Today Toronto-based Upverter, a GitHub-like platform for hardware engineers, announced the release of a major product update to its cloud-based engineering tool, with new features focused around rapid design and prototyping of products. The company has been developing the platform for the past two and half a years, and this latest version aims to be an end-to-end solution that helps engineers turn their ideas into prototypes, and helps them manufacture their products. Backed by YCombinator, the company has a budding and active community of thousands of engineers, in addition to a large parts and open source design library.
Co-founded by three University of Waterloo graduates, the company decided to re-launch the platform in order to widen the range of what engineers could do on the site. “We kind of hit a wall in terms of what people could do and to move to the next bracket of users we had to build this version. That being said, we have the most concentration of users using design tools all in one place, we have the most crowdsourced open source parts in one place,” said co-founder Zak Homuth in an interview. “It is a vibrant community of people designing stuff, it’s just that they were hitting walls in terms of the complexity of the things they could design. So we’ve kind of kicked the tools up a level so they could do more in there.”
Homuth said Upverter’s new set of tools allow engineers to go from scribbling an idea on a whiteboard to having the end product manufactured. The platform has ideation tools to help flesh out ideas, design tools to help build out the concept, and then physical design tools where everything is then laid out in 2D space. It also includes simulations, design rule checking, and verification tools to debug the concept, and finally prototyping and order fulfillment to handle the manufacturing end of things. “It’s everything you need, so if you showed up with an idea we could help you take that to a real product, if you came at a later point we could still help take you to manufacturing, so it’s everything in the middle,” Homuth added.
The service is free for anyone to create a profile and join the online community. Each member’s profile features the projects they’ve worked on, parts they’ve edited, and followers within the community. However, for businesses and professionals who would prefer to keep their product details private, they can pay the monthly subscription fee.
The company is looking to bring the same level of disruption to the hardware engineering software industry, which includes the likes of Cadence’s OrCAD and Altium, that Salesforce brought to the CRM software industry. Over the past few months, BetaKit has also been covering the trend of engineering professionals migrating to the cloud with startups like Sunglass.io, which launched its 3D cloud-based collaboration tool earlier in October.
Homuth described the rise of this cloud-based ecosystem for engineers using the example of an iPhone. Industrial engineers could use tools like Sunglass.io to build the outer case, electrical and computer engineers could build out the hardware using Upverter, while all the software code could be stored on GitHub.
Upverter also has additional products in the pipeline which it will be looking to debut later this year, and will be positioning its platform to enterprise users much more aggressively. The company’s current user base includes people in the U.S., Canada, China, South America, and Europe. With the product update released today, the company is one piece of a larger movement of engineering professionals towards a more collaborative cloud-based approach to their work.