Tucked away in the very back of the SIGGRAPH show floor, far from the high-rent district occupied by the massive elevated constructions of Autodesk, Disney, Lucas Films and like, was Michael Gibson in a little 10x10 ft booth. Michael is the founder (and perhaps the only employee) of Moment of Inspiration, or MoI.
But of such humble surroundings may appear lessons for the entire industry.
I had been hearing glowing reports about MoI from CAD insiders. The consensus was: a very easy-to-use CAD 3D modeling program. I was curious. I also wanted to meet what appeared to be one man, who all by himself, was taking on industry giants such as SolidWorks and Autodesk.
Michael Gibson says this is not quite so. My program does not do all the things those programs do, he says modestly. No drafting, for example. So, what does it do, I ask and sit down to find out. It turns out that it can model precise solid models of mechanical objects with surprising ease. He demonstrates, creating a part with several features in relatively short order.
I have seen a lot of demos, but this program did actually seem rather easy. There was little in the way of menu picks or even tool bar access. And that, Michael says, is how it got its name -- a moment of inspiration can be captured swiftly and painlessly in a model.
It reminded me of SketchUp, which seems to do just that for architects.
Michael draws attention to the UI, which seems to read his mind, offering parallels, reference points, for speedy modeling. By now we've all seen sketching aids like them, as they have made their way into even the most conservative of products, but MoI seems more telepathic than most. Have people from SolidWorks seen this, I ask, knowing of that company's recent push for a new easy-to-use interface. Oh, yeah, Michael says with a smile. I see them in the audience as I am showing the product.
For the big guys, a one man company selling a $195 product may be easy to dismiss. What kind of threat is that? But if they were smart, they would look into this further because here is just one man who has single handedly succeeded in making a truly, intuitive interface 3D modeling interface. Michael did not use focus groups or write a 100 page spec derived from hundreds of hours of research. He did not have to trust legions legions of developers to turn his vision into reality, allowing for the likelihood that his own moment of inspiration was to be waylaid, misconstrued or lost in translation through meetings, compromises, etc. He did not have to make concessions to an existing user base. This could very well be one person who has the the insight and the wherewithal to have created what is arguably the closest thing yet to an optimal interface, an interface so intuitive it almost disappears from view, telepathically connecting the user brain directly to the CAD program.