October 17, 2018
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Onshape, a cloud-based CAD (computer-aided design) manufacturer, has created an application for use with Magic Leap’s augmented reality glasses to let engineers collaborate in designing products. Shown as a technology demonstration at the L.E.A.P. conference, Onshape’s tool was one of the few applications that was not entertainment-related and proved the concept of spatial computing’s power touted by Magic Leap chief exec Rony Abovitz. Onshape’s leadership includes the original creators of SolidWorks, a popular CAD tool.
VentureBeat reports that Onshape chief executive Jon Hirschtick “has worked with Magic Leap closely for a few years on the technology.” “This is our first venture into AR/VR,” said Onshape engineer Evan Novak. “For us, there’s a lot of potential here. Having the ability to manipulate 3D CAD objects with your hand makes a lot of sense. You can do this today in a browser, but it’s a little clumsy in a 2D space.”
Onshape’s CAD application is intended for use with the Magic Leap One Creator Edition. With it, “engineers will be able to bring life-size 3D CAD models into their surroundings and collaborate on design changes.”
VB journalist Dean Takahashi tried out the software and “was able to grab a mechanical part and resize it so it was smaller,” while the other person in the demo “grabbed the part and made it bigger.” “I could see the part in three dimensions, and I could walk around it and see it from different angles,” wrote Takahashi, noting that, “in the long term, the idea is to get CAD model changes to be visible in real time.”
He called the demo “a little janky,” having had to restart it once, with the Magic Leap “computing puck” starting to feel a little warm. But Onshape will allow engineers to “see what their designs really look like from all angles, before they commit to manufacturing.”
Onshape also already has a track record, with “users in 170 countries … [logging] over 5 million hours modeling advanced robotics, biomedical devices, industrial machinery, agriculture equipment, and consumer products.” The 100-person company, founded in 2012, has raised $169 million from “Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, North Bridge, and other leading investors.”