The 2nd annual ABC Joint Tech Summit was held on Thursday, April 27, in Tysons, VA. This event, hosted by the ABC chapters of Chesapeake Shores, Greater Baltimore, Metro Washington and Virginia, brought together over 200 construction professionals to learn and talk about cutting-edge construction technology and safety. Construction Executive featured the event and summarized the full-day experience perfectly:
Read below or view the article on Construction Executive’s website.
At the 2023 ABC Joint Tech Summit in Tysons Corner, Virginia, on April 27, there was talk, of course, of various construction technologies, including AI, VR, autonomous vehicles, impairment detection, digital twins, blockchains and Spot the Robot Dog. All this different tech, however, was discussed for the same two reasons: safety and efficiency.
While some companies are just discovering the vast uses for and benefits of smart technology in construction, other companies are already well into adoption and implementation. Here is a breakdown of some of the contech showcased at the Joint Tech Summit, which was presented by four ABC chapters: Chesapeake Shores, Greater Baltimore, Metro Washington and Virginia.
The talk of the Tech Summit was Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Dynamics. Spot can walk, run, crawl, climb stairs and tortuous terrain, right itself from a fall, return to its charging port when its battery runs low and is compatible with a variety of add-ons, like 360 cameras. Spot is controlled via tablet and can be programmed to run on its own, allowing for increased worker and jobsite safety and productivity.
Even if you aren’t using ChatGPT to forge full-length documents, you probably still use artificial intelligence daily. If you’ve ever googled anything, you know the search engine will generate the rest of your search and offer suggestions; if you’ve ever typed an email, you know it will offer to fill in the rest of your sentence. That is generated by AI.
If you wear a smart watch, you have had your steps, heart rate, temperature, decibel exposure and overall health score monitored by AI. Beyond sending emails and reminding you to stand up every hour, simple, everyday AI such as ChatGPT and wearables are great tools to implement in construction.
For example, text-based AI is a great tool for organizing data: filing reports, ensuring those reports actually get completed and filed and that the data within them is consistent. AI of this nature can also help mitigate risk before it even exists by conducting a risk analysis and producing predictive analytics based on reports collected.
Wearable AI is also a great tool for directly monitoring and mitigating worker safety. In addition to performing a predictive analysis, wearables analyze physical scenarios, which can be anything from high heat exposure to falling to near-accidents. AI knows when a worker was, is and could be at risk and how to intercept, diminish or avoid that risk for optimal worker safety and jobsite efficiency.
There are more uses for virtual reality than playing video games—although some of them can feel very much like a video game. VR together with AI is being used in parts of the construction industry to run training scenarios. This allows for data to predict problems and generate solutions for trainees to test within a controlled environment. With tools like reality capture from OpenSpace, contractors can also surveil jobsites remotely when a virtual workspace is created from the digital capture of the real workspace, allowing work to be done whenever and from wherever, optimizing productivity and eliminating variable risk factors.
One piece of tech drew more attention and questions than the others at the summit. As cannabis becomes legalized for recreational and medical use in more states, impairment detection was the popular product of the day. The DRUID app, founded by Impairment Science Inc., is a portable cognitive behavioral assessment tool that is run not unlike a concussion test: A worker takes an initial test to produce a baseline measurement of cognitive and motor functions. Then that baseline is measured against future testing. This simple, noninvasive, privacy-protecting product can not only mitigate safety risks by measuring physical impairment, but can also pinpoint potential mental health risks.
Impairment Science COO Chris Bensley also argued that in some states, DRUID might increase productivity and an employee candidate pool by negating the need for cumbersome drug-testing procedures.
Of course, there is even more contech to be talked about—and maybe even discovered—such as 3D printing, BIM, NFTs. Some of this technology has been around for years already, yet is only now starting to gain popularity within the industry. While some people fear a tech takeover, losing their jobs to robots and machines and computers, if the construction industry embraces it, technology might actually teach more than it takes. In the end, the technological revolution is not simply about specific technologies and their specifically designed purposes.
“It is about technology innovation that is happening across the globe,” said Tech Summit speaker Kris Lengieza, vice president of global partnerships and alliances for Procore, “and how we can put some of those things to work for us in our industry.”