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FAQs - eDrawings Augmented Reality

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How does eDrawings with AR differ from the previous eDrawings product?

eDrawings for iOS and Android now includes Augmented Reality (AR). This allows users to view their SOLIDWORKS (or 3D design from many other CAD products) CAD designs in the real world. They simply activate the device’s camera and moments later, on the device’s screen, they can see their virtual design sitting on their desk or conference room table. This is a dynamic experience where the user can use their mobile device as a portal to view their model in their current environment and move around the room to see it from any perspective.

What is augmented reality (AR)?

AR is a technology which “augments” a live video feed by digitally adding information, graphics, or in our case, 3D models. The digital items are added to the video in such a way that they look like they truly exist in the real world.

A very popular example is the first-down marker shown on the field during NFL broadcasts. The line of scrimmage and first-down line look like they exist on the field, and update from play to play. But they don’t exist on the field. They are digitally added in real-time as the broadcast is happening.

In eDrawings, we add the 3D model at full scale and render it with the correct perspective. This is done to provide an accurate perception of what the final product’s size and shape will truly be when the product is finally produced.

Who is the target user of this product?

This product is for anyone involved in any stage of product design. Once a 3D model of a design is started, anyone in the process can view the model in the real world using their iOS or Android device and eDrawings. People who can use include:

  • Product designers
  • Engineers
  • Product Managers
  • Industrial designers
  • Design detailers
  • Manufacturing
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • And others

What benefit does AR provide?

The primary benefit provided by AR is that it allows people to visually experience a 3D design in a real-world context. This can be done at any stage in the design process, even at the very beginning. A designer can spend minutes creating an initial design concept, and then moments later, have the design concept sitting on the table, placed next to real objects for visual comparison. This real world experience can be applied throughout the many steps of the design process.

Before this, product teams would need to wait for physical models to be made to get their first real world experience. This comes at both a financial and time cost, so physical models are typically produced intermittently when it is most prudent.

Why is AR relevant to product design?

Design communication is a very important part of the product development process. There is a great deal of information, much of it very complex, which is constantly communicated throughout the process. Team members have varying levels of expertise, and can in turn, interpret information differently. Design communication challenges increase mistakes, along with development time and costs.

CAD has continually evolved to make designs easier to understand for everyone involved. 3D CAD makes a design more tangible, and easier to understand, than antiquated 2D blueprints. Now, AR continues this trend by being more tangible than just a 3D model viewed on a computer screen.

By seeing a design at full scale in the real world, we eliminate the opportunity to misinterpret a design’s size and scale. This is a common problem, even when working with 3D design tools.

The sooner everyone truly understands the design, the more confidently the design can progress with few mistakes, which means creating a better design faster.

What are the scenarios where AR will be used?

eDrawings with AR will primarily be used when a product design is being reviewed or shared with others. Engineers will typically take their designs from SolidWorks and put them in AR when discussing with other people, such as other engineers, managers, customers, and so on.

This will be useful in one-on-one interactions, and in meetings, especially when attempting to convey scale and design intent to a user unfamiliar with the product design or its context.

Are there benefits to this product outside of engineering/design environments?

Sales people can show off their products to prospects in a new and compelling way without having to travel with real physical products. And by using a tablet with eDrawings, the sales person can put their entire product line right on the customer’s conference table.

Does this compete with or complement rapid prototyping?

AR is an excellent complement to rapid prototyping.

AR allows a design to be visually experienced in the real world at any time in the design process, as many times as needed.

Rapid prototyping is typically done more sparingly due to cost and time, but it goes beyond just a visual experience. The models can be held, and in some instances physically tested. By using both technologies, design teams will get the best of both worlds.

What is its value beyond the initial “Wow” experience?

Yes, there is value to AR beyond the initial “wow”. There is no denying that AR is a new and exciting technology in the design space, but its value-add goes further.

Many people involved in product design, including the person that does the design in 3D CAD, are surprised by the size and form of new designs when they see the first physical manifestation. This is a problem for any product, but especially for consumer products. AR provides that first real-world experience much sooner in the design process, thereby eliminating these undesirable (and costly) surprises later in the process.

What kinds of 3D files does it support?

Any 3D model that can be opened in eDrawings for iOS or Android can be viewed using AR.

What makes this implementation of AR special compared to others?

eDrawings with AR has been specifically designed to make it effortless for 3D CAD users to get their 3D designs into augmented reality. Simply open the published file in eDrawings, and it is automatically rendered in the real-world at full scale for an accurate experience. There are no special settings that must be tweaked repeatedly to get a desired view. Just open and view.

How do I get my CAD model into the AR scene?

eDrawings can directly read in eDrawings files published from the CAD systems listed earlier. It can also directly read in your SOLIDWORKS files.

Nothing further must be done to read in and view the 3D design; simply select the AR button and you should be on your way.

How can I scale my model? It's too big/too small to see in AR.

When a model is too big or too small, the scale functionality can be used to change the size of the model.

In the case of a model that is too large, if you want to keep 1:1 scale, the resolution of the camera may not be able to see the marker clearly enough. To get around this, try scaling up the size of the marker when you print it, and simply remember to scale the model down by the same amount to maintain 1:1 scale

Can I move the model around the environment?

YES! Using a single finger and sliding side-to-side will rotate the model as if it is on a turntable. You can also tumble the part with one finger by using more of an upward or downward direction when swiping. Dragging with two fingers will move the part on the table or surface. Two finger double tap and then hold on the third touch will allow you to raise the model off the ground. You can always bring the part back to its original location by selecting the Home button.

Can I Share pictures of my model in AR?

YES! Use the share button at the top of the page to share and save pictures without the toolbars in the way. Try using the freeze-frame function to freeze the screen and make small changes before selecting saving the image.

  • Annotation (notes and symbols) of the AR image
  • Cross-section – use your iOS or Android device to dynamically cut into the design to see inside
  • Freeze background – have a prolonged AR experience without having to hold up your device the entire time.

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