Testing the eDrawings Virtual Reality Prototype with Google Cardboard

In the Partner Pavilion at SolidWorks World 2016, the mobile products team demonstrated a prototype of the eDrawings mobile app, with support for Virtual Reality via Google Cardboard.

Cardboard is an inexpensive, open source virtual reality viewer, meant to be used with apps on your phone. An alternative to expensive VR rigs like the Occulus, Cardboard uses the high-quality graphics, accelerometers, and processing power already in your pocket. Inexpensive Cardboard headsets are available available from many outlets, such as this one from Amazon.

The eDrawings team has worked quickly to integrate this technology into their product, and were able to demonstrate a functional prototype at SolidWorks World 2016. The prototype was hosted on an iPhone 6 Plus, but the team assured me that iOS and Android versions are being developed in parallel.

Viewing a model in eDrawings virtual reality allows you to add an extra layer of immersive realism to your design, using the movement of your head, rather than your finger, to manipulate the model.

Similar to other Cardboard apps, the VR function of eDrawings mobile generates two images of the object being viewed, with a slight offset to account for stereo vision, making the object appear three-dimensional. Convex lenses in the Cardboard headset resolve the two images into one, and make it appear farther than a few inches in front of your eyes. The accelerometers in the phone also track movement, so the object moves and rotates, changing your perspective as you move your head.


As a prototype, the new eDrawings VR mode I tested was certainly unpolished, but the basic functions – stereo imaging, head tracking, etc. – were implemented well. However, more functions will need to be added to make VR viable, rather than foregoing the goofy-looking box and simply using your finger.

If all goes well, the team hopes to release the VR feature update sometime this year (possibly alongside the release of SolidWorks 2017). Be sure to stop by the SolidWorks area in the center of the Partner Pavilion at SolidWorks World 2016, to try out the Cardboard prototype, along with a bunch of other great projects now under development.

The incomparable Michael Lord modeling the Cardboard headset

Google Cardboard Kit

iTools Transfers Music and so Much More!


This program is actually good enough for me to share with you all. I managed to lose a bunch of music from my PC during a transfer (I think we’ve all felt that terror), and needed a way to access the files that were still safely stored on my phone.

If you’ve tried searching for an iPhone-to-PC transfer program, you know most of them are limited to a small number of transfers before you have to pay a ridiculous fee. But I finally found one that’s completely free! it’s called iTools, and it saved my bacon. The utility not only allows you to export part or ALL your music at once, but also modify apps, organize photos and playlists, rearrange the homescreen (better than iTunes does), create custom ringtones, and even access internal storage and file systems, and view system logs.

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Quick intro video:

What Apps Will You Be Using at SolidWorks World 2012?

Now that SolidWorks has released it’s official mobile apps for SolidWorks World 2012, it’s got everyone excited.  But if you’re bringing a mobile device to San Diego, you probably have a whole suite of apps you’ll be using to make the most of your time there.  I want to hear about your electronic toolbox in the comments, and here are some of my favorites:


MobileRSS (iOS):  This is the cleanest way I’ve found to read the blogs I subscribe to using Google Reader.  I’ll use this to keep up-to-date with my fellow press-members who will surely be blogging like mad.  

Evernote (iOS, Android): Whether I’m taking notes in a breakout session, composing blog posts, or conducting interviews, I’mm use Evernote for 90% of my writing, ostly becuase it syncs to everything I own, but alspo becuase of the ability to record someone’s voice during an interview.

Blogsy (iPad): While Evernote is great for note-taking, Blogsy is specifically designed to post directly to the biggest blogging sites (Posterous, WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc).  It not only lets you save multiple simultaneous posts locally, but also includes a sidebar that lets you insert images and media from online sources like Flickr, Picasa, Youtube, and Google search.  

QuickOffice Pro (iPad, Android):  QuickOffice is the go-to app for working on professional documents. (Beware, that’s why its so expensive.)  You can link the app to multiple cloud-storage services, like Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote, etc.  You can view view and edit all kinds of files, including, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, or create one from scratch.  If you’re not online, you can also save files locally and transfer them to your computer through iTunes.    

Penultimate (iPad): All these apps are great for typing, but if you prefer handwriting, go with this one.  You can create multiple lab-style notebooks using various pen colors and styles. It works best with a stylus, but don’t let that stop you from finger-painting your way through a lecture.

OnLive Desktop (iPad):  If you really prefer the look and feel of Mocrosoft products (I won’t hold it against you), check out OnLive.  It’s sort of a remote desktop to a computer in the cloud, but tweaked just slightly so it works well on the iPad.  You can create Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents in their native programs, then download your saved files from their website later.  The drawback is you need to be online to use it.

n!Fuze for SolidWorks (iPhone):  It’s a brand-new app, so you never know when you’ll get the chance to use it, or if there will be a big reveal at the conference.

San Diego Zoo (iOS, Android): One word: PandaCam.

Geocaching (iOS, Android):  You’ll be in a strange new city, what better way to explore than to go on a treasure hunt.


Be sure to let me know below what you’ll be using. And see you in San Diego!

SolidWorks Releases n!Fuze app for iPhone… Vewwy Vewwy Quietly


Did you know that SolidWorks had released an iPhone app for it’s new cloud-based, collaboration tool, n!Fuze?  Neither did I.  That is, until I searched for “SolidWorks” in the App Store (hoping to find this year’s SolidWorks World app).  What I found instead was a app, just released on January 28th, 2012, called “n!Fuze® for SolidWorks®”

Download it here for free!

From within the app, you have access to current and previous revisions of all your workspaces, as well as a way to communicate with all your collaborators. You can view files and workspaces, along with their properties (such as last modification, permissions, versions), and write comments.  However, it doesn’t look like you can edit the files themselves, and the previews are images, not 3D models  

From the iTunes Description:

n!Fuze® for SolidWorks® is an easy-to-use, secure, online sharing and collaboration solution for the product design process. It enables designers, engineers, sales people, purchasing team members and others to work together on ideas and designs.

n!Fuze understands and manages the design files you post, including part, assembly, and drawing relationships, and can show these relationships graphically with its unique visual product structure tool. When you share files, n!Fuze automatically includes all related files to help prevent broken assemblies or missing parts. Comments are tightly linked to associated files so you can easily track new ideas and changes throughout the product development and review process. The n!Fuze Mobile client allows n!Fuze subscribers to see their files on their mobile devices, as well as view and participate in comments about those files.

With this iPhone app, you can connect to n!Fuze from your iPhone to browse files, view images, and provide comments as part of the collaboration process.


With an advancement like this being made so quitely, and so close to SolidWorks World 2012, should we assume that an even bigger mobile computing announcement will be made in San Diego? 


Examining my Commute with DashCommand

Now that I have an iPhone 4S (thanks Mom!), I finally have a device that can handle the processing and data transfer needs of DashCommand.


DashCommand is a vehicle diagnostic and data visualization app from Palmer Performance Engineering.  Basically, you can plug your phone into the OBD-II port under your steering wheel (with a cable or wireless transmitter, sold separately), and see every piece of information about your car’s performance.


Some of the parameters that can be viewed are:

  • Speed
  • RPM
  • Power
  • Torque
  • Remaining Fuel
  • Fuel Economy
  • Coolant temperature
  • Pitch and roll
  • G forces
  • Check Engine codes


It also takes averages over trips, each day, and between fillups.  I decided to use a trip average to record the data for my commute from work to home.  Here’s the data for my one way, door-to-door  trip:



Average Fuel Consumption

23.5 mpg



36.5 mi


Fuel consumed

1.2 gal


Average CO2 Emission Rate

13.2 oz/mi


Total CO2 Emissions

23.8 lbs


Elapsed Time

56 min


Drive Time

41 min

Meaning I was stopped at red lights/in traffic for 15 minutes

Average fuel flow

1.3 gal/hr


Max fuel flow

4.7 gal/hr


Average Speed (excluding idle)

42 mph


Average Speed (including idle)

35 mph


Max Speed

72 mph


Average Engine Speed

1535 rpm


Max Engine Speed

3155 rpm


Max Acceleration

0.4 g


Max Braking

0.5 g


Max Engine Power

199 HP


Max Torque

278 ft/lbs


Distance in Neutral


I think this means the amount of time I’m stopped or coasting

Time in Neutral



Distance in 1st Gear



Time in 1st Gear



Distance in 2nd Gear



Time in 2nd Gear



Distance in 3rd Gear



Time in 3rd Gear



Distance in 4th Gear



Time in 4th Gear

37.5 %


Distance in 5th Gear



Time in 5th Gear



Distance in Wrong Gear


I don’t know how this cold be possible, since my car is an automatic. Does anyone know?

Time in Wrong Gear





My dashboards:


My Route:


(Note the color changes based on my speed)


At some point I’ll post some data from a performance run or a quarter-mile, if I can find a safe place to do it.