Internet of Things

Supercharge your makerspace with IoT power

Making is rewarding and can be challenging at the same time. If the challenge gets to be too much, the reward may not happen. To overcome this, we can create smart makerspaces with devices connected via the IoT. In this project from the User Interface group, the smart makerspace is built around an interactive workbench that guides users through their tasks.

The workbench is an 84", 4K digital whiteboard covered with a 3mm sheet of acrylic to protect the screen from tools and project pieces. Above the workbench, a depth sensing camera is mounted to track the position and placement of objects. In addition to tracking parts and being the workspace, the workbench has instructions in the form of digital documentation and videos to guide the user through the tasks and provide additional background information.

Beside the workbench is a collection of small tools and project parts. Unlike a typical storage cabinet, this is connected to the workbench by USB Phidgets and it makes it easy for the user to find the required part. Need a CLL020 LED for your next step of the project? The appropriate storage compartment will light up making it easy to find. Who wouldn't want this at their local hardware store? 

Tools in the smart makerspace have been augmented to be smart and connected. For example, the soldering iron has a precision light sensor placed over its power light so the system knows its state: off, heating or ready. A proximity sensor is attached to the holster so that the system knows whether the iron is present or has been removed.


Smart safety glasses were created that include conductive tape over the nose to determine if the maker is actually wearing them. Imagine a world where dangerous tools won't work until the user is following all the appropriate safety precautions!


This research opens up a lot of possibilities for efficient and safe workplaces. Combine it with robots like in the HIVE and anything is possible! You can read more about the smart makerspace in the publication and see it in action in the video below.

When the IoT meets Generative Design for Cars

We've talked about using the IoT to design buildings and we've talked about designing a bridge, houses and a motorcycle swingarm with generative design. Let's take that to the next level and look at designing a car!

Introducing the Hackrod!

With the Bandito Brothers, we noodled on the idea that three kids in a dorm room could start a car company and showed off our progress at Autodesk University.

The chasis you see above was wired up with sensors to gather data on the forces that the car goes through as it's being driven. Just like with project Dasher, we started with a scan of the object so we can plan where and how to attach the sensors. All of this data is captured and visualized for the next part of the plan - generating a new chasis with project Dreamcatcher. The chasis comes out looking like an alien skeleton - some people like this and some people don't.

From a design standpoint, Dreamcatcher is handling all the complex math to make a good structure and then the designer can get to work making a "cover" that meets whatever aesthetic criteria is important.

You can read more about the Hack Rod project and watch the video below.

Dreamcatcher INTRO from Bandito Brothers on Vimeo.

Primordial Hackrod from Lisa Rotzinger on Vimeo.

Humans and Robots Collaborating at Autodesk University

Visitors to Autodesk University 2015 are invited to work with a robot through wearables and internet of things technologies to help build a 12' high architectural pavilion using bamboo.

Autodesk Research HiveThe hive will be created from 224 tensegrity units. Each tensegrity unity is composed of three bamboo rods held together with string that is wound by robotic arms. The magical part is that the bamboo rods are not touching each other. Each tensegrity unit is unique due to the bamboo rods having differences in length and diameter. They are connected together with special LED units that help the builders place the pieces and will create a light show. 

Autodesk Research Hive Bamboo Tensegrity Unit

The hive is coordinated and tracked by a system called the foreman engine. In it one can see the project status and contributions by all workers. 

Autodesk Research Hive Foreman System

You can see the full details in the movie below and follow the AU Hive on twitter




Research at Autodesk University 2015

For those attending Autodesk University this year in Las Vegas, Autodesk Research will have a booth in the “Central Park” section of the Exhibit Hall where we’ll be showcasing a number of exciting projects.  

Autodesk University 2015

The projects represented at this year’s conference will include:

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015


The Bio/Nano Research group will be showing the current status of their research on how to fold DNA to create functional nanostructures as well as how to grow artificial bones.


Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015


Project Dreamcatcher will be exhibiting a number of generatively designed artifacts, such as the Optima Bow made by Pier 9 Artist-in-Residence John Briscella of Aminimal Studio, bicycles and motorcycle swingarms.

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015



The Design and Fabricaction group will be showing Meshmixer and how it is used to 3D print functional parts and body-fitting prosthetics. 

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015


Autodesk Within Medical, which allows implant designers to create porous coatings to aid bone and implant fusion (ie. osseointergration), will be displaying a number of their 3D printed medical components and explaining how their technology works. 



AU 2015 Map to Autodesk Researc
When you enter Sands Hall B & C, just walk to the Central Park and Autodesk Research will be on the right!

In addition to the booth, look for the Hive Project near the Exhibit Hall where Autodesk University attendees will build an architectural scale pavilion guided by human/robot interaction.

Autodesk Research Autodesk University 2015

A number of team members will be giving talks at AU:


Composite Materials and Manufacturing Processes for Automotive Applications

Tuesday, Dec 1, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Location: Zeno 4701, Level 4

Massimiliano Moruzzi discusses composite applications in the automotive marketplace.


Automated Composite Manufacturing

Tuesday, Dec 1, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM, Location: Marcello 4401a, Level 4

Massimiliano Moruzzi presents an end-to-end solution for the automated composite manufacturing process. This class will cover advanced lay-up design strategies such as fiber placement, tape layering, and robotics lay-up which are utilized when programming automatic material layup equipment. High composite production rates will be covered through automated robotic material nesting and taping.


Cultivating Innovation and Developing Intrapreneurs

Wednesday, Dec 2, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Location: Zeno 4704, Level 4

Cory Mogk will be doing a talk on Cultivating Innovation and Developing Intrapreneurs that uses the tools from the Innovation Workshop. This class will talk about how Autodesk is helping intrapreneurs develop their ideas and we’ll provide tools and guidance that attendees can use on their own or in their organizations. 


Composite Manufacturing Solution for Optimum Material Nesting and Ply Layup

Thursday, Dec 3, 2:45 PM - 4:00 PM, Location: San Polo 3405, Level 3

Massimiliano Moruzzi will lead this two-part class where attendees will utilize Autodesk TruNest Composites to show the complete process from import to nesting to NC part cutting of ply materials. Special focus will be given to optimal nesting for efficient material usage. During the second half, we will utilize Autodesk TruLaser to perform laser projection for showing composite ply lay-up.


Once again, the Design Research team will be conducting user research sessions. This year’s focus will be on collecting feedback for Within and Dreamcatcher.  Look for the OCTO Airstream in the AU registration area.

  Autodesk Research Astronaut

We hope you’ll make some time to come by and meet some of the team. 



What happens when BIM meets the IoT?

BIM, building information model or modeling, brings all parts of a building design together into one complete system; it's no longer a collection of unconnected parts. The plumbing exists in context with the electrical work and one can see if there are conflicts that will make the construction or renovation process more complicated.

What happens when BIM meets the IoT?

With the Internet of Things (IoT) we're starting to see new devices for buildings like smart thermostats, talking fridges and lights that react to your presence. What happens when we add BIM to this and how does it help the day to day operations and management of the building? This is exactly what the Environment and Ergonomics team at Autodesk Research set out to discover with Project Dasher.


Autodesk Research Project Dasher
Project Dasher connects BIM with the IoT


What seems like a simple question kicked off a whole bunch of work. Many newly designed buildings will have a BIM. For an older building, like the Autodesk office in Toronto, the team had to create one. They learned about reality capture and laser scanned the building. This resulted in the Digital 210 King project.

They then set about creating a network of sensors and software to monitor things in the building like the movement of occupants in the building to adjust heating levels as people congregate and the position of the sun changes, amount of lighting relative to natural light entering the building and levels of energy usage.


Autodesk Research Project Dasher Sensors
Sensors to monitor building performance including, lighting, motion and carbon dioxide.

As you can imagine, this creates a lot of data for building operations people to deal with. The team developed novel ways to represent the data in context of the building. You can see heating laid overtop of the model as well as the paths of people moving through the building.

Autodesk Research Dasher Trails
As occupants move through the building, their motion can be visualized with overlapping trails to highlight the busiest areas
Autodesk Research Dasher Heat
Exploring the heat of a building


The following video shows how some of this works in real time.


Now that I have all this data what do I do with it?

At this point, the team can begin to learn from the data and apply it to other buildings for the ultimate sustainable design project. Designers could use the same tools that building operation people use to simulate the building before it is is built. They can try different sustainability techniques and technologies for optimal building performance. 

You can read more about this exciting work on the Digital Environment page. If you liked this article, please share it with your sustainable design friends through the links below.