You could put one finger on a 3D mouse, stick another finger down your throat and blast a pile of 3D geometry onto any screen of any time-saving product development program with ease.

However, it’s still just a pile, perhaps a well thought out pile, but still, a pile… on a screen. It’s a conversation waiting for a reply four days later via email. It happens, but you’re starting to lose a few pounds from design-induced bulimia and a frustration about lengthy design efforts. It’s time we had a look at the future.

The Era of the ‘Real-Time Web’

There’s a lot of talk about the ‘Real-Time Web’ – conversations and information appearing online as they are created. Read-Write-Web is having their first Real-Time Web summit where companies like Facebook, Google and Yahoo, who are already involved in various stages of bringing information to you in real-time, are gathering with others to discuss the impact it will have and the standard that need to be considered.

Even before this happens, you can see the real-time flow of information in Twitter search, the FriendFeed web interface, and Facebook search, which by the way, happens to be open source. And that’s not even the top 50 of companies pursuing real-time technology in the realm of Social Web Applications.

Real-time isn’t new. We all have a sense that Instant Messaging (IM) happens in real-time. And, it does, to an extent. It’s partly why we use it everyday. It’s immediate accessibility. However, it a linear flow, removed from the context of few, if any, relation.

Now, here’s where we turn the whole concept of anything approaching real-time, inside out. Apply the idea of ‘instant’ and ‘real’ to product, to retail environments, to engineering, to manufacturing. Not the conversation about them, but the experience of them happening every day, in real-time, around you.

That is more than real-time, that is real.

The Problem of More

You can imagine being inundated with that special experience happening around you, the like you’ve never seen before with real-time information. Cognitive overload. We all tend to think in terms of finding information. Sifting. Searching. Search is going to be a big part of creating a more streamline, conscience experience, but where search fails from textual results to geometry recognition to production environment, is in the filtering of data. Anyone that is online for a few minutes can realize the value in a system that provides relevant results.

Semantic filtering is happening in the MCAD/PLM world to an extent. 3DPartBrowser is building in shap recognition. Vuuch is building options into their web app which allow parts to be distinguished in different ways. Any app you currently use, whether web-based or otherwise, is a manual configuration of criteria, for the time being. But, building applications that learn behavioral response based on environment of fit, function, system or potential, is feasibly a production milestone away from the future of any web app.

I write all this to say, that in the design world, I’ve been looking for a product development company that gets it; ‘gets’ that innovation is not doing what’s currently being done, but creating what will be done next. I’m still looking at what each company is realizing through software development. Here’s what is odd. How Dassault talks about it is different from how other companies talk about it. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but from a surface-level view, Dassault seems to get it. Partly due to the fact that the guy in charge, Bernard Charlès, happens to be the right person in the right position to help others get it. Not to say the other MCAD/PLM companies don’t get it. There are plenty of people in those companies that know what is happening out there, people that know the direction technology is trending who push development and management daily toward new ways of thinking about design, engineering, manufacturing and planning products in a adaptive environment. Whoever they are, whether CEO or summer intern, they’re helping bring on a new era of product design. Something that is more than real-time, something that is real.

Image: Bistrosavage

Disclosure: Oooo, Vuuch has an advertisement on this site. Josh also consults with them on the crazineess of product development. Dassault Systèmes actually saw it in their hearts to put up the flight and hotel for Josh to attend the Dassault Customer Conference. He also received some pens.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.