talking about is not so much the value of being young, but the value of inexperience, or "Beginner's Mind," and what that can bring to the company. Is it fair to suggest that inexperience can provides new perspectives and we should make room for those perspectives?
Evan: I would say so.
Evan: Anyone who has walked from One Market to Pier 9 can feel the difference. Sure there's a state-of-the-art shop at Pier 9, but I think there's more than that. There's a community over there built on mutual interests and goals. 3D prints hanging from the rafters, group lunches, show-and-tells — these are all day-to-day occurrences. By contrast, One Market sometimes feels like a more sterile, corporate place.
Arthur: I think you are right, but I would argue that community is embedded into the DNA of Pier9's Instructables crew. Their product is to create this sense of community online, and it only makes sense that they do so in life as well. Though I agree with you — if Pier 9 feels like a home, than One Market feels kind of like a hotel.
Evan: And at Pier 9, there's also a good mix of the generations: you have a bunch of younger people and also a lot of people who have a lot of experience, and it seems to be a blend that just works.
Arthur: I feel that's what we are missing at One Market — that balance, that melting pot, that blending in. Our cubicle layout over at One Market seems very compartmentalized and in a sense so does our sense of community over there.
Evan: I've been on the 2nd floor for the past two years and I still don't know half the people that sit on the floor.
Arthur: One time when I forgot my badge at my desk, and was waiting in the hallway for someone to let me in, they had to ask me if I worked here. What was even more strange was that I knew who he was, but he didn't recognize me at all, and at the time I think he was the only other Asian guy on the floor.
Time (to play)
Arthur: I think the story of Sketchbook mobile proves that if you give your passion enough time to play and create, then it can lead to new business ventures for the company, like the consumer group.
Evan: Given the tools, and the time, people can do incredible things.
Arthur: That should be the company's new tag-line :)
Evan: [laughs] I've seen interesting projects get pushed aside in favor of meeting strict release schedules. Maybe our product road maps are too rigid, sometimes there's no room for creativity and disruptive change, only incremental advances (like bug fixes, or a few new features).
Arthur: Yeah, and maybe we carry this deadline mentality into our hiring process. We hire very specialized people to execute our product road map, instead of people with a broad range of skillsets with a wider foundation, who might not execute as quickly but are more flexible to adapt and be efficient when the product changes direction.
Evan: It's like what we're trying to do with our interns this summer. Instead of hiring a couple people with very specific backgrounds to tackle a fixed problem, we're looking for a diverse team and giving them a context in which to surprise us.
Arthur: I guess we'll see how well it works out for us.
Evan: Ha ha.
[Note: The opinions expressed in this conversation are just that, opinions.]
Thanks Arthur. Thanks Evan.
The youth perspective is alive in the lab.
Autodesk Labs and the Autodesk Beta program share a common platform — the Autodesk Feedback Community. On the old Autodesk Labs site, you did not need to log in until you tried to download a technology preview. Now you need to log in even to gain access to the project to reach the download page. You still have to log in only once — it just occurs earlier in the process. At one point I considered keeping the old Labs site (no immediatre log in required) as the front-end and the Autodesk Feedback Community as the back end (where feedback and stats are tracked). Had I done that, here's what the user experience would ahve looked like for a technology preview like Project Memento.
There would have been a variety of hyperlinks to be followed. The links are numbered in the picture above.
Labs site: Using the menu pull down on the Autodesk Labs home page or the Project Memento thumbnail that appears on the Industry, Product, or Alphabetical pages, visit the Project Memento landing page: http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/memento.
Labs site: Use the Download from Beta Portal link to take you to the Autodesk Beta site. Following this link adds you as a member of the Project Memento project on the Beta site after you have logged into the Beta site.
Beta site: Once on the Autodesk Beta site, you can click on the Join link to join the Project Memento project. This takes you to the Autodesk Beta home page.
Beta site: You click on Sign In.
Beta site: You supply your Autodesk Single Sign-on user name and password and click on Sign In. This takes you to the Project Memento home page on the Beta site.
Beta site: Once on the home page, you have options. To get started, you can click on Download to see a list of what downloads are available and download the Project Memento installer.
Beta site: From the home page, if you wish to see what other users have said about Project Memento, you can visit the discussion forum by clicking on the Forums link.
Labs site: If you wish to send the team an email, you can click on the Email link
Labs site: If you wish to post a comment on the latest blog article about Project Memento, you can click on the Blog link.
Labs site: If you wish to see Project Memento videos that are part of the Autodesk Channel on YouTube, you click on the YouTube link.
The list above has 10 steps. That's a lot. The current process has 6.
The Autodesk Labs home page - no login required. You can pick any project such as Project Memento.
The Project Memento "recruitment" page - no login required. You click on Join Now.
Now you need to login. You click on Sign In.
I have my Chrome settings remember my user names and passwords.
The Project Memento home page. You click on the Downloads link on the left.
In the old system, you would need to login to perform the download. Now you just click the download link since you are already logged in.
I think I made the right call in combining Labs with Betas on the same web site. You have to log in earlier, but it could have been much worse. Participation in technology previews on Autodesk Labs is free, and that''s not a bad deal either. We are grateful for Autodesk Labs community members who take the time and effort to help shape our technology.
Navigation is alive in the lab.
Thanks to everyone who let me know that this blog was been down. TypePad is experiencing Denial of Service attacks which have affected many blogs. Even now the link:
does not work. Try clearing your browser cache. You can only use:
Links directly to blog articles work as well. TypePad is working on the problem.
The blog itself is somewhat alive in the lab.
The Cloud Sync for AutoCAD Architecture/MEP plug-in was a free technology preview that allowed users to manage drawing access on local computer networks and also across cloud storage services (e.g., Autodesk 360, Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive). With this functionality and depending on how a user had elected to set up a given cloud storage service, automatic access to the Internet and automatic sync of a file between a local machine (or network) and the cloud storage service was possible.
The technology preview has ended. The plug-in ceased operation on April 1. Thanks to everyone who downloaded the technology preview
and provided feedback:
When a technology preview ends, the technology can graduate, retire, or undergo another round of feedback via a new technology preview. In thsi case, the cloud sync technology is temporarily retired, but could emerge in another form at a later date.
Assimilating the feedback is alive in the lab.
The vacation policy for Autodesk employees in the United States is 2 weeks per year. Unlike other American companies, employees don't earn additional vacation as they work more years with the company. What we get instead is a 6-week sabbatical every 4 years. I am enjoying mine starting right now. My wife and I have rented an apartment on Bourbon Street in New Orleans for the month of April. Here are some of the things we've done.
And April is only half-over.
Partying is alive in the lab.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Bill O'Connor is a Corporate Strategist. As part of his POV Dispatch duties, Bill often interviews other employees to get their take on our company. In this case, he interviewed none other than Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass. With their permission, I thought I would share it with you.
Pier 9: The San Francisco Workshop Where Autodesk Explores What's Next
by Bill O'Connor, Corporate Strategist
The ways in which people design and make things are changing rapidly and dramatically — and to make sure Autodesk stays ahead of this accelerating curve, we've created a new space in San Francisco called Pier 9 to help us explore new technologies and techniques that are going to be key to our success in the future. Pier 9 is a state-of-the-art facility and fabrication workshop on San Francisco's Pier 9 that features 3D printing facilities, a range of CNC machines, metal and wood shops, and office and conference space. It also houses the company's bio/nano research team, and a group focused on making software for our 150 million consumer customers.
POV Dispatch Editor, Bill O'Connor, recently sat down with Autodesk CEO Carl Bass at Pier 9 to talk about what's happening at Pier 9 and why it's important to the company.
Bill: Let's start with the basics: what's going on at Pier 9, and why is it important to the Autodesk's success?
Carl: Pier 9 was created for a number of reasons, but one of the most interesting is related to the role Autodesk has traditionally played in the design process. When you think about what Autodesk has done, traditionally, you could say that, in terms of helping our customers, we've always kind of "stopped at the design." We could give you the tools to design something, but when it came to building that thing, actually making it real, we didn't think much about how to help you with that.
Bill: So we didn't see it as our role to build tools for fabricating these things; but now we do...
Carl: Yes, today we're focused on making it as easy as possible for people to go all the way from having an idea about something they want to create, all the way to making that idea a reality out in the world. We need to help people go all the way through to the fabrication phase of the design process. And that's where Pier 9 comes in, because it was designed as a place where we could explore, and create, better ways to connect that 3D model in the computer with the machines that can make it real in the physical world.
Bill: So Pier 9 is actually an important part of the company's R&D efforts?
Carl: It is, because we're using the space to explore some really exciting ways to use these digital fabrication tools and also addressing some of the difficulties associated with that process. We're using the space to test and refine our CAM products, and to better connect our products to machines like 3D printers, water jets, and CNC machines. People are doing new things with material science, studying geometric forms, and figuring out new ways to model things. We're basically trying to simplify and streamline the end-to-end workflow — and to do that, you need a place to explore. So in some ways it's just a workshop, it's a space, and what happens in that space will change over time, as our interests move from one thing to another.
Bill: What are some of the other benefits of Pier 9?
Carl: Well, Pier 9 wasn't intended to only benefit the people who actually work here — I think another big part of its value comes from the chance it gives to any Autodesk employee to stop by and see the latest projects, experiments, and breakthroughs taking place at this space.
Bill: That's a good thing for people to know, that there's an open invitation for people to come here.
Carl: Yes, we're really are trying to make the space accessible to as many employees as possible. I think we'll end up making better software for our customers when more people working at Autodesk understand how this stuff gets used.
Bill: What else is happening at Pier 9?
Carl: We also have the Instructables team here at Pier 9, and they have space and resources to try out all kinds of things, including a professional kitchen where they can concoct and test new recipes. And the Consumer team is here, including people working on the 123D products.
Bill: Plus, of course, we have the bionano team here, doing all kinds of wild stuff.
Carl: Yes, and I'm already seeing some great stuff coming out of that team, including the Cyborg platform and things like that. And we also have an artists in residence program, where people apply, and come for a limited time to work on a project that we think it interesting. We give these artists an interesting, stimulating place to explore new ideas, and the time and the resources to do it.
Bill: Pier 9 is such a cool place, but I'm also wondering about how unique it is: do you think many of our competitors have spaces like this?
Carl: I doubt it.
Carl: Sure. I think a lot of people, our competitors and people in the CAD world in general, would look at us and think what we do, things like Pier 9, is kooky.
Carl: I think if you asked the other guys, they'd say these guys are either crazy Americans or they're just crazy. They'd say they're all over the map, they're doing something in bio, they're doing something in nano, they're involved with makers, they're doing consumer, stuff, I don't even know what they do.
Bill: That's such a different reputation than the one we had in the Carol Bartz days, when we were a "fast follower." But kooky — that's kind of a badge of honor, isn't it?
Carl: From my perspective, yes, I think it's fine; but I don't think what we're doing is considered enviable by them.
Bill: And Pier 9 could be seen as part of that.
Carl: Oh, absolutely. Many would look at Pier 9 and think, "you guys are nuts."
Bill: I think what they're missing is that doing those kind of "kooky" things is giving us clear competitive separation from our competitors. I was talking to Jeff [Kowalski, Autodesk's CTO] the other day, and he said that he was talking to executives from one of our major manufacturing customers, a company that also uses a lot of our competitors' products. Jeff said that they told him that all of this "kooky" stuff was actually the reason they were so interested to work with us.
Carl: Right, and doing something like Pier 9 makes even more sense when you compare it to other similar spaces, in terms of the quality of the equipment and the facilities. I mean, today I was giving a tour to an architect who's going to be doing some work with us. This is someone who has been to MIT and Stanford, and been to places all over Europe, and he said he'd never seen anything like this.
Bill: Any final thoughts?
Carl: I think the important thing for POV readers to know is that Pier 9 is here for them to use, because I really think that the better they understand our software and how it interacts with different types of hardware, the better our products will be.
Bill: Thanks, Carl.
Carl: Thanks, Bill.
Thanks Bill. Thank Carl.
Fabrication is alive in the lab.
Project Miller is a technology preview that lets you optimize and validate your design before you build it. The Autodesk Simulation team extended its mission to the growing community of 3D printers. Project Miller was developed to improve results with 3D printing by allowing you to ask and answer:
Like the ultimate Print Preview, Project Miller enables you to inspect your model, visualize how it will print, and identify problems in advance.
The original technology preview has ended. When a technology preview ends, it can graduate to another form, go into retirement for the time being, or embark on another technology preview. The Project Miller team has opted for another round of feedback collection via a new technology preview.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded the technology preview so far:
and provided feedback:
You'll note the dip in feedback since that first month. Let's crank it up again. Downloading and trying somethjing, liking it, but not telling us, is the same as not trying it. We need the affirmation for the technology to take the next step.
Continuing to assimilate the feedback is alive in the lab.
FABmep Import for Revit MEP is our free technology preview that enables users to import Autodesk Fabrication FABmep models into Autodesk Revit MEP, providing round-tripping capabilities for as-built/record drawing purposes. For users with Autodesk Fabrication software, Autodesk Revit allows them to export FABmep models. They can then open, modify, and save the models using Autodesk Fabrication. This technology preview attempts to answer the question "What if you could import the modified models back into Revit?"
The technology preview was recently updated. The team is collecting feedback on the desirability and effectiveness of an import capabilities until March 31, 2015. You can join the project:
Thanks to everyone who downloaded the technology preview and provided feedback so far. Keep the feedback coming. You can reach the team at:
Collecting feedback is alive in the lab.
Project Memento allows you to manually or automatically fix honking huge meshes. The team recently provided Shaan Hurley with an update. He posted it to Autodesk Labs while I am on vacation. It is available for download via Autodesk Labs on the Autodesk Feedback Community site.
So please continue to share your feedback at email@example.com or the discussion forum on the Autodesk Feedback Community.
Making a huge mesh is alive in the lab.
Sometimes being an Autodesk Gallery Ambassador has its perks. By the way, we chose the name ambassador instead of docent, because the correct way to address an ambassador is "Your excellency." That never happens but sometimes our tour guests are so appreciative that we receive little thank yous. I recently conducted a tour for the Chief Technical Officer of Coca-Cola.
Gifts like these are certainly appreciated but not required. All of us gallery ambassadors conduct tours for one main reason. We want to tell the Autodesk story through the work of our customers. Designs don't just fall from the sky. People have to decide what things look like, what they are made out of, and how they work. Our software and services help make that happen.
While on the tour, I asked if the shape of the classic Coca-Cola bottle was inspired by actress Mae West's curvaceous figure. The answer was no. The bottle's design was inspired by the soda's two ingredients — the coca leaf and the kola nut. When we give tours, not only do ambassadors impart information, but we also get information. It's a two-way street.
Thankfulness is alive in the lab.
As a DWF Technical Evangelist, I started blogging by supplying Shaan Hurley with guest articles that he would post on his blog, Between The Lines, for me. On February 14, 2006 I started my own blog, Beyond the Paper, using Shaan's naming strategy where the emphasis was on DWF files and what you could do with them besides printing. There are 917 posts on Beyond the Paper — most of which I authored.
When our team's DWF work grew into a more formalized presence for Autodesk Labs, I defected from the DWF-related blog to It's Alive in the Lab. I wrote my first article on April 10, 2007 entitled "It's alive. It's alive. It's alive." (an allusion to the original Frankenstein movie) which described the mission of Autodesk Labs.
A blog is a novel written one page at a time. This is the Autodesk Labs story. This is my story. It includes Autodesk Gallery exhibits, Autodesk Research, Labs technology previews, and point of view articles from the Office of the CTO.
Thanks to the Autodesk Labs community (~1.6 million blog visitors over 7 years) whose readership keeps the blog going. The 3,881 comments on the 2,391 postings on this blog reflect our dialog about people, technologies, and thoughts that make up our little corner of Autodesk.
Still sewing words together like body parts is alive in the lab.
Autodesk partnered with Donya Labs AB to prototype a cloud-based optimization service called Project Khan to automate level-of-detail creation for 3D assets. The service used Donya Labs' Simplygon which provides level-of-detail creation capabilities to game developers working on high-end titles. The goal of Project Khan, by making the technology more readily available, was to test whether there was more widespread interest among Autodesk Maya users for such asset optimization services.
The Autodesk Labs technology preview has ended. Thanks to everyone who downloaded the technology preview:
and provided feedback.
When a technology preview ends on Autodesk Labs, one of three things can happen: graduation, retirement, or another round of feedback collection via another technology preview.
At this time, the prototype is in retirement. It is not necessarily dead. It could resurface at a later date in a different form or offering. Current users who wish to continue to work with the technology can contact Simplygon directly.
Retirement partying is alive in the lab.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CS&E) team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Jon Pittman is the VP of Corporate Strategy and leads CS&E, so it should come as no surprise that Jon routinely makes submissions to issues of the POV Dispatch. Jon is also a Lecturer at the Haas School of Business of the University of California at Berkeley. Jon contributed this to a recent issue, and I thought I would share it with you.
STEM is necessary but not sufficient
by Jon Pittman, VP of Corporate Strategy
Emphasis on Useful
There is a lot of energy and excitement these days about STEM education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Proponents of STEM claim that education in these fields is critical to competitiveness and innovation. Fair enough. This is a compelling argument and lots of policy makers, educators, and tech companies are piling on to support this idea. We do need better STEM education, but is that enough? Will more STEM necessarily lead to more innovation? To answer this requires that we first define "innovation." There are, of course, lots of definitions of innovation but the following is generally accepted — an innovation is something original or new that becomes useful in a market or society. Note the emphasis on useful. Innovations are not just new ideas — those are inventions. To be an innovation, something has to be deployed in society or a market in such a way that it serves a need — it is useful. This conflation of invention and innovation is at the root of why STEM is an incomplete concept. Increasing our emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math is a good thing. It will increase the number and quality of new ideas — the inventions that move society forward. But invention is only one ingredient in innovation. What do we need to do to turn an invention into an innovation? What do we need to do to make the invention useful?
Learn from Making Waffles
"My son and I make waffles on Saturday mornings. We know that the number of waffles that we can make depends on the ingredient we have the least of. We may have five boxes of flour mix and three gallons of milk, but if we have only one egg, then, by golly, we can make only one batch of waffles.
When it comes to innovation, people assume that investments in science and technology will inevitably lead to innovations. There are many ingredients in the recipe for innovation, and I'm skeptical that science and tech are the scarcest.
Advances in science and technology only get innovation initiatives started. After that there comes what I call The Other Side of Innovation the journey from idea to impact. It is a business challenge, and it requires at least two additional ingredients: capital and managerial talent. Of the three (science, capital, managerial talent), which do you think is the scarcest? Is there a fourth ingredient that is scarcer still?"
Secret Ingredient is Design
I share Trimble's skepticism that science and technology are enough. In my view, that missing fourth ingredient is design. Design is the bridge between invention and innovation. Good design takes a new idea, and makes it useful to someone. That is the essence of innovation. STEM is only about invention. It omits design — the key ingredient needed to take a new idea, the invention — to usefulness , making it an innovation. Some, including Autodesk's initiative, have tried to address this by adding a new ingredient to STEM — the Arts — thus yielding STEAM for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. The problem with STEAM is that it conflates "the arts" with design. Design is closely related to and informed by the arts, but it is different. Art is about self-expression. Design is about meeting the needs of someone else — making something useful for someone other than you. Again, STEAM is a worthy cause. It tries to rectify an overly technology-centric STEM concept. But both STEM and STEAM miss the mark when it comes to innovation.
Why does this matter? Is this just semantic quibbling? No, it matters profoundly. Here's why. Technological innovation in the last three centuries automated huge amounts of physical labor — creating vast wealth — but also displacing many workers. To remain productive members of society, people who knew about agriculture and the rhythms of nature had to learn about the mechanics of machine production and the rhythms of the factory. Our education system is built on this mechanistic model. We are, however, going through another machine age — a digital machine age, in which digital technologies are automating mental labor. Professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers could successfully master large bodies of knowledge and procedures to apply to that knowledge to reach a solution. However, that is what computers are really good at. Professions such as law and medicine are being disrupted by computation, and soon vast areas of mental labor will be disrupted by digital technology — just as industrial technology disrupted manual labor.
When this happens, what skills will be valued? How will people remain productive and useful members of society? In The Second Machine Age, MIT economists Erik Brynjolfsson and, Andrew McAffee say that two specific skills will become the most valuable to society: emotional intelligence — the ability to relate to others — and design and innovation skills. If they are right, then it is critical that we get the teaching of both design innovation right. If we conflate innovation with invention, and design with the arts, we are doing future generations a disservice. We are telling them we will provide them with an education that will make them valuable contributors to society but, like Chris Trimble and his waffles, we will only be giving them some of the ingredients they need.
Make a Difference
STEM and even STEAM are worthy concepts, and it is laudable that we at Autodesk are following and supporting these notions. As an industry leader in design, shouldn't we be moving beyond STEM and STEAM? Shouldn't we be leading the educational world to design-based education? Shouldn't we be helping educators and students understand what design is and the value of design to innovation? This is an opportunity for Autodesk to help add design — the missing ingredient — to STEM and STEAM. Not only is an opportunity for Autodesk, it is our obligation.
Don't just take my word for it. See what our friend Mickey McManus, CEO of Maya Design says about this...
Mickey and I are in violent agreement — he just says it more eloquently than I ever could.
Education is alive in the lab.
The Revit 2014 Daylighting Analysis plug-in uses the Autodesk 360 Rendering cloud service to perform very fast and physically accurate daylighting analyses from within Revit. With this update, the technology preview has been renamed to the Light Analysis Extension for Revit.The extension is specifically designed for architects to be able to use without learning the difference between the Perez or CIE’s sky models, direct normal incident, or direct horizontal radiation. The preview was recently updated to extend the preview until the end of April. According to Software Developer/Building Energy Engineer, David Scheer, the update also included these new items:
You can now select one or more floors to analyze, rather than the whole building. This will save analysis time, and in the future will save analysis costs.
More settings are automatically configured for each analysis request for the 'LEED 2009 IEQc8.1 Daylighting' 3D view, so that you will have more reliable results for common ideal settings. This includes hiding non-permanent objects like furniture and plantings, setting the phase filter to 'Show Complete', turn off section box, and the standard settings for Sun Only.
All automatic settings for the 'LEED 2009 IEQc8.1 Daylighting' 3D view can be controlled with a flag in the '.config' file for RLA. This includes the settings in #2 above, among others. Now you can turn off the automatic reset of your section box if you want to limit the geometry included in the analysis, or of the electric lighting if you want to use IES files and fixtures to simulation things like SolaTubes.
You can now see the progress of analysis jobs when you click Run Analysis or Generate Results while an analysis is running. You can also cancel a job that has not completed and download partial results or preserve old results.
Error reporting and process messaging is greatly improved, and you should be able to understand what went wrong without having to call support. When that doesn't work, we have implemented a logging capability that will create a detailed log of the RLA operations that you can send to us for debugging. To turn on this capability, set the logging flag in the '.config' file and the log file will be written to C:\Autodesk\RevitDaylighting
You can download the updated installer by joining the project:
An extension is alive in the lab.
I am on vacation until May 12. My wife, Sheryl, and I are spending a month in New Orleans. Today my sister, Patti, and her husband, Rickey, took us to a garden show at the Botanical Garden at City Park. The four of us attended a lecture, entitled Shade Gardening in Louisiana, by a landscape architect who graduated from Louisiana State University.
When an attendee asked "How do you pick the plants for your shade garden?" he responded "You have to pick plants that can tolerate the shade." I am not kidding. He said that; however, he also had some interesting tips woven into presentation about the psychological benefits of gardens.
I don't have a copy of the presenter's slides. Instead I will illustrate his concepts by goggling images and noting my sources accordingly. Here are today's 3 gardening tips.
Consider Inside and Outside Perspectives
A garden is both an object and an experience. It is much like a car. When viewed from the outside, it is often an object of desire:
Once inside the car, the person becomes part of the car.
Gardens should be like that. Gardens in the fronts of homes are viewed from afar, like the outside of a car, and tend to go for curb appeal;
Like the inside of a car, a garden is also an experience. When viewed from inside, a garden should promote tranquility and peace of mind. This is the typically the emphasis for gardens in backyards.
Imagine yourself sitting on the swing gazing at the surrounding flowers.
Rely on 3 Basic Elements
The three basic elements to any garden include:
For example, it is possible to make a great garden with just pavers, monkey grass, and crape myrtle trees.
When placing benches, it is human nature for people to feel more comfortable sitting on them if they are under a structure.
When creating walking paths, stone is more natural than cement. Crushed granite is easier to walk on than pea gravel.
Make It Neat But Not Too Neat
The Japanese have a concept known as shibui that refers to unobtrusive beauty. An under-manicured garden looks like a random mess.
An over-manicured garden looks sterile and uninviting.
The trick is to provide the proper balance of organization and wild charm.
I guess there's a little Goldilocks in any successful gardener.
So there you have it. Patti and Rickey also took us to lunch. Thanks!
Gardening is alive in the lab.
Many of you recall the River Analysis Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D / AutoCAD Map 3D when it was a technology preview on Autodesk Labs. It has since graduated to become Autodesk River and Flood Analysis that is available to Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite — Ultimate subscribers.
Prior to becoming a technology preview, the technology was available in a product called RiverCAD. Of course, the technology originated at the University of California at Davis via the Hydraulic Engineering Center River Analysis System.
We got a question the other day:
Senior Product Manager for Civil Products, Dave Simeone, provided an answer:
So if you have a bunch of RMS files lying around, it looks like export/import is the way to go. Thanks Dave.
Data flow is alive in the lab.
The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CS&E) team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. In addition to articles authored by members of our CS&E team, we take guest submissions. We were thrilled to get a write-up by Autodesk Distinguished Research Scientist Andrew Hessel. I thought I would share it with you.
Let's Get Small: Big Breakthroughs in the World of the Nanoscale
by Andrew Hessel, Distinguished Research Scientist
First, the Landscape
Everyone's talking about design today, but there's still one thing about design that many people don't realize: it can be done on an extremely small scale. In fact, the nanoscale. The world that I spend a lot of time thinking about is invisible to most people. It exists far below what a conventional microscope can perceive. In fact, it can only be clearly seen at the level of the electron microscope, or the atomic force microscope.
Next, the Inhabitants
Many objects exist at this scale. They include single cell-organisms, like bacteria. Bacteria are complex, free-living organisms. They range in size, but one of the most familiar types of bacteria, E. coli, measures roughly 5 microns across, or about 5,000 nanometers. Bacteria are all around us in the world and plenty live on us and inside of us. They are so plentiful that their cells outnumber our own cells by a factor of 10, totaling about 380 trillion cells of bacteria in our bodies. In fact, the human body is about 2-3 pounds of bacteria by weight. The Human Microbiome Project was launched in 2005 to produce a map of our bacteria.
Viruses are even smaller; there are millions or billions of virus species. No one knows for sure how many there are, but we know that the vast majority of them are harmless to humans, and that their sizes vary greatly. For example, the viruses that cause the common cold are about 30 nanometers in size, while pandoraviruses are closer to 1,000 nanometers . Viruses aren't alive in the conventional sense, because they need a host cell in which to replicate.
Let's Go Even Smaller
There are many things that are even smaller than bacteria and viruses, for example:
Basically, the nanoscale world, though invisible, is teeming with diversity, activity, and complexity.
Designing the World of the Infinitesimal — and Autodesk's Role
Here's the surprising part about this world of tiny things: despite the small size and complexity of nano-biological systems, they can be manipulated with precision. This is because biology is built from the bottom up, and it has a digital programming language (DNA), and software tools can assist designers with their more sophisticated genetic designs.
Autodesk has not traditionally created tools for designers working at this scale, or with these self-assembling materials. In 2012, after more than two years of background research, Autodesk's Bio/Nano Programmable Matter (BNPM) group was established in the Office of the CTO (OCTO) to explore the commercial opportunities of this evolving realm. This team of 20 developers and scientists led by Senior Principal Research Scientist Carlos Olguin.
Enter Project Cyborg
This group is now developing a web-based platform specifically for Bio/Nano called Project Cyborg — shorthand for Cybernetic Organism, or the synergistic intersection of living and non-living materials. The platform includes a CAD shell, physics and biophysics engines, and it also supports cloud computation. A number of speculative applications are also being developed on the platform to demonstrate to scientists how it might potentially be used.
One major goal of Cyborg is the democratization of bio-nano design. We're doing this in three ways:
Technically, this is accomplished by making tools that are intuitive and easy to use, and by automating design tasks that would otherwise be difficult or repetitive, therefore speeding up the iterative development cycle.
Economically, we are democratizing these tools because they are offered free of charge.
And practically speaking, we're doing it by leveraging the power of special printers that are able to quickly translate electronic designs into reality.
Printing Out Life
One of these printers is called a bio-printer: a 3D printer that deposits "bio-inks" instead of plastic or other inert materials, as traditional 3D printers do. Bio-inks are solutions of living cells that can be precisely deposited in an additive way. San Diego-based Organovo Inc., a leader in this field, uses this technology to make synthetic liver samples for drug screening, and also synthetic blood vessels — and it is even working on printing entire organs that are suitable for transplant. We are working closely with Organovo to make this work easier — if not fully automated.
Another powerful printer is the DNA synthesizer: basically, it's a 3D printer for the DNA molecule. UCSF-based collaborator Shawn Douglas uses this DNA as a structural material to craft precision nanoscale objects, including "robots" that can recognize and kill cancer cells, one at a time. BNPM team member Joseph Schaeffer is an expert supporting this work. Other groundbreaking scientists, like Craig Venter and George Church, and even the students in the iGEM synthetic biology program are using synthetic DNA as a programming language, and in the process sprouting an entirely new branch from the tree of life, which we dub synthetica. The potentials here are so vast that they include the engineering of all life, up to and including our own species.
Let's Get Viral
Currently the capabilities of DNA printers are still quite modest, and the price per base pair (bp) is still quite high, anywhere from $.20 to $1 per bp. For this reason I have focused my own work on engineering organisms with the smallest genomes: viruses, which have genomes that range from 3,000 bp to about 1 million bp.
Viruses are, in a weird way, consistent with Autodesk's core capabilities, because they are the biological equivalent of shrink-wrapped software. The virus capsid — the protein shell that serves as the container for the viruses DNA and RNA — ultimately dictates which host cells (i.e., "computers") a virus can "run on."
Autodesk BNPM members Jackie Quinn, Merry Wang, and I, along with our external partners, have been working to make synthetic viruses easy to design and print. This opens up a range of possible applications because viruses have diverse functions in nature, many of which have been used by scientists to create practical applications, including vaccines, diagnostic tools, and even battery electrodes. Even cancer fighting viruses have been engineered, some of which are already in late-stage clinical trials.
To gain some hands-on knowledge of this new realm, we've been working with a phage, a virus that infects the E. coli bacterium. It's small (5,386 bp), harmless to humans, and synthetic variants of it have been made and researched for over a decade. The tool we've been using for this work is called the Virus Design Studio; it's still very basic, but it includes DNA editing software as well as automated biosecurity features, including the addition of a digital signature. It can be used to 3D print a plastic model of the phage or, just as easily, the biological virus itself.
Our goal is to first automate and accelerate the end-to-end virus design process, and to then explore a diverse range of applications for the new process. Using today's DNA synthesis technology, 3D printing a virus can take 2 weeks, but some researchers have already shown that it can actually be done in about 3 days. The trend is clear: doing work like this is going to cost much less in the near future, and take less time.
Bio/Nano: Somewhere We Can Boldly Go...
By combining advanced bio/nano design software with this latest generation of amazing 3D printers, there's a very real opportunity for Autodesk to play a key role in the next-generation biotechnology industry — turning makers into drug-makers — and much, much more! Developments in this field could bring about a creative explosion of R&D in terms of treating cancer, organ transplantation, etc. The opportunities are endless and the surface has barely been scratched.
Thanks Andrew. I really enjoyed how your article covers this complex topic in plain English with small words. This information will help me greatly when I cover the DNA origami exhibit on the Autodesk Gallery tour.
With apologies to Steve Martin, getting small is alive in the lab.
The previous technology preview of Project Scandoum expired in February. A new iteration of the Project Scandium technology preview has made its way to Autodesk Labs.
Project Scandium for Autodesk Simulation Moldflow 2014 Insight is our free technology preview that extends simulation capabilities by offering capabilities to try out and provide feedback. Your feedback will continue to shape the future of this technology. If you are using a 64-bit system, you can try the technology preview and reach the team to firstname.lastname@example.org or the feedback forum on the Autodesk Feedback Community site.
Here are the capabilities we'd like you to provide feedback on:
New Parametric Study option in Optimization
3D Injection-Compression and 3D Compression molding enhancements
3D Part Inserts can have orthotropic material properties
New Core Shift boundary condition
New Results for Midplane/Dual Domain and 3D
Gate Freeze improvements
Dual Domain and 3D meshing improvements
Do it now. Don't wait. The technology preview runs until August 20, 2014.
Simulation is once again alive in the lab.
Those who know me know that I am an idea guy. Think of the Michael Keaton character in the movie Night Shift: "Feed mayonnaise to tuna fish." — get tuna salad fresh off the hook.
I have noticed that each time I run the dishwasher: I add the dirty dishes, add the dishwasher soap, and run it. The same is not true for the rinsing agent (e.g., Jet Dry). I don't have to add that for each run because the dishwasher has a built-in dispenser that doles out just the right amount for each load of dishes. I only add the rinsing agent once in a blue moon when the dispenser is empty.
The other day I saw this Facebook ad:
This is a real product, Poo-Pourri, not an April Fool's joke. Let me Google that for you. The way this product is advertised, a woman is supposed to keep a bottle of it in her purse, pull it out, and spray one spritz into the bowl before doing her business. The product creates a layer of oil that floats on the surface of the water and prevents odors from leaving after she drops a deuce in the bowl.
If that is the case, why not build a toilet that has a built-in Poo-Pourri dispenser that doles out the right amount after each flush? The way the product works now, it is like dishwasher soap. I want it to work like a rinsing agent. This was billed as a product for women but men would also benefit — especially after an afternoon of watching March Madness while eating chili.
Since men don't carry purses, putting it in the toilet doubles the market for the product. Boom! You're welcome. Now if someone wants to take Autodesk Fusion 360 and design a fillable vessel that is connected to the toilet handle... Like I said, I'm an idea guy...
The scent of a woman is not alive in the lab.
The vacation policy for Autodesk employees in the United States is 2 weeks per year. Unlike other American companies, employees don't earn additional vacation as they work more years with the company. What we get instead is a 6-week sabbatical every 4 years. I am taking mine starting right now. My wife and I have rented an apartment on Bourbon Street in New Orleans for the month of April. I am looking forward to family, friends, crawfish, boudin, and begnets.
In terms of Autodesk Labs, fear not, Shaan Hurley is at the helm. The product teams that supply the technology previews are the same as they ever were. Same as they wever were. I will be back in action on May 12. See you then. I may blog some of my exploits if anything interesting happens.
Work is not alive in the lab.
Director of Research, George Fitzmaurice, shared some good news with us. He was pleased to announce that a paper by Autodesk Research members was accepted and selected to receive the Innovative Application Award for Deployed Artificial Intelligence Applications at this year’s IAAI conference, Québec City, Québec, Canada, July 29-31.
Many of you may remember when the Autodesk Research team held a technology preview of CommunityComamnds for AutoCAD via Autodesk Labs.
Each year, IAAI awards the top applied Artificial Intelligence case studies papers the prestigious Innovative Application Award at the annual IAAI conference. The IAAI conference promotes research in artificial intelligence and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists, and engineers in related disciplines.
Way to go Autodesk Research members.
Celebration is alive in the lab.
"Let me tell you about the new world order
Not the kind to make you run for the border
It's a new religion wrapped in a revolution
With a prudent solution for your mental pollution"
— Todd Rundgren, "No World Order," No World Order, an interactive musical CD, 1993.
Some technology previews allow you to download an add-on for one of our desktop products.
Some technology previews run stand-alone:
Other technology previews allow you to try a totally new cloud-based solution:
We even have a technology preview that runs on an iPad:
In addition to those, here we have something that can be considered the new world order. Let's say you are an Autodesk InfraWorks 360 user.
So if you are using a cloud-based solution like InfraWorks 360, how do you try new functionality? Unlike for desktop companion technology previews, there is no installer to download and install. Also there is no totally new service to try, since the new functionality is part of the existing service. What to do? What to do? The answer is to allow the new technology to be enabled via the existing service. And exactly what the InfraWorks 360 team has done. There are 3 new technology previews you can try.
You enable them via sliders that appear in the InfraWorks 360 user interface:
Once you do and you try them for yourself, you can then provide your feedback via these Autodesk Labs technology preview projects on the Autodesk Feedback Community:
Drainage Design and Watershed Analysis
Thanks for giving these a try and sharing your feedback. Based on your participation, it is quite possible that we will try more technology previews this way. Your feedback shapes not only the future of our technology but also the future of our processes. Here's to the new world order...
Easy enablement is alive in the lab.
Check out this video. Autodesk's own Brian Mathews, our VP of Reality Capture and CTO for the Information Modeling and Platform Products Group, was featured on Bloomberg TV. He discusses the design and architecture of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with Bloomberg editor-at-large, Cory Johnson, and co-host Emily Chang:
I really like how Brian broke down product differentiators by decade:
I have blogged about the Bay Bridge before:
Bridge building is alive in the lab.
It's no surprise that Autodesk Labs is located on the Autodesk Feedback Community portal. Autodesk Labs is all about feedback. Sometimes people ask me what kind of feedback do we want. They have downloaded a utility or have tried one of our software as a service technologies and want to contact us, but they don't know what to say. Trust me that we appreciate feedback of any kind. Any kind or unkind words are welcome. We take the good with the bad. Here are some examples of the good, the bad, and the truly constructive:
"Created first chronicle and it couldn't have been easier! User interface seems to be very intuitive. 5 min. video processed and uploaded in about 6 minutes and received notification email about 11 minutes after publish. Editing feature was very easy to use, and I think appropriate... just a basic clip tool. I love the fact that I can create content on the fly while working on a project. Makes the creation of training videos billable, which is huge!"
"I just downloaded Project Octopus and ran a quick test. With this type of mindset, I think this will solve lots of issues for non API users."
Cloud Sync for AutoCAD Architecture/MEP
"When you use 'rename/renumber' on a sheet file the other users receive a '?' on their sheet files as if the DWG as been deleted. We are using Dropbox and it seems that Dropbox does not recognize the update. Do you still have to 'Checkout' the file before making the change?"
"I'd rather you guys push a GOOD (less automated) 'proper' Vector art app."
2D to 3D Tool for Inventor
"Definitely not ready for prime time, projected view seems to do whatever it feels like while placing a view, I’ve been trying to draw one part for the last half hour and cannot get it to align views properly. I have a view that is rotated 90 degrees, another that intesects the middle of the first one, and it ends up looking like a mess of lines more than what I'm trying to draw."
"There might be some call for using ISO 15926 in place of PCF, as its far more flexible. It might go a little too far in the flexibility area though, as content management can be a nightmare because it can literally support ANYTHING. I'd be satisfied with a more dedicated XML format with a public schema which could be extended to cover things like ducting. Think LandXML"
"We have been working on getting a way to take Revit models and 3D print them with our Makerbot Replicator 2s. So far we've had a majority of our issues come from curtain walls, windows, and doors. When the model is exported (and run through Project Miller), the model slices with holes in these objects, making it unprintable. The ability to control the amount of faces more directly, or more options to control it, like a 200,000 setting, 500,000, etc. would help to pull models out of Revit with more ease and cleanly print them. Feel free to create a ’Export to 3D Printing’ button for Revit directly."
So if you have something to say, we're all ears. Each technology preview has both an associated email address and discussion forum. Feel free to use them. Thanks to everyone who provides feedback.
Looking for customer comments is alive in the lab.
Though they share a common web site (Autodesk Feedback Community), in a previous blog post I highlighted the differences between technology previews from Autodesk Labs and betas from the Autodesk Beta program.
That blog article chose the two ends of the spectrum. Actually the distinctions among projects on the Autodesk Feedback Community can be a little more subtle. There are a few types of projects that exist under each domain.
In general the differing notions include:
WHEN IT HAPPENS
A project can occur early in the product life cycle or much later.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE
A project can be open to the public or by invitation-only. Sometimes this is driven by whether or not Autodesk is comfortable with competitors getting their hands on the subject of the project.
A project can be conducted under a confidentiality agreement. This means you can't talk about it outside of the Feedback Community. Other projects allow you to talk about your experience publicly. Once again this is sometimes based on trying to keep things under wraps.
WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO LEARN
For a project that's early in the development process, we want to know if we should go any further. For a project that is later in the development process, we often want to know if it is ready to ship or not.
HOW YOU CAN USE IT
Some projects do not allow the technology to be used for production work. After all, projects early in their life cycle are not fully baked. We are realists and recognize that some people would not bother to join a a project unless they could use it for production use. So some projects allow this. Others don't.
We are grateful to our customers and partners who participate in our projects. You should start to see the following terms:
on the Autodesk Feedback Community to describe the project you are participating in. This should help give you a sense as to what the project is about at its very onset. Your feedback shapes the future of our technology. To see the list of current technology previews on Autodesk Labs, check out the site:
Terminology is alive in the lab.
From the same team that brought you Project Shapeshifter, Project Carbon is a technology preview from the Autodesk Research.IL group. Vectorize It is an iPad application that converts images to vector drawings and introduces an easy way for creating CAD files that can be opened using AutoCAD 360 mobile or sent as DXF/SVG vector files via email. The team would like to collect your thoughts about Vectorize It,
Please put the petal to the medal and give this app a try. You can reach the Project Carbon team with your feedback in a variety of ways.
So please join the project and then go to the Apple App store and download the app.
Monkeying around with new tools is alive in the lab.
Bill O'Connor is one of our corporate strategists. He and I do a lot of work together. Via this blog, I have shared a few things that Bill has done — one of which involved the Future of Storytelling conference.
The other day I was at a meeting where Autodesk team members talked about what they learned at the Future of Storytelling conference. Well at that meeting, the famous "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" commercial from the 1970's was highlighted.
Recently this was re-imagined by Coca Cola. Coca Cola had its employees film short segments where they said "I'd like to buy you a coke." Vending machines around the world were then instrumented so that as would-be customers approached the machines, they would see/hear the message and get a free Coke. The recipient could then enter a text message and thank the employee for the free Coke. Check this out:
This was successful, filmed, and will be used in future marketing campaigns.
The process has even expanded where one person, a non-employee, could give another person a Coke.
I had a thought. What if we had a "I'd like to buy the world a 3D Print." campaign? Employees could film brief segments saying "I'd like to buy you a 3D print of your design." When would-be customers come to our web site and click on the "free trial" link, a random number of them would be taken to a page where they see an employee's message and are able to download a coupon for a 3D print at Red Eye. Stupid or brilliant?
Thinking out loud is alive in the lab.
Autodesk Labs is part of the Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CSE) team at Autodesk. The mission of the CSE team is formulate, prototype, and cultivate ideas, technologies, and relationships that shape Autodesk's future. We distill the big ideas and conversations that are important to Autodesk and make them more accessible and valuable inside and outside of the company. CSE is involved in the creation and management of several diverse initiatives to help our key stakeholders understand our corporate vision to imagine, design, and create a better world.
Autodesk Fellow, Tom Wujec, is a member of our team. Tom has been a long-time proponent of visual thinking. Tom can't go anywhere without some post-it notes and a drawing pen. Tom's always able to distill content down to its essence in a visually compelling way. Social Media Specialist, Blake Menezes, and Tom were recently involved in The Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference whose output was captured graphically as only Tom can do. One way to share the event is this video by Pasquale Volpintesta, Art Director on the Brand Creative Team, which features what Tom captured:
Visual thinking is alive in the lab.
The Mesh Enabler enables Inventor users to work with imported Mesh data. As shipped, Inventor 2012 can import mesh data from Catia files. In addition to Catia files, Inventor 2013 can import mesh data from STL files and from JT files. The Mesh Enabler for 2013 and 2014 adds the ability to post process the imported mesh data to convert the mesh features to Inventor Base features. The resulting Base features can then be used for further operations including drawings and measurements. The technology preview has graduated from Autodesk Labs, and a non-expiring version is available in the Autodesk App Exchange for Autodesk Subscription customers.
Access to goodies like these are one of the benefits of subscription. The subscription requirement poses a problem for the Student Community who are not part of the Autodesk Subscription program. We hear from students and educators on a regular basis.
When we do, I have these requests on an individual basis. I share a link where the student can download the current version of the technology. So if you are a student, you can contact me at email@example.com.
Education is alive in the lab.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day — March 17, 2014. Yesterday some people celebrated with green beer. We celebrated with little green men comprised of fewer mesh faces thanks to a Project Khan update. Recall that Project Khan for Maya gives you the ability to selectively simplify 3D assets by generating proxy assets and by reducing mesh complexity, texture complexity, and rig (bone) complexity.
A new build, number 180, is available for download. Based on your feedback, this update includes the following features:
Little green men are alive in the lab.
Software Engineer of Applied Innovation, Evan Atherton, is one of our team members. I have featured Evan's exploits in other blog posts.
He recently took a field trip to ILM. Here is his story.
The Force was strong with me that day. It was a Tuesday. I was working diligently at my desk when I saw an email pop into my inbox. It was a notification that Senior Brand Communications Manager, Julie Hayes, had posted on the Brand Experience Autodesk 360 page. For some reason the picture didn't load, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the words that were in its place: "Star Wars.png."
Anyone who knows me — or anyone who has seen my desk — knows that I am a huge Star Wars fan, so naturally I thought the email was meant for me. I clicked on the link and was directed to the Autodesk 360 post where Julie was offering the final spot for a tour of Industrial Light & Magic — the geek mother ship. I scanned the page and saw that no one had posted yet. My heart fluttered as I frantically replied, praying no one beat me to it.
Turns out my Jedi training paid off because I landed the trip.
On that most glorious of days, once we arrived, we were guided to the reception area — an entire room filled with Star Wars props, golden trophies, and life-sized characters. Instead of US Weekly magazines, the coffee table was covered in Star Wars Insider magazines.
When we checked in with the receptionist, our badges were pre-printed and waiting for us, along with other guests from different parties. The name on the badge below mine caught my eye. It read "Phil Tippett." It was then that I felt the true gravitas of the sacred grounds on which I stood. Phil Tippett, for those less indoctrinated than I, was the stop-motion mastermind behind the Imperial Walkers (ATATs) on Hoth and Endor, and the holographic chess table in A New Hope. Many swoon over the Mick Jaggers and Beyonces, but these people are my rock stars.
We were guided by our gracious hosts, Rich McBride and Eric Schweckert, into the ILM screening room — a state-of-the-art theater where world-famous directors screen the visual effects shots that their teams at ILM are working on. We were treated to a video message from George Lucas and JJ Abrams, along with an incredible show reel of the work that ILM had recently completed.
Then we began the tour…
The halls of ILM are lined with George Lucas' private collection of rare vintage poster, movie props, behind-the-scenes pictures, and more. It was a general what's what of our collective childhoods.
We got to peek into the places where people actually work as well. The partitions between desks were made entirely of bookshelves, which themselves were decorated with posters, props, and books. This really broke up the homogeneity that many corporate offices seem struggle with. The only computer screen I saw someone working on had Autodesk Maya open, so that was cool to see.
Our gallery at 1 Market is our showpiece, whereas ILM's hallways are theirs. Some of my favorite things were the animatronic ghost head from Ghost Busters and an animatronic dinosaur prototype for Jurassic Park.
My favorite item, however, might have been an original Dykstraflex.
The Dykstraflex was invented by John Dykstra, who helped George Lucas form ILM to create the visual effects on Star Wars. The Dykstraflex was one of the first motion-control camera systems. It's what made many of the visual effects of Star Wars possible. We continued to travel on through the many halls until it was time for lunch.
Then an event happened so powerful, it made me believe in The Force. I am a huge fan of the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars, which I follow the making of quite heavily. The key figure in making the series so good is the supervising director — Dave Filoni.
Naturally when I found out I was going to ILM, my first thought was "Oh man, I hope I run into Dave Filoni!" Again, these people are my rock stars. I dismissed the idea as not very likely because ILM and Lucasfilm Animation are housed in different buildings.
Our last stop on the tour was to the in-house cafeteria (which was delicious). As we entered the cafeteria I couldn't help but thinking, "If I ran into Dave, this would probably be the likeliest." I turned the next corner and (not one to be star struck) I froze... Dave was walking right toward me.
I worked up the courage to stop him and tell him how big of a fan I was of the show. He noticed I was a visitor, so he asked me where I was from. I told him I was visiting from Autodesk, and he replied, "Oh that's great. We couldn't do what we do without you guys!" To put that into context, they use Maya exclusively to produce their Emmy award winning show.
What a way to end an awesome field trip. I'd like to thank the Brand Team for giving me the opportunity to tag along!
Thanks for reading if you made it this far.
May the Force be with you,
Light and magic are alive in the lab.
Today in North America I am proud to share that Autodesk launched Autodesk Instant, a group messaging app for the workplace on iOS and Android. Autodesk Instant makes it easy for coworkers to instantly communicate no matter where they are and exchange messages, photos, video, and location. Colleagues can initiate conversations with anyone in their address book, or any other colleague who has verified their email with the app. I have had a fondness for solutions like this since my Buzzsaw (a.k.a., ProjectPoint.exe) days.
Autodesk has over 30 years of experience understanding professional workflows, and we are continually exploring ways to increase collaboration among distributed teams. In 1998, when we created our internal department that eventually spun out on its own as Buzzsaw.com, we were called the Design Team Solutions Group. Today we can see many of our professional industry customers who need improved mobile project-based collaboration benefiting from this tool. Autodesk Instant also provides a cheaper alternative to SMS, and the team tells me that corporate administration controls and integration access to web tools will be added in future versions of the app.
Communication is alive in the field.
All good things must come to an end.
I blog about this every once in a while. 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 approach allows us to get early feedback on the general idea, user interface, performance characteristics, and general correctness of the results.
Here is a list of active Autodesk Labs 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|
|March 31, 2014||Project Khan
|March 31, 2014||Daylighting Analysis for Revit
|March 31, 2014||Project Memento
|March 31, 2014||FABmep Import for Revit MEP
|April 1, 2014||Cloud Sync for AutoCAD Architecture / MEP
|April 1, 2014||Project Miller
|April 30, 2014||Project Shapeshifter
|May 27, 2014||Project Dalton
|June 1, 2014||Project Chronicle
|June 1, 2014||Project Octopus for Robot Structural Analysis
|July 1, 2014||Inventor Simplification
|December 21, 2014||2D to 3D Tool for Inventor
Technology previews have a specific end date so no one confuses them with perpetual functionality that is associated with a product offering or subscription service. In fact, technology previews are offered for free to Subscription, non-Subscription, and educational customers alike. 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 provide us with an up or down vote. Your experience shapes the future of our technology indeed.
Sniffing the cartons to see what can still be tasted is alive in the lab.
The latest issue of the Autodesk Labs newsletter features some work that the Office of the CTO is doing around what we refer to as The Innovation Genome Project. Basically one of my colleagues, Corporate Strategist, Bill O'Connor, is studying innovation in the same way that the human genome was eventually mapped.
In addition to early-adoption-minded customers, many Autodesk employees receive the newsletter. One of those is Senior Principal Engineer and Technical Evangelist, Brian Pene. Many of you know Brian from his work on augmented reality or integration of Autodesk software with devices like the Leap Motion. Using the link from the newsletter, Brian was watching the video regarding The Innovation Genome Project on his phone.
Last week Brian just stopped by to tell us that his 3 year-old daughter also watched the video. He relayed the story as:
Brian noted that his daughter never sugar coats her points of view (most 3 year-olds don't). Even more so, she rarely says stuff is good as her quality standards are very high (to which a fellow employee quipped: "Sounds like CEO material...").
In our subsequent discussion, we think we may have reached out to our youngest audience yet. Perhaps we should do more of these in the spirit of See Dick Run? If you wish to connect with your inner child with regard to innovation:
Leg pulling is alive in the lab.
Dr. Woohoo and Scott
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that our robot is learning to draw. Now Bishop (a.k.a. our robot) is learning to paint.
Designer of Applied Innovation, Andrew Trujillo (a.k.a. Dr. Woohoo) is on our team helping the robot perform its magic. We wanted to find out what happens when you combine generative art, water colors, and a robot arm. I guess you could consider it our foray in hybrid art.
Brush strokes are alive in the lab.
Autodesk's own Senior Principal Research Scientist, Dr. Tovi Grossman, has been serving as the Technical Program Co-Chair for the 2014 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. The CHI conference is the premier international research conference on human-computer interaction. The conference brings together students and experts, researchers and practitioners, scientists, designers and engineers to create new visions of human-computer interaction. The conference this year will be taking place April 26-May 1, in Toronto's convention center, very close to Autodesk's downtown Toronto office. See the advanced program for a description of the event.
According to Tovi, some highlights of the event include:
CHI 2014 features two outstanding keynote speakers: Booker prize winning author, Margaret Atwood; and, leading UX designer, Scott Jenson, who was the first member of the User Interface group at Apple in the late 80's.
The main focus of the technical program will be 465 research papers that were accepted to the conference after a thorough peer review process (23% acceptance rate). The online program indicates which sessions which these papers appear in, and is full of topics such as 3D modeling and interaction; mobile interaction and small devices; online social communities; digital fabrication, hacking and hackerspaces; image and animation authoring; sustainability; design research; programming and development tools; and learning and tutorials.
The conference will also offer 8 panel presentations, 12 special interest group discussions, and 30 courses. There will be 6 "One of a CHInd" courses that will be given by distinguished members of the HCI community such as Bill Buxton (former Autodesker, now Microsoft Research) and Don Norman (author of The Design of Everyday Things).
The exhibition area will feature Interactivity which showcases this year's most exciting interactive technologies and installations. Over 60 hands-on demonstrations, interactive technologies, and stage interactive experiences will be exhibited. There will also be a special Wearable Computing Exhibit, curated by Thad Starner, wearable computing pioneer and Technical Lead on Google Glass.
The final day of the conference has been designated as our "Industry Featured Day," with content specifically relevant to practitioners working in HCI related fields. This will include:
Autodesk itself will be represented at the Conference, serving as a Champion Sponsor, and having 6 papers, 2 Interactivity Exhibits, and 1 Video Showcase entry.
If you are interested in attending the conference, the registration system is now open. Please note that rates go up after March 14th.
Conference participation is alive in the lab.
Design Night, open to the general public, is an events program at the Autodesk Gallery. 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 to the music they hear. The result is a fun and fascinating venue for exploration, networking, and the exchange of ideas.
On Thursday, April 3, 6-10 p.m., the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco will host another Design Night: Found in Space, where we will explore the design's impact on space exploration. So get yourself over to Design Night and experience:
A talk by
A blast from the past with 80's-themed arcade games
From Little Dippers to little green men, space has fascinated us for thousands of years, but never has it seemed closer to earth than now. No longer the final frontier, it's the next frontier, with everything from 3D printing in zero gravity to space tourism promising to transform science fiction to soon-to-be fact. After all, how do you think your GPS works? And while we still may not have those wormhole super highways everyone was talking about, the lasting link between earth and space promises to be…um…out of this world.
So come to Design Night if you're curious about space and what it means to be influenced by the future of design. Also enjoy an open bar, food, activities, and much, much more so...um...hurry! The previous Design Nights have sold out quickly. Registration is required and ticket pricing is as follows:
Tickets are on sale now. To attend the event:
Admission fees include admission to the presentation, as well as an open bar, food, music, and hands-on activities. Almost all Design Nights have sold out in advance! So make sure to go to the event site at high noon.
Still on the fence about whether to attend or not? Here are some of the Design Nights we have held in the past:
The pursuit of infinity and beyond is alive in the lab.
P.S. Am I the only one old enough to remember the Lost in Space TV series?
Now that Autodesk Labs and Autodesk Beta are both hosted on the Autodesk Feedback Community platform, I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate some of that information that I shared at our first annual North American Autodesk Expert Elite Summit in San Francisco. The Expert Elite program recognizes community members who make extraordinary contributions to our online and social communities. Members of the Expert Elite group are characterized by their regular and responsive participation in Autodesk’s discussion forums and social channels and advanced knowledge of company and our products.
Autodesk Labs is wide open to the public. Anyone can participate. Labs technology previews have a start and end date. Having a fixed interval gives teams a window where they can get feedback, make a decision, and move to the next development effort. There are also Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules that prevent Autodesk from providing perpetual functionality outside of the Subscription program. So each technology preview has a built-in time-bomb. When the time-bomb causes the functionality to expire, the team considers what to do as its next step. This could be holding another technology preview to get more feedback, retiring the technology for now, or making a non-expiring version available in the App Exchange or Subscription Center. Which of the 3 possible steps they take depends on the feedback they have received.
Unlike technology previews that are open to the public, generally users are invited to Autodesk Beta under confidentiality agreements. It's like Fight Club. The number one rule about Autodesk Betas is that you don't talk about Autodesk Betas [outside the confines of the Autodesk Feedback Community]. For beta, it's an iterative improvement process until a product is ready to ship. Teams post a build. Team get feedback. They make updates. They post a new build. The process repeats until there are no more changes to be made. The bar for deciding to "fix a defect" versus "defer it to a later release" raises as the release target date nears. This happens because anytime a team fixes something, they run the risk of breaking something else (see example). With your cooperation (thank you), teams want to mitigate that. As such, each defect resolution contains a proposed set of changes that gets reviewed as part of a bug fixing process. Fixes that are too risky, even though valuable to customers, get deferred to a later service pack or future release. The overall quality of the release is more important than any one defect correction. The fix/defer decision is made on a case by case basis at daily bug scrub meetings that have marketing, product management, software development, and quality assurance in attendance. It is truly a team effort.
The iterative Beta process is unlike the Labs process which is more of a one-shot "let's see what we need to do next" process; however, both rely on customer feedback. That's where you come in. Between Labs and Beta. thanks to your expertise:
The up side on defect correction is that the bar raises as the release date nears, so the earlier a defect is identified, the better chance it has of being corrected. That's why early participation in Beta programs is key. That's why participation in Labs technology previews is key — sooner is better than later. If the very idea of a technology is off the mark, let us know during the preview stage, so the team can focus its efforts on something else.
A process comparison is once again alive in the lab.
Three of the exhibits in the Autodesk Gallery at One Market feature LEGO building blocks:
The other day I came across this:
The Collectionary is a community of collectors and enthusiasts who are building an encyclopedia of everything that people collect. Since the Industrial Revolution, talented inventors have created a tremendous number of objects that have left their mark on us. Some products are so iconic that they have become a part of our history. I think it's safe to say that LEGO blocks fall in that category.
FUN FACT: In 1934, LEGO's founder held a contest among his staff to name the company, offering a bottle of homemade wine as a prize. He was considering two names himself, "Legio" (with the implication of a "Legion of toys") and "Lego", a self-made contraction from the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning "play well." The founder ignored the contest entries and went with his own second choice. Later the Lego Group discovered that "Lego" can be loosely interpreted as "I put together" or "I assemble" in Latin. source: Wikipedia
Come check out the three exhibits, as well as all the rest, at the Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco. (You can even add a piece or two to our unfinished LEGO dinosaur.) The gallery is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm. Visit us.
Making our mark in educating the world about design is alive in the lab.