Sunglass, a company that made its private beta debut back at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, is announcing its official, wide public launch today. The startup provides a web-based tool for sharing and collaborating on 3D models created in a number of CAD programs, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor and SketchUp, and this latest release adds new features that are designed to improve the communication layer for projects.
CEO and co-founder Kaustuv DeBiswas described Sunglass as “Google Docs for 3D objects” when he spoke to Kim-Mai Cutler at TC Disrupt NY. Essentially, it allows designers and manufacturers to quickly and easily come together and work on projects together in real-time, without requiring that each have the same or any specialized software installed. Think about what PDFs did for online document sharing: that’s what Sunglass is attempting to do, now with the added benefit of direct communication tools.
“Describing and shipping data from one point to another, and getting back to one another takes away 25% of the time you actually spend in design manufacturing,” DeBiswas told me in a new interview today. “This made us really build a great communication platform. You don’t need Skype anymore – essentially you have a fully interactive 3D environment, where you can pin images, text and video to 3D models, without a download or plugin or anything.”
In other words, improved communication and eliminating the need for outside tools should represent a big time savings for companies. Designers can now push real-time updates and feedback to manufacturing partners, and communicate exactly why they exist and how they want them implemented all in the same place, with the help of text, visual and video aids.
Users can also now choose to just share individual parts of larger projects, and browse through project revisions through a new visual version browser. Planned API integrations on the desktop software side include CATIA, Rhino, and Processing. There are also considerable changes on the back-end, which supports full loss-less translation of data. This upgrade overall is an important step in Sunglass’ growth, one that definitely puts it on the path towards potentially replacing desktop CAD software altogether, though there’s still a very long road ahead.
Sunglass is $25 per person per month to use, but registered users can send out links to collaborators who can hop on to specific projects and contribute for free. The startup also offers an app marketplace for developers making use of its API, which provides another revenue source. Sunglass currently has $1.8 million in announced funding, from General Catalyst Partners, Lerer Ventures and more.