A personal perspective of the vCAD team: everyone is incredibly smart, has kind southern charm, and cares greatly about the product and users. That’s why we believe it’s important for you to know this team and have insight into the people behind the app.
vCAD is comprised of top talent that has come together, bringing years of valuable experience plus a forward-thinking mentality to the advancement of the product. This rockstar team is working nonstop to provide the very best experience for you.
Helping lead the charge is Jon Huber, CTO at vCAD. Jon has worked in the engineering world for over 17 years. He is dedicated to learning and has earned the following degrees from University of Tennessee-Knoxville: PhD Biomedical/Medical Engineering, MS Engineering Science, and BS Biomedical Engineering.
Can you tell us more about your background and how it got you to this point?
Software and programming has always a part of my life. From the time I was introduced to a computer I was constantly drawn to it. It went beyond the Atari and Nintendo Consoles. In the 80s I was programming BASIC on a Commodore64. In the 90s I learned MATLAB, C, and HTML. In the 2000s I grew to Python, PERL, C++, C#.
I started college in 1994, while the internet was still on 9600 baud modems - definitely before the internet boom. I decided to go into engineering. I’ve always had a strong sense of design and mathematics. By the time of my Masters in 2000 I was deep into CAD design and Finite Element Analysis to predict stresses and strains acting on a structure. Even then, I found my way to the computer.
Career wise, I’ve been very diverse. I started with a typical Mechanical Engineering job working on airbag inflator designs. From there I got the start-up bug. First as part of a microchemistry startup, then a biomedical sensor and software startup, then a proton therapy startup. Each had their differences, but the principles of design and product robustness were constant themes.
As an engineer, I’ve used CAD for nearly 25 years (as a student and a professional). Also, as a hobby, I’ve tinkered with game development and game theory. Hence, vCAD is a natural progression of taking some simple ideas and bringing them to market.
How did you get into VR?
My interest in VR is a natural progression over the past 30 years. I have always been interested in technology. Whether building computers, assembling a MakerBot, writing code for a Leap Sensor, developing motion tracking algorithms for optical trackers, whatever I can get my hands on. VR has been no different. I have a high-powered PC, a love of games, and the ability to code. VR and I were on a collision course.
I started to take VR more seriously in 2010 when I met Lee. At the time, 3D was all the rage and he asked me to write a head-tracking 3D app for the iPhone. I did it. We’ve been having conversations about VR ever since then.
What compelled you to join the vCAD team?
It is an opportunity to bring my ideas to the market. I’ve been tinkering for a long, long time. I decided it was time to bring these ideas out of the garage and to market.
What is your role at the company?
Like any startup, we all wear many hats. I lead the technical efforts, help shape the vision of the product, develop the roadmap, and handle most of the app development.
What projects are you most proud of -- at vCAD and beyond?
In general, I’m proud at how I’ve solved problems within all disciplines of engineering. My Degrees are in BioMedical Engineering and I have experience in Directing a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Team, and now in Software.
Specifically, two things come to mind. Being awarded 4 patents in the Proton Therapy space was a great accomplishment. Additionally, being interviewed by Solidworks was a great experience. I’ve been using 3D CAD for a long time and it was good to be recognized by them.
For vCAD, I’m most proud of the navigation mechanic. We use a custom code to Fly, Walk, and Ghost throughout any CAD model. It’s very robust and gives us a lot of possibilities moving forward.
Beyond? A lot of my PhD research was around tying together point cloud registrations of optical systems similar to the Vive controllers. As the VR/AR industry matures it will inherently create high value medical applications. Look for me there.
In your opinion, how is vCAD a game changer?
The navigation is so simple no one else thought to do it. It’s the navigation that matches how you walk around in real life. The navigation method is a game changer.
Beyond vCAD, how do you personally use VR?
It’s actually a different question. It’s how I’ve used CAD. I’ve felt all of the pains we’re trying to solve. Trying to navigate a 3D model on a projector, sharing the drawing package to the design team, going onsite and not having a CAD Workstation in front of you. I’ve been there. Now, I’m solving the problem.
What VR headset do you personally own?
A gear for the S6, another for the S8. Also, a Homido Mini.
What are you most excited about regarding the vCAD app?
The organization. We feature creeped ourselves in the first few months. Early on, we tried to make too many people happy and each of them wanted to use the app in their own way. Someone describing their ideal virtual reality experience is like describing a dream. Each is unique. We’ve taken all of the ideas, filtered them, and created a great app.
Any sneak peeks you can provide on what (else) is coming down the pipeline?
I’m looking forward to really showcasing One-Touch Navigation® with Tiltbrush. It’s a great experience to freely move around instead of “fishing” from point to point. I think vCAD is the only continuous navigation, mobile VR experience for Tiltbrush a file.
Looking a little further down the road, we’re starting to innovate in the collaboration and communication aspects. Once the file has been uploaded, we’re going to allow for realtime note-taking and then present that information to the users while in the environment. It’s going to go a long way to having businesses integrate vCAD to their day-to-day workflow.
How have you seen vCAD help professionals / various industries?
It’s helping professionals grow their business. We’ve seen those professionals who use VR are beginning to win the job. When their client can visualize the project it takes them from the concept of the building into the immersive experience of being in the new building.
Additionally, with the easy upload process we’re letting the design professional be a design professional. They don’t have to learn about the process of converting their CAD file to VR. We’ve removed that complication from their day-to-day process.
We’ve gotten a lot of traction in the academic space, too. Professors are looking for new ways to engage students. Now when teaching them Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, etc, our software is the carrot to entice them. “Submit your completed project and we’ll convert it to VR for you”. Watching college students experience their own project in VR for the first time is magical.
Any top tips + tricks for using vCAD?
Start small. Often we see people’s first upload is the most complex model they have. This is not a recipe for success. Hide the detail that’s not needed.
Think of it like a render. The first render is usually low detail. Then you work your way to the high quality. It’s very similar here. You’ve got 4 million polygons until the phone’s memory is full. Use them well.
What vCAD functionality is most valuable in your opinion?
There’s a lot to talk through here, but if I had to pick the one feature that’s the MOST valuable, I’d say it’s our navigation. Time and time again, the professionals using broad range of VR products have commented that it’s what makes us unique. Continuous navigation is key.
Where do you see VR heading?
There are some obvious comparisons to the 2000 PC market. Better and better hardware driving more graphics detail. Mobile processors are improving and soon the limitations of VR on a mobile platform will be the standard.
I like the way ImmersaCAD has incorporated VR. It’s there when you need it and gone when you don’t. I’ve talked about it before, VR requires a lot setup to be fully immersive. For VR to go mainstream the convenience factor must be improved.
One more personal note: Jon made this the smoothest interview I have ever conducted. Which is another indicator of how enthusiastic and hardworking the team is, how much they care about every detail of the business and its community, and how much they believe in vCAD.
As Jon mentioned, vCAD is helping professionals grow their business and win the job. We invite you to try vCAD and share your experience and feedback with us.