BIMBeing: The Journey #4
#4 – Have we seen the future…
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This years Digital Construction Week has now drawn to a close and another of this years ‘get out of work free’ cards is expended; hopefully all of you that wanted to attend were able to do so. As always there was a good mix of familiar offerings (VR testing and free screen cleaners) as well as plenty of innovating start-up companies trying to forge their place in the Digital Construction world.
A notable feature for me was the sheer volume of reality-capture technology. From new capturing equipment to different data processing packages and methodologies there was a clear prevalence over the usual topics. This shows the growing importance of the ‘Digital Twin’ with a real focus on ensuring that it’s an accurate representation of the physical counterpart, not a side-street caricature.
The idea of ‘capturing’ what we build is not particularly new and the idealism of having a digital model that perfectly matches the real thing has been the dream of many for a long time. However, everything I have personally tested to date just doesn’t live up to its expectations. If there were 10 criteria for the perfect reality-capturing process each company would only be hitting 5-6 of them. Most of them do certain things incredibly well but thus far there have always different shortcomings. Whether it be unrealistic time requirements, lack of graphical clarity, limitations in accuracy, enormous data management issues or parts of the process that are just too manual there always seems to be something missing.
However, I am pleased to say that I think we’re finally getting very close, and this years DCW has proven that. Strangely, I think of us as being in the year 1915 – bear with me. People have been inventing automobiles for almost 20 years and yet all of them have been, to some extent, awkward. Some are quite luxurious and others are becoming more powerful but still none of them are ticking all of the boxes (if all of the boxes are even known). They’re still partly restricted by technology but that’s not the real problem. The critical issues are attributed to design, functionality and consistency; what’s the point of a really fast car that you need three arms and one leg to be able to drive properly? And how practical is it to get out of that car and into another where you need one arm and three legs – it’s a recipe for disaster. However, leading up to the launch of something incredible in 1916, Cadillac are quietly hard at work. They’re preparing to unveil the Type 53.
The importance of the Type 53 was not truly appreciated when it was first released. Among the other cars available at the time it was quite unassuming; nobody could have realised that Cadillac had changed the automobile forever. None of the owners would realise that they were actually holding the future. By making seemingly small changes to the layout of the controls Cadillac had created something far more functional than any other vehicle to date. It wasn’t a triumph in technology, it wasn’t a brand new way of building a car, it was innovation within the known realm of possibility. A key ignition, central gear lever, central handbrake and 3 floor mounted pedals for the clutch, brakes and accelerator – the car controls of today. Other cars would have been built with good pedals or handbrakes and some probably had adequate gear lever systems, but Cadillac had managed to nail them all. They improved on existing features without reinventing the wheel from scratch, and it worked. It worked so well that more than 100 years on we are still using the exact same layout, all over the world.
Fast forward to October 2019 and I think we’re in the same place. I think we’ve reached a point in time where we have the technological ability to properly ‘capture reality’, we’re just waiting for somebody to tick all of the boxes, waiting for somebody to nail it. And it may have already been done. You or I may have walked through DCW this week and seen the Type 53 without even realising it. I don’t think it exists just yet, I think we’re in 1915 and somebody, somewhere, is quietly working on it.
Don’t forget that commenting is now active on all posts! I’m now also adding my email address too, just in case you’re too shy for public responses. Did you see the all encompassing capturing solution at DCW this week? Have you seen the future? Let me know…