It is that time once again when we round up the most noteworthy news notes in the worlds of CAD, architecture, engineering, design, construction, and more. August was quite a month with so many things happening in different industries, so this edition of Coffee Break News will surely be an interesting read for you.
This month, some stories that tickled our fancy include these proposed alternatives for keeping buildings cool aside from airconditioning; a new Reverb VR headset from HP geared towards CAD engineers; and Vectorworks’ acquisition of ConnectCAD. Other happenings we thought you should not miss include this survey indicating that employees would rather be replaced by robots than real people; the widespread use of 3D printing technology in the US military establishment; and how waste material is being converted to jet fuel on Humber Estuary.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
Innovations in cooling buildings
Air-conditioning accounts for 10% of the world’s energy consumption, and in 2016 contributed to about 1045 metric tons of CO2 emissions worldwide. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2050 air-conditioning will reach 37% of the global total energy demand. Because of this, architects and engineers are coming up with various creative ways to keep buildings cool while reducing the need for air-conditioning.
Popular building materials used nowadays because of their heat-insulation properties include stone, earth, and concrete. These dense materials have excellent thermal conductivity properties (for passive cooling), thermal lag (slowing down the transmission of heat), lower redistribution of heat or reflectivity, and higher volumetric heat capacity. Projects that have successfully utilized these materials include Santorini’s Summer Cave House by Kapsimalis Architects and A-cero’s Concrete House II.
Also becoming popular is the use of green roofs, which provide shade, reduce heat from the air, lessen temperature, and also provide aesthetic appeal. Structures that utilize green roofs include the California Academy of Sciences (designed by Renzo Piano), Nanyang School of Art (designed by CPG), and Villa Bio (a project of Enric Ruiz-Geli).
Could HP’s Reverb become a common tool for the CAD Engineer?
A new VR headset from HP, the HP Reverb, is being geared towards professionals with deeper pockets and with more demands on comfort as well as high definition sound. The HP Reverb has a $600 price tag, and it even has an enterprise version that will set you back $649. The HP Reverb is being pitted against other mainstream VR headsets: the Samsung Odyssey and the HTC Vive Pro.
The Reverb features specs that edge out competitors: 2160×2160 resolution per eye, 114-degree field of view, 2.89-inch LCD displays over OLED, squircle-shaped view, asymmetrical Fresnel lenses, and a display of 24 to 25 pixels per degree.
The HP Reverb also features built-in headphones, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Bluetooth in-headset for convenient pairing. The $600 consumer version is sold with a machine-washable foam facepiece, while the $649 enterprise version has a leather facepiece.
The initial rollout of the HP Reverb ran into some stocking and display issues, but the problems have since been resolved and HP has assured its customers that the VR headset should be available at the HP website and through their retail partners.
Vectorworks acquires ConnectCAD
Design and BIM software solutions provider Vectorworks has acquired connectCAD, a systems design solution that caters mostly to the AV industry. connectCAD has been available since 2009 as a plugin for Vectorworks software, with functions for designing broadcast, AV, IT and lighting networks, and other connected systems.
Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar said, “connectCAD has been a great partner product for Vectorworks over the years and has gradually built a product for Vectorworks that creates a powerful, yet intuitive interface for generating audiovisual system designs and reports. In response to the growing audio needs for our customers, connectCAD was an obvious choice because it’s a high-quality product that naturally extends our AV capabilities for our users.”
With the acquisition, connectCAD’s Founder, Managing Director, and Programmer for tools Conrad Preen will commit to at least two years with Vectorworks in order to continue developing connectCAD. Top priority will be the conversion of Vectorscript tools and commands to C++ utilizing Vectorworks SDK in order to enhance the connectCAD plugin’s performance.
Vectorworks CEO Sarkar added, “The driving force for the acquisition was to get our foot in the door of the AV installation market. This will help us not only better serve those that do AV installations, but also those involved with broadcast and systems designs. The capabilities of the Vectorworks Spotlight product—plus the capabilities we’ve added in other new modules and acquisitions—has helped us to evolve our product offering into one that is built to be a total design and production solution for the entertainment industry.”
Here are some more stories worth checking out this month:
- According to a study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, most employees from Europe and North America would much rather be replaced in their own jobs by robots rather than other employees.
- The United States military has been actively embracing the potential of 3D printing or additive manufacturing, especially as the technology offers a powerful and efficient method of manufacturing.
- A consortium which includes Shell and British Airways is building Europe’s very first waste-to-jet-fuel plant on the Humber Estuary, with the goal of converting up to half a million tons of household and commercial waste to jet fuel every year.