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Welcome

Welcome and Index


Our index and what's on tap in this issue.

I am Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, editor-in-chief at Architosh.com. I assemble the monthly INSIDER Xpresso newsletter to help us understand emerging technologies (emTech) and their impacts on CAD industries like AEC and manufacturing.

THIS MONTH we are a bit late, but we will have a bigger issue in October delivered in the first half of that month, on the backside of Autodesk University 2022 news. Our Sep #41 issue is focused mostly on contech (construction technology). 

This month. issue No. 41
  • The Word: --  Conversations and Signals
  • Starter Course: --  The Top Five Reads
  • The Briefing: --  Top CAD Industry News Last Month
  • emTech: -- Emerging Technologies -- A Contech Focus: reality capture apps like Ricoh360 Projects, HoloBuilder, CupixWorks; AI and computer vision in Reconstruct app; Volanti Displays for job site; HP SitePrint robot, Markforged FX20 3d printer, TestFit, Morpholio apps, Layer App update, etc.
  • Special Feature: --  XCON 22: Bluebeam Unveils Bluebeam Cloud—Enters New Cloud-Connected Era


A big thank you to all our subscribers. Please get the word out about our newsletter. -- AFR.

A Word About Our Sponsor

This month our issue is brought to you by Vectorworks, Inc. (A Nemetschek Group company). Vectorworks is a globally leading BIM and design software company and the first BIM authoring platform for the Apple Silicon Mac platform. Its software is used by award-winning architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and media and entertainment design professionals. Read about its latest Vectorworks 2023 product line here

 
A Word

Conversations and Signals


Key conversations and finding the signals through the noise.

If you have been following Architosh and Xpresso closely this year, you are already aware of articles touching on themes about industry resilience and industry concentration. The two are related. And we learned from the global pandemic—and now the war—how having all your eggs in one basket may seem economically optimal but is systemically less resilient. A balanced approach to both lean economic thinking and resiliency is now a top policy priority through government and industry. The AEC industry is no exception.  


Nordic Open Letter

Now a group of architects and architectural associations in Nordic countries have banned together filing a second Revit Open Letter following the first British version two years ago. Here's the announcement from the Architect's Council of Europe, and you can read the actual Open Letter here

More: Monopoly in AEC: The Issues and Economics

We are not going to dive into the Open Letter in this issue, but the matter and development in the architectural industry aren't something that can be ignored. Like the last Open Letter in 2020, our coverage of this development will be handled slowly. It is too important a topic. And it is really important to ground these Letter developments in the larger context from which they emerge—including economic industry concentration and economic resiliency issues. 

More: Globalization and Risk in the Post-Pandemic AEC/O Industry

Back in 2020, Architosh was the only publication granted an exclusive with Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost to respond to the Open Letter. The three-part series from 2020 can be read here. That coverage was "tough but fair," according to many who read it, including Autodesk's CEO. The company has granted us another exclusive—an advanced peak into near-future AEC tools they will announce at Autodesk University, and another CEO response to this new Nordic Open Letter. 

Both items will converge in post-AU22 coverage in the near future, and we look forward to sharing these feature articles. 
Our Sponsor
Starter Course

The Top Five Reads


Some of the more interesting reads on the Internet with scope applicability to the AEC and manufacturing worlds. I note social and emergent technological forces at play in the pale blue takeaway text. 
 


This timber assembly robot is of the stationary gantry type. Gantry robots are some of the easiest to program because they use an X, Y, and Z coordinate system.  (Image: Gramazio Kohler Research)

1 - Three Types of Robots in Construction and Manufacturing for Multiple Tasks   (ParametricArchitecture) -- Takeaways:  This is an excellent and comprehensive overview of the way robots are impacting the field of construction and manufacturing. It fundamentally categorizes robots into several clear groups and sub-groups, such as Stationary Robots, Mobile Robots, and Swarm Robots. This latter type was examined at MIT's Mediated Matter research group headed by Neri Oxman with their project FIBERBOTS: Design of a multi-agent, fiber composite digital fabrication system. 

The first two groups of robots are making big strides in AEC/O. Gantry robots, a sub-group of stationary robots, are the easiest to program and operate and the ones most often seen in off-site construction (OSC) settings. But mobile robots are growing in the market as well. One often thinks of Boston Dynamic's Spot robot (robot dog). However, take a look at
HP's new SitePrint robot below in the curated EmTech section of this newsletter. It is a direct and clear time-saver in a construction world short on skilled labor.   



2 - Urbanization is driving new demand for construction robots.   (ZDNet) -- Takeaways:  This article explores the factors that are specifically urban-related that are driving up robotics adoption in construction. Construction robotics is exploding with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 percent. The market is set to triple by 2030. So what are some of the factors driving this:  (1) the world population is moving towards cities, and the World Bank estimates that 7 out of 10 people worldwide will live in cities by 2050. This means explosive growth in construction. (2) Skilled labor shortages in the field are another major factor related to the first one just mentioned. (3) Another factor is labor costs rising. Some companies mentioned in this article are construction robot makers Husqvarna and Brokk. Another company new to us is Kewazo with its materials-handling robot called LiftBot and React Robotics. (see SolidSmack article here).


Brokk goes back to the 1970s and introduced the first demolition robot back in 1976.

Another key fact in this article is that while the US is adopting robots in construction, it is Europe that is leading in making such robots. 


3 - VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence   (MIT Technology Review) -- Takeaways:  On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms. This fascinating article talks about a VR experience called Isness-D, developed by David Glowacki, an artist and computational molecular physicist.

"What marks a self-transcendent experience is the dissolution of our typical self-definition as a discrete individual, separate from other people and the environment. During such an experience, a deep feeling of unity with other people or your surroundings allows you to expand your self-concept to include them." I'm not sure how this relates to emTech in AEC yet, but it speaks to the power of virtual reality technologies and altered states of experience that could not just help people with all kinds of trauma but, more generally, bring greater empathy and connection between people in a world increasingly feeling divided. 


4 - Decarbonizing the energy system by 2050 could save trillions — Oxford study   (University of Oxford) -- Takeaways:   A new study from Oxford shows a fast transition to clean energy is cheaper than a slow or no transition. The Oxford University study, led by Dr. Rupert Way, a postdoctoral researcher at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, says, "past models predicting high costs for transitioning to zero carbon energy have deterred companies from investing and made governments nervous about setting policies that will accelerate the energy transition and cut reliance on fossil fuels. 


Based on the new Oxford University study making bolder and bigger investments in green technologies like the PV roof at Apple's new campus building is exactly what needs to happen faster as it will drive down the costs of the core technologies we need to reach a net zero future faster. 

But the Oxford study demonstrates that clean energy technologies have fallen significantly over the past decade. The research is showing that scaling up green technologies will drive their costs down. This sounds like environmental scientists have recalculated the impacts of Wright's Law. Pushing net-zero technologies faster will save us all trillions by 2050, says the report.  


5 - An architect asks AI to design skyscrapers of the future. This is what it proposed.   (CNN) -- Takeaways:  The New Delhi-based architect and computational designer Manas Bhatia has generated compelling imagery of an imaginary future where skyscrapers are both organically formed but also living structures covered in nature—"air purification towers"—as he calls them. To generate this imagery, he used an AI tool called Midjourney


#disruption
#robots
#automatedconstruction
#mediatedmatter
#netzero
#roboticconstuction
#contech
#solarpanels
#Oxford
#architects
#futurearchitecture
#jobsiterobots
#urbanization

 
Our Sponsor
The Briefing

Biggest CAD Industry News Last Month


(the biggest news and features in August)

Feature:  Slowing the Climate Crisis—Habit Studio Firm Profile.   This feature discusses a case study of a small Nova Scotia-based architecture practice that has become an expert in Passive House designs and BIM.   [7-10 min. read]  (Architosh).  Recommended for all AEC users. 


Habit Studio in Canada is a Passive House expert architecture firm and rapidly expanding its BIM skills to support its work. Learn why they use Vectorworks Architect as their BIM solution.  


News: Vectorworks Inc Teases Version 2023 Product Launch with Details.
This news item talks about the upcoming release of Vectorworks 2023 (since released now). You can actually read more details about the new software here.   
 [3 -6 min read] (Architosh).  Recommended for BIM and CAD users.  

News: AKULAR releases AKULAR TWIN

Powered by Bentley's iTwin technology,  AKULAR TWIN is a new digital twin solution and adds to the growing ecosystem of developers building digital twin models on Bentley's iTwin platform.   [3-6 min. read]  (Architosh).  Recommended for construction and AEC users.

News: Ideate launches Automation 2.0 for Revit 
The BIM leader has a lot of top-notch developers in its ecosystem, and Ideate Software is easily one of the best of them. Ideate Automation streamlines time-intensive tasks in Autodesk Revit.    [3-6-min read]  (Architosh).  Recommended for BIM users. 

News: Enscape 3.4 Now Released   
One of the fasting moving AEC industry real-time, interactive rendering solutions from Germany adds yet more features. The solution runs as a plugin in 3D modeling and BIM/CAD solutions.
 
  [3-6 min. read]  (Architosh). Recommended for AEV visualization pros and architects.

For all of Architosh's News—Go Here! 

 
emTech

Curated content: Emerging Technologies and their potential impact on CAD-based industries.

 

A Focus on CONTECH 

In this issue, we focus on contech--construction technologies. We will go through some updates and touch on some of the more exciting technologies out there for the construction industry. 

RICOH360 Projects


We have not only written about RICOH360 projects but have actually hosted an Architosh and Ricoh webinar centered on the AEC industry and Ricoh's 360-degree THETA X camera system in conjunction with RICOH360 Projects. 


RICOH360 Projects is an easy-to-use and streamlined reality capture platform aimed at the AEC/O market. It captures construction progress, offers progress control, and enables collaboration to be sped up with fewer job site visits. 

The Japanese tech giant has a compelling set of 360-degree spherical digital cameras that also take video and normal shots, plus plug into their own solutions (and others: think Matterport). RICOH360 Projects is compelling for its side-by-side comparative spherical 360-degree image synchronization feature. 

HoloBuilder

Another similar solution is from HoloBuilder, a FARO Technologies company. FARO is a maker of 3D point cloud scanners. HoloBuilder's solution also works with the Ricoh THETA cameras. Both HoleBuilder and RICOH360 Projects are aimed at progress capture and progress control, enabling a complete 360-degree visual inspection, room by room if need be, of projects under construction. Both sets of solutions help owners who are remote from project job sites stay more in touch with day-to-day or week-by-week progress, whatever the increment of camera updates happens to be. Both also have the side-by-side image compare feature. 



HoloBuilder's interface shows a side-by-side synchronized 3D view comparing actual construction progress on the left and the BIM model from the same exact vantage point on the right. 

One feature that currently sets HoloBuilder apart is the side-by-side comparison with BIM models. This works with a Revit or Navisworks plugin. Both solutions help in the punch list items and markup. And HoloBuilder supports integrations that include Bluebeam, PlanGrid, Autodesk Construction Cloud, BIM 360, Procore, and more. For example, you can create RFIs and Observations in HoloBuilder and sync them back to Procore. 

RECONSTRUCT

Another reality capture software solution is US-based Reconstruct. While side-by-side 360-degree imagery is wonderfully useful for construction and AEC professionals, sometimes side-by-side is not enough. That is where Reconstruct comes into play. 



Reconstruct's user interface showing reality capture photo-imagery with a composited 3D overlay of BIM model geometry data overlaid. Reconstruct compares what is built versus what is supposed to be built. 

The company has patented overlay technology that enables AEC professionals to visually compare what is built versus what was supposed to be built. Or put another way, what is installed versus what is planned to be installed. What makes Reconstruct apparently unique is it is the only reality capture solution that combines both indoors and outdoors into a seamless experience. Reconstruct ingest media from all kinds of devices, from drone cameras, 360-degree cameras, and smartphones. You can learn more about them from our older article here.

CUPIX 

CupixWorks is another reality capture solution. The company claims it is the most advanced 3D digital twin platform and like HoloBuilder above it too can sync reality capture 360-degree imagery with 3D BIM models. It can ingest Revit, Navisworks and IFC files for the BIM data. CupixWorks also supports BCF workflows. 


CupixWorks can load in BIM models, LiDAR scans and 3D point clouds to compare alongside 360-photography. 

CupixWorks SiteView provides global access to projects remotely with life-like 3D navigation. CupixWorks can also load in 3D point cloud data, including terrestrial and hand-held LiDAR scanners and drone photogrammetry. Cupix has an app for your smartphone. Like Ricoh, the company's technology for reality capture has a sister application for the real estate market called CupixHomes. 


Architosh Analysis: Reality capture technologies may be primarily aimed at the actual job site and general contractors, but these new solutions also benefit architects and engineers in their construction phase activities. Key KPIs to watch for would include measuring the reduction of necessary job site visits, overall time spent on meetings in the CA phase, travel-related expenditures, and increased trust/confidence measures from project owners. 

 

Volanti Displays

Most of the companies listed above were sponsors at Bluebeam's XCON 2022. So were Volanti Displays. This company makes large touch screen monitors and video walls and plan review tables. 


Volanti Display's extensive line of Plan Review Tables are ideal for construction sites, job trailers, Bluebeam war rooms, etc. 

Plan review tables is what our primary interest is in mentioning Volanti here in Xpresso. The plan review tables come in several different sizes and supports, including rollers for moving around, electrified height and tilt control, a secondary vertical small screen, a mouse and keyboard tray, and laptop mounting to connect to and drive the display. 


A Volanti Plan Review Tabletop unit powering Bluebeam on the screen. 


They also make a plan review tabletop product which nixes the support frame on rollers. The tabletop simply has a folding base, and it gets positioned on any flat table surface. They also make a mobile plan review box that can sit on the tailgate of a pickup truck or a table surface on a job site. Finally, they make a job box plan review unit which is a large metal ruggedized weather-resistant enclosed box that supports a Volanti touch screen and computer together with accessory drawers and shelves. 

 

Robots in Construction

Three Types of Robots in Construction

From our Starter Course section: Five Engaging Reads above, we want to review some of the technology solutions from that article. The article itself, as already stated, mentioned the importance of Grasshopper 3D as a software platform that can power robotics software such as KUKA|prc or HAL. HAL comes from HAL Robotics


HP SitePrint the Robot

HP is well known for many things in AEC, including computers and printers, including wide-format printers for making blueprints. Now the company has taken its printing technology prowess into the robotics for construction market with HP SitePrint, a little three-wheeled robot that automatically prints out floor plan layouts on construction site floors. 


The new HP SItePrint autonomous robot drawings layouts on the floor. 

HP SitePrint can print on numerous surface types and runs on batteries that last hours. It ships with cloud tools and a touchscreen tablet for remote control and configuration. It also includes numerous inks for different surfaces and for lasting power.

“Technology adoption and increased digitization can help construction firms realize productivity gains,” said Daniel Martínez, VP and General Manager, HP Large Format Printing. “HP has played a key role in bridging digital and physical worlds with print solutions for architects and engineers over the last thirty years. With HP SitePrint, we’re making it faster and easier than ever for construction professionals to bring an idea to life on-site while also providing layout accuracy and reducing costs derived from reworks."

We also like this article from ENR titled How Automation is Transforming Construction: 3 Ways to Use Automation in Construction.  


 


3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

Markforged's latest 3D printer is the new FX20, an ULTEM(tm) Filament capable large format 3D printer for big, strong, high-temperature parts—usable from factory floor to flight. 




The new FX20 is the state-of-the-art 3D printer from one of the industry's leaders. Its operating area is 400m x 525mm x 400mm. It can function up to 200 degrees C. It can print in Onyx, carbon fiber, and now ULTEM 9085 filament. In other 3D printing news, Ultimaker has merged with MakerBot
 


Misc AEC emTech News:

TestFit has a new blog post on their Real Estate Execution Model (called REX). "The REX model is a software system focused on cost, constructability, and design," says the company blog. 


For those who have not visited Morpholio in a long time, Morpholio Trace, the app for the iPad that won over many designers, has several sister apps in Morpholio Board (a mood board app) and Morpholio Journal (sketching, writing journal app). 

The Layer App got several updates in late July. New Select Fields have new customizations like color coding. There is also a redesigned Project Team Management dialog, and more (read on). 

 

#realitycapture
#RICOH360Projects
#THETA-X
#HoloBuilder
#AI
#computervision
#reconstruct
#cupixworks
#robots
#constructionrobotics
#HPsiteprint
#3Dprinting
#Volant
#3Dprinting
#3Dprinting
#3Dprinting



 
Special Feature

XCON 22: Bluebeam Unveils Bluebeam Cloud—Enters New Cloud-Connected Era


The Nemetschek Group's central Build industry sector daughter company has finally arrived with its web browser-based Bluebeam Cloud solution for the AEC/O industry. We caught up with Bluebeam's CEO and Chief Product Officer to learn more during XCON week back in August. 

 


 

 

 

AT THIS YEAR'S XCON, THE ANNUAL EVENT BY Nemetschek's daughter company Bluebeam, the company finally unveiled its long-awaited cloud-based application called Bluebeam Cloud.

The solution and the technologies behind it are notable because Bluebeam has been sailing through years of growth while relying on its namesake Bluebeam Revu desktop application with its connected Studio Sessions collaboration features. While the latter technology and features have enabled multi-party stakeholders to work and collaborate, that solution combination is not the equivalent of an actual cloud-solution app accessed from a web browser on any device anywhere in the world. 

 

XCON 22 - Bluebeam Cloud

 

Enter Bluebeam Cloud. Introduced and shown in action at XCON 2022 a few weeks ago, Bluebeam Cloud is a web browser-based application that any project stakeholder can access from just about any computing device. Principally, stakeholders like clients, owner-representatives, manufacturer reps, and others who are not typical Bluebeam Revu users can easily access and put to use to review and collaborate on project drawings and documents. 




"Our strategy is centered around what we do best, which is democratizing technology with low-barrier, easy-to-use solutions that are both flexible and connected and work well for any kind of project."


 

Bluebeam Cloud will expand the collaboration pool, streamlining and consolidating more data and insights from a broader set of project inputs. While that is all good news, Bluebeam Cloud offers so much more for the typical contractor, architect, or engineer who uses Bluebeam Revu daily by extending the power of Revu and bringing back the unique data from Bluebeam Cloud back to Revu. 

 

Bluebeam Cloud brings the essential power of Revu to the browser, offering drawing markup tools, a user's customized Tool Chest and combining that with a Comments panel with a Statuses drop-down menu so all comments can be reviewed, searched, organized, and processed.



A screenshot from the Bluebeam XCON 2022 event keynote introducing Bluebeam Cloud. This is a home page view of a specific project inside Bluebeam Cloud. For those Rover beta testers out there, some of this may feel familiar, and there is also a similar organization and streamlining to the old PlanGrid solution, which Autodesk has incorporated in its Autodesk Cloud solutions.   


Additionally, Bluebeam Cloud provides industry-specific workflows for managing and processing Punch Lists, RFIs, and Submittals. If you go to the Bluebeam website today, you won't find info on these exciting new announcements, so if you were not at XCON this year in San Diego, this article is your next best chance to see and learn more about Bluebeam Cloud until these new features release in the next few weeks. 

 

And Mac Users

 

When Bluebeam announced a native Mac version of Revu and then, after only two significant updates, decided to kill it, it shocked the AEC industry on the Mac platform. Bluebeam came to us first to explain the situation. So when I spoke with Jon Elliott, CEO, and Roger Angarita, Chief Product Officer of Bluebeam, at XCON week, they both explained how excited they were about Bluebeam Cloud and the direction it represents for their future technologies and for greater access. 



"What we are bringing to the browser...I think Mac users will see we are on the right path."

 

 

"What we are bringing to the browser...I think Mac users will see we are on the right path," says Angarita. Jon Elliott explained in our call that the decision to end of life the Mac version of Revu was a tough call and that it would have taken years to reach parity with Revu on the Mac side. Instead, the company directed its finite resources at a cloud-centric future that is platform agnostic. "Because Bluebeam Cloud is agnostic through the cloud, any Mac user can use it right away," says Elliott. 


An image of Bluebeam Cloud's user interface at the drawing view level, with Tool Bar on the left, pop-out sub-tool selections that include your favorites and customizations, drawing window center, and Comments panel on the right. 
 

Still, it is essential to point out that Bluebeam Cloud is not directly equivalent to Revu on the Windows desktop. In fact, they may never be, as each device solution is strategically conceived around the personas users have around those device types and locations. Still, Roger Angarita says the goal is to make Bluebeam Cloud the path for the Mac user who doesn't need every Revu feature today. For those Mac users who still do, the option is to run Revu in a virtual Windows machine on the Mac, just as they did in the demo at XCON.

 

Revu + Bluebeam Cloud

 

Readers may wonder why not take Revu itself in the cloud, into the browser. Jon Elliott says perhaps one day that may be the case, but Revu and Bluebeam Cloud will sit side by side for the foreseeable future. "Bluebeam Revu will continue to be our flagship for some time," he says. 

This is a screenshot of Bluebeam Cloud's iPhone interface (examples) taken from the Apple App store. There are four different vertical-oriented iPhone app screenshots showing the iOS app for Bluebeam Cloud. On far right, you can see a partial drawing image with red dots indicating geolocated punch items on the floor plan. 
 

Part of the reason is that there is so much value in Revu. Users have added so much value in their customizations to Revu, in the custom and company standard tools they add to their Tool Chest. The Pasadena, California, based company likes to say they have this very popular "choose your own adventure" type of software solution in Revu. The software's flexibility is part of its great charm—something that stands out from the single-way-of-doing-things approach in many industry rival products. 

 

Details and the Future

 

Architosh spent some time with Project Rover and the company's Drawings Web app. Rover was a precursor to Bluebeam Cloud. Those familiar with the PlanGrid app Autodesk subsumed into its cloud solutions will immediately feel a comforting first impression. A direct and streamlined user interface harkens back to the old PlanGrid. 

 

While we have not reviewed the product, what we saw from the XCON 2022 keynote session looked solid. And unlike the older PlanGrid, Bluebeam Cloud includes the geolocation technology from Bluebeam's Project Atlas acquisition. So when a user is walking a building making a punch list, all the data (e.g., comments, replies, drawings, etc.) related to that punch item are correlated to a dot on a drawing showing where that punch item is. 

Bluebeam Cloud iOS apps for Apple iPad and Apple iPhone shown here from a screengrab from the XCON22 keynote. 
 

And Bluebeam Cloud also has integrations support (APIs) that enable it to interconnect with the other solutions customers use, whether they be other Nemetschek Group solutions or solutions from other ecosystems. 

 

In the final analysis, Jon Elliott says, "our strategy is centered around what we do best, which is democratizing technology with low-barrier, easy-to-use solutions that are both flexible and connected and work well for any kind of project." 

 

Today Bluebeam has over 2 million users, and Elliot says the company is growing. Bluebeam's continued growth seems assured in an industry that is heavily under-digitized, but to what degree depends on the value proposition it yields versus the competition. 

 



Look for upcoming news reports on Architosh on Bluebeam Revu 21 and Bluebeam Cloud soon. 
End Note
Remember you can sign-up for architosh INSIDER Xpresso here -- a unique CAD industry newsletter with a special focus on emergent technologies (emTech) like AI, ML, robotics, 3D printing, AAD, computational design, and smart cities tech.

As we move forward, our format will evolve but will aim to focus on emTech in AEC and MCAD. We welcome your suggestions (xpresso@architosh.com).

To see Past Issues visit this link here.  (sign-up for the newsletter here)

Warmly,
Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP


This is a free newsletter and companion publication to Architosh.com. 
Disclosures
Architosh is subject to conflicts of interest when we write about CAD/AEC/MCAD/3D software/hardware and other related tech companies in the market. In the interest of disclosure, we encourage readers of this newsletter and the Architosh website to visit our Ethics page where we maintain a full list of relevant Held Securities and discuss Our Disclosures. 

This statement and the intent of this section are consistent with Architosh's Disclosure statement on our Ethics page here.  [This rewritten section deprecates all other instances of this section for past issues of the newsletter.]
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