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Dassault Systemes Helps Microsoft Shape Virtual Earth

September 26, 2008

Updated 3D modeling software lets users remix 3D scenes, using models from the 3DVIA content library to complete their designs

Beth Stackpole, Contributing Editor -- Design News, September 26, 2008

Touting a new 3D remix capability, Dassault Systemes has released the latest version of Shape, its free 3D modeling software, which also lies at the core of the newest release of Microsoft's Virtual Earth platform.

The new Shape 2.0, aimed at consumers who want to get their feet wet building 3D models and similar to Google SketchUp, will now allow users to construct or "remix" 3D scenes using models contributed by other users on the community's content library. By entering a search term, users can pick from an array of previously developed models and insert their find into any of their 3D projects to more easily complete their design, according to David Laubner, director of product marketing for 3DVIA. For example, someone building a 3D representation of their house to publish online could complete and accessorize their site with furniture, cars or other types of models posted by any of the 45,000 registered users of the 3DVIA site, Laubner says.

"This is designed to be the YouTube of 3D or the Flickr of 3D," says Laubner, explaining the 3DVIA community. "(With Shape 2.0), we're trying to make it as easy as possible to get going in 3D. Things are moving forward every week, there's a new virtual world and people want to experience things in 3D. This is designed to give them a jumpstart."

Building on a partnership announced last October, Microsoft this week announced its latest version of its Virtual Earth platform, which will feature the Shape 2.0 technology. Laubner says the pair had conducted focus groups, which showed consumers' desire for a simple 3D sketch tool, hence the impetus for useability enhancements such as interactive tutorials with videos and improved user navigation tools along with the remix feature of this latest version.

Virth Earth-3DVIA is designed for both professionals and consumers looking to create realistic 3D scenes.