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January 09, 2012
AECWeekly Predictions of Technology Hot Topics for 2012
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Welcome to AECWeekly! Happy New Year!

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Alliances/Agreements/Acquisitions, Announcements, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
AECWeekly Predictions of Technology Hot Topics for 2012
Susan Smith

It seems like a lofty pursuit to “predict” what will be hot in 2012, relying on technologies that took off in 2011 and show no signs of slowing down. Further, what happened in the news in 2011 shapes the environment with which we enter the new year.


The big changes in the world – economy, climate change, disasters – are heralding a new wave of disruptive technology to meet future challenges head on.

The Occupy Movement

 In technology when we think of energy we often think of “buzz.” I think it might be helpful to note that energy behind disruptive technology movements decides the future directions. Some energy or “buzz” just fizzles out, some remains, gathers momentum and/or evolves into something else.

The unrest created by the Occupy Wall Street movement and numerous worldwide natural disasters has filtered into all industry and commerce, even the technology industry. Individual creators are looking for ways of being able to make things, to design without enormous expense. Some of these people may not seem significant up against big corporate customers who are accustomed to purchasing large amounts of software on contract. The architectural industry is looking at how to build prefabricated buildings, buildings that can be assembled on location from pieces made locally, rather than having large amounts of materials shipped long distances, cutting down on costs and time.

This energy flow is due in large part to the cloud.  The cloud is “disruptive technology.” Users can now buy cloud usage using a “pay-as-you-go” model, so they can get software that way rather than buying an annual license. All your basic upgrades would come on a regular basis. The ever increasing mobility of our society is another factor that is disruptive – a lot of business can now be transacted via mobile devices and tablets using apps that can be downloaded as easily as downloading iTunes.

Creativity is often found outside the corporate landscape. The recession and layoffs at so many corporate facilities has spawned entrepreneurs and do-it-yourselfers. There are those individuals and small companies that don’t need much of a structure for their work.

In fact, that lack of structure makes it possible for them to design without the history of file formats and existing supporting structures. They are sort of like young travelers hitchhiking through Europe with a backpack as opposed to older travelers dependent on large wheeled suitcases, carryon bags and four-star hotel amenities. They are not locked into one software system or set of standards. At some point they may need to adhere to a set of standards, but their creative flow is fluid in the beginning stages and has incredible mobility. And the tools that are coming out on the market address this need to draw, build, create according to the way they think.

Recently a user said their work was such that they couldn’t use off-the-shelf technology, they had to create their own. This type of user is free to try everything that is available. And there is a lot out there that is free for the taking or reasonably priced.

What does that mean? How will AEC technology providers respond to this type of user? Where will they fit in?

Nowadays, we don’t need to find people to manufacture our patented ideas in order to get our products manufactured. We can do it ourselves with DIY tools, like CNC tooling, rapid prototyping, and other forms developed by the Maker community, which, guess what, has been around for awhile. Rapid prototyping is cool, but it isn’t new. And the people who are making all kinds of things for themselves, are not new. They’ve been there all along. Maybe they’ve just been discovered. Is this disruptive technology too? Perhaps it is disruptive in that it is now finding a wider audience, and the AEC market is taking a look at what they can make themselves at affordable costs.

Reality Capture

Reality capture is another disruptive technology that has upended the apple cart. 3D laser scanning has come into its own and will continue to gain popularity among AEC professionals as it becomes easier to use and provides increasing accuracy. New tools such as Pointools, Alice Labs, AVEVA LFM Software and ClearEdge 3D reduce import/export bottlenecks, modeling time or eliminate a lot of the manual production associated with 3D models.


Sensors represent disruptive technology that has become an integral part of everyday life. Combining smart sensors with cheap devices will be a game changer in terms of shaping the tools we have to serve us such as the internet.


We are reminded that electricity, the automobile and the computer were considered disruptive technologies. Henry Ford said, “If I listened to the customers, they would’ve said they needed a faster horse. They would not have thought of the automobile.”

Perhaps what is more important about that statement is that not everyone is creative enough to think of the automobile, and also, not everyone is thinking about transportation in the same way. Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Some people are creative and some are not. Perhaps it has to do with environment, encouragement, nourishment and vision in very deep and fundamental ways.

To applaud the new creativity, we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, eschewing all that corporations may represent in terms of stability and structure. The new thought also takes a stab at education, suggesting that it is no longer necessary to get a college degree, you can be like Steve Jobs or other entrepreneurs and become millionaires – as though the road to that was easy. Just look at all the employees who dropped out of school and didn’t become millionaire entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs.

Bottom line: The fact that technology is available for people to become successful, to make everything from their own homes to manufacturing their own food - does not mean a lot of people will do it. The same way that everyone who picks up a paint brush to paint a picture is not going to become the next Rembrandt.

Top News of the Week

Applied Software, a Autodesk Value-Added Reseller, announced  that it has earned the new Process Plant Specialization designation for value-added resellers from Autodesk, Inc. As an Autodesk Specialized Partner, Applied Software has shown that it has made significant investment in its people, has a solid business plan specific to its specialization area, has customer references and can provide a high level of expertise, experience and support to customers in the AEC and manufacturing industries.

Download  Structural Synchronizer from Bentley Systems from  iTunes:


Autodesk, Inc. has acquired certain technology-related assets from T-Splines Inc., a privately-held surface modeling software company, based in Utah. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


The Building Information Model (BIM) Awards, given by AIA Technology in the Architectural Practice Knowledge Community (TAP), honors projects that highlight proven strategies and the latest trends in design and technology in the building industry.


2012 Entries must be submitted before 4:59 p.m. Eastern Time on January 17, 2012.

The submission deadline date will be strictly observed; no exceptions will be made. No entry fee will be refunded for entries that are disqualified, late, or not completed. Payments and submissions will only be accepted online.

Please review the 2012 AIA BIM Awards Walk Through and download the concealed ID forms before beginning your submission. When you are ready to submit, go to the Submission Web site.

Trimble will hold a conference call on Thurs. Feb. 2, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. PT to review its fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 results. The call will be broadcast live on the Web at www.trimble.com. Investors without Internet access may dial into the call at (800) 528-9198 (U.S.) or (702) 928-6633 (international).  The pass code is 40598971.

Autodesk is celebrating 4,000,000 downloads of AutoCAD WS for iOS, Android and Mac.

The Bentley Infrastructure 500 is a ranking of the top owners of infrastructure around the world from both the public and private sectors that is published annually. The rankings make it possible to readily compare investment levels across types of infrastructure, regions of the world, and public and private organizations.

New Products

IMSI/Design, the developer of TurboCAD announced an update for the iOS popular 2D and 3D CAD file viewer. Free TurboViewer v2 allows lightning-fast viewing of native 3D DWG files on iPad and iPhone.

Updated TurboViewer features include:

Other TurboViewer features include:

Support for 15 localized languages

Around the Web

AECCafe Today

FM:Interact Sustainability Module Webinar
Date: January 13, 2012
Place: USA

The FM:Interact Sustainability Module can help you answer all these questions.  From a standard Web browser you can manage critical information on energy performance or water usage, and sustainability projects like energy retrofits.  Easy-to-read dashboards let you assess projects in a glance, and built-in certification standards for numerous programs help you plot your own green course.  And because you have all the benefits of FM:Interact, it’s easy to run cost analysis reports for your sustainability projects, or track your progress towards certifications across your entire portfolio.

Time:2:00 pm EST

Date: January 17 - 21, 2012
Place: Basel

The figures speak for themselves: Swissbau is the most important meeting point for the construction and real-estate industry in Switzerland and one of the biggest specialist exhibitions in Europe.
Stay Connected with World of Concrete
Date: January 23 - 27, 2012
Place: Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV USA

Since 1975, World of Concrete has been the industry’s ONLY annual international event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries. Featuring indoor and outdoor exhibits, leading suppliers showcasing innovative products and technologies, exciting demonstrations and competitions, a world-class education program, and the information you need to help sustain and grow your business. Start the year off strong at World of Concrete!
UCT - the TOTAL Source for the Underground Construction Market
Date: January 24 - 26, 2012
Place: Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
San Antonio, TX USA

Underground Construction Technology (UCT) International Conference & Exhibition is the TOTAL source for the underground construction market. As the biggest and best annual event in the underground construction industry, UCT focuses on bringing together individuals who are involved in the installation and rehabilitation of the total underground infrastructure, not just aspects of it.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.