The Five

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July 05 2016 // 5:00 AM

Five AE Technologies You Should Be Using

Written by John Baucco | @PAEVENjohn

Five AE Technologies You Should Be Using

At PAEVEN, our mission is to change the AE industry for the better by leveraging technology to enable true competition among consultants. We have seen technology shake up the AE world before with the switch from hand drafting to CAD and finally to BIM.  For today’s blog, I am going to explore 5 AE technology companies that you should be using to make each work day a little easier for you. Here we go!

1.    America’s Building Records

America’s Building Records (ABR), is a service that combines geo-tagging with building information storage. You can upload construction documents, photos, reports, and more onto their secure platform that is specifically tailored to the building industry. ABR will automatically store and organize your files so you can find them with ease. After your files are stored on ABR’s network, you can share them with the rest of the design and construction team on multiple platforms, including mobile devices. As the file owner, you choose who can see, download and share each file, so you never have to worry about confidential information getting into the wrong hands.

As I mentioned before, ABR combines their file storage platform with geo-tagging building records. This helps the building industry as a whole by providing a central location for design information on existing buildings. As a structural engineer, there are many instances where I work on existing buildings and do not have any of the original design documents. Using ABR, I can log on to their interactive map, locate the property in question, and see any existing design documents that have been uploaded to the site, saving me time and resources. 

See more at www.buildingrecords.us

2.    WeatherShift

WeatherShift was created by ARUP, a group of technical specialist that includes designers, engineers, consultants and other technical specialists who offer a wide ranging of problem solving services.  WeatherShift generates future climate data for 50 cities around the globe, including 28 in the United States, based on climate simulations run by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. AE consultants and property owners can use this data to intelligently design their spaces to adapt to the increased thermal impact that they will face in the future. This could result in cities that are most sustainable and comfortable in the long run. 

Read more about the WeatherShift application on Arup’s Website, or go straight to the application at www.weather-shift.com and use it in your next design.

3.    Iris

While there are a number of companies pushing the envelope in the area of virtual reality within the AE industry, Iris seems to be the leader in terms of simplicity and application. Iris offers two technologies, one of which is currently available and another that is coming soon. The first is called Iris Scope, and it allows you to render panoramic images of your buildings into a virtual reality, 360-degree viewing experience. AE firms can leverage this technology as an additional way to show off their portfolio to prospective clients. I don’t know about you, but I would be impressed if an AE firm was able to make me feel like I was inside one of their projects.

The second Iris technology, and the one that excites me the most, is called Prospect, and according to Iris, it allows you to “view your 3D files in [virtual reality] with one click.”  The technology can be used with Revit, Sketchup, and .obj files by installing plugins that allow you to send your 3D files directly to VR programs.  The applications and opportunities for use are almost endless. Clients can see exactly what their finished product is going to look like, design options can easily be explored, and coordination issues during design and construction can be solved with ease. The only setback to this technology is that the user would have to purchase a VR headset to get any benefit. In my opinion, though, the benefits of that purchase would most definitely outweigh the costs. 

Learn more about both of Iris’s VR technologies at www.irisvr.com

4.    Skycatch

Skycatch is creating technology that allows us to leverage UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), or drones, as they popularly called, to create accurate 2D and 3D maps of potential project locations or in-progress job sites. Using Skycatch’s Commander application, a user can outline on a map the exact area where they want the drone to record and it will automatically take the best path to get the job done. The resulting maps are accurate to the centimeter and can be used for a variety of applications during both the planning and construction phases. Would you rather go out in the middle of a cold winter to take progress photos at you latest project construction site, or have a drone do it for you? The case for drone use is simple: they can go where man cannot, and they can do it faster. 

Learn more about the problems that Skycatch can solve at www.skycatch.com.

5.    3D Printing

This last one is less of a specific company, and more of a broad technology that is a little further out on the horizon of everyday use. Just recently, the first fully 3D printed office building in the world opened up in Dubai. Before that, Chinese company WinSun claimed to have printed 10 houses in 24 hours with their proprietary giant 3D printer. While the feat is impressive, the houses are rather simple in construction and very small, which points to how far away from practical use this technology is currently. 

In my opinion, this technology would best be utilized in a build-and-assemble type process where pieces would be printed offsite, then delivered and assembled onsite, like a giant puzzle. We have already seen this type of construction work seamlessly with pre-fabricated concrete and modular buildings, so the overall logistics and methods of project delivery are already in place. 

These 5 technologies that I have discussed are only the tip of the iceberg, as innovation is constantly taking place in the AE industry. If there’s a technology that you use every day I would love to hear about it in the comments! Additionally, if you have had any experience with the ones I’ve covered here, throw that in the comments as well—I’m always looking for new perspectives. 

Thanks for reading,
John Baucco, EI
 

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