The Research team will be displaying some of their work and views on the future in the Exhibit Hall and you are cordially invited to come by, have a look, be inspired and share your feedback.
In the Exhibit Hall, you'll find people and displays for the following projects:
Draco and Kitty
Autodesk is researching how design tools can be applied to synthetic biology, problems like fighting diseases, such as cancer, and improving drug discovery.
Draco and Kitty
Answering the challenge to make animation (Draco) and authoring interactive content (Kitty) as easy as drawing, you not only see this in action but try out it out for yourself.
Showing that computers can help you design - not just produce design documentation - structurally sound and interesting pieces based on your specified goals.
If you missed Hy-Fi on display at New York's MoMA, you can get a little taste of it at AU. Haven't heard of Hy-Fi or its creators The Living? Check out this video showing Hy-Fi and some of what The Living are doing.
The Autodesk University Exhibit Hall will be open at the following times:
Tuesday, December 2: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. for the Community Reception
Wednesday, December 3: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, December 3: 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. for the AUGI Reception
Thursday, December 4: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Beyond the Exhibit Hall, there will be a number of presentations from Research team members:
The Design Computation Symposium will explore how advanced firms are bridging the gap between Computational Design and Building Information Modeling. Speaker topics will include both pragmatic aspects of digital design in daily practice, and forward thinking ideas and research. There are three main areas of interest under this theme:
Performance-based design, simulation and analysis.
Would you like to get your designs out of the screen and into your hands? While 3D printing has become an exceedingly useful tool for demonstrating and prototyping design ideas, preparing files for 3D printing can be frustrating and time consuming. In this 90-minute course we will generate a complex surface in the Fusion 360 3D CAD design app that takes advantage of the T-Splines modeling technology. We will bring this model into Revit software where it will serve as the base for a panelized solid form using the Dynamo visual programming language extension. Once we have generated the complex parametric model to the required specifications, we will export the model to a STL file for 3D printing. A 2-step process of healing the mesh for optimal printing is described with the meshmixer tool and Project Miller. Finally, we will inspect the mesh and prepare it for output to various 3D printing platforms.
"These changes will be drastic and design will never be the same afterwards. The canary in the coal mine is Autodesk’s Project Dreamcatcher...To many people this is a bleak, grim, oh-shit-there-goes-my-job, future."
It's nice to being working on a project that captures attention and generates strong discussion. If you haven't heard of Project Dreamcatcher before, the high-level pitch is that you can supply the computer with a bunch of design goals and have the computer develop a bunch of options that meet your criteria for further refinement.
"We found that the computed optimum was often used as the starting point for design exploration, not the end product."
In other words, designers would use such a system to generate and explore solutions, possibly finding unexpected solutions. Some call this design optioneering. In this sense we can redefine the meaning of CAD. With typical workflows, most of the design is still happening in the designer's head and the computer is helping to document those ideas - CAD could mean Computer Aided Documentation. Now with the computer actually doing design work, we can truly realize Computer Aided Design.
In common workflows, every design that must be delivered to a client takes time, effort and money so clients usually only get a couple of options.
How does Design Optioneering Work?
Let's look at building design. There are a number of constraints to be considered, including:
This many requirements can be very complex to design for and creates a huge number of possible outcomes. So huge actually that we can't even imagine a small fraction of the possibilities due to cognitive limitations. Using high performance computing and big data analysis techniques, many more design alternatives can be explored for a problem space.
To show how this might work, we can look at an architectural project researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) did at the Autodesk IdeaStudio with similar constraints. They developed a model and automated the process of exploring the design space. In their work, the USC researchers analysed the options to show how the different results met the criteria with both visual and quantitative results.
Design Optioneering from University of Southern California Researchers at Autodesk IdeaStudio
We could see a place in the future where designers could easily modify the results for further exploration. Instead of choosing between options A, B and C, designers could further explore the design space between options A and C by changing some design parameters. Of course, designers could modify the resulting CAD file to further customize and finalize the design.
What do designers think?
In looking at how designers would work with Project Dreamcatcher, what kind of feedback did the team get?
“instead of starting with nothing, you start with something…your optimum gives you a starting hunch.”
“slight variations to form, to a designer’s eye, are either elegant or fat.”
“Good design has inspiration to it...if you have that vision you can encode it and parameterize it and explore it further. Now we have a rich flora of options.”
This indicates that such tools are beneficial and could help to improve the design process. Sounds great but what are the challenges?
Dan pointed out that these kinds of workflows would require some different thinking:
"In order to provide the algorithm the right information to suggest solutions, you have to be certain you’re solving the right problem."
Working differently through Design Optimization
One of the ways the Dreamcatcher team thinks about this is with design optimization. Design optimization puts the emphasis on defining the design problem. Design optimization is important to sustainability. Users of design optimization are making buildings and products more structurally sound with less building materials.
In a typical CAD workflow, one follows these steps:
select or redesign
With Design Optimization, the steps are:
define the problem
generate and explore
select or redefine
One participant in the study compared these two processes:
“The typical design workflow is to design then throw to the analyst. Redesign. And then keep playing catch. It’s inefficient. [Design optimization] captures the criteria that are important to you then [you] have the cloud process all the permutations.”
Uses of Design Optimization
Thinking differently will not be without challenges. This could require new skills and language. One study participant said:
“1200 variations, you’re not being an architect any more. You are a computer programmer."
Another stressed that the controls need to be easy to understand, control and help you produce good results:
“parameters need to tell the design story.”
This is great feedback and guidance. This is one of the main reasons we do research. Autodesk Research and the Dreamcatcher team are up for the challenge. As Dan said in his blog post:
"Lastly, the way all progress moves forward is by someone thinking differently, trying something that no one else has tried, breaking the established traditions and rules. This is the same in design as in any other field."
Project Dreamcatcher could be the end of design as we know it and like when we transitioned from paper documentation to computer documentation of designs, we may wonder how we ever got anything done before.