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New Software Opens Doors

Software that lets customers open computer-generated doors and windows on the Internet and "go inside and look around" has been developed by Auckland firm Soft Tech Ltd.

The software uses virtual reality modelling language to display door and window designs like a photograph - and customers can open or close doors or walk around inside a virtual room.

Soft Tech develops software especially for the aluminium extrusion and window and door-fabrication industries around the world. Director John Ball says the project to develop the program was spurred by the growth of the Internet and its potential for increased and innovative ways to do business.

Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology -helped to fund the project. Mr Ball says the funding allowed Soft Tech to develop web-enabling graphics that could be seen over the Internet, and the rendering - displaying the product visually.

"When you have CAD [computer-aided draughting] you have a whole lot of lines," he says.

"Rendering makes it look just like a photograph. The doors and windows that customers see on their screen can be revolved, moved around, and people can open the doors, go inside and look around, resize, put in the colours they want, see how it looks."

Mr Ball says these sorts of graphics have been around for a while but they have always been difficult and expensive to set up.

"The work of Auckland University, funded by Technology New Zealand, has allowed us to develop it so a novice user can configure a new model. This is great, but the most significant part is that this is not just visuals - the model contains all the information and calculations to actually manufacture the unit.

"This is what really differentiates our product. In fact we have all the back-end functionality such as materials ordering, optimised material cutting lists, scheduling and tracking so we offer a full commercial solution for a fabricator."

Mr Ball says the project has resulted in Soft Tech being more competitive in the international arena.

"We sell mainly overseas. We have offices in Asia, the Americas, Britain and Europe. This particular project has allowed us to take what was a manufacturing product and turn it into a retail marketing product for our customers."

Soft Tech, formed in 1985, employs 70 staff in New Zealand and overseas.

-ends-

Contact: * John Ball, Soft Tech Ltd, 11 Hargreaves St, Ponsonby, Auckland. Ph: (09) 303-1113. fax: (09) 309-3061. Email: john@softtech.co.nz. Website: www.softtechnz.com * Nigel Metge, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (Auckland Office), (09) 912-6730, or 021 454-095. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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