New tech solutions “must prove themselves to be relevant”

Credit: BIMForum
Credit: BIMForum

Research & Development departments responsible for creating innovative tools and processes for the AEC industries must remember that their priority is to “understand the pain faced by real-world AEC professionals”, making products that will address existing industry problems.

Dave Campbell of the “Beyond Design” blog said that he found it frustrating when new technologies shown at industry events were introduced as game-changing, “with barely a nod to the game they purportedly change”.

Recalling October’s BIMForum event, held in Dallas, Campbell says that the “most successful presentations weren’t the ones who discussed new technologies simply for the sake of being ‘new’ or ‘better’; the best ones were those that described their work by thoughtfully including discussion of the problems faced by designers, builders, and owners”.

Fearing that industry innovators are coming up with solutions to problems no one has, Campbell thinks it would be far better if AEC professionals were queried on the obstacles they faced as part of their work. Only then can technology be designed and developed to meet their needs.

Without such consultation, newly developed tools become little more than toys to those they are aimed at, however genuinely helpful they could be. The worst case scenario is one in which “AEC professionals, supposed benefactors of innovation, are left wondering, ‘What’s in it for me?'”

In Campbell’s view, solutions that don’t justify themselves with real world contexts may be “fun to explore, and amusing to watch, but so are circus clowns”. And that, in case you’re wondering, is probably not meant to be a flattering comparison.

In recent years, the construction industry has embraced new technologies like never before. The challenge, Campbell suggests, is in discovering the means by which 3D printing, Google Glass, and other future-tech can have a beneficial effect on the AEC industry’s output.

Click here to learn more about the event Dave Campbell attended, the BIMForum Conference 2014.

What do you think are examples of technology that may changed the AEC industry in the near future?