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Autodesk Expands Its Visualization Technology Footprint

Written By: Sanjeev Pal
Published On: January 24 2013

Autodesk has been making significant investments to enhance its portfolio of visualization and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software, primarily by acquiring niche software vendors. In an effort to achieve more depth in its visualization portfolio, Autodesk has acquired PI-VR, a privately held German software vendor that focuses on 3D visualization technology. This acquisition is in line with Autodesk’s Digital Prototyping approach that combines design, visualization, and simulation of products in a cost-effective manner.

Neither Autodesk nor PI-VR has disclosed the financial details of the acquisition. PI-VR is one of those niche software vendors that has a set of specific solutions important for its specialized customers and is rarely in the mainstream news. Autodesk has indicated that it will continue to sell, support, and enhance the PI-VR product line, and will integrate its technologies with the PI-VR platform. It remains to be seen if over the long run Autodesk will continue to provide PI-VR’s high-end visualization and virtual prototyping VRED professional solutions, which are currently priced on the high side of an affordable price point. 

PI-VR integration with product lifecycle management (PLM) products seems to be limited; VRED Professional, primarily a virtual prototyping application, has well-developed third-party integration with Siemens Teamcenter. PI-VR uses computer-aided design (CAD) data to render the virtual design closer to reality. Its main product line, VRED, addresses visualization for marketing, design, engineering, and lightweight visual viewing. PI-VR’s Vserver offering can be easily assimilated and expanded using the Autodesk 360 cloud platform. The PI-VR products VRED Essential, VRED Photo,and VRED Professional are complementary to many of Autodesk’s existing products, such as Showcase, Alias, Maya, 3ds Max, and Design and Creation Suites. VRED Professional is also used for generating marketing material by artists, photographers, and other design professionals. PI-VR has operated with the goal of advancing its technological leadership in the high-end 3D visualization and virtual prototyping domain. Its nimble operating structure has contributed to the successful execution of its vision.

It does not seem that Autodesk acquired PI-VR strictly for its niche rendering technology, since Autodesk recently acquired certain technology-related assets from NUMENUS GmbH, with high-end visualization technology that efficiently renders and reviews 3D datasets. PI-VR has a limited customer base but it includes some big names, such as Škoda Auto and Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH, which will add to Autodesk’s large portfolio of customers. In the past PI-VR’s VRED solutions have won in some competitive situations against Autodesk Showcase. This acquisition puts Autodesk in a dominant position within the visualization space. The PI-VR team will also bring significant intellectual property from the automotive space, especially from the digitally advanced German manufacturing environment.
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