How Point Cloud Meshing Software Benefits the AEC Industry

As reality capture technologies have advanced in AEC, users have been able to generate increasingly detailed and accurate surveys, each image formed from millions of data points. However, this depth of information also raises some information challenges, particularly if site-based personnel want to access and interact with the data. In this Viewpoint article, Steve Salmon of Pointfuse discusses the importance of intelligent meshing technology in a much more efficient representation of point clouds, benefiting the construction as well as subsequent operation and maintenance (O&M) of buildings and infrastructure.



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.


SmartBRIDGE Hamburg: A Digital Twin in Action

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.


Spaces: iPad App for Conceptual Design

As far back as in 2015 in the article, “Why Isn’t There a Smarter BIM Tool for Building Design, Yet?,” I had bemoaned the lack of a smart conceptual design tool for architecture, asking:

Is there nothing else we can do to make the process of conceptualizing a building smarter, more intuitive, more fun? Why can’t we simply be able to sketch out a building design — say a floor plan or a façade — and automatically get a fully detailed, structurally sound, constructable BIM without actually having to model every bit of it? Is this too much to ask for?

Well, it’s been 7 years, but we finally have the start of something like this. It is the new Spaces iPad app, developed by a startup company, Cerulean Labs.


AI in AEC Updates, 2022

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.


LeChase Construction: Firm Profile

Chris Preston, BIM Manager at LeChase, a construction company with annual revenues approaching $1 billion and 11 regional offices across the east coast, describes its implementation of AEC technology in this Firm Profile.

The use of labor market tie-ins, which relies on advances in technology, has allowed contractors and designers to work in a labor-short market more effectively. In some platforms, labor is reduced by 15-20%.

Overall, it’s an exciting time to be involved with technology in the AEC industry. I’m proud to work at a forward-thinking company like LeChase, which recognizes the value of technology and is willing to invest in it to provide a better result for our customers


Speckle and IFC.js: Open Source Tools for BIM

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.


Enscape: Real-Time Design Visualization

This review explores Enscape, a real-time photorealistic rendering application that connects directly to Revit, Archicad, SketchUp, Rhino, and Vectorworks, allowing designers to see their models in real time and present them to clients. Advanced presentation capabilities include panoramic views, animations, and stand-alone executables that allow clients to explore the design on their own.


Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University: Project Profile

Kevin Myers and Tom Foggin, Directors at R H Partnership Architects, describe the implementation of AEC technology on a new building project for Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University, UK, for which they are the Architects and Lead Designers.

Due to the complex geometry and technical demands of achieving the Passivhaus standard, we would have spent much more time working out “how” to communicate information, rather than working on “what” we needed to communicate, if we had not used BIM and other AEC technology applications.