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AfterCAD Unveils Interactive 3D Demo

Christopher Boothroyd, CEO of AfterCAD, was cutting it close, to say the least. A day ago, as he headed out to the airport for San Francisco, he and his colleague Kenney Wong (not the same as this blogger) were still troubleshooting the interactive application he was planning to debut at Game Developers Conference (March 9-13, San Francisco, CA).

The application, dubbed Immersion, is in Alpha code, not even Beta, so it’s bound to be unpredictable. Today, while he was demonstrating it to me on his laptop at JW Marriott hotel, his screen went dark. To his relief, the cause of the mishap turned out to be low battery, not the software.

Still, during his presentation and during my own independent testing, the code exhibited shortcomings inevitable in Alpha release. At times, Immersion was slow to respond to mouse commands. Depending on the number of simultaneous users interacting with the scene online (which could make for a dizzying experience), it might stall or take a long time to load. Boothroyd and his team would need to figure out the right number of users they should accommodate for each collaborative navigation session. He thinks it might be between 5-10.

Immersion, delivered in the form of a Facebook application, is made possible by a combination of technologies. In the company’s home page, Boothroyd explains, “This is accomplished by the combination of server- and client-side rendering with client-side Ajax UI coding and differs in the approach taken by Onlive, OTOY, and other PC-Over-IP efforts: there is no client-side application to install; it simply works immediately in the web browser …”

Boothroyd calls Immersion “zero-wait state 3D,” meaning your interactive 3D experience begins the moment you land on the hosted data in your browser. As we tested out the application at his hotel, we were accessing 3D data and software hosted remotely somewhere in a server in Vancouver, Canada, he explained.

Immersion is also powered by Unity, a game development technology provider. This allows you to drag and toss 3D objects within the scene and — perhaps the most entertaining part for those of us with a destructive streak — watch them collide into one another.

Boothroyd’s company recently struck a partnership with Open Design Alliance (ODA), whereby ODA members will be given the option to license AfterCAD’s Renderjam web-based visualization platform. Since ODA members include several major CAD and PLM software developers, it opens doors to browser-based CAD viewing solutions. Furthermore, it also suggests the possibility of developing 3D experiences that combine professional purposes and entertainment purposes, delivered online, on demand.

To try out Immersion, visit this link:

For more, watch the video clip below:

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.


  1. I truly loved reading your blog. It was well written and easy to undertand. Unlike other blogs I have read. I also found it very interesting. Actually after reading, I had to go show the better half and she ejoyed it also!

  2. I might be wrong. But Unity requires a plugin installation, so any solution based on it can not be called “no installation required”. I have seen people claim their Flash-based 3D browser service “installation free”. It is true either as Flash itself requires installation.

  3. I meant “it is NOT true either as Flash itself requires installation.”

  4. Dan: Good point! However, I’m guessing most people take “installation” to mean clicking on an executable file to install a program on their local machine, with dedicated program folders and so on. By your definition, you might say every time we play a YouTube video, we “install” a Flash app. It might be technically accurate, but I just don’t think that’s how people think of “installation.” Please feel free to disagree. 🙂

  5. This is fascinating. I hadn’t noticed this use of Unity when this post first went live. Just noticed it now while researching the Unity/GameString connection for a blog post.

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