Computer Aided Design (CAD) has existed for a long time now. Designers learn how to use popular software like AutoCAD from Autodesk, and design products using the software. The traditional human designing process is now aided by computers. CAD enables designers to try out different designs on the computer and analyze them before they can settle on a design. Autodesk now has a new research project called Dreamcatcher. With Dreamcatcher, the fulcrum is slightly moved. Instead of computers providing help to the designer, the computer takes over and designs the product, while the human can propose tweaks and pick a design short-listed by the software. Dreamcatcher understands the product that needs to be designed, analyzes the different variables involved and does mathematical calculations to come up with the best design for the product. The human can then tweak or change the design and Dreamcatcher will finalize it.
Dreamcatcher can come up with the most optimal and effective design for the product based on its computations of how the product will be used and what design will be best for the use-case. An example is designing a bike part. The body for the bike can be designed in multiple ways. Each design has a set of pros and cons. With Dreamcatcher, the software will understand that the product needs to support the weight of a human, be aero-dynamic and fast, and be a strong and sturdy design. Then it will do calculations and go through millions of permutations and combinations of designs until it reaches the best possible design. It will then propose a set of optimal designs to the human and the human can pick from the list of optimal designs.
While designers remain in control today, could software take over the design process in the future? If software like Dreamcatcher can design the most optimal products, we could see humans aiding computers rather than computers aiding humans in the design process. As computers replace a lot of tasks that humans perform, designing and art remain very human as we believe creativity is human. But with software being able to design better products, we could soon see designers being an aid to software that designs products.