Hello, everyone. Time for our weekly roundup of articles at the intersection of building information modeling (BIM); artificial intelligence (AI); and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space. Here goes:
AI, in its many forms, continues to flood the headlines. MIT Technology Review recently released its list of AI-powered assistants for business. From scheduling meetings to tracking customer service needs to organizing your Slack interactions, the review details the key features of the various systems and how they work. Most rely on a combination of machine learning and natural language processing, but some also use deep learning – the same neural network-based technology used in Google's AlphaGo. Soon your digital assistant will be able to play your solitaire game for you too.
The many faces of AI assistants. (Source: MIT Technology Review)
Slate.com also has an opinion on digital assistants, questioning just how much trust we should place in these modern "smart" machines. They touch on growing concerns about how far this technology should be allowed to progress, but are also quick to point out that, as of now they are "no more sentient than any other app or website. It's just code, built by some software engineers in Seattle with a cheesy sense of humor." For the time being at least, we can set aside visions ofTerminator-style takeover and accept our digital helpers for what they are: modern conveniences.
A competition for the title of "man's best friend." (Source: Slate)
The folks at Tech Crunch have weighed in with their assessment of Microsoft's HoloLens versus the Oculus Rift and, despite the heftier price tag, have planted themselves firmly in the HoloLens camp. The decisive factor was that while the Rift isolates a user in their chosen virtual world, the Microsoft headset creates a collaborative experience: "This is tech that makes sense for people who don't want to lock themselves away from the world, who want technology to enhance, improve and, indeed, augment their lives." If the future of building is BIM and the purpose of BIM is collaboration, the HoloLens may indeed turn out to be a design team's dream.
The inner workings of the HoloLens. (Source: The Verge)
Whether you choose Microsoft or Oculus, virtual reality (VR) is looking like a major factor in the future of BIM modeling, according to a recent article in Raconteur. Along with the Internet of Things (IoT) and advancements in digital fabrication, they see VR as not only being a game changer in the initial design and BIM model, but in the management and maintenance of the building throughout its lifetime. "Instead of looking at paper drawings, or trying to remove panels or ceiling tiles to locate elements, [engineers] tap into a 3D model via a tablet. Stripping back virtual building layers, the engineers pinpoint precisely where objects, such as ventilation units, are located." The report also concludes that information from a data-rich BIM model could be translated to a mobile app to help visitors to a site or building navigate the layout and connect with nearby businesses.
How do you really feel about BIM? (Source: Raconteur)
You can get a glimpse of the promise of VR this summer when NASA (which teamed up with Microsoft and gave the HoloLens a spin) opens their new Mars exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center. Destination: Mars uses images from the Mars Rover and is "guided" by Buzz Aldrin. If you happen to be in Florida, you can test drive the new VR tech and get a look at the Red Planet without the$3,000 price tag!
Let's go to Mars! (Source: Nasa)
Also be sure to check out the ConTechTrio Podcast – excellent info and analysis of construction apps and a very nice shout out about our work at BuildingSP!Graham Leslie's praise: "Probably some of the best Revit Plug-In software developers that I've seen." Not a bad way to start our week!