Our everyday physical products are designed and developed in a quite old-fashioned way. Today’s process relies on computer software tools initially developed 20-30 years ago. These tools and processes are quite disconnected from the initial design process, it often takes many digital iterations and several meetings between designers, engineers, and technicians to get a design to a deliverable state. As a result, a lot of face to face collaboration is necessary to move the process along with confidence.
Design and engineering teams rely on lengthy iteration processes with physical models and trips to factories for prototyping.
The design and deployment process of a sneaker can take anywhere from 6-12 months with the sampling phase stretching out development times by months on end. The key challenge many teams face is one of communication; designers and engineers speak the same 3D language but communicate through different 2D dialects. The migration of 2D sketches to digital 3D models is a timely process, all stakeholders must buy in before finalising the design and sending digital information off for manufacturing. With ever tightening delivery timelines several products bear the hallmarks of a series of compromises which were made due to a lack of clear communication from the onset.
We recognized that VR creation alone solves a very specific challenge in the design process and once the initial idea is defined in 3D it is important to bring all stakeholders in imeitaly before investing more time and resources. For the past year we have been working hard on collaboration and design review tools for the later stages of the design process. Our recent software update brings the ability for users to collaborate in the same virtual room together in real time through our cloud platform LandingPad. This enables design and engineering teams to create, collaborate, and review work at full scale from anywhere in the world.
This functionality was previously only available to enterprise customers with strict IT infrastructure requirements. The team has worked hard to provide a more accessible version of the collaboration features which can be accessed through the cloud to help design studios who have transitioned to working remote and do not have robust IT setups but can leverage cloud software.
Text and 2D based design disciplines have great tools for collaboration, with Figma and Invision leading the way. However, industrial designers working remotely lack collaboration tools for their 3D pipeline. From day one we have been on a mission to help global design teams work more productively and enjoy the process of collaborating with colleagues all while maintaining a high standard of delivery.
“Design and engineering are highly iterative/collaborative disciplines; effective 3D collaboration on new yet to be materialised products, is a growing challenge our customers have been facing for years. As companies begin looking for ways to remain productive in our new remote working reality, now more than ever is a critical time for us to focus on delivering a collaboration experience and getting it in the hands of not only our customers but support any design or engineering firm who is trying to maintain productivity in these uncertain times.” – Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Co-Founder and CEO
Working directly in 3D when it comes to the design and engineering of physical products is becoming a necessity for any design pipeline across all industries. The clarity of communication and time to market are benefits that make it almost irresponsible for teams not to migrate to full 3D pipelines. The tool thus far has been hugely beneficial for the early stage of the pipeline, allowing teams to explore and ideate immersively in 3D and carry that 3D work on to the next phase of the process without experiencing mis-communication which often happens when teams move from 2D to 3D.
In the current working climate, companies are now faced with the challenges of not only working remotely but maintaining productivity and competitiveness; essentially trying to better understand what the future of work looks like for them. By pushing the development of collaboration feathers forward we have been able to get an early access version in the hands of a select number of businesses. One of the early testers is Achilles Design, based in Belgium, who has been using Gravity Sketch to collaborate and review remotely since the beginning of lockdown.
“Virtual reality in the business space has been a solo-experience for years. With Co-Creation, designers and clients can finally collaborate directly. The fact that I have been able to join clients in VR while working from home is unprecedented, both for them and for myself. Co-Creation is the most effective way of communicating spatial designs to all the stakeholders of a project. No other tool offers this level of immersion and understanding of 3D space.” – Lucas Van Dorpe, Industrial Designer at Achilles Design
Through this early access we have seen the tool used not only in the early stages of the design process but also in much later stages. Teams are often bringing in defined CAD models created in Rhino, SolidWorks, Alias, among others, and holding immersive design review and meetings, annotating and commenting on the 3d design. This has opened our eyes to a whole new application of the tool.
The key applications of the collaboration solution which we’ve seen today are with teams of up to 10:
- Design together, creating fully editable content in the same virtual space
- Review together, through both discussions around the virtual design as well as adding notes and annotations to imported CAD models
The virtual collaboration spaces are accessible from any location with cross platform support (All PC VR headsets, and Oculus Quest). We are now offering design and engineering studios the opportunity to trial the collaboration tools free for a month; teams can evaluate the impact of this technology on their design workflow. All businesses that have the need to put multiple designers or other stakeholders into a collaborative design environment, or design review, are invited to sign up for a trial.
Please click the link below to register your interest: