07-20-06 - 1


While in SF I thought of two pieces of software I'd like to have.

One is an apartment layout tool (you could use it for houses & offices and anything else too). First, you roughly draft the floor plan of the place; it tells you square feet, so you can rough sketch it with a few measurements and tweak to get it close. Then you draw some simple shapes for your furniture. Then you can drag them around and rotate them to try different layouts. Obviously you could just use something like Maya (any modeler) to do this, but those are very difficult for the average person (like me). I want to just be able to draw the outline of the space then drag some walls, etc.

Addendum : Scott pointed me at this which is not bad. I wish I could free draw my layout, and just draw the furniture, not select from Ikea pieces, but meh, it's not bad.

The other is a traffic layout and simulation tool. Going over the Bay Bridge the traffic is awful, but oddly the traffic on the bridge itself is not bad at all, it's just leading up to the bridge that it's bad, because of some badly designed merges. Perhaps some small changes could be made which would cost very little but improve the flow of those merges? The idea is to have a tool that's sort of like a fluid-pipe flow analysis tool. You have these incoming pipes (roads) and outgoing pipes. At each edge, you can set the flux : the rate of cars going through (# per minute) & the average speed. You lay out the road in between with some simple splining tool, then the system simulates the car flow, using perhaps a particle system, or something that reasonably well approximates actual traffic interaction. You can then visually see the flow, see where it's clogging and slowing down. Then you can try little things, like adding an extra lane for a merge area, things like that.

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