3D online maps are so yesterday, and so is the news of Google’s new web-based 3D Virtual World, but after looking into it more, I had to let all of you interested in 3D and CAD know what the possibilities could be.

You may know about the popular Virtual World SecondLife. It’s a full-featured World with the ability to do about anything you want to, but living in your own Virtual World can leave you a little… disconnected, which is exactly what Google has changed with Lively.

Why does this make sense?
Google has connected a Virtual World to the rest of the web. Right now, it’s not so much a ‘World’ per se. You have your own room. You visit other rooms. Why does this make sense? You can embed those rooms into your website. The SolidSmack Room is embedded here.

Why this is cool for 3D CAD

  • Interact with SolidWorks Users in rooms you design
  • Set up a space on your site for a User group
  • Share personal photos and video
  • Share Model (hopefully coming soon)
  • Discuss Issue and collaborate online

The future of 3D CAD
There’s a lot more to it than this though. I believe Dassault and 3DVia realized this. I didn’t think to much of their Virtual Reality (VR) demos of V6 but the more I saw them and what they were doing with V6, the more I became interested in the possibilities of what VR worlds and sites could do for the wonderful world of CAD and moving it toward the web.

Google Lively brings us one more step in that directions. Not only are you more easily connected with others via rooms, you are connected through your Google account, in which, I will assume, will soon allow the the ability for you to access your email with Gmail, your documents from Google Docs, your models from Google SketchUp and use it all offline with Google Gears.

People wonder why Google would even venture into the realm of 3D Virtual Worlds, but it makes complete sense when many are already connected into Google for everything else. If I look at My Accounts with Google, there’s nearly two page screens of service that I not only use, but am increasingly dependent on for my day-to-day work and computer usage.

If Google jumps a few bandwidth and programmatic hurdles, adds this dependency for 3D CAD Data while making it highly accessibly and secure, I’m one step away from doing all of my design work from a browser.

Relationship with Dassault or SolidWorks?
With Dassault and SolidWorks strong ties to Microsoft I speculate as to anything being done with Google. But I don’t think compatibility or interoperability is out of the question. My guess is that SolidWorks is moving toward development with V6 technology which I think we could see as early as Version 2010. This will bring in some web-based, VR capabilities and open the door to allow Worlds or Rooms to be more of a focus in the Product Lifecycle.

I was never too interested in the Virtual World craze, and found SecondLife, like a friend said to me this morning, creepy, but this brings a lot of new ideas and potential to the… World. What do you think about Lively and the possibilities of it changing how we use 3D CAD?


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.