It was more than a year and a half ago that ARM, the leading semiconductor IP provider powering the mobile phone, smartphone and devices industry, chose to demo CL3VER at SIGGRAPH 2013. The purpose of that demo was to demonstrate the power of 3D WebGL on ARM’s Mali chip architecture. That was 2013. But it was only in version iOS 8 released this fall that Safari on Apple’s iOS devices had the ability to execute WebGL functionality.
MORE: iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics! (The Register)
The backstory and tale of Apple and its history to all things Web 3D is told quite well over at The Register by Mark Pesce. It’s definitely a suggested read as a sidebar.
WebGL Powers Innovation in CL3VER
CL3VER is one of those tech startups off to a very good start. I had the chance to meet Viktor Nordström, the company’s CEO, at the Autodesk Innovation Forum at AIA National 2014 in Chicago earlier in the year. It was in early July and perhaps the version we saw running on an iPad was a beta. This month CL3VER, which is also the company name, introduced a dedicated iOS app for the iPad, exclusive of the Safari browser. (see images 01)
CL3VER is an innovative 3D presentations cloud-based platform that works entirely through your web-browser, whether you are creating the CL3VER presentation or are on the receiving side viewing it. While a lot of the attention has been focused on architecture and urban design, a clear pivot option for the company could be the product design and MCAD market, closer to the consumer touch points where 3D product demonstrations can help tip a consumer to buy a product or service. That however is a much more crowded space for the Barcelona, Spain, based company to compete. Interestingly, the app features product configurators which allow users to selection and explore options. (see below in images 03 – 04)
Walking Through CL3VER
At AIA National 2013 Viktor Nordström, CEO, walked me through the product as an architect may use it. He emphasized, in his ten minute talk to me, how architects have to compete vigorously in today’s tight global market. Architects have always relied on artistic visuals to help sell clients and review bodies on the virtues of projects. Whether beautiful watercolored elevations and perspectives—or in today’s world 3D animated ‘walk-thrus’—clients in turn are expecting more from their architects in order to be sold or convinced of designs.
CL3VER was created to up the ante in project presentation sophistication. (see image 02) It does this in several ways. Firstly, it helps streamline the 3D rendered visualization process (at least a bit). Into CL3VER goes a multitude of BIM and 3D CAD file formats which in turn get reduced to 1/15th their original file weight. This weight reduction plan, in terms of data, will help immensely with what comes next. The second step is to then add and edit materials, cameras and lights. All of that is fairly standard fair these days in most BIM and 3D software systems. It’s the creating “interactivity” part that the CL3VER folks are banking will be the first part of its true attraction.
Users are able to create numerous types of interactivity, but most importantly, they can add ‘information’ that all important word that stands for the letter “I” in BIM. The types of interactivity include text overlays, color transparent overlays, video and animation integration, sequenced views, tag-driven markers that change views, and of course preconfigured animations sequences or tours of an object or scene.
The second big part attraction for CL3VER is its one-click publish functionality that enables sharing the whole scene to anyone with an Internet connection, or to an Apple iPad device.
The Technical Backstory
We started this story talking about WebGL, which we have written about extensively on Architosh. WebGL is the technology powering a lot of the coolest new technology in the CAD and 3D markets, on both desktop and mobile device platforms. Clearly architects don’t care too much about such things. They do focus more care on their authoring technology and here CL3VER has put stakes in the ground for industry leaders such as Autodesk Revit, Trimble SketchUp and McNeel’s Rhino. In the product design market it supports SolidWorks. For visualization pros they have Max and Maya covered.
All of these formats are natively supported. This means users simply upload those file formats up to the CL3VER cloud-based platform. However, there are important limitations. Any cloud-based real time 3D interactive platform is going to have some form of limitations. High polycount objects like people, trees and cars and complex mesh geometry (complex terrain for example) will need to be reduced and optimized prior to upload. Prior to the native Revit plugin just announced (more in a second) that type of file was recommended to be limited to 50 MB. That’s not terribly big.
Notes and Conclusion
This week CL3VER introduced their export plugin for Revit. This is a plugin software that gets installed into Autodesk Revit that then enables export out to the CL3VER cloud-based platform. Likewise, the SketchUp, Rhino and other application plugins work similarly. We are not yet sure of the various other file format options, such as vendor neutral options like STEP, IGES and OBJ, to name a few.
CL3VER is a subscription-based 3D authoring environment that works through a web browser. It enables architects, industrial designers, 3D studios, game developers and advertising agencies a cloud-based creation and distribution system for engaging interactive 3D visual content combining info graphics, interactivity, animation walkthrough and product configurators all without advanced software or programming skills typically needed to create such content.
CL3VER features two subscription options, Free Forever and Enterprise. The free option is basically a SaaS way of doing a trial software. Enterprise pricing varies based on the number of users accessing the interactive models and environments. You can view the options here.
The company also provides an API that lets developers access the elements created in a CL3VER scene, thereby extending the possibilities of CL3VER outside the original scene.