NEW YORK, N.Y. –  Microdesk, a provider of business and technology consulting services for the design and construction industry, shareD its predictions for the top trends that will shape the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry in 2015. Microdesk surveyed its executive management team, customers, and technology partners to gain their insights and perspectives on the coming year. As a result, they have identified the following major trends as those that will directly impact the AEC industry in the coming year and beyond. 

Building for social good will shift from thoughtful conversations and ideas to the development of industry standards as technological advances drive down costs. Building for social good brings a level social awareness to the work of the AEC industry through focusing on designing and building more efficiently in order to better serve the long term needs of the community. Many building owners and real estate developers are already looking at the technological benefits of building for social good and factoring this into the life of a building as opposed to just in the initial construction cost. Building for social good will progress in the next five to ten years because the technology and workflow, as well as the “feel good” benefits, will become harder to ignore.

 “Technology like computational fluid dynamics and finite element analysis enable us to look at numerous planning and design options virtually before we spend a lot more money trying to implement them in the real world,” said Mike DeLacey, Principal at Microdesk. “As this technology becomes more mainstream and less expensive, it’s going to allow us to develop brand new ways to create residential and commercial properties with social good in mind. Right now it’s in its infancy, but we’re already able to tie cost and durability into our models that help us design buildings more efficiently and affordably.” 

“We’re also seeing increased dialogue around the concept of ‘building health’ and what it means to create facilities that take into account their impact on the environment around them as well as on their inhabitants,” said Laura Guzman, Chief Operating Officer at Microdesk. “This trend will continue to grow at a rapid pace in order to keep up with innovation in design and construction technologies and processes. Truly, the two go hand in hand.” 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) usage will grow exponentially, as the devices become more capable, smaller and less expensive. In the AEC industry, one of the more costly aspects of getting a project completed is capturing the existing conditions. As the use of UAVs and Reality Capture continues to develop and improve, the industry will be empowered to conduct mass data collection at a very low cost with a very high level of accuracy. This will enable firms to be more efficient in the design and planning process. 

“In our field, the opportunities are endless. There’s photogrammetry, scanning, delivering, site safety, actual construction, disaster planning and mitigation,” stated Peter Marchese, Senior Consultant at Microdesk. “In many ways UAVs are an extension of someone’s reach. They allow anyone to be able to access and accomplish tasks that previously would have been much more expensive or dangerous.”

“I believe the FAA will develop open regulations to allow the AEC industry to take advantage of Reality Capture in construction environments with UAVs,” continued Mr. DeLacey. “Looking beyond 2015, but not too far off, we’ll see very small UAVs with very powerful cameras that are autonomous capturing massive amounts of information that is not only sent back to a point cloud, but also communicated with other UAVs, allowing us to very rapidly collect data on an existing building.”

Virtual and augmented reality will become the hot ticket item for AEC community, as building owners and property managers request to experience a building’s design before it is even built. Virtual and augmented reality allow the unique ability to experience an environment. While today’s visualizations can provide a very compelling and realistic 360-degree of a project, they do not enable the ability to truly experience a it. The ability to actually engage the senses and interact within a model will provide AEC professionals the ability to make better design decisions during the planning process – before construction even begins.

“We haven’t begun to scratch the surface yet on what this technology can do for our industry,” said Greg Lehrer, Director of Consulting Services at Microdesk. “With Augmented Reality, facilities managers will be able to see what’s behind walls and closed spaces to better understand where utilities are placed throughout the building. I believe this is really the future of the AECO industry.” 

“2015 will be the year that virtual reality takes off. There is a large number of emerging technologies that directly relate to head mounted displays (most common accessory for virtual reality) that allow for a more immersive experience,” stated Leo Salcé, Director of Consulting Services at Microdesk. “Communication is key when discussing strategies around design concepts and ideas, so virtual reality takes it to another level by allowing you to step into a project regardless of the scale, feeling the magnitude and seeing the complexity.”

Microdesk will be showcasing these trends and predictions at booth #241 at Autodesk University, which takes place December 2-4 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Attendees can participate in the dialogue by submitting a video recording of their predictions. Videos will be posted to the AU 2015 Predictions Center throughout the week and viewers will have an opportunity to vote for their favorites. The winner will receive a UAV with camera. Another virtual reality tool, the Google Cardboard, will also be given away daily, and live demonstrations of virtual reality and reality capture technologies will take place throughout the week.

The following Microdesk executives and AEC industry experts were interviewed as part of Microdesk’s research:

  • John Dalton, Director of Business Development, Microdesk
  • Mike DeLacey, Principal, Microdesk
  • Laura Guzman, Chief Operating Officer, Microdesk
  • Greg Lehrer, Director of Consulting Services, Microdesk
  • Peter Marchese, Senior Consultant, Microdesk
  • Steven Martin, Director of Application Development, Microdesk
  • Ryan Noyes, Technology Strategist, VHB
  • Jody Reynolds, Vice President of Consulting Services, Microdesk
  • Leo Salcé, Director of Consulting Services, Microdesk
  • Ray Savona, Vice Present, Americas Sales, Autodesk
  • George Wright, Vice President of Sales, Western Region, Microdesk
  • Robert Zannotti, Vice President of Sales, Easter Region Microdesk

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