Business Unusual

Your camera could save the world

Business Unusual has covered quite a few disruptive technologies.

Robotics and how they are getting smarter and more like us.

We have watched drones take off, first as awkward and expensive toys, to the almost autonomous flyers they are now.

We see 3D printers able create almost anything.

We are watching as machine learning and A.I. discover things that would take us years and smartphones are becoming smart cameras.

Business has typically resisted, if not fought against, the tech start-ups looking to steal their business. But one industry appears to be embracing it, and as they do, could not only remain in business, but change the world for the better.

Humans have always built shelters, so architecture and construction can be considered one of the first industries to exist. The next years could be some of its finest.

What do you see?

Developers, architects and designers need vision to make their creations come to life. That has not been easy and certainly was not cheap. Surveys, drawings and models take time and even then the completed building may have flaws that simply were not considered until the construction was almost done.

Even the biggest projects may get less than 10 options for basic design or layout, now that could be thousands.

Tatjana Dzambazova of Autodesk was recently in South Africa showcasing the opportunities that new technology offers for the design and construction industries.

Is it real?

Using cameras on the ground or mounted on drones, simply taking pictures of a site or an object allows software and algorithms to recreate it or the location in digital 3D. That model can then be used to test potential plans, views, internal configurations. If it was an object it can be shared and examined by anyone, anywhere. Should you prefer to physically inspect it, you can simply print a 3D copy.

Digital history and the rarest objects in every museum.

Historical objects from bones and artifacts, whole animals and even Egyptian Pharaohs can be precisely scanned and rendered in stunning digital clarity.

For objects that are crumbling in the real world, they can be re-created and saved in perfect condition digitally.

Anyone can study and research them. So many of the collected fossil samples have not even been identified let alone assembled to create a more complete fossil record. The answer to many of our evolutionary questions may be sitting in a drawer somewhere waiting to reveal their secrets.

Back to reality and you can capture pictures of yourself, not just the a simple 2D selfie, but a full 3D image looking your best, or not. Your great, great grandchildren may get to meet you as if you were right there. And statues will be eerily realistic. Barack Obama was the first US President that had his bust made from a scan, not a mold. It seems unlikely it will be done any other way now.

Getting the best layout in your home or office is tricky, not until you notice the sun shines right in your eyes at a certain time of the year do you realise just how many considerations go into a design.

AI designs will model thousands of options with dozens of criteria and generate the design that best fits all of them and it only takes minutes.

If you run into trouble on site, and need to amend a design or add a new detail, you need only tap a few items on your screen and have new plans being tested and ready for approval in minutes.

The greatest improvement, although possibly still the furthest away, are permissions. Authorities can require all plans to automatically include their regulations and, because a machine can inspect the design, you could get approvals almost immediately, but I think I am getting ahead of the story there.

Four disruptive technologies - photogrammetry, AI, 3D printing and robotics - in an group of related industries that embrace the possibilities to build better spaces, more efficiently and protect the spaces that we or nature is going to destroy. We can’t predict the future, but at least it looks like it will be well designed.

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