Those engineers chalking up the cloud to be a passing fancy or a platform that’s ill-suited for professional-class design tools might want to reconsider.
In yet another example of a full-function engineering tool making its way to the latest software delivery model, startup Lagoa has just released a full 3D rendering and collaboration platform, entirely browser-based and running solely in the cloud.
Lagoa, which was just awarded a $1.6 million round of seed funding from such companies as 500 Startups, Atlas Venture, Real Ventures, and RHO Ventures, is the brainchild of a trio of partners, including Thiago Costa, the developer of the Logoa MultiPhysics desktop-based physics engine, Arno Zinke, with a Ph.D. in physically-based rendering, and Dov Amihod, the company’s chief technology officer.
Based on some of the work done for Lagoa MultiPhysics and influences from the gaming world, Costa and crew went to work on solving the speed issue that would result from trying to do sophisticated 3D rendering jobs in the cloud. The development of their own geometry kernel and coding system, in addition to advancements in data transmission technology were part of the secret sauce that went into Lagoa, which Costa says “makes rendering time super fast.” Lagoa claims it feels even better and faster than what can be accomplished on a traditional desktop system.
The notion of putting 3D rendering in the cloud was born from the idea that installing, upgrading, and configuring traditional design tool software is just too complex and the server and IT infrastructure to run it far too costly, according to Costa, who came to that realization after the experience of commercializing Logoa MultiPhysics. “I realized it was a pain to ship desktop software and a lot of work to provide upgrades to people when you want to give them a new feature,” he explains.
The Lagoa team didn’t feel the current state of technology was where it needed to be to offer users an optimum experience doing cloud-based multiphysics simulation, so they decided to start with 3D rendering capabilities first, and then address additional functionality later. “We decided to start with rendering and make it really interactive,” Costa says. “With rendering, you don’t have to download data for everything you do. The environment runs in the cloud and the rendering happens in the cloud and users only need to see the rendered image,” he explains.
In addition to speed, precision and materials accuracy are the other top priorities for Lagoa. The team, led by co-founder Zinke, has put a lot of time in creating the most accurate materials from real life, paying close attention to volumetrics, so environmental reflections and refractions are applied to scenes as well as full control over lighting, including sphere, point, half dome, and anisoptropic dome.
Beyond 3D rendering functionality, collaboration is the other piece of Lagoa. Costa says multiple designers can simultaneously navigate, edit, and render on the same 3D scene, and clients or other partners can be invited into the collaboration, viewing changes on the fly. The system also addresses versioning concerns with automatic check out, versions, and backup.
While Lagoa may be among the first to put 3D rendering in the cloud, there are other services addressing the collaborative piece of the 3D design equation. Autodesk has been out in front with cloud-based design and collaboration tools, GradCAD is building an enterprise collaboration tool, and there’s also the Sunglass collaboration platform and there are likely many more to come. Costa says those tools are great, but there is more to the value proposition than design sharing. “Rendering and creation is our major differentiator,” he says.
Lagoa is available in a range of options, including as a free service covering five rendering hours, 1GB of cloud storage, and unlimited viewing of public projects. There is also a professional level, priced at $123 a month, covering 250GB of storage, 375 hours of rendering, and 25 private projects, and enterprise deployments can be established and priced on an ad-hoc basis.
To get an overview of Lagoa, watch the video below.