DETROIT (SAE Conference), April 18, 2007 - If you walked by the UGS booth at the recent Society of Automotive Engineers conference, you were probably more than a little surprised to see a stage on which a young lady bent over backwards. Somehow she managed to sing and smile through a series of impossible contortions. She was followed by a twirler and a pair of gymnasts. The performers were creating parallels (flexibility, coordination and power, respectively) to the recently introduced NX 5. This was not what you would expect from the dark-suit-and-tie crowd at UGS.
After the show, many UGS employees asked what I thought of the show, eager to see how their experiment into show biz was received.
Truth be told, I did find the show entertaining--certainly more so than a recitation of new features that usually accompanies new releases. Judging by the crowd (standing room only) and the applause, the show was a hit. The entertainment/food/drink combination seems a surefire way to get the attention of a show crowd.
UGS joins the ranks of other vendors which chose to mix entertainment with information. Chief among them is SolidWorks which has entertained CAD audiences -- and editors -- by revealing software enhancements within a dating game format and, more recently, in a Star Trek episode complete with Leonard Nimoy in a starring role.
How else to dispense information in today's information age? information is best recieved when presented with visual images and in an appealing manner. In fact, contortionists and NX 5 may be forever linked in my mind from now on. But what exactly does this flexibility do to help me when I use NX 5?
Luckily, I had sat through a 2 hour briefing on NX 5 earlier in the day. Call me weird but I live for that stuff. I get excited to see the latest release and see what it can and cannot do. I knew that the flexibility being shown onstage referred to how NX 5 adapts to the users expertise as well as the role for which it is being used. For example, an advanced user can opt to have more sophisticated commands at his disposal. And someone designing machine parts can work in an interface uncluttered by advanced surfacing commands.
But who can blame UGS for tapping into current, popular trends--are not our most popular shows about singing (American Idol) and dancing (Dancing with the Stars)? Things more significant (news, analysis) are crammed into 20 second sound bites? I think we don't want to work hard for knowledge. We'd far rather sit back and watch -- so long as it's fun.