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How Image Capturing Technology Has Streamlined the Design and Construction Process

Image capturing technology has historically been developed for alternate industries. Drones and 3-dimensional photography have been used for years in various industries. Since both of these have more recently been integrated into the design and construction industries, it has had a huge impact in various ways:

1. Streamlining building construction

2. Image and video capturing for stellar marketing

3. Building assessments and damage inspections

Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as “Drones”, gained popularity primarily through military use in the early to mid-1900s. Fast forward to 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the first-ever commercial drone. This paved the way for drones to be used outside of military purposes. The drone industry has grown remarkably since then, and in 2021, roughly 900,000 drones were registered in America.

Those in the commercial real estate industry have discovered valuable uses for drones. In fact, roughly 37% of agents have said drones are the most useful technologies they’ve ever used. Drones can help organizations in the real estate and construction industries in various ways, including:

Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen the emergence of virtual and augmented reality technology come to the forefront in a number of areas, including video games, smartphones, vehicles, etc. While virtual reality is a strictly simulated experience (think of a realistic or fabricated space where you are totally immersed in fantasy), augmented reality creates an interactive experience within the real world using 3-dimensional photography and computer-generated information. There are several ways to capture this type of photography. A leader in this technology is Matterport. The Matterport camera lives on a tripod and swivels 360° to capture every inch of the physical environment. While connected digitally to your smartphone, the camera creates these scans as you move throughout the space and automatically stitches each 3D scan together to create a fully 3-dimensional photograph that you can walk through or take measurements via the Matterport website. This type of augmented reality is where the construction and design worlds intersect to create a more accurate and collaborative process across disciplines.

Streamlined Building Construction

The Case For Drones

There’s one side of the real estate process that has increased its use of drones in recent years – the construction industry. Drone technology is a great way for construction companies to increase efficiencies and save money, as it can help cut costs, time, risk, and even labor. As construction projects become more and more complex, drones are changing the construction industry in many ways, including:

  1. Topographic Mapping and Land Surveys – Drones can survey acres of land in minutes, allowing large cost savings. Construction teams can also use drone software to create 3D models for analysis and project planning.

  2. Equipment Tracking – Drones are able to keep track of all equipment on a job site, recording errors and malfunctions. It’s predicted that someday drones will be used to direct and guide construction vehicles using Artificial Intelligence.

  3. Remote Monitoring and Progress Reports – The use of drones on a construction site has improved collaboration by 65% by capturing real-time data and photos and providing progress reports.

  4. Security Surveillance – Drones are able to detect unauthorized individuals to improve job site security.

  5. Personnel Safety – Drones are helping to increase job site safety by making hard-to-reach measurements on behalf of construction workers. They can also monitor for falls and accidents.

The Case for Matterport

When starting an adaptive reuse design project, some of the most important information to capture is the existing conditions of your space. This means taking site visits to measure existing architecture, casework, plumbing, mechanical equipment, lighting, etc. This also includes creating as-built plans of what the existing space contains using modeling software such as Revit or AutoCAD. When scanning your space with a 360-degree camera, not only are you able to capture your existing conditions 3-dimensionally, but you are also able to generate a 98-99% accurate floor plan using Matterport’s generated floor plan tool. This can greatly reduce the amount of time that designers need for generating these as-built drawings and are a fantastic resource throughout the design process for verifying existing conditions without having to constantly visit your site. Matterport also has the ability to generate 3-dimensional models based on the scans of your space to be used in Revit, however, this process is longer and more expensive than generating the floor plans. Other 360-degree camera companies have similar offerings.

Stellar Marketing Opportunities

The Case For Drones

There’s just something about aerial photography and videography that releases a different emotional response that other media simply cannot accomplish. For those in the real estate and property management industries, aerial photography and videography can help create an emotional connection with a property. This emotional response is a great selling point for your building to gain tenants or potential buyers. Aerial photography is engaging, and it shows potential buyers a more accurate depiction of what the property looks like. It tells a better story. These images and videos can even be used on your website homepage and social media channels, upping your engagement, and leaving an impactful impression on your audience and followers.

Drone footage of our FourxFive Development

The Case for Matterport

Have you ever wanted to rent an apartment but couldn’t find the time to tour so you used the developer’s digital 3D tour? These tours are generated by Matterport or a similar type of camera. Developers and landlords can scan their rental units and place-specific checkpoints or notes within the 3D model to allow potential renters to view their offerings without scheduling a physical tour. Especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many renters were selecting their new living space by virtual tour alone. Similarly, businesses who are attempting to attract new employees or clients to their space can utilize a scan of their finished space to better highlight the features and design of their space virtually, without having to give in-person tours when it is not convenient for parties involved.

Building Assessments and Damage Inspection

The Case For Drones

Drones can be used to inspect the current conditions of buildings, replacing a lot of heavy machinery and bulky scaffolding. They can be flown to capture and assess as-built conditions of buildings, checking for stability, evaluating fine details, and taking high-resolution photos for analysis. Some drones even have thermal sensors which can check for heat leaks, cold spots, and any electrical issues. SHYFT and DEV Partners have utilized drones in the past for various projects, including the current Val Air Ballroom renovation. DEV is the owner’s representative and SHYFT is providing project management and development consulting services. Our team hired a licensed drone pilot to capture exterior footage of the building for the design team, focusing on the property perimeter, roof, and façade, to help assess any damage that needed to be addressed in the renovation scope.

In the Midwest, tornadoes, and most recently Derechos, are fairly common weather occurrences. And with these comes building damage. With the help of drones, facility managers and building owners are able to easily assess any damage that was done to their structure as a result of the storm. Most recently, the Windsor Windows and Doors production plant south of Des Moines, Iowa took a direct hit from a tornado. The Windsor leadership team hired a licensed drone pilot to fly over their property, getting up-close footage of the substantial façade and roof damage. The drone video footage proved beneficial in assessing the damage and it allowed the Windsor team to accurately estimate the cost, time, and materials it will take to repair.

Windsor Windows Drone Footage by Cole Norum

The Case for Matterport

One of the final phases of the design process is Construction Administration. This specifically applies to the oversight and execution of a construction contract during the preconstruction and construction phases of a project, typically executed by the design team. A Construction Manager is doing something similar, but they are overseeing the overall planning, coordination, and control of a construction project through all phases from conception to completion. In either scenario, the Matterport camera can be used to scan the project under construction from week to week in order to create an accurate report for the owner. This can help create accountability for various aspects of the project while under construction and help keep the timeline on track with the schedule created by contractors.

Final Thoughts

While purchasing a Matterport camera or drone can be an expensive upfront cost for your business, each feature and function helps create a quicker and more efficient process to keep a design and construction project moving forward. These technologies help create an accurate and helpful picture of the entire project, building, and property while providing assets and marketing opportunities for your business to utilize as we continue to move toward a more digital age.


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