Cloud

CAD in the cloud: Sunglass launches a collaborative editor for 3D design

Like a Google Docs for computer-automated design (CAD), Sunglass is launching a cloud-based way to create, edit, and share 3D designs today — offering consumers an easier and cheaper alternative to traditional software like AutoCAD.

Sunglass co-founder Nitin Rao presented on-stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City today, where he discussed how the company could potentially revolutionize the $10 billion CAD industry.

“There are 10 million designers just like us looking to engage with each other in a flat world,” co-founder and CEO Kaustuv DeBiswas said in a statement today. “Products are now built for global consumption so why can’t they be designed via global collaboration?”

It used to be that only powerful desktops could run CAD software, and collaboration was a nightmare. But with Sunglass you could collaborate with just about anyone right from your web browser. All of the heavy-duty processing work happens on the company’s servers. It’s also compatible with over 40 file formats, so stubborn designers can still open up your projects in their preferred programs.

During his demonstration today, Rao showed off how you can design a bike using Sunglass (over conference Wi-Fi!), and the interface appeared to be silky smooth. There were also collaborators from India editing the bike at the same time. Using a broadcast feature, we were able to see a design a collaborator was working on after about 20 seconds of render time.

Since Sunglass is cloud-based, you also don’t need to wait for lengthy renders before showing off your 3D designs. You can plug a Sunglass embed code into any web page, which allows others to manipulate your designs without Adobe Flash (Sunglass is powered by WebGL and HTML5). The service also sports Dropbox integration for storing 3D files.

San Francisco-based Sunglass is also building an API to let designers share their most useful tools with others. The company is building the world’s first 3D app store to offer the tools. Previously, designers would have to buy entire software suites to gain access to a single tool. The company has developed its own tool for cloud-based streaming that can render 3D objects in about 45 seconds, proving the power of its API.

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