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.
CanBIM is a non-profit organization focused on advancing the development and adoption of AEC technology in Canada, and as part of its mission, it hosts an annual awards program, the Innovation Spotlight Awards, to highlight the most innovative work that is being done in the industry. The Awards program — now in its seventh year — also helps to benchmark trends and chart the evolution of AEC technology adoption in Canada. I was able to attend the 2021 Awards presentation a couple of weeks ago and came away with a better understanding of what is happening on the AEC technology front in Canada, the cutting-edge work that is being done, the solutions that are being developed and used, and the research work that is being undertaken in the field at Canadian universities. This article captures the highlights of some of the award-winning projects and solutions.
It’s nearing the end of 2021, and technology events are still being held mostly online. While the energy and vibrancy that comes from face-to-face interaction is, of course, hard to replace, the upside is that these events are now being produced for virtual viewing anywhere in the world, enabling them to reach many more people who might otherwise not be aware of the technology developments they capture. One such event that was held last month was the BricsCAD Digital Summit, which I was able to tune into to get a better understanding of the BricsCAD ecosystem and its latest developments. I learnt more about BricsCAD, how it connects with other Hexagon solutions (Hexagon is the parent company of Bricsys, the developer of BricsCAD), and how it is being used for the design of buildings as well as infrastructure.
This article provides an overview of the AEC-specific updates provided at the Autodesk University last week, including Construction Cloud enhancements, the integration of GIS and BIM in the new ArcGIS GeoBIM, Autodesk’s expansion to specific infrastructure domains with Innovyze, the launch of Autodesk Tandem and the new SpaceIQ for digital handover, and sustainability updates in Spacemaker and Autodesk Insight. It also discusses Autodesk’s expansion of Forge as the platform for all its applications and its new data-focused approach.