The Autodesk University Africa conference is currently underway in Johannesburg, and serves as platform to showcase how innovative technology can be used to help designers create better.

Speaking at the conference this week (24th and 25th October), Simon Bromfield, territory manager at Autodesk Africa, explains how cutting-edge technologies are not only having an effect on the world of designers, but also the products and experiences they create for consumers and end-users.

A shifting outlook

The explosion of technological advances has resulted in a fundamental shift and transformation of the human experience through new-age design,” he says.

“Almost everything we experience, from jet engines to life-like movie monsters, was made by man or machine. And through the use of cutting-edge technologies, we can always find the exciting seeds of a future world waiting in the wings of digital disruption and innovation,” adds Bromfield.

This innovative thinking when it comes to design is spreading in South Africa too, according to the territory manager, with a wider range of industries now looking technology for new ways to tackle old problems.

“Within South Africa, innovation in design-thinking has evolved across numerous industries. From the film industry, right through to the art of architecture, South Africans are truly making their mark and leaving a lasting global impression for future generations to come,” enthuses Bromfield.

Local beneficiary 

When looking at specific fields, Bromfield identifies the media and film industry as one that’s entering a new phase thanks to embracing new technologies.

The next four years for example, could see the industry total R177.2 billion by 2022, with it sitting at R129.2 billion last year. This sharp increase is due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution says Bromfield, with the borders separating the entertainment and media, technology and telecommunications industries blurring.

The territory manager also highlights a local animation studio as benefitting from the embrace of cutting-edge technologies, along with utilising some Autodesk tools.

“A South African production company that has been experimenting with digital disruption is Triggerfish Animation Studios based in Cape Town. With acclaimed hits like Adventures in Zambesia and Khumba, the designers broke the barriers by leveraging Autodesk Maya,” he notes.

New experiences

Along with making an impact on the entertainment front, Bromfield explains that the professional fields are also benefitting from Autodesk’s design technologies locally.

“Within South Africa, we are already seeing the rise of co-working zones occupied by rising startups and smaller work spaces to accommodate the rise of the flexible workforce and the gig economy,” he says.

“At 100% Design Johannesburg, RAW studios were invited to feature a forward looking concept of the South African office of the future. Using the Autodesk Fusion 360 software package, the design team had the ability to render 2D and 3D animation models. The end result was dynamic workspaces that allow for a collaborative workspace approach, where staff could use furniture for brainstorming, break away sessions or even private calls or meetings,” he continues.

The future

Looking at some future applications, virtual reality is beginning to be used with greater regularity, according to Bromfield.

“VR has the potential to shift entire industries. Take the field of architecture as an example. VR can be used as a tool to help clients understand complex designs in a more intuitive way than blueprints or miniature models,” he says.

“The logical next step is that building tools can allow designers to use craft and modify designs within the virtual environment, instead of merely virtualising their creations. Collaboration is therefore a huge benefit, ultimately allowing cost and time saving benefits,” concludes Bromfield.

[Image – Autodesk Africa]