Today San Francisco-based Sunglass announced the launch of its web-based collaborative 3D design platform out of beta with a major product update. The company’s platform provides a visual environment akin to popular computer-aided design (CAD) software that gives designers, engineers, and manufacturers the ability to edit, sync, and share 3D files in real-time with built-in version control for an enhanced workflow across the board.
The company tested its beta with thousands of users and is currently piloting projects with universities like Harvard and MIT, design firms like IDEO and Ammunition Group, in addition to currently being in conversations with companies in the automotive and medical equipment categories.
The company initially launched in mid-2011 looking to provide a more cost-effective online cloud-based 3D design platform, and one that provided an alternative to traditional desktop software tools. Earlier this year, Sunglass launched their API to build plug-ins for its existing software tools, and with the launch of their service today, it has pivoted completely to being a collaborative cloud-based tool to provide designers and engineers a means to streamline and enhance their workflow.
“In this release we are very much focused on connecting with CAD tools that people use, because from desktop to cloud, the jump needs to happen in small steps. This is our strategy of integrating the current desktop tools in the system,” Co-founder Kaustuv DeBiswas said. “This is what we felt was the pain point we felt we can have a compelling product for, instead of building what some of the CAD tools have built over the last 30-40 years, we felt what the cloud can really do is connect designers and allow them to design together.”
The company now has plug-ins for many of the popular CAD desktop software tools, including SolidWorks, AutoDesk Inventor and SketchUp, all of which lets users push and pull models to and from the Sunglass cloud platform and CAD software. This then allows them to edit and streamline the design process with real-time input via live discussions from clients and other collaborators right in the browser. It also provides permission controls to allow access only to specific layers and aspects of a given project.
The visual version control, where the browser becomes an interactive 3D environment, is also an important feature which will now allow designers to track changes and better manage the design life-cycle, making it easier to discuss different design options with clients and other collaborators for quicker input and faster response time.
The company plans to provide its services on monthly subscription basis, charing $25 per month for each user that hosts projects on its servers. However, designers can share links to specific parts or entire projects to clients for free with no need for the other party to subscribe to the service.
Taking an industry entrenched in its ways from being primarily desktop based to the cloud is also something companies like TeamPlatform and GTeam have on their agenda. Both provide online project collaboration with notifications and customizable client-facing web portals for sharing 3D designs, with TeamPlatform available at a similar price point and GTeam currently in free preview mode. However, Sunglass wants to get away from providing an online collaboration platform based on lists and forums, and instead wants to provide an extremely visual interface.
“What we uniquely do is that all the collaboration is entirely visual, its something that’s very different from forms and lists. Designers and engineers are used to 3D environments, they would find the same kind of complexities, details and richness in a browser based environment. With the version control, we kept it within visual boundaries and do it right there rather than creating more traditional ways, we felt this would create seamless experiences between desktop and their browser,” DeBiswas added.
The company will be looking to launch an app store in the next few months which will provide another revenue stream. With the public release of their platform, it will look to continue to develop its platform to speed up the design process, ultimately trying to provide a visual collaborative environment designers can thrive in. Its current focus is gaining on traction in the U.S., though they also plan to launch their “GitHub for 3D” in Asia.