Demo Night dazzles in multiple dimensions

Wait! There it was again!  Did you feel it?

Yes, that mysterious energy that seems to reside at 1130 West Monroe returned once again last week, attending BuiltWorlds’ first-ever Demo Night for new and emerging technologies in the built environment. More than 100 visitors representing contractors, architects, subs, owners, and tech vendors and presenters filled our West Loop offices, flocking to play with cutting-edge tools like DAQRI’s ‘Smart Helmet’ and Oculus Rift’s 3D Virtual Reality headset. The creative atmosphere was electric and all on hand seemed to leave wanting more.

“This was a great program, but for me, what this Demo Night really demonstrated, I think, is the extent of the impact that we are already having on the built environment, and not just in Chicago, but across the U.S.,” said Matt Abeles, BuiltWorlds’ managing director. “Tonight, we had guests here from Silicon Valley (DAQRI), Burlington VT (IrisVR), New York, Paris, so many places. The word is getting out there and our message is getting through.”

That message of promoting greater industry-wide innovation and collaboration also apparently had hit home with more general contractors, as evidenced by strong representation from Leopardo Construction, Power Construction, Graycor, and especially Mortenson, which sent five people from its Chicago office and came on just last week as the event’s headline sponsor. “As soon as we heard about this, I knew we had to be a part of it,” said Ricardo Khan, national director of integrated services for Minneapolis-based Mortenson. Incredibly, the firm has 64 employees in virtual construction roles across the U.S. Its entire Chicago contingent came to BuiltWorlds last week.


“It’s funny, but I had someone say to me recently: ‘I thought you folks were just for architects and design firms,'” added Abeles. “But I think this event proves that we are relevant to virtually every player in this space. We had guests here tonight from the Construction Owners Association of America, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, energy startups, materials suppliers, transportation firms, venture capitalists, you name it. They were all here.”

The night’s guide is spread out and ready for everyone to arrive
More than 100 visitors from across the industry flocked to BW for Demo Night, networking over cocktails and visiting vendor display tables.

In between hands-on demonstrations, a standing-room-only audience listened to presentations from our guest speakers.
Kevin Carr from MasterGraphics presents on 3D scanners and printers.
Preeti Lovekar of Zebra Technologies spoke to our guests about the Internet of Things and her company’s Zatar app for device communication.
Amr Thameen, 3D specialist with IrisVR, spoke about his firm’s visionary work with BIM and Oculus Rift.
Table XI’s Josh Golden spoke on the importance of being agile and the need for startups to be nimble enough to learn quickly from inevitable mistakes.

Table XI’s Josh Golden (with microphone) answers questions during the lively Q&A session after the presentations.
Dan Bulley of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago tries out a headset with IrisVR’s 3D guru Amr Thameen.
Michael Greeby (left) of Workshop-MG chats with Kevin Carr of MasterGraphics.
Michael Greeby (left) of Workshop-MG chats with Kevin Carr of MasterGraphics.
Jennifer Suerth (right), one of Mortenson’s leading virtual managers in Chicago, tries out the DAQRI Smart Helmet.
Greg Meeder (left) of the Chicago Building Congress chats with our own Matt Abeles.

For more on the event, click through the above photo gallery, and watch for our video highlights reel, as well as some full presentations, to be posted on our blog very soon. Thanks again to our fine presenters who entertained and enchanted our SRO crowd:

1) MasterGraphics: Kevin Carr, General Manager, 3D printing/ 3D scanning

2) DAQRI: Ken Hepburn: VP Business Development: Augmented Reality

3) Zebra Technologies: Preeti Lovekar, Enterprise Architect > The Internet of Things: how its cloud-based Zatar makes it easier to introduce innovation to construction operations;

4) Table XI: Josh Golden, Founder & CEO > “Finding Agile” Building Web & Mobile Apps;

5) IrisVR: Amr Thameen, 3D Design Specialist > using BIM to visualize space via Oculus Rift.