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Eye-tracking to revolutionise CAD tools?

A new system, devised by researchers at The Open University and the University of Leeds, is using eye- tracking technology to overcome constraints on creativity imposed by computer-aided design (CAD). ‘Designing with Vision’ aims to break down rigid distinctions between human and machine. This should help designers to recover intuitive elements of the design process that are otherwise suppressed when working with CAD. Traditional design tools, such as pen and paper, are increasingly being replaced by 2D and 3D computerised drawing packages. The uptake of CAD is helping to increase productivity

and improve the quality of designs, reducing errors and unnecessary wastage when the goods are made. However, the switch to CAD may have a downside too. The introduction of digital technologies often forces people to change how they work so they fi t with the technology, rather than the other way around. In creative disciplines, this inevitably constrains the results produced – a scenario that would be a disaster for designers, according to Steve Garner, Professor of Design at The Open University. ‘Creativity is a fundamental building block of the design process,’ Professor Garner said. ‘The eye-tracking system


Scienomics has announced the ‘Advanced Monte Carlo Simulations for Materials Properties’ consortium, which aims to develop a software package offering the most advanced Monte Carlo schemes. This tool will enable the

application of these sophisticated techniques to systems that are not handled by the current Monte Carlo implementations. Recent developments in Monte Carlo techniques – and in particular those related to connectivity altering moves – present a robust approach to relaxing complex molecular systems and therefore enable reliable prediction of confi gurational properties as well as physical properties such as the chemical potential.

The deliverables from this

consortium will boost the use of Monte Carlo simulations for materials presenting large confi guration relaxation times and it will also enable the study of separations and phase equilibria related problems. The ‘Advanced Monte Carlo Simulations for Materials Properties’ consortium activities will cover needs in a range of industrial segments (coatings, chemicals, adhesives, oil, packaging, rubbers, electronics, additives, personal care, optics and cleantech) and will focus on the following areas: simulations for accurate predictions of polymer properties; simulations for phase equilibria and adsorption; and prediction of the chemical potential of small and medium- sized molecules.

identifi es which part of the design sketch the user is drawn to, making the human-machine interface far more fl uid. The result is a synergy between human ingenuity and machine-based digital technology.’ Professor Alison McKay, Professor of Design Systems at the University of Leeds, added: ‘The digitisation of design could potentially stifl e innovation and exclude people with a lot to offer but who work in ways that are not compatible with machines. Instead, we want to create digital design systems that are themselves designed in response to the needs of real designers.’


Dassault Systemes, the provider of 3D and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, has acquired Simulayt, the composites simulation and advanced draping simulation technology specialist. Menhirs, the parent company of Bricsys, has acquired the IP for several fl agship software products from Ledas, including the source code to LGS 2D, LGS 3D, Driving Dimensions, RhinoWorks, and other programs used by the CAD industry.

Maplesoft partners with VI-grade

A partnership between Maplesoft and VI-grade aims to make real-time modelling applications more cost- and time-effective by integrating MapleSim models with the VI-CarRealTime framework.

MapleSim is an advanced physical modelling and simulation tool built on a foundation of symbolic computation technology. It effi ciently handles all of the complex mathematics involved in the development of engineering

models, including multi-domain systems, plant modelling, and control design. VI-CarRealTime provides a fully validated real-time vehicle simulation environment that can be used by automotive engineers to optimise vehicle designs and control system performance. Vehicle dynamics engineers can also perform large design of experiments and multi- objective optimisation studies quickly and easily.

Digital receivers developed with aid of engineering design software

Semtech, a supplier of analogue and mixed-signal semiconductors, has used Matlab and Simulink to reduced development time of optimised digital receivers in wireless RF devices. Semtech used the MathWorks tools to create FPGA prototypes 50 per cent faster than before, reduce verifi cation time from weeks to days and shorten development time by 33 per cent. A Simulink model based on system


specifi cations helped engineers rapidly evaluate design ideas and improved collaboration among engineering teams. Simulink and Simulink HDL Coder enabled engineers to create prototypes in a few weeks and eliminate hand-coding. Using EDA Simulator Link, Semtech engineers reused the Simulink system model to test multiple critical points in the design, verify the VHDL in less than a day, and reduce overall verifi cation time from weeks to days.

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