3DVIA launches community app for iPhone

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Dassault’s 3dvia group has finally released the iPhone app for interaction with the 3d-centric community portal, first demonstrated at DEVCON earlier this year. As hinted at in the demonstraton, the App gives users the ability to interact with the community aspects of the service, giving users a fully manipulable 3D model, search functions as well as all that good social media-related stuff (rating, commenting etc).

The multi-touch interface is exceptional (except a lack of landscape switch-a-roo goodness), with a single finger rotating the model, two fingers panning and the ninja-pinch for zoom in/out as you’d expect. You can search models on line (here’s a LOT), view and comment on them. If you’re rocking the iPhone 3GS, you can also use the built in camera to capture an image and integrate a model for a variety of purposes.

Here’s a quick video on the basics of the App

I caught up with David Laubner, Director of Product Marketing for 3dvia online and the first question was the big one:



We must deliver our products and services where our users expect and want to have them. With the massive popularity of the iPhone, we need to make sure that we have an offering to suit this growing communities needs.

What purpose do you think the application will serve?

This first application for Dassault Systemes is primarily targeted at the existing 3DVIA.com user base of 120K+ users. It brings most of the functionality of the site right on to the iPhone including 3D model search and interactive 3D view. Users will have access to their own content and network allowing them to interact right on their phones.

It also include the 3DVIA Collage feature which allows users to combine most of the 15K+ models on the site with pictures from the iPhone. This application is both viral and practical at the same time. For designers and 3D artists, you can create environments on the fly for your work right on your phone. As shown in the “I Wonder” video, consumers can use it to visualize changes in the real world. A consumer looking to add furniture to their home could take a picture with their iPhone and position various 3D models of couches from our partner Mydeco.com until they find the right one.

The viral aspect of this feature is easy to see. Users are already using it just create funny pictures with some of the more artistic 3D models from the site.

Can you open 3dxml files that have been mailed to you?

Indirectly – the model would have to be uploaded to the 3DVIA.com site and then you can access it from your “my3DVIA” tab on the phone. Users can access their private models if they need to keep it out of the public view.

What are the differences between the iPhone and iPod Touch implementations

Primarily it is the lack of the camera on the touch blocking the use of the Collage feature. Additionally, it will only work on the 2G and not the earlier version.

3dvia Mobile is about providing access to content on 3dvia.com – a community web-site – so why charge users? it’s not inline with the community ethic?

This was a strong debate for the group but it fits with some of our plans as we move forward and look to develop both the product offering and the business model. Our intent is to continue to develop the offerings on 3DVIA.com and always have a strong product at either free or very inexpensive price points.

Although the free period that we are offering right now will have a bit of a marketing boost, it is being offered to help support our key users that have been deeply engaged with the site for so long.

At the moment, the app is live on the Apple App Store and is free, but will eventually be chargable at $1.99 (estimated). While initially this seems like a throw away application, looking at the numbers within the community, the potential for closed session discussion and the ability to quickly share your models, you’ve got something intriguing.

You can upload data to 3Dvia.com via all manner of means and using a variety of formats including .3ds, .obj, .dae (collada), .kmz, .vrml, .3dxml, 3dm (rhino) – strangely no SolidWorks native export (but SWx does export 3dxml and collada). There’s even a handy tutorial for uploading and ensuring the best data translation from Catia available here. There’s a couple of blogs running that will be covering the app, so take a look here and the 3d perspectives blog here.

With the Autodesk SketchBook Mobile annoucement last week and now this, it looks like vendors are taking mobile devices seriously – performance on these devices is getting better, the interaction methods are increasingly intuitive – leaving the keyboard and mouse combo for dead when it comes to visualisation and manipulation of 3D data. Yes. The screen is small, but the potential if huge. Bring it on.

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