More images than Instagram: Architects, engineers, and contractors take thousands upon thousands of photos and hours of video to track the progress of construction. This takes a substantial investment to comb through and organize, and even then each discipline uses different programs to keep track of all the notes. For this reason, new AI-based applications are being developed to provide a single platform for construction administration. Programs like Reconstruct collect every photograph and video taken on the construction site and uses AI to stitch them together as a 3D model (similar to a cross between a Photoshop photomontage and the time-lapse function in Google Earth). Since the 3D model is made up of 2D photos and videos, clicking anywhere on the model will bring up the original image for reference. Since the AI can differentiate between solid and air, window and wall, it can also use photos taken from a similar location at different times to track progress over time. This allows the program to extrapolate how long construction will take versus how long it was expected to take. By using photos as data points, AI enables each of those photos to be added to an aggregate whole instead of them being placed in a folder, never to be seen again.
Smart Building Systems: AI will not have an impact only on how the building is designed and built, but also how it performs. One example is in healthcare facilities. Comfort is of paramount importance in the patient and staff experience of a hospital; our peer-reviewed, published research has shown that increased wellbeing throughout a patients’ stay shortens recovery time and improves perceived quality of care. AI-augmented building control systems would be able to:
- adjust the room temperature according to a patient’s monitored vital signs
- adjust the light levels to the user’s needs automatically depending on the activity in which the user is engaged (lights may dim or brighten without needing to manually adjust a switch)
- utilize network-connected sunshades with built-in sensors to adjust natural light levels and solar heat gain throughout the day
- coordinate mechanical heating and cooling systems to compensate accordingly.
Every system provides points of data based on operation and performance. The amount of data which can be collected from any building service or function is vast and is increasing exponentially the more interconnected these systems become. In the same way that a medical AI can find patterns that may have been missed in a dataset to help diagnose a patient, a building automated with AI can control every building system and continuously analyze how the interplay between those systems affect each other. “Smart buildings” will be able to fine tune themselves to be as energy efficient as possible while providing the comfort level that users expect and need.
Conclusion: One major concern about future technologies is the ability to procedurally generate entire buildings. While the trajectory of new technologies have been towards doing more with less, AI will be adopted to reduce rework and assist in communication, not to design buildings without regard for users and experience. Humans are a creative bunch: always changing and improving upon what was made before. While AI will change how a building is designed, it will not change why we design. AI in architecture will allow us to repurpose time and energy currently used to make a set of drawings and repurpose it towards exploring possibilities, more quickly iterating design options, reducing the time it takes to construct a building, and improving the experience of the users once it’s built.
Do you have any insights on the future of the AEC industry or new technologies you would like to see designers adopt? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page or see us at a future conference on innovative technologies.