Interview with the CEOs of Spatial
Ralph Grabowski posted on November 03, 2015 | 5142 views

Spatial Corporation is the division of Dassault Systèmes that licenses technology to CAD firms. Its best-known component is 3D ACIS Modeler, which has been used for solid modeling since 1989. The company also distributes components developed by Dassault, such as its CGM Core Modeler and CGM Polyhedra non-precise modeling add-on.

This year, Spatial held its annual conference in Munich, where I had the opportunity to interview two CEOs of the company: the outgoing Jean-Marc Guillard and the incoming Linda Lokay.


Linda Lokay is the former vice president of marketing and business development at Spatial.
Linda Lokay is the former vice president of marketing and business development at Spatial.


Ralph Grabowski: Why a change in CEOs?

Jean-Marc Guillard: I am going back to France for family reasons. As we rely more and more on Dassault technology, Linda knows very well what the customers need [and] what Dassault can provide. That's why she is the perfect person to take over.

RG: Linda, what are your aims as the new CEO?

Linda Lokay: I have thoughts, plans, ideas; but I am not ready to make changes right away. It is only day two for me on the job. Our core is being focused on customers and solving complex problems to make it easier to develop applications. I am working with the team to move forward.

RG: Are you trying move customers from 3D ACIS Modeler to Dassault's CGM Core Modeler?

LL: No. To move a geometric modeler does not make sense. We are trying to make the right technology available to the people who need it.

CGM is much more than [a] b-rep modeler; we have modules available such as CDS [constraints], CGM HLR [hidden line removal], CGM Polyhedra—technology coming out of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that we make available to customers. Just like we made CGM Polyhedra work with 3D ACIS Modeler.

JMG: Our business is based on royalties, so it is in our interest to serve customers' needs. It is not what is on an "agenda," it is what is needed by customers. We look at what technology is available from Dassault; if it is not available, then we write in-house, as we did with the 3D InterOp translator.

RG: Will you be getting more technology out of 3DEXPERIENCE to sell to customers?

LL: We are looking to see what technology is available that might be interesting to customers. If it is available, then why start from scratch?

JMG: What is easy has already [been] done. The CAD problems to be solved now are very complex to solve. They cannot be solved in isolation; they must be solved in a group. We are in business to solve complex problems, and we can solve complex problems because we are able to collaborate with our parent company.

RG: Is ACIS your biggest product?

JMG: 3D ACIS Modeler is our biggest product, but 3D InterOp is getting bigger and bigger. But we don't want to be only an ACIS company. So we also offer constraint solvers, polygonal modelers and so on.

Spatial provides 3D modeling, 3D visualization and CAD translation software for application developers. (Image courtesy of Spatial.)
Spatial provides 3D modeling, 3D visualization and CAD translation software for application developers. (Image courtesy of Spatial.)

RG: How new is hybrid modeling?

JMG: Polygonal modeling itself is not new to the industry; it has been around in software such as Geomagic. What is new is our hybrid version: the merging [of] the two forms, where we can manipulate triangle-based and solid models. This will change the workflow of how people work.

In our initial version, editing in the hybrid environment converts solid models into polygonal ones. The next release will keep solid models solid, and polygonal ones polygonal. 

LL: Hybrid modeling is in its infancy. The technology we are bringing out of 3DEXPERIENCE is very robust, mature technology. What is different is that we are working with [non-Dassault] customers in their workflows using the combination of the two types of modeling. What can they do that they couldn't do before? There is a lot of curiosity; people are just beginning to say, "This is interesting, tell me more." We will learn how customers can implement hybrid modeling.

RG: When was the new CGM Polyhedra component released for 3D ACIS Modeler?

LL: It was released mid-September.

RG: What about getting your components to run on cloud and mobile?

LL: Our technology is proven to work on multi-processor environments, like servers. It is natural for modelers to be in this environment. The cloud has been a good, interesting, new trend for our EDA customers; this lets them convert answers more quickly.

For an application that takes an SaaS [software as a service] approach, interoperability is an advantage. The cloud allows translated files to be optimized to make sure they are ready to work with. We just do the backend; it is up to customers to display the result.

A part of our solution with mobile is our partnership with Tech Soft 3D.

RG: What is your relationship with Tech Soft 3D and what do they provide you?

LL: We are partners with them in HOOPS for visualization, but compete with them on translation. The perfect coopetition [cooperating competition]. We use their HOOPS visualization technology for 3D graphics, and we provide the back end components.

JMG: There are pillars to our portfolio: modeling, visualization, interoperability. Create it, see it, coexist in the ecosystem.

RG: What about running things like 3D ACIS Modeler on a tablet?

LL: It is an open question. We are all curious about it, but to date it is just curiosity if a 3D ACIS Modeler could run on a hand-held device.

RG: The arrangement that you have with the ODA [Open Design Alliance]—is it unique?

LL: We have partnerships with different companies, but with the ODA it is clear: If you want the 3D access, then they have the bridge [from DWG] to 3D ACIS Modeler.

RG: Who are your customers?

LL: Every one of our customers is unique. Our focus used to be smaller companies, where we encouraged the technical growth of new ideas. We didn't have the portfolio back then. Today, however, we have small customers who consume multiple products, large ones who consume just one.

RG: "Spatial" is a term used in GIS. Do you find that Spatial is a difficult name to have in the CAD industry?

LL: In our industry, it is well-recognized, but as we go beyond, then the name might be a challenge. We are pushing beyond just solid modeling and so we are marketing name recognition. Medical, dental, hearing aids, geological, BIM, EDA—these all are definite areas of interest we are exploring with hybrid modeling.

For more information, please visit the Spatial Corporation website.

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