Engineering creativity through technology

Thanks to visual effects technology advancements, like the introduction of CGIs with Jurassic Park, we now have high flying action in movies like the new Spider-Man Homecoming in 3D. The investments and partnerships between the technology industry and the creative community have helped take entertainment, engineering and design to new heights and set us on a great path for the future.

This month, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dell Precision workstations and that got me thinking about how much technology has advanced in creative fields. We’ve seen some truly incredible things that have been the direct result of intertwining of technology and creativity over the past two decades.

The last two decades, creative work in entertainment has evolved substantially with the introduction of new technology, from the special effects in movies to new experience like VR.

In 1997, we introduced the first Dell workstation, a powerful PC meant to make it easier for creative professionals to manage their big ideas and complex work. Back then, the Dell workstation 400 boasted a whopping 128 MB graphics card, which is equivalent to about a hundred photographs. Back then, people didn’t understand the need for workstations, and certainly weren’t rushing out to buy them. We sold only 700 units that first quarter. Fast forward to today. Dell’s workstation business has grown to be number 1 worldwide. We have systems that are 32,000 times faster, 240 times the memory and 2,800 times the graphics performance of that first workstation.

We also wouldn’t be where we are today if our hardware and software providers also hadn’t been deeply invested in enabling creative professionals. Workstations have always been less about the product and more about the people and their workflows — how the technology is enabling the applications and designs. Today, workstations are used by millions of professionals across various creative fields, including film, VFX, music production, product design, manufacturing and VR content development.

Through the ’90s and ’00s, technology catalyzed a paradigm shift to digital. In the early half of the 2010s, we saw CGI become ubiquitous in video, pre-rendered graphics became nearly scientifically photorealistic, and real time graphics-simulated photorealism to the untrained eye. Today, most animated movies are CGI and the majority are created in 3D. Workstations have enabled that evolution to digital and enhanced creativity in the entertainment industry, and in other industries, in immeasurable ways.

And we’ve seen nothing yet. Whether it’s processing power, bandwidth, storage capacity, display technology, everything improves ten times every five years. That means 15 years from now, we’ll have another 1000 times the power, speed, efficiency and capacity we have today.

We can expect richer, more immersive experiences with virtual and augmented reality; the normalcy of predictive technology and machine learning, and computing will be done in more natural ways like voice and gesture. I love being on the front lines to see how creative work continues to transform.

As technology providers, we must continue to innovate and stay committed to creativity in order to push the boundaries of what’s possible. If we don’t, imagine what we’ll miss.