As we noted in our events highlights article, “process improvement” innovation is the area we feel needed further fostering and encouragement. Architects today are dealing simultaneously with two booming trends: sustainable design and building information modeling. And these trends are developing within the context of even larger trends in the area of globalization and cloud computing.
Cloud computing is largely developing as a direct response to the globalization of business. The socialization of the Net has hastened along the urgency and expectation of direct communication in both one-to-one and one-to-many modalities. What we see taking shape are companies like Autodesk and HP laying a particularly strong emphasis in research and development focused in addressing these larger trends.
HP and the Cloud
At AIA Todd Hatfield, HP’s large format category manager, told Architosh that the company feels it has the right approach with its new HP ePrint & Share technology and applications. This technology is at the heart of HP’s Designjet cloud printing strategy.
So what’s involved and how does it work?
HP’s ePrint & Share technology consists of their cloud storage offering, mobile and desktop software, and web-connected ePrinters. Looking at the cloud component first, you don’t need to just store print documents in HP’s new cloud, you can store other file types too, like rendering animations in Quicktime format or MS Office documents. You get 5 GB of storage for free with your account. But more storage is also available, presumably for a price.
Another component is their HP ePrint & Share desktop software for accessing HP’s cloud. Sadly, this software only runs on Windows machines at the moment, depriving AEC professionals from benefiting from the solution with a mobile laptop that they may prefer to work with like an Apple MacBook Air, for instance.
The third component of the HP ePrint & Share technology solution is their mobility offerings. This includes apps for iOS and Android. (see image 01 above for iOS app view) Todd Hatfield showed us the free iOS software app running on an iPad but you could equally use an iPhone (3GS or higher) or even an iPod touch as long as it is web-enabled. We were very impressed with this app on the iPad. (more on that in a minute).
Lastly, the final component or ideal component of the new HP Designjet cloud printing strategy is an actual HP Designjet that is web-enabled. At the AIA Convention HP was touting the future of large format with three new web-connected printers. The Designjet T2300 eMFP (the new flagship), the new T1300 ePrinter and the new T790 ePrinter.
The new flagship T2300 eMFP offers three functions in one device. This ePrinter is the first web-connected printer with scan, print and copy benefits. One immediately cool thing to say about the T2300 is that with this machine you can scan paper markups directly to the HP cloud where remote teams, contractors and clients can then print them on the spot.
This multifunction unit is especially attractive in combination with the whole ePrint & Share story. All three printers enable remote printing. Meaning an architect in the field can send up a markup or file he obtains in the field directly to the cloud and then the file will communicate with the ePrinter back in the office and begin printing it. As a licensed architect in practice myself I can tell you that there are literally dozens of real-life circumstances that architects face all the time where the ability to remotely begin a printing job would have real-life benefits.
The T1300 is like the T2300 but without the scan copy but the same memory and hard drive configs. It too has double-roll capability with smart switching. And it features the same large touch-panel screen offering driverless printing. The T790 ePrinter is the final third unit with web-connectivity and is ideal for smaller groups. It comes in both 24 and 44 inch units. All three ePrinters have PostScript options (recommended for Mac-based offices or mixed platform firms). These are Mac or Windows printers regardless of the PostScript choice. All three are web-connected and fully support the ePrint & Share cloud benefits and features.
ePrint and Share on iOS
The official HP press release at AIA read that the “new solutions and features make it easier for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals and firms to print large-format documents from virtually anywhere.” The newest features of ePrint & Share include the new ability to print directly from an email and the optimization of the UI for the iPad (not just iOS on iPhone).
Another feature relevant to Apple iOS users is the cloud-enabled printing directly from Autodesk AutoCAD WS, available with the three web-connected Designjet printers described above.
It is important to note that another way to access the ePrint & Share cloud features is directly from the touchscreen of one of the ePrinter Designjets described above. This means you can access your print files (PDFs) up on the cloud from another professional’s ePrinter (presuming they have one of the printers listed above) and print it at a remote location. This could be very beneficial for firms with multiple offices all equipped with one of these web-connected ePrinters.
The ePrint & Share technology for iOS was judged a Runner-Up for Architosh’s AIA BEST of SHOW award mentions this year, in the mobile iOS category. The whole HP cloud printing story and the way they are using bot the web (the cloud) and iOS in particular is compelling.