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RIP: Andrea Pininfarina

Published 07 August 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: pininfarina, design legend

Andrea Pininfarina with the Ferrari P4/5

Word is just hitting the wires that Andrea Pininfarina, CEO of legendary (if that word does them justice) Italian car styling and design house, Pininfarina, was killed instantly this morning following a collision whilst he was riding his Vespa to the company HQ just outside of Turin.

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Spangly new SpaceClaim website - sloppy marketing 101

Published 01 August 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, pininfarina, spaceclaim, ideo, sloppy marketing, trademarks

Motorola RAZR - probably not designed in SpaceClaim

Looks like SpaceClaim has been spending some more of that VC cash with the web-designers again and there’s a brand new SpaceClaim web-site on the block. I like it, its shiny and has lots of nice things in there.

There are a couple of bits and bobs that aren’t quite right. I love it when people tag that annoying little TM trademark thing after something that really doesn’t need it. Particularly when the company in question, according to a USPTO search, doesn’t even own the trademark (I’d love to stand corrected) or its been owned and abandoned by someone else.

I’m specifically thinking about “Natural 3D design” which was previously owned by Metatools and “Design the way you think” which was owned and abandoned by Ceira Technologies in 2005.

What’s also often interesting is the models that CAD vendors choose to illustrate their web-site, brouchures and such. Perfect example of this are two of the images featured there.

A Motorola RAZR and an Aston Martin. The RAZR is pretty fair game, model something up and use it as a demo. What’s really… Ummm.. what’s the word? Irritating, is the Aston Martin image.

Aston Martin: Not designed by Pininfarina and not designed with SpaceClaim - allegedly

It reads Credit: Bunkspeed/Pininfarina. Unless I’m very much mistaken, Pininfarina had nothing to do with the design of any Aston Martin and certainly not the model shown - and I’d bet the house on the fact that SpaceClaim wasn’t involved. Could it be that this the 3D model that appears in this Youtube video?

A model that was created in SolidWorks, at the turn of the century. And modelling by the talented Mark Biasotti, who was working at IDEO at the time I seem to recall. Guess where he works now? Yes, he works for a company based on Baker Avenue, Concorde, Mass - but it ain’t SpaceClaim.

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Movie on ID - now I’m excited

Published 31 July 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: industrial design, objectified, naoto fukasawa, dieter rams, ideo

Dieter Rams - if you don’t know who he is, you should be ashamed of yourself wink

When someone (ralph G) points you at a movie on industrial design, I tend to get excited. When you look at the web-page and there is a movie coming with production stills featuring Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ive and a Marc Newson, I have to sit down and have a very hasty cup of tea.

According to the web-site, Objectified is a feature-length independent documentary about industrial design. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability. It’s about our relationship to mass-produced objects and, by extension, the people who design them.

Through verite footage and in-depth conversations, the film documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most influential designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our lives. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?

A quick look at the participants and its a good roll call of who’s who - Rams, Ive and Newson as we’ve mentioned, but also the teams at IDEO, Karim Rashid, Naoto Fukasawa - I just hope someone like Kenya Hara makes it through to the final cut too.

Unlike Ralph I couldn’t give two shits whether or not there’s any software featured. It’s a MOVIE about INDUSTRIAL DESIGN - it doesn’t get better than that. Now how do I convince Greg and Martyn to sponsor the movie so I can go to the London screenings? Any ideas peeps?

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Where’s the Future of 3D interaction?

Published 28 July 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: catia, dassault systemes, alias, enovia, 3dconnexion, user interaction, spacemouse, 3d control devices, wii, wiimote

3Dconnexion has just released details of research they’ve been doing into the return on investment, commercial pay back that can be gained from using its 3d motion control devices. According to the research those using 3D mouse devices users noted that they were comfortable using the 3D mouse within two days from the time they began using it (80% of them in fact) and 70% felt proficient within the first week.

The report (available at brings many more facts to light about the time that can be saved by adopting a tool that’s designed specifically for the job. It is really worth a read.

The question this raises for me is that that for decades now, many of us have been using 3D based design tools to develop new products on a daily basis, but still many of us are using the same keyboard and mouse combo that we have had since time immemorial. Let’s not forget that the QWERTY keyboard was designed to slow down typists on mechanical typewriters so they wouldn’t jam up - is that really the optimum way of interacting with 3D data?

Users are now becoming much more familiar with 3D based working practices, particularly in the professional design related sphere of influence - but I do wonder where we’re headed next?

The last few events I’ve attended have seen references to how Nintendo have changed the 3D interaction world with the Wii and specifically, the WiiMote device.

Dassault demonstrated how the WiiMote device can interact with CAD-related data at the recent DEVCON event in Paris. Of course, Dassault has an interest in Gaming technology because of its Virtools technology (which now supports the Wii platform) and has a head start on many of the CAD company’s not involved in the industry. Dassault’s Bernard Charles also hinted at the same event that their development team is currently working on a hardware-based device for Catia and Enovia users. A chat with the head of their Research and Development team confirmed that this might be in the offing.

Elsewhere, a CAD user has built a drive to allow the use of the WiiMote within Autodesk’s Design Review and the same tool has been made available on the Autodesk Labs website.

I’m reminded of a chat I had with Bill Buxton, the then Chief Scientist of Applied Sciences at Alias Wavefront, who, ten years ago, talked about many of the things that are only now coming to light. If you take a look at his personal web-site, then you can see many of the devices that his team worked on back then. And if you want a further interesting read, get hold of his Sketching User Experiences book. It’s honestly one of the best books on subject I’ve ever read and should be on every designers bookshelf.

Bringing us back to 3Dconnexion and its research, I’m amazed that the company still is the only vendor actively pursuing this area. The potential to do really interesting things has been there for some time. Many have come and gone.

The Dimentor Inspector - combined a trackball and optical mouse - and had around the same lifespan as the average rodent.

There was the Dimentor Inspector device from Sweden, which combined a mouse with a trackball to navigate in 3D (I’ve still got one sat in a box in the loft). It only really worked with SolidWorks and the company was only around for a year or so.

Others have had a crack at it with limited success and I find it strange that its only 3Dconnexion that has managed to actually achieve any form of market penetration - and I take my hat off to them. They took some time to develop truly usable products and made a few mistakes on the way. I still use a prototype of the original, but short lived, SpaceNavigator device, which saw the integration of a SpaceMouse with a Logitech Keyboard (3Dconnexion’s parent company) - and promptly got canned.

I’m off to interview the guys in charge of SpaceMouse products in a couple of weeks and if anyone has any questions, ideas or information they’d like me to ask, to find out, then I’d be more than happy to ask and report back on the response I get.

And don’t get me started on MultiTouch - that’s stuff is coming - its an exciting new world and as professional users of 3D, we’re looking to get the most out of it.

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