Last week, Graphisoft had the annual launch of its product family at its “Building Together” event, which was a special one this year as it was its 40th anniversary as a company. While the launch event was streamed virtually, I also had the opportunity to attend it in person in Budapest with a group of other media professionals and talk to Graphisoft’s executive team to better understand the company’s current focus and future vision.
An overview of the key product updates that were shared, as well as a future roadmap, are captured in this article.
A few months ago, I wrote about the SmartBRIDGE Hamburg project as an example of an actual digital twin in action, one of the few in which the emerging digital twin technology has actually been implemented. As the technology is further developed, we are likely to continue seeing more implementations, both for individual buildings and infrastructure assets, as well as for neighborhoods, regions, and cities. For the larger-scale implementations, the vision is similar to what I had described in my article on “City Information Modeling” six years ago — designing and operating cities more intelligently, efficiently, and effectively, with the ability to simulate various aspects such as traffic, congestion, energy, impact of natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes, flood control, etc. (It is worth noting that that digital twin technology hadn’t even been invented at that time!)
Since the emergence of the technology and its potential application in the AEC industry (see the paper, “Digital Twins in AEC,”) we have seen some traction on the application of digital twins at the urban-design level, including IES Intelligent Communities Lifecycle (ICL), which is being developed as a digital twin for the sustainable design of communities; Bentley’s Digital Cities initiative built on its iTwin platform; and Cityzenith’s Smart World platform, which started out as an CIM (City Information Modeling) application, but is now labelled as a “Urban Digital Twin Technology” application.
This article describes another promising initiative in the application of digital twin technology at the city level: the DUET project.
This article describes how the BIM application for HVAC, FineHVAC, was used by the firm, GKA Engineers, for the design of the HVAC network installations in the Qatar Foundation Stadium, a host venue for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup™ and one of the principal sports complexes in Qatar.
“The program’s ability to handle a wide range of projects of different types and scales is a big plus, but even more important is the flexibility it provides to the user in the smart ΒΙΜ modeling of any HVAC project, which is critical for the automatic generation of the final case study drawings and calculation reports. Equally important is the accuracy in calculations provided by FineHVAC that follow current international standards such as Ashrae, EN, BS and others. In contrast, most other BIM solutions for HVAC and MEP design simply focus on the creation of drawings and tend to rely on third-party applications for the piping, sizing, and proper selection of the equipment.”
A few weeks ago, I attended a webinar by a UK-based organization called thinkBIM on the topic of the “Golden Thread,” which was something that I had been increasingly hearing about in the context of AEC technology of late. The references were intriguing, as was the name. During my education as an architect, we had learnt about the concept of the “Golden Mean,” and its use in organizing and proportioning in architecture. But what was this “Golden Thread,” and that too in relation to AEC technology? I attended the thinkBIM webinar to find out more and dig a little deeper. In addition to learning about what the Golden Thread is, I was also able to learn more about the thinkBIM organization and the latest updates on the AEC technology front from the UK.
In the course of researching the article, “AI in AEC Updates, 2022,” published in February, I found that the construction stage of AEC had the largest number of applications using AI (Artificial Intelligence) — they were being used to handle a variety of tasks such as project planning, scheduling, progress monitoring, quality control, jobsite automation, and improving jobsite safety. Earlier this month, I was able to learn about the actual implementation of AI technology at a construction firm through an on-demand ENR webinar. The firm was Gilbane Building Company, a large integrated construction and facility management services firms with locations and projects worldwide, and the AI technology it is using comes from a London-based construction technology startup called Disperse.
This year’s annual NVIDIA GTC conference, which was held last week, had its Omniverse technology even more front and center than it did last year. And because AEC is one of the key target industries for the Omniverse, there were also many more presentations focused on the AEC industry at this year’s GTC than there have been in the past, both from AEC firms that are implementing Omniverse, as well as from AEC technology vendors that are partnering with NVIDIA on it. The highlights of some of these sessions are captured in this AECbytes article.
While digital twin technology — used to create the digital replica of a physical object that is always in sync with it — promises to be the next big thing in AEC technology, it is still early days to find actual implementation examples that can be used to guide widespread implementation in the industry. Which is why I was extremely impressed to come across what seems to be a fully realized example of a digital twin in action. This is the “smartBRIDGE Hamburg” project, which I learnt more about in a recent buildingSMART webinar showcasing some of their 2021 award-winning projects.
This is a follow-up to my first look at the application of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to the AEC industry that was published in February 2019 — the article, “AI in AEC: An Introduction.” While most of that article was devoted to discussing the technology underlying AI and its broader implementation, it did highlight the three AEC-specific commercially available applications I had found up until then that were using AI: BASIS, a project planning tool that had just been acquired by InEight; BricsCAD BIM, a BIM application that was using AI for automatic element classification; and OpenSpace, a construction progress tracking tool that was using AI to automatically stitch together photos and videos of the construction site. Towards the end of that article, I anticipated that we would see a lot more of AI in AEC going forward, both in the form of new applications as well as in the form of enhanced features in existing applications.
Three years down the road, how far have we come? That is why I set out to investigate, and my findings are captured in this article. It looks at the application of AI in tools across each of the three main processes in AEC: Design, Construction, and Operations/FM.
Towards the end of December, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar on two open source tools I knew almost nothing about: Speckle and IFC.js. The webinar was put together by a community called Agile BIM, which I also knew nothing about. However, what I do know for a fact is the importance of open source software development in any field, in which developers come together as a team to create software that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution, allowing it to be developed even further. The technology that is developed with open source is often something that commercial software companies, whose business it is to develop proprietary software, cannot offer.
For the AEC industry, we do have organizations such as the Open Design Alliance and buildingSMART International working to promote openness and interoperability. The IFC format has been well established for OpenBIM and is almost unanimously supported by all the leading AEC technology developers to allow their applications to exchange data with each other. So, what then are Speckle and IFC.js, what do they do, and why are they needed? The Agile BIM webinar on these two open source tools, which was held on Dec 15, 2021, gave me the opportunity to find out more about them.
Bentley’s annual Year in Infrastructure (YII) conference continues to be held virtually, and this year’s event, which was held last week, was focused entirely on the projects that won Bentley’s “Going Digital” awards. As Bentley’s product lineup continues to expand and diversify to include more infrastructure disciplines, so do the award categories — there were 19 this year. While the event did not feature “product updates” as such, there were a few tidbits here and there that I found noteworthy. An overview of these and some of the award-winning projects from all over the world — including the US, UK, Sweden, China, Singapore, Russia, Qatar, and India — is captured in this article.