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Hello, everyone. Time for our weekly roundup of articles at the intersection of building information modeling (BIM); artificial intelligence (AI); and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space.  Here goes:

We talked last week about the Microsoft HoloLens and the rave reviews coming in, particularly from those who see the value of virtual reality equipment far beyond gaming. According to GeekWire, real estate developer Skanska plans to use the headset in their "holographic leasing center." The use of the HoloLens technology will allow prospective buyers to "walk" through the building while remaining engaged and in contact with their leasing agent. The fun part: "The sales center will open in June, and the building is scheduled for completion in early 2019." That's right – the HoloLens will allow clients to "see" and even purchase units in the building three years prior to its completion. The prospect of walking through a building half a world away is no longer just speculative. 

Check out the HoloLens in action! (Source: GeekWire)

Virtual reality and BIM combine as HP and Nvidia look to resurrect the lost Bank of England with Project Soane. Phase 1 has already been completed by hundreds of architects collaborating to create BIM models of the façade and two interior spaces based on Soane's original drawings. Phase 2 calls for digital renderings based on these models, and the Project is awarding prizes "across a handful of categories that include the best animation, best images, and best real-time submission." While there are no plans to actually rebuild the bank, the project is a testament to the myriad ways technology is advancing BIM and streamlining the collaborative process.

The famed Bank of England in all its glory. (Source: Alphr)

A recent Twitter post from Autodesk UK and Balfour Beatty speaks volumes for the value of BIM adoption. It breaks down ROI for BIM implementation based on a number of survey responses from now-mandated BIM projects across the UK. One-hundred percent of survey respondents reported BIM reduced risks and aided design coordination, while more than 70% said it improved project efficiency and services integration. Meanwhile, Construction Dive reports that in the US, "Small contractors don't need to invest significant dollars into expensive software or hardware solutions anymore," hopefully ushering in a new era of BIM adoption on this side of the pond as well.


BIM builds a building. (Source: Construction Dive)

Virtual assistant Amy (or Andrew) of X.ai gained momentum this past week with the announcement of another $23 million secured in Series B funding. Already in use by a reported "hundreds of thousands" of users to take on the mundane task of scheduling meetings, the most talked about aspect of Amy appears to be that those who don't know about the helpful bot have no idea that she's not a real human assistant. A recent blog by Intersection X (which also, incidentally, gave Building SP a glowing review) verifies, "Nothing about the experience had suggested to me that Amy was a computer; it was simply her email address that tipped me off. I was blown away." Not enough to claim she passes a Turing Test, but certainly proof that AI has the potential to seamlessly integrate into our everyday lives.

Amy makes life easy. (Source: TechCrunch)

Of course, for some, the problem with such integration is the oft-talked about possibility of machine intelligence surpassing our own and leading to an array of ominous outcomes. A recent New York Times report, however, leans toward the conclusion that such a "singularity" will not happen any time soon, if at all: "Biologists acknowledge that the basic mechanisms for biological intelligence are still not completely understood, and as a result there is not a good model of human intelligence for computers to simulate." Essentially, even the smartest humans don't fully understand what makes them smart and therefore cannot artificially produce their own level of intelligence, much less a greater one. 

This robot probably won't take your job. Maybe. (Source: The New York Times)

Should we choose to make our intelligent machines mobile, however, MIT can lend a hand. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have announced they can now 3D print robots made of both solid and liquid materials. The result? Hydraulic robots that can "practically walk themselves off of the machine." The method not only allows printing more complex forms that can carry solids and liquids, it also allows for the printing of softer materials for use in applications which require bending and gripping but not necessarily crushing (be sure to watch the video – truly amazing stuff). 

3D-printed robot bits and bobs. (Source: Wired)

If you haven't already, check out the latest video demonstrating our GenMEP software autorouting conduit in a tugboat engine room (yes, you read that right). Have a great week!

Tags: Architecture and Planning Virtual Reality 3d Printing

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