SAN RAFAEL, CA -- A giant blue RV took up a row of spaces at Autodesk HQ parking lot. It was ready to embark on an 8 month, 100+ stop journey to spread the gospel of reality computing and was drawing a crowd.
For those who have not been following, "reality computing" is a concept Autodesk has coined and an initiative it is leading, which through a variety of fast improving and increasingly affordable technologies (including photogrammetry, 3D laser scans and point cloud processing) seems to have a goal no less ambitious than modeling all the existing world, a world of shapes for which CAD is mostly unsuitable.
Autodesk employees file out of their offices to see what all the commotion is about. The event has attracted the local press (see Marin IJ article). A drone demonstration is provided as a 3D Robotics flies its IRIS UAV (they don't like to say "drones") over the RV that will eventually result in a 3D photo. Ice cream is served and speeches are made. An opportunity to break a bottle of champagne across the bow is missed.
TJ McCue, who will be commandeering the RV on its journey, is the object of much envy.
"I would so love to drive around the country doing that," I hear, no doubt an Autodesker who has to return to his cubicle after his ice cream.
Hey, This is Work
But TJ McCue, veteran journalist on a technology beat, knows this is no picnic.
Have you ever driven something this size? I ask.
"This will be his first time," says TJ. He's nervous about the wind. Believe it or not, no license is required for this behemoth of a vehicle unless it is to be used commercially. And this is a family trip. TJ's wife and son, 10 year old Joshua, will be accompanying him. Joshua is already fending questions about the school he'll miss. Not to worry, he's home-schooled.
What's inside the RV? I wander in, expecting it to be full of 3D hardware or set up as a mobile showcase, but it's just family living space. As winds gusts across the parking lot, I feel the vehicle sway and I think TJ driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to his first stop, the Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.
Autodesk is teaming up with HP, NVIDIA, FARO, Stratasys and Jayco (RV manufacturer and Autodesk customer) to fund the trip, which according to SWAG analysis will be in the neighborhood of $75K*.
Autodesk, as lead sponsor, is on a mission to etch "reality capture" onto your brain, the way CAD has been, and TJ's 3DRV journey is the first major step in doing so. It will be a major effort and even Autodesk knows it needs broad industry support and partners for it to happen. A reality capture conference in also being planned.
Sponsors Autodesk and NVIDIA launch TJ McCue on his 8 month journey to promote reality computing. From left, Andrew Rink, Marketing Strategy, Manufacturing for NVDIA; Angela Simoes, Sr PR manager, Autodesk; Etienne DeGroot, Director of ISV alliances, NVIDIA; TJ McCue; Robert Shear, Sr Director, Reality Solutions, Autodesk
- www.3drv.com -- official website, see the trip plan
- Twitter - Follow TJ McCue @TJMcCue or use hashtag #3DRV
- Forbes Writer Kicks Off Nationwide Tour to Highlight Autodesk's 3D Software - Laith Agha, Marin Independent Journal
- Autodesk ReCap - overview of reality capture on Autodesk site
*Scientific wild ass guess, assuming TJ is paid only with the opportunity, RV time is borrowed, $200/day expenses (hotel stays to prevent cabin fever) $10,000 start up costs and allowing $17K for unforeseen costs (the RV's air conditioning is already on the fritz).