Architosh is in near full force at Autodesk University 2019 in Las Vegas. Both I and our senior associated editor, Akiko Ashley are at the show this week.
Better Starts Here
This year’s AU theme is “Better Starts Here” and was the framework for Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost’s Day 1 keynote. We will cover the larger theme of the conference after hearing the AEC Day 2 keynote later this morning, but the tone of this year’s keynote struck an optimistic pitch backed up by compelling and energizing guest presenters on the keynote stage.
There is so much to report from AU 2019, including some exciting announcements and happenings from their third-party developers here on the show floor. Both game engine companies, Unity and Unreal (Epic), are here in force and their interactive rendering technologies are rapidly evolving. Today at the AEC keynote we are slated to hear more about Unity’s integrations with Revit. Meanwhile, we got to see the next version of Twinmotion coming in Q1, 2020. Visualization, in general, is advancing rapidly and moving downstream to more generalist users, meaning regular architects and designers can do more high-end and animated visuals themselves as part of their workflows.
Some Photos From Day 1
Anagnost spoke about their partnership with Airbus which began with looking at how generative design could weight-optimize the design of elements inside the cabin like the partitions between seating zones and onboard lavatories and gallies. Having seen the advantages of reducing double-digit percentage gains in weight on partitions Airbus began looking at items much larger like the tail on the back of the plane.
But it didn’t stop there. With each passing success Airbus had working with Autodesk and using their generative design and engineering design software, the partnership deepened. So at AU 2019 Autodesk announced and spoke about how the companies were working together on the design of an all-new factory for manufacturing plane wings. This is an exciting story and one we need to devote an entire article to so stay tuned in the days ahead as we unveil it in detail.
The AU expo floor, as in other related conferences, now contains two software giants in Unity Technologies and Epic Games (Unreal Engine). These companies are quite large, with many hundreds of software engineers working around the world on their highly competitive gaming engines. Unity and Epic are the Boeing and Airbus’s of the game engine world and both have squarely set their sights on professional markets like AEC and manufacturing.
On the Unreal Engine side, we got a chance to see the latest upcoming version of Twinmotion 2020 with Unreal Engine. Slated for Q1 in 2020, the interactive, real-time renderer and animation program substantially lowers the barrier to entry for producing stunning visuals for design professionals, working on Autodesk Revit and other software platforms like SketchUp.
We spoke to Marc Petit of Epic at AU about Twinmotion 2020 and the visualization market in general and we can’t wait to share that discussion with folks. But here are some of our critical thoughts now in summary:
Architosh Analysis and Commentary: Both Unity and Twinmotion offer AEC users faster paths to sophisticated 3D visualization directly from their BIM tools. Whether it is Unity Reflect or Twinmotion in the latest ArchiCAD release, the workflow innovation happening means less time and frustration in the exporting and importing processes between design tools and visualization tools. Both Unity and Epic’s aims in this market are substantial, as we’ll discuss later, but the reason why AEC users are flocking to these solutions is obvious: immediacy and ease-of-use.
Naturally, last year at AU 2018, Unity and Autodesk announced their big partnership on stage and this year while Unity was on stage again in a smaller way their more mature Unity Reflect was further advanced.
Specifically, Autodesk announced that Unity Reflect’s support is coming to Autodesk BIM 360 and in the booth demonstrated the latest build of Unity Reflect. Now the interesting news about Unity Reflect that will bear about a bit on the Architosh audience is that Unity Reflect works on desktop at the viewer level on a Windows-only app at the moment.
We were told that a Mac version is coming but no other details were provided. We hope it does because if I am a client of an architect on Revit using Unity Reflect and my computer at work, university or at home is a Mac computer, I can’t participate in a Unity Reflect session. I would need an iOS mobile device (which cannot be assumed just because I am a Mac user).
We imagine that the orientation for Windows plus iOS is simply a reflection of the AEC market, particularly in the US and European markets where iOS is strongest in the field. iPads are ubiquitous on construction job sites so Unity Reflect’s client for iOS is the obvious priority. Unity Reflect works as a plug for Revit and provides real-time interactive rendering and support for VR devices as well. We’ll get into deeper details on Unity Reflect in a dedicated report.
The NVIDIA booth was very busy showing an array of solutions and a primary focus on the virtues of the RTX graphics cards. RTX GPU technology provides astounding visual fidelity in real-time raytracing glory. This type of technology is the domain expertise of our west coast editor, Akiko Ashley, who will be providing some detail and insights on what is happening with NVIDIA’s latest technologies.
Now we heard something really interesting from a third-party exhibitor inside the NVIDIA booth about RTX GPUs that had to do with the new 2019 Mac Pro, which Apple has announced is slated to ship in December of this year. As many Architosh readers may be aware, Apple’s new Mac Pro—the ultra, high-end workstation—is utilizing new AMD GPUs with a unique modular kit arrangement. The question and frustration have been, how to get RTX GPUs from NVIDIA into the new Mac Pro equation?
Architosh Analysis and Commentary: What we heard at the booth was that RTX technology may be coming to the new Mac Pro. We will discuss more once we follow-up on some information from our source. Stay tuned!
A big part of the latest Autodesk University events has been focus on how robotics is reshaping the AEC industry. We have a lot to talk about with regard to robots and 3D printing. Below is a 3D printed concrete lattice-based arch. Strong and light-weight, such structures are not only printed by machines (see image below) but use generative design software to effectively design much lighter structures that provide similar structural performance as solid concrete structures.
At the AU 2019 expo floor, this big robotic arm was printing out various lattice-based concrete forms (see above and below). Watching this work was interesting. If you are an Architosh INSIDER Xpresso newsletter subscriber, you would have enjoyed recently a feature focus on some innovative, generatively designed and 3D printed concrete ceiling and roof structures being built by a university lab in Europe. This kind of technology is being tested around the globe at university, labs and very large AEC firms exploring robotics in design and construction.
Robotic design and 3D printing and additive manufacturing are emerging technologies (emTech) in the AEC and manufacturing spaces. Architosh has a dedicated free monthly newsletter devoted to emerging technologies with a primary focus on computational design, AI and machine learning and robotics and 3D printing, among other things. You can sign-up here and gain access to some industry-exclusive interviews and features.
Again, this is our free monthly newsletter, best enjoyed with a morning coffee and typically delivered on the first Sunday of the new month.
More on AU 2019
Architosh will be publishing a large range of AU 2019 news, gallery and feature articles in the coming days and weeks. So please stay tuned we have a lot to share.