Scott Sheppard, the man behind Autodesk Labs. (Image courtesy of Roopinder Tara.)
Autodesk has been a wellspring of exciting technology without equal in the CAD world. It may surprise you to learn that most days Autodesk Labs is just one person: Scott Sheppard.
Autodesk Labs started from a conversation with CAD’s first and maybe most prolific blogger, Shaan Hurley, who may have been enamored of what Google was doing with its Labs— trying out technologies to see if they catch on.
Hurley has since moved on to the office of the CTO, but Sheppard is still very much Autodesk Labs. Labs functions as a resource inside Autodesk. If a developer needs to test the waters with a technology, Sheppard will showcase it on Labs and record the number of downloads and registrations, as well as feedback. You can test a product (called “Projects”) for free, but if they are popular enough, they can “graduate” from Labs and turn up for sale in the Autodesk portfolio.
We caught up with Sheppard at Autodesk’s offices on Market Street in San Francisco (where he shares a cubicle with none other than Autodesk CEO Carl Bass) to find out which of Labs’ products were his favorites. Here are his picks:
3D model constructed from photographs and Autodesk 123D, by Pablo Camporro. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
1. Project Photofly became Autodesk 123D Catch. 123D Catch allows ordinary users to be able to create 3D models from digital photographs.
Rear wheel drive and differential, by Pablo Diaz, created with Fusion 360. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
2. Inventor Fusion morphed into Autodesk Fusion 360. Fusion 360 combines parametric modeling with direct model manipulation.
AutoCAD 360 lets you view DWG files, here on an iPad. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
3. Project Butterfly became Autodesk AutoCAD 360. AutoCAD 360 is a free, easy-to-use mobile application that lets you upload, open and edit DWG files.
Inventor LT. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
4. Autodesk Inventor LT started out in Autodesk Labs, graduated to beta and then became a full-fledged product. This was patterned after the “Limited Technology” product for AutoCAD, but for Inventor users who do not need the full power of Inventor.
Room by GlaciMussi, using Autodesk Homestyler.(Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
5. Project Dragonfly became Autodesk Homestyler. Homestyler allows consumers to model their space by dragging and dropping real products into it as part of home renovation or redecoration projects.
Ducati motorcycle model made using Autodesk Memento beta, courtesy of Bandito Brothers studio. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
6. Project Memento graduated to Autodesk Memento beta. Autodesk Memento is an end-to-end solution for converting any captured reality input (photos or scans) into high definition 3D meshes that can be cleaned up, fixed and optimized for the Web, mobile or 3D printing/fabbing.
Setting geographic location in Autodesk products.(Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
7. The Google Earth Extension for AutoCAD morphed into the geolocation feature of the AutoCAD family of products.
Danish firm COWI uses InfraWorks 360 to create 3D models of bridges and roadwaysthat include existing geographical conditions. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
8. Project Galileo became InfraWorks 360. Autodesk InfraWorks 360 (i.e., automated 3D model building, cloud technology and specialized features for road, bridge and drainage design) helps civil engineers plan and design transportation infrastructure.
Autodesk Flow Design lets you simulate airflow—without having to learn how to use a complicated CFD program. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
9. Project Falcon became Autodesk Flow Design. Flow Design is a virtual wind tunnel that models air flow around design concepts to help test ideas early in the development cycle.
Rendered in the cloud with Autodesk A360. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
10. Project Neon became the Rendering in A360 service. Customers can leverage the cloud to produce photorealistic renderings of their designs without tying up their own machines.