The call for General Session doors to open at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center in Dallas came just after 8:00am. Seconds later, spurred on by the thunderous sounds of AC/DC, the world’s best engineers sprinted through Hall D to claim their seats for the biggest show in design technology. It’s not every day you feel such palpable electricity in the air at 8:15am, but this isn’t just any day. It’s day one of SOLIDWORKS World 2016.
SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi took to the stage and introduced the day’s themes: flexibility and innovation. It’s not just about providing tools to solve problems faster. The key to creating better products comes through a combination of creativity and execution. The amazing SOLIDWORKS community brings creativity, while SOLIDWORKS provides a platform to execute on their innovative ideas.
Gian Paolo then introduced President and CEO of Dassault Systèmes Bernard Charlès to the main stage. In addition to continuing Dassault Systèmes commitment to investing in SOLIDWORKS today and tomorrow, Charlès shared several examples of how designers around the world are bringing amazing projects to life with 3DEXPERIENCE platform. These projects included examples like mapping Singapore to improve city life to sustainable construction in Japan and bringing the power of innovation to individuals and small and medium-sized businesses. Each example included a common thread: experience.
Next up, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Dassault Systèmes Monica Menghini discussed the need for consumer experiences. Perfect products are no longer enough. Consumers want products that create lasting experiences they want to have over and over. To create these types of products, Menghini encouraged us to shift our approach from product design to customer journey design.
Gian Paolo returned to the stage to expand on the three pillars of the SOLIDWORKS innovation platform: People, Applications, and Infrastructure. Here’s a recap of how Gian Paolo see these pieces fitting together:
People are driving how the platform is built. The SOLIDWORKS community is 5 million users strong, taught in nearly 30K schools and includes 175K certified users. The users are passionate, demanding and brilliant; the applications they need to make products happen must meet the same criteria. It’s this group that dictates how SOLIDWORKS improves. Since the release of SOLIDWORKS 2016, more than 45K people have attended seminars and 6K reseller events are in the books. It’s here where we learn how to approach our applications.
Applications are the tools that people need to innovate and, therefore, where we place an enormous amount of investment. For example, SOLIDWORKS 2016 included hundreds of user-requested enhancements. These types of updates that occur in every annual release extend the depth of SOLIDWORKS capabilities. Further we want to expand the breadth of our solutions to give you more product development options.
Newly announced applications include:
SOLIDWORKS Visualize, a suite of rendering tools, helps organizations, including nontechnical users, leverage 3D CAD data to create photorealistic marketing content that is print and web-ready in minutes. Find more information on SOLIDWORKS Visualize here.
SOLIDWORKS PCB is a partnership with Altium allowing users to design printed circuit boards used in many IoT designs. This is immensely important as consumer demand for experiences and connected devices becomes the norm. Find more on SOLIDWORKS PCB here.
3D printing integration with Sindoh means one-click printing directly from SOLIDWORKS with the capability to check progress from your desktop or mobile device. Read this blog post for more information on this exciting new integration.
The infrastructure piece is how your applications are delivered. For SOLIDWORKS users, this means three flexible options: Desktop, Connected, and Online.
Before introducing new payment options, Gian Paolo stated that our users’ best understand the needs of their businesses. Traditional perpetual licenses are here to stay. There’s an immense value in owning software and investing in subscription is of critical importance. Gian Paolo compared SOLIDWORKS subscription to buying a car from a dealer, then going back a year later to receive the latest upgrades. The new term license option is what’s new. Now users can decide to rent SOLIDWORKS for one quarter or longer, providing flexible and scalable options that better suit another set of users. SOLIDWORKS Online Trials are also now available and will be extended to 14 languages.
At the end of the day, Gian Paolo emphasized that the innovation platform is about flexibility and choice. It is SOLIDWORKS’ duty to give users the tools to make the best decisions for their businesses. SOLIDWORKS is not interesting in forcing users into a model that does not make sense for their needs.
This discussion led to a technical preview of tools being developed to provide more flexible options for SOLIDWORK users: online storage and product design with Xdrive, Part Supply and Xdesign. Gian Paolo called Kishore Boyalakuntla, Senior Director of Product Management and Brand UX Leader, to preview these technologies:
Xdrive is an app on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform providing SOLIDWORKS Desktop customers with cloud storage and other services, such as secure sharing and social collaboration for any file type. This opens up opportunities to collaborate anytime, anywhere. Xdrive will be available to every SOLIDWORKS Subscription user with the SOLIDWORKS 2017 release.
Powered by EXALEAD, Part Supply enables you to find and reuse existing parts and reduce duplicates. In addition to searching your cloud-based files, Part Supply searches 3D ContentCentral and TraceParts to help you find parts and components to meet your design goals.
Xdesign puts product design in a browser, enabling users to design anytime, anywhere, and from any device. Gian Paolo and Kishore presented how Xdesign features are aiming to put the “Aided” in Computer-Aided Design. These features, including design guidance, scribble sketching, super features and super mates, provide suggestions on how your models should be designed and, in some cases, eliminate work by creating parts based on parameters you input into Xdesign. If users then want to bring colleagues or partners into the fold, eDrawings is integrated for maximum collaboration. Further, MBD is integrated to include 3D Product Manufacturing Information (PMI).
Follow this link to stay up to date on SOLIDWORKS Xdesign news and register for upcoming beta program information.
Rounding out the day were keynote presentations from two groundbreaking SOLIDWORKS users: MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld and designer Yves Béhar. The two presentations demonstrated how designers and engineers approach the world: taking technology to improve our daily experience.
Gershenfeld managed to cram 30+ years of history into what seemed like minutes. The professor shared some fascinating projects conducted by his students, but a highlight had to be the “Scream Body” created by a student in Gershenfeld’s “How to make (almost) anything” class. The Scream Body is wearable technology that users scream into when feeling the need. The Scream Body both silences the scream from others, but allows the screamer to save the audio for later use – like on a crowded sidewalk (as seen in this video).
Another highlight included his retelling of bringing high-powered lasers to the White House, much to the Secret Service’s chagrin. Overall, Gershenfeld’s serious takeaway is that technology has progressed to a point where digital fabrication tools are making it possible for anyone on the planet to become a designer. We should do our best to help people embrace these tools and unleash their inner “maker.”
Béhar, founder and principal designer for the Fuseproject, shared his experience in connecting the worlds of technology and design. Béhar believes that technology is about performance, specs and efficiency, while design’s focus is the human experience. To take advantage of the new opportunities afforded to us by technology and connected products, we need to ensure that design drives technology. Béhar compared technology to fabric in that it can be cut into different shapes and functions to fit our needs. It all goes back to experience, and the best way to deliver the types of experiences customers want today is to incorporate technology but lead with design.
That’s a wrap for day one. What was your general session highlight?