Founders and TEDfellows of web-based collaborative design solution Sunglass.io, Nitin Rao and Kaustuv DeBiswas, have raised US $1.7 million in seed funding from from top tier investors. We’ve got a pipin’ hot, fairly fresh interview with the founders of Sunglass.io with all the details web-based collaboration platform and a look at how the future of the 3D CAD space is shaping up.

Sunglass.io Funded

Sunglass was privately funding before their announcement and now they’re bringing in a large Seed dose to boost development and move Sunglass.io to the next level. The $1.7M in funding from General Catalyst Partners, Mitch Kapor, Lerer Ventures, Maynard Webb and others in support of Sunglass.io’s mission to democratize access to design and grow our launched web-delivered platform.

Kaustuv DeBiswas Interview

We had the opportunity to talk with coufounder Kaustuv De Biswas, TEDfellow, MIT graduate and Phd candidate over on EngineerVSDesigner. The episode didn’t air due to technical issue, but we have a good chunk of the audio. Kaustuv fills us in on all the technical details of Sunglass.io and how it’s being used.
Download or Play the Mp3

The 3D CAD Collaboration Space

To get an idea of how Sunglass.io works, here are two videos that show the two major parts of the platform – the stage and the app store.
3D Content Share with Sunglass.io

Sunglass.io App store

More on Sunglass.io

We also interviewed Nitin Rao and Kaustuv one-on-one. We discuss a lot of the same things in the audio interview and get some other insight into the idea behind Sunglass.io and

Where did the idea to develop sunglass.io start?
Not much has changed over the last 40yrs in the domain of design computation. CAD invented in the early 60’s (incidentally in MIT as well) was pioneered by the aerospace and the automobile industry for fast efficient assembly of parts and to support the assembly line. This production centric direction seeded some axiomatic deficiencies in the nature of CAD and even today does not quite support the early stage design where design is conversational and fluid – CAD for most parts is used as an efficient drawing tool, rather than a design tool.

The ambition of Sunglass seeds from this frustration and question we posed to ourselves was what kind of a tool would let a designer a) start quickly with very low investments, b) fluidly change ways of seeing and doing, c) get quick feedback so as to take informed decisions, d) be conversational and community driven.

With Kaustuv’s Ph.D. in the MIT Design Computation Group, experience developing parametric CAD software at Bentley Systems and experience working with the world’s leading design firms on projects such as the world’s first carbon-fiber penthouse, he recognized the need for a better solution — and teamed up with another MIT entrepreneur and TED Fellow, Nitin Rao. We were very excited by the overwhelming positive response to Kaustuv’s talk at TED 2011 on the opportunity to democratize access to design.

Can you explain the overall concept and use of sunglass? Provide a use case?
SUre, there are two parts to Sunglass.io:

Stage:
Sunglass.io allows any designer to seamlessly share and collaborate around their 3D content. In a familiar WebGL-supported browser such as Google Chrome, they can drag and drop 3D models, and just share a uniquely generated link to securely share their model with a collaborator from anywhere around the world. Using customer-requested tools such as a broadcast mode, graphic and text annotations, and chat, collaboration has never been easier. They can also generate 2D/3D downloads, and session details for anybody who missed attending. Customer stories include the toy designer who was thrilled to get client feedback in minutes instead of hours, the architect who is relieved to make fewer trips to New York, and firms that can use their CNC equipment for mass customization.

‘Sim’:
This includes a suite of pay-per-use apps in the areas of rapid prototyping, publishing/rendering, simulation & analysis, optimization and modeling. We’re very excited that some of the most prominent software makers in these verticals will be choosing to launch their content on Sunglass, since we offer access to a large number of small & medium firm users, the opportunity to transition to an inevitable new business model, and access to certain patent-pending innovations that enhance the performance of their tools in a networked world.

What file formats are supported?
Designers shouldn’t have to worry about file formats: from struggling with file exchange, to coming up with sloppy hacks to manage versioning – we’ve lived this frustration and are here to eliminate it. Currently, we support obj, dae, stl, blend and 3ds files and this is being expanded to over 10 formats, that seamlessly integrate into Sunglass.

I notice the app store. Is this the revenue model for Sunglass.io?
We have a tiered monthly pricing structure that best fits the needs of a designer: depending on both the apps purchased, and storage used for the 3D models. It will be dramatically more accessible than traditional CAD software.

Where does this fit best in the overall design and engineering process?
Our focus is on the early stage of design, which is conversational and fluid.

How is the ability to create and share models online changing engineering and design?
Using the powerful Sunglass player, you can embed rich 3D content, and inspired by what YouTube did to video, we hope that the next time you see a 3D model on the web, it’s probably Sunglass. This means that you no longer need expensive hardware or software to be part of a global design conversation and to cater to the needs of customers around the world.

What is the long-term goal for sunglass.io?
Our mission is to democratize design. We’re excited that we’ll be to push the boundaries of performance, while engaging a global community in creating, sharing and consuming content, from designs to design applications.

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, 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.