Posts Tagged AEC
There seems to be little known about what’s going on at this century’s Xerox PARC, Google X and it’s Project Genie, but a small amount of information was unveiled at ArchDaily. Google’s commitment to sustainability is apparently going to reach into the AEC industry and possibly trample into Autodesk’s campsite. While other software firms are hampered by their own internal growth and sales and what they can commit to marketing, (Autodesk wins there) and R & D. The folks at google, know no such bounds. The spinoff Vannevar Technology (which sounds suspiciously close to Vandelay Industries,) is working on creating…..who knows. Their website states “Reimagining building design for a more sustainable future.” Which is about as exciting as the 5th slide in a time share deck. However, google has the clout and cash in what can be a very stubborn, hesitant to change,” what are you talking to me ” culture. Typically the principals in architecture firms don’t care about technology, they have minions to get it done so why invest in software or new tech when my current pricing, business structure, ROI formulas are working and set in stone, plus I don’t like business that much I like designing building so the less I get involved the better. Engineers will analyze and without comparable metrics to analyze, then…paralyze. Construction managers will embrace tech if it saves the time, which equals money, so time and money but they have to live with the consequences, so embracing new tech….tough crowd. Which is far from saying that things can’t be done better.
The small bit of copy on the web site rightly touts that buildings, yes buildings produce the most greenhouse gases, 40%, so what is google going to do about it? Systems, software, construction methods, materials, vertically integrate and go borg on the industry. My guess is whatever they do, they will be building some buildings with Vannevar Tech for proof of concept and case studies. My guess it’s got be some integrated design and FM system to produce tangible CO2 / greenhouse gas savings, plus energy savings. Some have guessed it might be a SketchUp on steroids, but then why did they sell it to Trimble. And who cares about the design process, what part of that is the current lifecycle of a building, very little, I’d want to own the building for most its life, it’s operating life, and want to own the management of it, and the data. There ya go, so then, IBM and Maixmo, meet google, you might know them. These are the crazy kids floating balloons for internet access.
A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine, has Architectural Engineering and related services in the Top 5 Growth Industries for Small Business with growth pegged at 11.4%, #1 was Residential Building Construction. Now this has to be year to year growth but that factor was not mentioned in the article. It also is not so surprising considering the complete ass kicking these industries saw 2008-2010. However, it is encouraging because if the AE portion of AEC is busy, and stands to reason Construction is either in lockstep or not far behind. And this AEC ship is a big one and carries lots of people.
LOS ALTOS, CA–(Marketwire – Feb 14, 2013) – Sales in this (AEC) segment more than doubled over the course of 2012. Box today announced a new technology partner and preferred Box OneCloud apps to better serve customers in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) services. The new integration with Gehry Technologies‘ GTeam cloud-based BIM collaboration service, together with the company’s extensive mobile ecosystem, will make it easier for Box’s growing AEC customer base to securely access, manage and share critical information like blueprints, CAD files and contracts in the field. Sales in this segment more than doubled over the course of 2012.
This whole cloud based AEC collaboration, especially with digital punch lists, central BIM files, etc. just seems to make too much sense for anyone to ignore.
Why the cats in the box, well, the interweb loves cats.
This “best of ” list was just brought to my attention and it was put together by Houston Neal at Software advice. It’s a round up of AEC apps available for the i gadgets. The post brings together the best, but they also posted a google doc to exhaustively list those out there. While it was tough for me ever to imagine anyone wanting to do much content creation on the iphone, let alone deciphering floorplans, etc. the ipad is a whole different story, built in 3G out of the box can enable a whole world of construction coordination coupled with Joe Six Pack easy to use interface, well you got something. And while not wanting to sound like a shill for Apple I’ve seen a 3 year old zip through their menus, find what he wants and start his favorite cartoon so if you think this thing isn’t a game changer, change your game.
The launch of the iPad has brought a lot of focus back to the tablet or I guess we need to call it a slate. Nevermind that tablets have been commercially available for over a decade; however commercial success has always seemed to elude it. Lack of killer apps, increased expense compared to regular laptops certainly contributed but perhaps it was the change in the UI (User Interface) zeitgeist that provided a bigger hurdle. Apple introduced the world, in a largely commercially way, to the multi-touch interface with the iphone making many comfortable with the concept and its app store was a huge success with many programs priced around a $1 made it the equivalent of an impulse purchase at the Walgreen’s check out line. With the release of the ipad Apple has upped the ante, not just because of the user interface but with a mobile platform that is relying mostly on the web to deliver applications/data/multi-media/snacks/beverages much like the ‘thin-client’ devices promised to us in the nascent days of the interweb. So the question is does the iPad have the power/features/connectivity to matter in the A/E/C Industry, and if so who needs it as an always on, apple form factor in the field?
Processing power and GB of RAM, BIM tools are hogs so any true BIM authoring software would have to run remotely and accessed through the iPad or similar slate, and then the bottleneck becomes the latency in the broadband connection, in this case, most likely the 3G connection unless you have public wifi on your job site. And that would bring us back to something like Project Twitch from Autodesk which allows you remote control their products through an internet connection, since I don’t have an ipad I can’t vouch yet for how that would work but having your project stored remotely and using the ipad to drive through it that starts to get interesting.
goBIM which was released for the iphone, yes you read that right is running on the ipad. It is a BIM viewer that has an exporter API that will let you translate Revit and Rhino models into its own format. Why’s it’s own format? Visit the site for the FAQ and explanation but it seems as it matures the developer wants it to be an xml format.
One company focused on bringing BIM to field, an aptly calling it FieldBIM, Vela Systems blogged about the ipad, and beyond reiterating iPad specs and blogosphere pronouncements ends with a ‘we’ll have to wait and see.’ One of their prerequisites though was a field case which is already available at HardCandy. Additionally, they have partnered with Motion Computing to provide ruggedized tablets for the FieldBIM. However, what we all just really want is to unlock data that is stuck in file rooms or servers and be able to interact with it in a meaningful way which seems to be Apple’s sweet spot.
Counterbalancing Apple’s offering is the new HP Slate, which is essentially a slate wearing Windows 7 clothing and I am not sure how compelling an argument that is going to be as we’ve had a tablet edition of XP for a long time, is a multi-touch version going to sway a lot of people? Comes down to the applications and how they are served? If they are running remotely, who does the best job with the interface because the slate/pad whathaveyou is just the conduit. Which brings us to what might be the real game changer and that is the Google Chrome OS, open source/operating system, which doesn’t care what device you use and will just deliver it, this web centric open model seems more in line with our egalitarian nature and should increase adoption. But what keeps nagging at me is Apple’s tremendous execution and if their closed ecosystem produces field tools for the laymen then they got something going on, maybe break the functionality into bits, collision bits, scheduling bits, so the app provides not just the CM with a tool but workers who can use an app designed for their function, punch list, update, done. And that has been the beauty off the app store, essentially singularly focused bits that are easy to understand and implement. So if we have the true BIM up in a cloud and all these specific apps interfacing with it, that would be the equivalent of the web with user generated content (UGC) driving the system, and not the bloatware cloud we’ve been living under. It will be in the execution, otherwise you might be seeing people treating them more like Daniel Tosh did.